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Wait, Jerry Meals may have been right?

Jul 27, 2011, 9:33 AM EDT

Pittsburgh Pirates v Atlanta Braves Getty Images

I love Rob Neyer. I’ve written thousands of words about my man-crush on him over the years. And there’s no one in this business whose intellect and judgment I trust more. Really, if the Martians flew here to annihilate civilization but offered us one chance to save ourselves, and that chance involved the analysis of a baseball issue, Rob would totally be my huckleberry.

But Rob, I don’t think I’m with you on this one.  Here’s his take on the Jerry Meals play:

Call me a sensationalist or an iconoclast if you like, but I just gotta say something this morning …

Jerry Meals might have been right.

I’m sorry, but I still have not seen a conclusive replay. I’ve read a lot of Tweets from people claiming the replays or screen-captures are conclusive, but I’m looking at the same things and I’m just not seeing it. I’m not seeing a for sure in any of them.

Can’t say I agree — it looks pretty plain to me that the tag was applied — but as Rob himself says sometimes, I link you decide.

  1. crpls - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:37 AM

    Yeah, it’s pretty embarrassing, especially coming from a guy who has shown he doesn’t always kowtow.

    I’m harsh, but hand over MLB Nation to Jeff and Grant if he’s gonna willfully ignorant like this.

    • The Common Man - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:40 AM

      That’s insulting and completely ridiculous. Because a guy has an opinion that a replay doesn’t seem definitive to him he’s somehow kowtowing? While we don’t have to agree with Neyer, and I don’t in this case, he’s earned enough respect where you shouldn’t be questioning his motives or his gumption. Get off my lawn, whippersnapper.

      • crpls - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:55 AM

        No, I didn’t mean he’s kowtowing here, just saying he’s usually not one to lend a soft stance.

        He’s clearly wrong here. I don’t think he has any motives, but he’s blatantly wrong.

    • 78mu - Jul 27, 2011 at 11:45 AM

      Neyer said he was probably out but that in his opinion none of the angles show the glove hitting the leg. If after all these years of giving his opinion (I assume you’ve been reading Neyer for a long time) you want Neyer silenced over this is ridiculous.

    • mrfloydpink - Jul 27, 2011 at 11:56 AM

      I have to say, I had the same reaction last night as Rob did. It is entirely possible to view the replay and not be able to see where exactly the tag was applied. Even more possible if you see it one time, at real speed, as the umpire did.

      I guess that makes me a tool or something, but this is not really the call for supporters of instant replay to rally around. And those who are saying it is the worst call ever are just being ridiculous. The Denkinger call was worse. The call a couple of years ago with Mike Napoli at third base–where the pictures clearly show both runners off the base and Napoli tagging them both–was worse. I could go on…

    • pjmarn6 - Jul 27, 2011 at 4:26 PM

      Here is the BIGGEST NEWS OF THE NIGHT ON THE PLAY! I wanted to send Bud Selig an email on my opinion and looked up on Goggle Bud Selif and email. And got the answer……….(DRUM ROLL PLEASE) BUD SELIG DOES NOT USE A COMPUTER! Imagine that Bud Selig doesn’t have the brains to learn to use a computer NOR hire someone to use one for him. According to another Goggle item Bud Selig is in charge of hiring and firing umpires. Now how are those decisions made? How many missed calls does an umpire get before he gets fired? Now baseball uniforms are floppy and one can’t believe the word of the player who won the game on a missed call. He certainly looked tagged out to me. Remember he doesn’t have to touch the body only the uniform.

  2. Chris Fiorentino - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:38 AM

    It was a horrible call. No question about it. But it wasn’t the biggest news to come out of that game, Craig. Biggest news? McCann is out. Unless that whole “opposite” thing happens and the Braves start hitting more without their big bat, they are in BIG BIG trouble. McCann has basically been the whole offense, especially without Chipper in there either.

    The Braves was the skirmish last night, but they may be able to point to last night’s game as the game where they lost the war.

    • Kevin S. - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:41 AM

      Or that’s the leverage the Mets need to get one of the Braves top prospects for Beltran.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:51 AM

        Yeah, the Braves have to make a move for offense now. I mean, if they want to take the next step, they have the pitching they just need offense. Without McCann even their wild card lead becomes a little precarious.

    • adowding3 - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:50 AM

      Biggest news is Pirates falling out of first because of this call, and in the 19th no less. This could very well take the wind out of their sails, and the magic out of their season.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:52 AM

        If they don’t win the division, this loss won’t have anything to do with it. If anything, this is something that should fire them up.

      • stevejeltzjehricurl - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:55 AM

        If this takes the wind out of their sails, then they don’t deserve to win the division anyway. It doesn’t excuse Meals’ mistake, but crap happens. They’re pros, they should be able to deal with it and move on to the next game. It sucks, but there’s no guarantee they would have won the game anyway.

