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The Eric Gregg-Livan Hernandez game explained

Jul 22, 2011, 2:30 PM EDT

Livan Hernandez Marlins

I never did understand why Eric Gregg’s strike zone was so out of whack in Livan Hernandez‘s favor back in the 1997 playoffs.  I’ve considered any number of possibilities, from basic incompetence to some complicated theory in which Livan Hernandez’s acquaintances in the illicit drug business were somehow involved, but all of these theories have flaws.

I just read the best explanation I’ve ever heard. It’s by Jon Bois over at SB Nation and it involves the history of the color teal.  Only part of that involves Gregg and Hernandez, but it is a key part. Bonus: for the first time ever, we have a transcript of Gregg’s conversation with Braves hitters during the game:

ERIC GREGG. Strike three!
McGRIFF. That was in the right-handed batter’s box.
GREGG. Sure was.
McGRIFF. The right-handed batter’s box is out of the strike zone.
GREGG. Evidently not, because that was a strike.

I just knew it.

  1. bigxrob - Jul 22, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    I once heard Ecri Gregg (long after he “resigned” as an ump) on Philly radio say”If a pitcher can consistently throught the ball 1 inch off the plate, that is a strike”
    So Basically, his definition of a strike was if the catcher didn’t have to move his glove to catch the ball.

  2. 78mu - Jul 22, 2011 at 3:00 PM

    My theory watching the game was that Gregg was confused that day about a strike having to be in the strike zone instead of missing it. But then he did call a pitch in the dirt a ball (though he started to raise his arm and thought better of it) so it has remained a great mystery of baseball.

  3. shaggylocks - Jul 22, 2011 at 3:00 PM

    I suspect the Mariners were able to pull off a side deal with the Client, probably after talking to him about boats and battleships.

  4. Chris Fiorentino - Jul 22, 2011 at 3:26 PM

    That entire Gregg-McGriff conversation was hilarious. As much as I hated the Braves, that game disgusted me and I never had any respect for Gregg after that. Even though they worshiped him on the local morning radio show.

  5. vikesfansteve - Jul 22, 2011 at 3:54 PM

    The same type of out of whack strike zone that won the World Series for the Braves against the Indians in 95. Yeah Maddux & Glavin hit the same spot consistently but it was 4 to 5 inches wide of the plate. Still called strikes. The final game the Indians just looked defeated in their eyes at all the called strikes. Don’t believe me, catch the replays on the mlb network of that game. All the wide strikes. Not as flagrant & ridiculous as Gregg but they were balls called strikes nontheless.

  6. schmedley69 - Jul 22, 2011 at 5:15 PM

    I once saw Eric Gregg tending bar at Chickie’s and Pete’s inside Veteran’s Stadium after he “resigned” as an umpire and was not rehired. He needed the job because he was broke. He died a few years ago. He was a bad ump, but he seemed like a good guy. Pretty sad ending for him.

  7. addictedzone - Jul 22, 2011 at 5:24 PM

    What is tougher for a Braves fan to accept is that Greg Maddux (who could hit a gnat in the ass from 60 feet 6 inches) could not hit those same spots in the right handed batters box and got outpitched that day by a rookie.

  8. Ick McWang - Jul 23, 2011 at 1:05 AM

    its harder for umps to get away with that crap now, with pitchFx or whatever its called being shown on nearly every pitch

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