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And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

Aug 6, 2010, 5:47 AM EDT

Bad umps and a bad ballpark makes for a pretty crappy Thursday for baseball teams in Florida.

Phillies 5, Marlins 4: Ugly game, with each team trying valiantly to lose throughout, but third base ump Bob Davidson was the ugliest part of all. He blew the call on what would have been the game-winning hit by Gaby Sanchez in the bottom of the ninth, calling it foul when it most clearly was not. Not that he’d know, because he was out of position to make the call. Really, check the screen cap to the right: he’s looking up. The ball is down and to his left.

This crap is just inexcusable. You can institute replay to fix these mistakes or — and this is even more nutty — you can hire umpires who know their ass from their elbow. What you can’t do is let bad calls like this stand in an age when it’s possible to review and correct every single bad call almost immediately after it happens.

Twins 8, Rays 6: OK, this may have been an even bigger horsesh– reason to lose a game than a bad call: Jason Kubel’s pop to shallow left in the top of the ninth hit the
catwalk at Tropicana Field and dropped for an RBI single, giving the
Twins a 7-6 lead in a game they won 8-6. Joe Maddon freaked. As would I have. Then again, at least everyone knew this could happen beforehand because it’s part of the ground rules of the place. No one, in contrast, would have expected that an extra-base hit would be called a foul ball for no good reason in that Philly-Florida game.

Orioles 5, Angels 4: The power of Buck compels you. The Angels have now lost all three Dan Haren starts since the big trade.

Pirates 5, Rockies 1: James McDonald shut out the Rockies over six while striking out eight. I guess that means he’s still helping the Dodgers out, loosely speaking, but eventually they’re going to realize that it was probably a mistake getting rid of him.

Braves 3, Giants 2: Both teams had tons of scoring chances that went by the wayside so in the end the dingers decided it. Two off Tim Lincecum — one for Alex Gonzalez, one for Eric Hinske — which doesn’t happen very often. Jair Jurrjens wasn’t anything special, allowing seven hits, five of which were doubles, and walking three. The Giants should have scored more runs off that, but that’s where this recap started so we’re just going around in circles now.

Red Sox 6, Indians 2: An Adrian Beltre homer and the good version of Dice-K (more valuable because it’s rare!) take care of business.

White Sox 6, Tigers 4: Bobby Jenks did all he could do to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, but a two-run triple by Mark Kotsay in the 11th sealed the deal for the Chisox. There are too many good relievers in that Sox pen for Ozzie Guillen to keep using Jenks when he obviously doesn’t trust him.

Padres 5, Dodgers 0: Five pitchers combine to blank L.A., and the Padres are now up two games up on the Giants. Starter Kevin Correia was rather lucky, actually, as he had no strikeouts and gave up a few warning track flies in his five and two-thirds innings.

Rangers 6, Mariners 0: Tommy Hunter bounces back from his first loss of the season to shut down the Mariners. Not that they were running at such a high velocity to begin with. The AP game story is the first time I’ve seen the word “embattled” applies to Don Wakamatsu’s name. I don’t expect it to be the last. And I presume by October it will change to “former.”

Diamondbaks 8, Nationals 4: Sticking with AP game stories, this one contained a classic passage that I think says it all: “The few who showed up got to see a sometimes-stinky game filled with
four errors, a botched squeeze and a strikeout that scored a run.”  “Sometimes Stinky” sounds like the name of an album from some twee, overly-studied British folk duo from the mid-90s.

  1. JasonC23 - Aug 6, 2010 at 6:52 AM

    Down, and to his left…down, and to his left…down, and to his left.

  2. Spokes - Aug 6, 2010 at 6:57 AM

    Craig, this question probably comes up whenever an umpire makes a bad call, but has this season seen the largest number of obviously blown calls by umps that you can remember?

  3. Craig Calcaterra - Aug 6, 2010 at 7:31 AM

    I don’t know that we can say it’s the most, mostly because I don’t think people have been counting or were before.
    I’ll say that each year that goes on, however, we have more people watching more games and replays due to, MLB Network, the web, Twitter, etc., so bad calls are known about almost instantly by just about everyone.
    So maybe there aren’t more in an absolute sense, but they are a bigger deal when they happen.

  4. The Common Man - Aug 6, 2010 at 7:38 AM

    “‘Sometimes Stinky’ sounds like the name of an album from some twee, overly-studied British folk duo from the mid-90s.”
    I think it sounds like a failed punk band from Britain in the late ’70s that played three gigs and quit after hearing the Sex Pistols and realizing they could never be that offensive.

  5. Ditto65 - Aug 6, 2010 at 8:00 AM

    I would add that the umpires have become more defiant, defensive, and confrontational under this increased scrutiny. Umpires should not be picking fights with players. Umpires should also welcome replay for corrections, if only for the simple reason that we watch baseball for the game, not the officiating. Otherwise they would call the sport “Umpiring”.

