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Where’s Waldo Tim McClelland?

Jun 3, 2012, 10:17 AM EDT

Reader 1943mrmojorisin1971 alerted me to a play I didn’t see last night.  Rangers-Angels game. Seventh inning. Angels up 2-1, Mike Trout on third and Kendrys Morales at the plate.  Morales lifts a fly ball to right and Nelson Cruz fields it.  Trout tags up and races home.  The call … safe! Angels score what proved to be the game-winning run.  Watch the play here.

Catcher Yorvit Torrealba freaked out, thinking he made the play and was ejected almost immediately.  To be fair, it was close.  You gotta give the ump the benefit of the doubt there, right?

Well, maybe you do if home plate Tim McClelland is anywhere near the freakin’ play:


Yes, that’s cropped, but watch the play and you see that McClelland is a good three feet outside of the circle on the grass off to the right in the pic. Torrelaba mentioned that after the game too, saying “I was trying to block the plate, but I don’t think he was in the right position to tell if he was out or safe,” which — though 100% correct — may be enough to get him a small fine on top of his ejection.

Missed calls happen. But there are ways to limit the number of missed calls.  One of them is by having the umpire in position to make them. In this case, that didn’t happen.

  1. paperlions - Jun 3, 2012 at 10:42 AM

    It was a close play, but where did McClelland think he was going? He kept backing up as he watch the play and the managed to rotate over to give himself an even worse view of the play.

    It looked like Trout was probably safe (though he really couldn’t tell if the lead foot was down or just in the air over the plate), but from McClelland’s vantage point, there is no way for him to know that.

    • jarathen - Jun 3, 2012 at 10:58 AM

      Agreed. It was an incredibly close play (certainly closer than the tag applied on Pujols on the Napoli error that was caused by the overshift, which was called erroneously as safe), though, and I think either call could be made.

    • sabatimus - Jun 3, 2012 at 11:10 AM

      Totally. McClelland appeared to be casually walking around to the side to get a vantage point that couldn’t possibly tell if Torrealba tagged him. It was a very close play though. Maybe McClelland was that far away because he didn’t want to get bowled over during a potential home-plate collision?

      • jarathen - Jun 3, 2012 at 11:13 AM

        That’s something I wondered myself. How close should an umpire be when a home plate collision is imminent?

      • recoveringcubsfan - Jun 4, 2012 at 7:42 AM

        Umps are supposed to move to a designated spot once the ball is in play, then shift to a spot that a) doesn’t interfere with the play and b) gives them a close vantage point to any potential play, especially one at their base (remember, the umps are all, theoretically, responsible for every play, not only the one at their assigned base; hence, they can discuss and overrule each other in cases where one didn’t see something). McvClelland was in the right spot, he was just so frickin’ far away from the play that he missed the call. That’s what one calls “bad positioning,” not because he was behind the catcher or lost the line of sight or anything, but because he was in the right place but – like a fielder who neglects to charge a slow roller, or a basketball player who shoots from 15 feet when the defense is giving him another 5 feet – he could have easily taken 2-3 steps and been in the perfect position.

        That all said, umps are also told that if they don’t think they can move and get set in time to make a stationary judgment, they should stay put. But bottom line, this is McClelland’s fault, no other way to see it. Being “almost right” is in some ways worse than being totally wrong, because he obviously knows what to do and didn’t do it properly.

        Maybe umps should work on their footwork – or just lose some damn weight while they’re at it.

  2. ezthinking - Jun 3, 2012 at 11:23 AM

    He was on the side of the play where he was supposed to be. That’s as good a look as you will get.

    • term3186 - Jun 3, 2012 at 2:15 PM

      I’m not sure where people want McClelland to be. Sure, he could be closer, but he was definitely at the correct angle. Note, that on none of the replay angles shown could you possible tell A) If the catcher managed to get the tag down, or B) if he managed to get the tag down before the runner scored.

      McClelland was at the ONLY angle where you could see between the catcher and the runner (unless you want him to be somewhere up the third base line, which is silly), and thus tell whether or not the tag was applied. Could he have been closer? Sure. But I doubt being 5 feet closer to the play is going to make a difference. The angle is the most critical thing here, and McClelland was perfectly positioned.

