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What they’re saying about the Jerry Meals call

Jul 27, 2011, 8:25 AM EDT

Meals blown call

If you’re just waking up to it now, know that home plate umpire Jerry Meals made one of the worst calls you’ll ever see in a baseball game early this morning, calling Julio Lugo safe at home in the bottom of the 19th inning of the Pirates-Braves game, handing Atlanta the win.  The photo to the right is the best one I’ve seen.

Not that there’s a ton of room for analysis or debate here. It was a pure blown call. The ump admitted it himself after the game. I went back and watched the replay from the Braves telecast and even Chip Caray and Joe Simpson — two of the biggest homers you’ll ever hear in a broadcast booth — couldn’t spin it, nor did they even try. So all we’re left with is reaction.

Now, normally when we troll reaction of a big baseball event with a “what they’re saying about …” post, we go with what pundits and bloggers write.  This time it seems that the immediacy of the moment captures it better than any sober reflection will, so I’m going with the instant reactions from my Twitter feed:

  • Buster_ESPN: If there was ever an argument for five-man umpiring crews–with one in the booth, overseeing replay to correct mistakes– it was just made.
  • Pirates pitcher Jeff Karstens, via the tweet of LangoschMLB: “”For some reason, somebody didn’t want us to play anymore. So the game was ended.”
  • BizballMaury: Sun was in his eyes (I think Maury may be offering a touch of sarcasm here)
  • Maholm28: Unbelievable game. I have never seen anything like it. Thats all I got (yes, that’s Pirates pitcher Paul Maholm)
  • SeanEP1: Other 3 umpires looked like they wanted to crawl in a hole and hide.
  • edrainey: I hear Jerry Meals has missed some time this year while serving on the Casey Anthony jury. May be why he is rusty. (Ooooh, ouch)
  • dodgerthoughts: When does the Jerry Meals-Daniel McCutchen book come out?
  • nvasconcelos: I’m just glad the human element of umpiring is preserved. That’s the important thing.
  • joe_sheehan: McKenry tagged Lugo on the leg and then the arm. Maybe Meals figured they canceled each other out.
  • 4Who4What: I can name 5 bad umpires before I can even think of 1 good one. The ineptitude is amazing.
  • DaleMurphy3 (yes, that’s the real Dale Murphy): On ‘swipe’ tags you usually see guys called out when they aren’t tagged, seldom do you see a guy get tagged, and then be called safe…weird
  • allenw111:  give me robot umpires, please…instant replay for all plays, I don’t care if it makes every game 4 hours long
  • keithlaw: Holy …

Note: If you can render Keith Law mostly speechless, you know you’ve done something monumental.

Instant. Replay. Now.

  1. William J. Tasker - Jul 27, 2011 at 8:32 AM

    Perhaps the thoughts that Meals blew this call on purpose are cruel and uncalled for. But geez, he really blew it on that play.

    • deathmonkey41 - Jul 27, 2011 at 10:20 AM

      Hey, I still can’t believe that other guy blew the no-hitter call. When I watch that, I can’t help but think there was some personal vendetta going on there. Not that I have any proof or history of bad blood- just because I found it humanly impossible to blow such an obvious call.

  2. hittfamily - Jul 27, 2011 at 8:34 AM

    The umpire gives an interview moments after the game ends, and he admits his mistake. This one is on Bud Selig and his “purity of the game” fantasy, not Jerry Meals. A blown call is forgivable. Routinely watching this same situation play out over and over, and still doing nothing to ensure the correct team wins is unforgivable. What a shame.

    • JBerardi - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:03 AM

      Wait, you mean you weren’t thrilled at the beautiful, poetic injection of the “human element” into the game by a non-player?

      Bud Selig wants to know why you hate Baseball and America so much.

      • kellyb9 - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:10 AM

        JBeradi is absolutely right. This play wasn’t close at all. I don’t even think the player touched the plate after the fact. There should be replay on close game defining plays like this one.

      • hittfamily - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:24 AM

        I think it was extremely close. I applaud the ump for actually taking into the account that just just because the ball beat him, doesn’t mean he’s out. For a lesser umpire, the plays over whether he tags him or not. In real life speed, the legs tragegectory isn’t altered, and the swing of the glove doesn’t show any signs of being impeded by an immovable object.

        Slowed down to 60 frames per second, it is an obvious call. An answer to this problem has been implemented in every other sport, including college sports. Meals admitted his mistake after watching the instant replay. Unfortunately, per Bud’s rules, he has to declare a winner and loser prior to watching the replay. He shares no fault in this, in my mind.