  6. FlyEaglesFly - Aug 6, 2010 at 8:13 AM

    He’s not out of position. On a grounder it’s were the ball crosses the base, not where it hits in the out field grass. That picture is meaningless. Yes, it was a bad call that would have ended the game. But you sound like a whiny Braves fan when you go off on a rant about one blown call. I’m sure there plenty other bad calls in the game and in other games. That’s baseball. Replay has no place in baseball other than how it is used now. I keep hearing everyone talk about reply but not how it would be used. In this case, what would happen??? As soon as he says foul the play is dead like a player being whistled down before fumbling in the NFL. Craig, I’d love to know your thoughts on this…

  7. Paper Lions - Aug 6, 2010 at 8:14 AM

    Even after watching the replay, Davidson wouldn’t admit that he was wrong. From the AP: After watching replays, Davidson insisted he made the correct call. “I was right on top of it, and it was wide of the bag,” he said. “What the ball did when it went past me is irrelevant. … I understand that’s the winning run, but in my opinion it was foul.”
    So…a ball bounces fair in front of the bag and (more) fair behind the bag, but it was foul over the bag? Really?

  8. Craig Calcaterra - Aug 6, 2010 at 8:17 AM

    I’ve watched the play several times and it looks like the ball was fair as it passed the bag. I think he missed it.
    With replay: you call this — which would obviously have been extra bases — a ground rule double. I realize you can’t do that with every single play that could be reviewed, but just because you can’t make a perfect system doesn’t mean you stick with a bad one.

  9. cliff - Aug 6, 2010 at 8:18 AM

    You have a better picture than the others I was seeing because it shows the position of the umpire in relation to the call.
    You show just a still image, so it is possible that the full moving time line from the angle you have shows something different. However, it appears that he is making the “foul” gesture. Knowing from Olympic sprinting studies that no one can react to something in less than about .1 to .12 seconds, we know that he has decided to call it foul BEFORE THE BALL HAD HIT THE GROUND. That makes it not just a wrong call, but an indfensibly wrong call. If an umpire is going to call the result before something happens, he should be fired.

  10. Sam Lee - Aug 6, 2010 at 8:30 AM

    I don’t see much change in umpires being defiant, defensive or confrontational. This is the way its been all along.

  11. Paper Lions - Aug 6, 2010 at 8:32 AM

    Cliff, I think you are correct. The ball first bounced on the outside of the line, and it looks like Davidson made up his mind at that point that the ball was going to be foul, but the ball bounced right on the line and then fair by 6 inches or so. He didn’t even bother to watch the path of the ball (which would have really helped given where he was positioned).

  12. Joe - Aug 6, 2010 at 8:33 AM

    The screen cap doesn’t tell the story. It was a ground ball that had already hit the ground twice before crossing the bag. It looks like the umpire made the call based on the second bounce, which may have been on the line, but on the foul-ball side of the line. (The first bounce was clearly foul). I think the real-time call is defensible based on the second bounce, but I also think it should have been overturned with replay.
    As for “what to do with the base runners?” Do like you do when a fan touches a fair ball, let the umpires use their judgment. It’s not a new concept.

  13. Jonny5 - Aug 6, 2010 at 8:36 AM

    During the game, they showed a better angle than that (down the base line). It looked to me like the ball was hooking back in towards the base line, but was borderline “over the bag” the guy called it because he thought it wasn’t over the bag. That call happens all the time, it’s just this time, the ball hooked back in and tagged the line after the call was made as the ball was barely over the base. Anyway, It’s nothing to get in a huff about (unless your team is trying to gain more of a lead in the division :>P), every team loses some and win some on bad calls every single season, it’s give and take. Now with that said, I am a fan of instant replay. Or maybe this guy felt like he owed the Phillies one for the guy behind home who kept giving the corners to one pitcher, than taking them away for the other. He was also very bad a keeping his calls on pitches close to the knees consistent. IMO anyway…

  14. Flup - Aug 6, 2010 at 8:50 AM

    Actually, I’m pretty sure it’s the title of an out-of-print rarities collection from Spinal Tap.

  15. FlyEaglesFly - Aug 6, 2010 at 9:01 AM

    A better system would be to get better umpires but that would be too much work for Selig. I’m a huge baseball fan and watch games every night and even I think the games are too slow sometimes. Replay would bring them to a grinding stop. There are just to many bang bang plays to use replay and some sort of challenge system like in football just seems cheesy. Also, what if the team had a massive shift on (like teams employ for Howard) and someone may have gotten to the ball for a play at the plate. I just don’t see how it would make the game better.

