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Can we please just let Phil Humber have his perfect game in peace?

Apr 23, 2012, 10:31 AM EDT

humber gray getty Getty Images

UPDATE: Barra responds. Fair enough: he’s not upset about the call, he’s upset at the media’s reaction to it, Fox not showing the reruns, etc.

10:31 AM: Because my parents had the kids and me over for dinner — and because my parents are old people who like to have dinner at 4:30pm — I missed almost all of Phil Humber‘s perfect game on Saturday. I did see the last two outs, though. And it’s obviously the last out which people care about the most.

Today Allen Barra writes about it, however, and he cares more than most, it seems:

I’m not suggesting that FoxNews, MLB, Humber’s team, the Chicago White Sox, or the home team, the Seattle Mariners, are in some kind of conspiracy … No, to hell with that, that’s exactly what I’m suggesting. Can anyone offer a rational reason why, in the most important pitch of the young season, and a play that was instantly controversial, Fox didn’t show us the pitch from the camera angle that would have given us the clearest view?

Can it be that they know that Ryan successfully checked his swing, that the pitch should have been called ball four, that Runge blew the call, and that therefore Humber’s perfect game is tainted? That’s what I think happened.

Eh. I get that worked up about some things, but I just can’t here.

When I saw it live I thought Brendan Ryan checked his swing. I didn’t get all up in arms about it because the TV angle was horrible and — as Barra notes — Fox decided not to show replays for some reason (I’ll go with incompetence over a conspiracy theory). But my gut feeling was that he checked his swing. Obviously the ump felt differently.

Still: it was a close call, a judgment call and — unlike the Jim Joyce/Armando Galarraga call or other famous blown calls — it was one that is quite often called the way it was called that day, even if it wasn’t ideal. For as much as we want ultra-precision in baseball, we’re never gonna get it on that play.

I’ll throw one more thing on the fire: Brendan Ryan’s reaction to the call may be influencing Barra and others who are critical here. He mildly freaked when the ump said he went around. While he apparently does that a lot — here he is doing the day before the perfect game — normally we don’t see batters have such a reaction to a check swing call, even on a third strike. It’s more of an eyes-roll thing. Some of us are upset, I think, because Ryan was upset and the play ended kinda messy, what with the ball going to the backstop and stuff. It happens.

Anyway, I don’t think there is going to be anything definitive here. This is the best that people who are adamant that Ryan swung can do. And, while clever, I don’t think it necessarily resolves anything. It still looks borderline to me. Probably because check swing calls are always all over the place.

The call happened. Sometimes that call goes the other way. It’s baseball, and even baseball can’t be perfect.  I have no problem saying, however, that Phil Humber was.

  1. dasher521 - Apr 23, 2012 at 3:24 PM

    Congratulations, Phil Humber! The are “check swings” that are called or not called all of time. There have been games when a batter gets walked with two outs on what should have been strike three only to have the next batter homer. Judgement call. I’ve umpired NCAA games and it ain’t easy.

  2. Admin - Apr 23, 2012 at 4:08 PM

    In all fairness to Philip Humber, the called check swing strike was not a strike. One only needs to watch this video posted by a fan sitting on the 1st base side. The batter clearly does not swing at the pitch. It’s a judgement call and this time the umpire made a mistake. Call it a give back for the horrendous call in the Galarraga perfect game.

    • sabatimus - Apr 23, 2012 at 4:11 PM

      There’s nothing in the rule book that demands a strike call for swinging a certain distance, even though umpires almost always call it that way. It’s only whether the umpire believes the batter offered at the pitch.

    • jlovenotjlo - Apr 23, 2012 at 4:13 PM

      2:53 YOU’RE OUT!

    • ugglasforearms - Apr 23, 2012 at 7:03 PM

      Play the video and if you can get it to stop at the exact moment the bat reaches its farthest extent in the swing you might agree this was a strike. I made a screen capture of what I’m talking about if anyone’s interested. The moment is in the 2:53 area of the video, but geez one second is a long time in baseball when it comes to something like this.

      • ugglasforearms - Apr 23, 2012 at 9:04 PM

        My screen cap

        http://ugglasforearms.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/humbers-last-pitch/

  3. yougotg - Apr 23, 2012 at 4:20 PM

    the ball was three feet of the plate.. if the batter leaves the bat on his shoulder it’s an easy walk.

    He took a check at it, It was borderline… i could see the full bat not just the nub..in that situation you have to call it strike.

  4. Kevin Gillman - Apr 23, 2012 at 5:18 PM

    How about this, Brendan Ryan was bitching to the umpire, and NOT running to 1st base. I mean, he could have been safe, and Humber would have had to record 28 outs to get the perfect game. Yes, Joyce blew the Galarraga call a few years ago, but nobody mentions that Jason Donald hustled to 1st, just to make that play close, which it was. The one thing we should all know, especially players themselves, is you never assume anything in baseball.

    • sabatimus - Apr 23, 2012 at 5:28 PM

      Regardless of how Ryan would’ve reached 1st base, it would not have been a perfect game, by definition. But the fact that Ryan decided to argue and not bust his butt down to first was a silly move.

      • Kevin Gillman - Apr 23, 2012 at 5:31 PM

        Absolutely it was, you can argue the call if he’s found out at 1st base, after the game. But you still run hard on that play, because you never, ever know what may happen if you’re safe.

  5. kxlllxst - Apr 23, 2012 at 5:41 PM

    seems like seattle broke an unwritten rule was broken by pinch hitting twice in the bottom of the ninth of a perfect game bid

  6. jssgriffi - Apr 23, 2012 at 9:05 PM

    Funny how you failed to mention that almost every single check swing is appealed to the base umps. For some reason the home ump didn’t want to appeal, just admit it he gave him the perfect game to make up for that idiot ump last year.

  7. gilbert718 - Apr 24, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    If you pause at the right moment it’s obvious he swung. But still it’s not the home plate umps call he cant follow the pitch and see the swing.

  8. BaseballSpeak - Apr 24, 2012 at 7:55 PM

    Hey Craig… You didn’t mention he “threw a Maddux.” Or is it “had a Maddux?”

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