      • recoveringcubsfan - Jun 4, 2012 at 7:46 AM

        Would 5 feet have made any difference? I dunno – do you like to read small print in a book from 18 inches away, or from two feet away? I mean, if the angle is correct….

  3. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jun 3, 2012 at 11:29 AM

    Looks like great umpiring was en vogue last night, as everyone’s favorite Balkin’ Bob Davidson tossed both Kevin Long (hitting coach) and Joe Girardi last night. Here’s the vid:

    Gotta love that he listens to Girardi’s rant, walks away, hears Girardi say, “you made a mistake” and then tosses him. So swear at the umps all you want, as long as you don’t say they were wrong.

    • The Baseball Idiot - Jun 3, 2012 at 11:47 AM

      When is MLB going to do something about asshole coaches and managers who instigate the situations, and refuse to let it go.

      Long clearly was arguing balls and strikes, which is against the rule book. He was ejected, as the umpire has a right to do.

      The umpire walked away and did nothing to escalate the situation. The manager than came out and started an arugment with the umpire, and when he was ejected, the umpire walked away and did nothing to escalate the situation. The manager, on the other hand, acted like a complete dick.

      If you want to discipline umpires for not being good at their job, fine. Discipline the umpires and coaches for escalating the sitution and acting like children.

      Fair is fair.

      • Utley's Hair - Jun 3, 2012 at 1:18 PM

        (From )

        (a) Any umpire’s decision which involves judgment, such as, but not limited to, whether a batted ball is fair or foul, whether a pitch is a strike or a ball, or whether a runner is safe or out, is final. No player, manager, coach or substitute shall object to any such judgment decisions.
        Rule 9.02(a) Comment: Players leaving their position in the field or on base, or managers or coaches leaving the bench or coaches box, to argue on BALLS AND STRIKES will not be permitted. They should be warned if they start for the plate to protest the call. If they continue, they will be ejected from the game.

        Explain to me where Long left the bench to argue it. Girardi left the dugout to protest Long’s ejection. Actually, it appears that he mentions that Long didn’t leave the dugout.

        Also, if “you made a mistake” escalates the situation, then the umpire in question needs some anger management classes or at the very least, a vacation. The only time Girardi was acting like a child was after Davidson ejected him after he said “you made a mistake.”

        Players, coaches and managers are disciplined by way of suspensions and fines all the time. Why not umpires? After all, as you said, fair is fair.

      • paperlions - Jun 3, 2012 at 1:22 PM

        Well, fair is fair…so…

        When will umpires start calling interference for catchers that block the plate without the ball? That is against the rulebook (and thus against the edict of umpires to enforce the rules).

        When will umpires stop calling “neighborhood plays” or runners out when the ball arrives before the runner but the runner isn’t tagged out. They are making up their own rules, which is against the edict of the umpires.

        When will umpires stop calling balls that are not in the strike zone strikes and start calling the strike zone defined by the rule book? It is not for the umpires to decide what the strike zone should be, but to enforce the strike zone defined in the rule book.

        Players that are horrible at their jobs lose them….umpires that are horrible at their jobs (either calling the game or acting as moderator/arbiter) should lose their jobs as well.

        McClelland did have an option besides immediately throwing out the catcher. He could have tried to talk to the catcher and calm him down first and then warned him he was gone if he didn’t….but he didn’t, he just threw him out of the game (a game arguably decided by multiple bad calls on the bases by the umpiring crew). Players/managers should be expected to get emotional, they have vested interests in outcomes….umpires do not (or, at least, shouldn’t) and should be expected to maintain composure in the face of such emotion (not “throw my helmet at you” emotion, but surely “you gotta be kidding me, he was out” emotion.

      • The Baseball Idiot - Jun 3, 2012 at 4:54 PM

        “No player, manager, coach or substitute shall object to any such judgment decisions.”

        What part of the rule that you just quoted don’t you understant?


      • The Baseball Idiot - Jun 3, 2012 at 4:57 PM

        Hey, paperlions, what exactly did the catcher say? Do you know?

        Let me guess: “I think I know what someone said, therefore I’m right?”