  16. Old Gator - Aug 6, 2010 at 9:15 AM

    The Feesh blew this game in the top of the ninth when Hanley Ramirez threw wildly past Gaby Sanchez at first on a routine ground ball, and then Leo Nunez threw fatballs and fungoes to the next three batters who erased his two run lead. Even a myopic ump with his head up his rump can’t steal a game from you by himself. He needs help from his fwends, like you and Leo. And the Feesh only got to squander their tenth inning grace period because during that same grotesque top of the ninth, the Feelies suddenly discovered that everything they ever knew about baserunning was wrong: even though he couldn’t get a quadriplegic on a wheeled cart out by throwing a pitch past him, he was the beneficiary of a rundown, a pickoff and a caught stealing to clean his mess off the bases. But then the Feesh went meekly in their half of the tenth, unlike that wonderful giant marlin that left a boatload of photographers with loads in their pants yesterday:
    Of course, this feesh is a free agent now and Scrooge McLoria wouldn’t even bother to bid on him.
    So, where are my Feesh today? Having garnished the mini-run of last week with the ashes of four losses in a row, the Teal Titans are now two games below the strange attractor, nine out in the division, and eight point five out of the wild card. I know anything can happen but it isn’t going to. The Feesh pretty much sank what little was left of hope for this season by going ohfer in this series, and with the Cardinals coming in today it ain’t gonna get better. Ah well. In three weeks we’ll see the best of the bargain payroll rates that New Orleans has to offer. That’ll be something.

  17. cowdisciple - Aug 6, 2010 at 9:21 AM

    For the record, Kubel’s catwalk-single was karmic justice for Jesse Crain being squeezed mercilessly in Tampa’s 6-run 8th. Check out the Pitch-Fx for Willy Aybar’s walk that preceded the grand slam — two of those “balls” were in the heart of the strike zone. The BrooksBaseball link:

  18. Steve C - Aug 6, 2010 at 9:30 AM

    Which takes more time, an extra umpire in a booth letting the crew chief know it was fair and they should probably award a ground rule double or the 3rd base coach and the manager getting into a screaming match with the umpire?
    Perfection is the enemy of good.

  19. Ditto65 - Aug 6, 2010 at 9:32 AM

    I don’t recall too many umps in the past picking fights with pitchers because of body language; umpires jumping in front of a crouched catcher to argue; umpires ejecting managers because of a sunflower seed. I see a change.

  20. nps6724 - Aug 6, 2010 at 9:33 AM

    Didn’t Craig also complain about the blown call in the Mariners-Twins game that happened the same night as Armando Galarraga’s would-be perfect game? A game that didn’t involve or affect the Braves at all.

  21. doctorfunke - Aug 6, 2010 at 9:34 AM

    @cow; good call. In addition to all of the bad calls in the field, I have been bafled by some umps’ strike zones this year. There wasn’t much of one yesterday.
    And in regards to the catwalk, I’m sure that the Rays have had it work to their advantage from time to time as well. But remember, Kubel played in the Metrodome for a number of years, he knows how to make a dome work to your advantage. He should be given kudos for his placement.

  22. nps6724 - Aug 6, 2010 at 9:35 AM

    “Also, what if the team had a massive shift on (like teams employ for Howard) and someone may have gotten to the ball for a play at the plate. I just don’t see how it would make the game better. “

    What does a team’s decision to move their fielders around have to do with an umpire getting a call right?

  23. paul - Aug 6, 2010 at 10:05 AM

    that is one magic loogie

  24. CalinCT - Aug 6, 2010 at 10:05 AM

    A decent run at a system:
    You add a replay ump up in a box, somewhere.
    Replay used on fair/foul calls and force/tag plays at 1st and home ONLY (the bases you can overrun), ONLY when a ball has been put in play (in other words, not for pick offs, caught stealings, etc).
    On fair/foul calls, where the ball remains in play, the ump can award a ground rule single or double, at their discretion.
    On fair/foul calls, where the ball goes out of play (the stands) the replay ump can award a ground rule double or home run (obviously, if it leaves the field of play in FAIR territory, it’s a HR. Basically, the HR part is the same as it is, now).
    If the replay ump feels a call requires review, he will send signal to the crew chief over wireless device. The replay ump then has a reasonable (2 min?) amount of time to relay his findings to the crew chief. If the replay ump can’t make a determination in a reasonable time frame, the call on the field stands.
    In addition, you start to enforce the rules that already exist limiting the time a pitcher has to come to the plate, when there are no men on base.
    While you might see some slight increase in game time…I would bet you’re going to see an average of 2 or 3 calls reviewed per game.
    I don’t think a challenge system works, unless there is some sort of penalty. And simply charging the dugout with a “mound visit” isn’t enough of one. But there isn’t anything else (short of forcing a substitution or pitching change…which is too harsh), really, you could do within the confines of the game.
    And I don’t think every close call should be reviewed. In the time it takes for the next batter to be to the plate, a replay has usually been put up on TV. I can’t imagine that a replay ump wouldn’t have the same capability (heck, my DVR could do it) to quickly determine if a review is even necessary.
    Last, I think the current HR review procedure is awful. IT slows down the game, because you have to get three guys to conference, walk off the field, review the call in some little dinky room in the bowels of the stadium, walk back to the field, and then announce the findings. If that’s what MLB envisions as implementation of replay…then you’re dead on when you say it would slow the game down to much. But I think there is opportunity to enact a much better system that would NOT have much of an effect on game times.
    I can deal with 4-6 min a game to get the calls right.

  25. HammRadio - Aug 6, 2010 at 10:13 AM

    Craig, you might want to update your post because your post clearly shows you aren’t aware of the rules of baseball. It doesn’t matter what the ball does after it passes the 3rd base bag.
    He’s clearly in position to make the call about what occurred at the bag.

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