      • dts1624 - Jul 28, 2011 at 2:52 AM

        ok first of all he clearly touched home plate on the slide second yes he was tagged. I am a braves fan and i was shocked at the call but not dissapointed. Yes the ump missed the call but instant replay is not nessacary because the rulebook says all call are made in the judgement of the umpire and it has always been that way. Meals had been making terrible ball and strike calls all night and it caused braves player mclouth and manager fredi gonzalez to be ejected but if u bring instant replay in managers will try to use it on balls and strikes. Keep the game the way it is and let the umpires do there job… If u wanna make the game better become an umpire yourself

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

      The game can benefit with a review scheme that NFL uses. 2 Manager Challenge per game. 1 Challenge can be used for anywhere on the field, but one can only be used for home base plays. or the manager can decide to use both challenges at home plate.

      That was a blown call, its a shame with our technology today we don’t have a review scheme in place.

      • hittfamily - Jul 27, 2011 at 10:10 AM

        I would prefer the flagless review like in college. Have a 5th ump in a studio monitoring multiple games, and stop the game temporarily on a close call that results in a safe/out call. It would be far faster than having the coach slowly wander out to the plate, then the ump slowly disappear below the stands.

  3. kopy - Jul 27, 2011 at 8:45 AM

    The radio was blowing up about this call this morning. I was so excited to see it, and now, it really is as bad as everyone claims. I’d really love to see somebody defend the “human element” of controlling who wins. MLB umpiring is a joke. Instant replay is badly needed if MLB wants the people to take it seriously. Not only do all other “big 3” sports use replay, but there are sports like tennis and cricket that use replay even better.

  4. woodenulykteneau - Jul 27, 2011 at 8:50 AM

    From that angle, it looks like he made the tag. From the on-deck circle it’s clear that he missed the tag.

    • Lincoln93 - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:08 AM

      Is that you, Jerry Meals?

    • pmcenroe - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:17 AM

      actually i thought the on-deck view confirmed that he made the tag

  5. sdelmonte - Jul 27, 2011 at 8:59 AM

    Instant reply, yes. But also better umps. There is excuse for making this bad a call, and just because you can reverse it doesn’t excuse the inability of the man in black in this case.

    • kopy - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:12 AM

      Eye exams would work wonders, seriously. I’m not trying to discriminate, but when you get to the age of some of these umpires… your eyes aren’t what they used to be, and it makes it very tough to pick up some quick movements on a close call like this.

      Well, not like this, but on actual close calls. They could use some younger umps instead of having some pyramid scheme of tenure.

  6. easports82 - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:02 AM

    As a Mariners fan, I want to thank Jerry for making this the hot topic of the day and putting the M’s ineptitude below the fold.

    • hittfamily - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:33 AM

      Ha! Well said.

  7. catsmeat - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:07 AM


    • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:38 AM


      • hittfamily - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:40 AM


      • Utley's Hair - Jul 27, 2011 at 11:31 AM

        Have a nice day.

  8. enticingslinky - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:09 AM

    I am an umpire myself and the first thing that they teach you at all the seminars and classes that you take is that you are the ruler and that whichever call you make is final… so he shouldn’t have to apologize if he perhaps missed the call, its final and there is no overturning his final decision

    • easports82 - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:14 AM

      I think you’ve just illustrated everyone’s frustration with the system.

    • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:41 AM

      Every other major sport has a back-up call correction system of some sort. Why doth baseball umpires insist on playing God? Why doth thou ne’er be questioned?

    • hittfamily - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:42 AM

      That’s what I tell my wife everyday. Marriage counselors said I was wrong.

    • The Common Man - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:44 AM

      And therein lies the problem, both with the attitude of a large percentage of umpires and the system as a whole that treats umps’ judgment calls as sacrosanct.

    • stevejeltzjehricurl - Jul 27, 2011 at 10:12 AM

      That’s the dumbest instruction I’ve ever heard. It’s fine to say it’s final, but refusing to apologize for screwing up? We all make mistakes at work, and that includes people who work as the boss. Saying that the person who has final authority doesn’t have to apologize for a mistake is what leads people to think that person is an arrogant d-bag.

  9. offseasonblues - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:09 AM

    Umpire in the booth. Now.


  10. shaggylocks - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:10 AM

    I think I’m more pissed off at Lugo. What the hell are you so happy about?

  11. hermitfool - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:25 AM

    Julio Lugo represents divine retribution for every naughty act ever committed by human beings.