      • adowding3 - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:59 AM

        I agree they are pro’s and they should move on. I’m sure they still believe in themselves, and Clint Hurdle will fire them up.

        But I also feel that anyone outside their clubhouse sees this run as a very fragile entity, and myself included, are regretfully waiting for the magic to run out.

  3. paperlions - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:40 AM

    Do I think he was tagged? Yes, probably.

    Are runners essentially always called out on such plays, even when the tag clearly misses? Yes. I think this is why people are so up-in-arms, not because they see a clear tag, but because the runner is ALWAYS called out on such plays even if the tag misses by several inches, causing a decoupling of their expectation and the outcome.

    Have I seen a shot where you can conclusively say there was a tag? No.

    None of the shots are from the necessary angle to see space between glove and leg, but in the video there is never an indication that the glove moves/changes shape in response to hitting anything, the catchers arm doesn’t slow, change angle, nothing. If he did tag him, it was a light brush.

    • stevejeltzjehricurl - Jul 27, 2011 at 10:03 AM

      Good point, although I think you’re being a little too soft on Meals here. The reason the runner is usually called out on such plays, even if the umps don’t see a clear tag, is that I think the fans (and the umps, although they probably wouldn’t admit it) apply a logical presumption that the tag was applied in the absence of clear evidence to the contrary. As a Phillies fan, I still remember Rod Barajas missing a tag at home where the runner basically slid under his mitt when the ball beat him by about a mile. But in that case, the replay was clear as day — Barajas never tagged the runner. Here, there’s nothing clear to indicate the tag was missed. I actually think the video shows the glove move upon contact and Lugo’s uniform move, and Lugo certainly thought he was out (although a fair case could be made that he’s operating under the same assumptions we are).

      Here, if you people to guess on whether a tag was applied and bet their life on whichever conclusion they choose, I’d guess 95 out of 100 would say it was applied, and 4 of the other five would be just attempting to be contrarian even in the face of death.

  4. dailyrev - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:44 AM

    No need to dress this up with unnecessary incidentals: the guy had had a very long night and he wanted it to be over, now. Period. That’s the story. Psychologically, a very cool phenom to study: the unconscious mind completely taking over the entire personality to the point where even ordinary perception and judgment are thoroughly distorted. But as has already been observed, it’s also another clarion call for change in the game.

  5. jdl1325 - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:47 AM

    I gotta say I agree with Rob. The most damning thing to me is Lugo’s reaction, but I have yet to see an absolutely conclusive shot.

    What makes the play look so bad is that it occurred about three feet from home plate and the ball got there so early. The Pirates catcher certainly didn’t make the call easy though with the swipe tag.

  6. Chris Fiorentino - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:48 AM

    I will say this though…a more experienced catcher would NEVER have allowed Lugo to even tag home plate period. I have seen a guy like Ruiz put the tag down, hold it there, and hold the runner with the glove not allowing the umpire any doubt. A swipe tag, while I know he had other runners on base to worry about, is sometimes not 1

  7. Chris Fiorentino - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:49 AM

    I will say this though…a more experienced catcher would NEVER have allowed Lugo to even tag home plate period. I have seen a guy like Ruiz put the tag down, hold it there, and hold the runner with the glove not allowing the umpire any doubt. A swipe tag, while I know he had other runners on base to worry about, is sometimes not 100% definitive and he should have put the glove on Lugo and not let him just get up and touch home plate.

    Again, I thought the swipe tag was made…but it was close. A more seasoned catcher would have put the glove on the runner.

  8. gendisarray - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:54 AM

    Lugo should try starting his slide when he’s more than halfway between 3rd and home. Not sure he would’ve made it to home plate with that slide even with no catcher there.

  9. normb11 - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:55 AM

    The NFL would not overrule that play based on the picture Craig linked to.

    • crpls - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:57 AM

      The NFL didn’t overrule the Steelers-Dolphins play last year. That’s not an encouraging comparison.

  10. kopy - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:55 AM

    I like Neyer too, but I feel like he’s trolling people here. It seems like Lugo’s pants move when the tag swipes by.

  11. hittfamily - Jul 27, 2011 at 10:03 AM

    Vince McMahon just switched Rob “The Anvil” Neyer-Hart from babyface, to villain. He’s still a good guy, it’s just kayfabe.