        Not exactly Descartes, but I guess it’s as close as close-minded people can get.

      • paperlions - Jun 3, 2012 at 5:28 PM

        Hey Idiot, what part of this don’t YOU understand?

        “Rule 9.02(a) Comment: Players leaving their position in the field or on base, or managers or coaches leaving the bench or coaches box, to argue on BALLS AND STRIKES will not be permitted. They should be warned if they start for the plate to protest the call. If they continue, they will be ejected from the game.

        Nothing in there suggests that a player or manager should be ejected simply for arguing or questioning a call if they don’t leave their position….it also clearly states that players/managers should be warned before being ejected… many cases it is clear that no such warning was issued…so the umpires clearly are not following the rules they are charged with enforcing.

      • The Baseball Idiot - Jun 3, 2012 at 5:35 PM

        So you know for a fact that no warning was issued? Or is that just what you want to believe to make you right, and the umpires wrong?

        This is the first time I’ve ever said this, but I have to now. Have you ever actually been on a baseball field during an actual game? Because the things you write make me think you haven’t.

      • Utley's Hair - Jun 3, 2012 at 8:23 PM

        Okay, I now fully believe that TBI—while living up to his aptly selected username—is actually Balkin Bob, Cowboy Joe or Angel Hernandez. He also can’t read, or maybe he can, but comprehension is his problem. Or maybe he took one foul ball too many to the head.

        Read the entire pasted rule like paperlions said. Now, try it again. Eventually, it will sink in.

        Oh, and lay off the caffeine.

      • paperlions - Jun 4, 2012 at 10:05 AM

        If he was warned, then both the warning and ejection occurred in less than 1/2 second….because that is how long it took from the catcher responding to the call and the ejection.

  4. Utley's Hair - Jun 3, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    This is also in the same inning that Andrus argued about Aybar being hit by the grounder on his way to third, so there was already some kind of animosity toward the umpires. (See the second video on church’s link.)

  5. dad95 - Jun 3, 2012 at 4:08 PM

    Isnt Torrealba the same guy punched/slapped that ump in Puerto Rico?Tough call but Trout was safe(even though Im a Rangers fan).Time to control yourself Yorvit.

    • The Baseball Idiot - Jun 3, 2012 at 5:07 PM

      See, comments like that just keep the umpire from being the bad guy. And at HBT, that’s not allowed. Don’t you know the rules here. Umpires are wrong. Always wrong. All the time. They have never been right in the history of the game.

      Except when pitchers get perfect games and no-hitters. Then it’s okay.

      But only then.

      • paperlions - Jun 3, 2012 at 5:30 PM

        The ump can not be the bad guy…you just ignore those instances and ceaselessly defend when umps fuck up.

      • The Baseball Idiot - Jun 3, 2012 at 5:39 PM

        Just like you excuse the players and managers for being complete assholes when they start the problem. In your opinion, they do no wrong, while the umpires are never right.

        We get it. You struck out for the last out of an important game, because you didn’t take the bat off of your shoulder. But because you didn’t swing, and your teammates raised hell with you, it wasn’t your fault. It was the umpires. So they will always be wrong in your mind, and the players always right. Get over it.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jun 3, 2012 at 7:32 PM

        So they will always be wrong in your mind, and the players always right. Get over it

        Not speaking for pc, but I’ll admit that 99% of the time the umpires are right. However, they do a ton of wrong things during that 1% when they are wrong. And while I wasn’t a umpire, I was a soccer referee for about 7 years, and we couldn’t do 1% of the crap MLB umpires get away with. Causing fights, yelling at coaches/players, swearing, etc. Any of us would get banned from referring for doing that crap, MLB umps don’t even get a slap on the wrist (and notice no other profession sports officials do that either…)

  6. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jun 3, 2012 at 5:24 PM

    It’s not like proper positioning is going to turn the guy into a good umpire. In fact, as long as he is somewhere in the ballpark he probably has the same 50/50 chance of getting the call right.

  7. sbtc22 - Jun 4, 2012 at 3:33 PM

    Angles are different depending upon height, also. Remember, McLelland is a giant of a human being.

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