  12. lucky5934 - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:26 AM

    As a referee of two sports I can tell you that it is easy to second guess and question an umpire’s call with all of the technology we have at our disposal. But he didnt have that. He made an incorrect judgement. I am not questioning that. But if for one second anyone thinks it is easy to make a split second decision based on only one angle and get it right EVERY single time is out of their minds. It is a very difficult job! Replay would help. And I believe replay should cover all base running Safe/Outs. But maybe limit a manager’s challenge to two a game. Or else we risk delaying the game for too long.

    • The Common Man - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:46 AM

      A challenge system is not necessary. Stop trying to turn this into football. Baseball has play stoppages in which a 5th guy in the booth who can say “hey Jerry, you missed that one” and corrective action could be taken.

      • stevejeltzjehricurl - Jul 27, 2011 at 10:15 AM

        Agreed. It takes less time than watching most of these guys walk from the on-deck circle to the batter’s box. The best way to sell it to Bud would be to tell teams that they can sell sponsorships of replay reviews.

        “This review is brought to you by Safelite AutoGlass. Because there’s some things that can’t be fixed by a replay.”

  13. phukyouk - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:27 AM

    i dont think that Leno or Letterman could have topped some of those. pure gold

  14. steve7921 - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:36 AM

    I think Selig should form an All-Star umpire crew – Joe West, Angel Hernandez, Bob Davidson and its newest member Jerry Meals!

  15. hasbeen5 - Jul 27, 2011 at 9:40 AM

    Dale Murphy’s on twitter? I might finally have to sign up.

  16. yankeesgameday - Jul 27, 2011 at 10:02 AM

    You want to talk integrity of the game… I am writing for the day that the manager who benefits from this kind of call walks over to the imo and opposing manager to say, “my guy was obviously out. Let’s keep playing, i’m sending the next batter up to the plate.”

    What’s the ump going to do, throw him out for being honorable?

    • hittfamily - Jul 27, 2011 at 10:26 AM

      Kind of like when Ronald Reagan famously caught a touchdown his senior year for a game winning diving catch in the last second. The ref ruled it a catch. However, Reagan told the ref he dropped it, so the other team won, and no one was angry at him.

      Unfortunately for Ron, microfilm from newspapers reporting on the game in question were readily available at libraries, and a story of valor like this had to be confirmed. His team lost by twenty something points. Another key fact: Ronald Reagan wasn’t on the team.

  17. jerseydevi1 - Jul 27, 2011 at 10:03 AM

    I have to say I have seen the replay many times, and I am still not sure I saw the glove touch him. The best angle for me so far was the on-deck angle that woodenulykteneau posted. I think I see the glove flex right when it gets near his knee. That being said, Meals looked like he was in position to see it best. He had also just called 18+ innings, so given those 3 things, I am willing to cut him a little slack. He did not have the opportunity to see 87 replays at 42 different speeds from 94 angles. He had to make a call based on what he saw. Yes, there should be replay, but there isn’t right now, so complaining about it won’t help.

    This is not to defend the call or lack of replay, just trying to be fair about the whole thing. I am neither a Braves or Pirates fan so I have no dog in this fight other than finally getting to see the Pirates play this year.

    • jerseydevi1 - Jul 27, 2011 at 12:14 PM

      I love it, 4 thumbs down and no rebuttals. What didn’t you agree with? The fact that I said I didn’t see the glove touch him or that I didn’t jump all over the guy who just spent 6 or 7 hours on his feet paying more attention to the game than anyone on here?

      He’s human. There is no replay. How many mistakes did you make yesterday?

      buncha hypocrites.

  18. steve7921 - Jul 27, 2011 at 10:30 AM

    Unfortunately, because of the blatant and obvious missed calls the past few seasons…video replay is gaining traction. I hate this and I think the best solution is not replay but to hold the umpires accountable like they do in other pro sports and if the season-long grades are below standard, replace them!

    The problem will not be solved by video replay, the same boneheaded umpires will be looking at the replays and determining if their original call was right or wrong…do you think Joe West will really over-turn one of his calls?

  19. jeffrp - Jul 27, 2011 at 2:30 PM

    So did Craig stop following Neyer or just leave him out because his comments didn’t fit the narrative?

    • Craig Calcaterra - Jul 27, 2011 at 2:34 PM

      Or did you just not read the other posts on the blog today? Because I did a separate post dealing with Neyer’s take directly.

      • jeffrp - Jul 27, 2011 at 2:39 PM

        D’oh, blog reading fail.

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