  12. crpls - Jul 27, 2011 at 10:05 AM

    …and the Pirates officially protest, but it can’t change anything. I assume everyone will get over this soon a la the Joyce call.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Jul 27, 2011 at 10:12 AM

      In this case, since they would be able to 100% start the game exactly where it ended, why wouldn’t the protest be able to start the game at that point? Is baseball worried it might hurt the feelings of poor poor Meals? Pitt is still in Atlanta. if the call is so egregious, then there is no reason they can’t start at the 19th and finish this game before they play the 7pm game tonight.

      • stevejeltzjehricurl - Jul 27, 2011 at 10:18 AM

        I always thought such protests were pointless, but I guess you have some precedent from the pine tar game.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Jul 27, 2011 at 10:26 AM

        Rule 4.19 of the MLB rules prohibit protests for judgment calls. They are only for the misapplication of rules.

        The protest should be and will be dismissed out of hand.

      • crpls - Jul 27, 2011 at 10:36 AM

        Pfft. Being safe or out is part of the rules! :)

      • FC - Jul 27, 2011 at 11:37 AM

        But the play was stopped. There was a good chance that without this distraction a double play could have been completed at first. The Batter fell on his face out of the box and was several feet from first base after the play at the plate. It’s conceivable that with the out at home the catcher had enough time to get the out at first.

    • thomas2727 - Jul 27, 2011 at 10:30 AM

      Pirates know they have no chance to win the protest since you can’t protest a judgement call. They obviously just want the situation documented.

  13. Joe - Jul 27, 2011 at 10:07 AM

    What seals it for me here isn’t going to be solved by pixellating a photo and seeing if the tag was applied or missed by a centimeter or two. To me that’s moot, because Lugo doesn’t make any effort to actually avoid the tag – there’s no hook slide or hand tag attempt. Nor does he try to dislodge the ball. The ball beat him, the catcher applied (or attempted to apply) the tag, Lugo slid in and accepted the result. A better tag would have been definitive, but there is no way the Braves would have argued an out call on this.

  14. purnellmeagrejr - Jul 27, 2011 at 10:07 AM

    I don’t know anything about Rob Neyer – maybe he’s trying to get a job as an umpire and wants to show he’s qualified. This was one of the worst – if the THE worst call I’ve ever seen.

    • The Common Man - Jul 27, 2011 at 10:09 AM

      Now I feel old. Son, go to school.

      • stevejeltzjehricurl - Jul 27, 2011 at 10:23 AM

        What, you didn’t already feel old when you called some other guy a “whippersnapper” above?

        As to the comment about Rob trying to get a gig as an ump and this guy not knowing anything about him… I do agree that it makes me feel old. I’m stunned that there’s someone who takes the time to read and comment on a baseball-centric blog, but doesn’t know who Rob Neyer is.

      • crpls - Jul 27, 2011 at 10:35 AM

        Eh. This isn’t what you’d call a saber-heavy blog necessarily and Neyer was behind the paywall at ESPN.com for a while–not to mention not a TV personality.

        I guess I can see how someone wouldn’t know who he is, especially not knowing how much time the commenter spends reading about baseball on the net.

      • The Common Man - Jul 27, 2011 at 11:08 AM

        Rob was behind the paywall at ESPN for a year at maximum, and was not for several years before he moved on to SB Nation.

    • thomas2727 - Jul 27, 2011 at 10:28 AM

      Neyer sounds like he is pulling a Skip Bayless on this one.

  15. ditto65 - Jul 27, 2011 at 10:35 AM

    Lugo thought Lugo was out.

  16. fsubravesfan - Jul 27, 2011 at 10:56 AM

    im a huge braves fan and could clearly see he was thrown out but i watched horrible umpiring for 19 innings im glad they finally caught a break

  17. tk1966 - Jul 27, 2011 at 10:57 AM

    Unfortunately, the lesson here is that the catcher should lower his shoulder and bowl over the runner to make sure there is no mistake

  18. dexterismyhero - Jul 27, 2011 at 11:09 AM

    Was that Sid Bream?

  19. Mark Armour - Jul 27, 2011 at 11:28 AM

    Rob is right. He was probably tagged, but the catcher could have swiped and missed him.

  20. jrd8523 - Jul 27, 2011 at 11:56 AM

    Julio Lugo’s shocked reaction at being called safe ends the debate for me.

  21. scatterbrian - Jul 27, 2011 at 12:16 PM

    This is getting out of hand. Can we stop trying to one-up each other with how outraged we are? The fact that we need a freeze-frame screen capture in order to definitively tell safe or out is proof that making these calls in real-time is not easy.

    • jimbo1949 - Jul 27, 2011 at 2:35 PM

      The only reason to freeze frame this play from multiple angles would be to prove the negative, that Meals made the correct call.

  22. macjacmccoy - Jul 27, 2011 at 5:19 PM

    He slowed down at the exact second the guy tagged him that pretty much tells me his momentum was impeded by something like contact.

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