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Blown call from Jerry Meals, bad baseball doom Red Sox in loss

Jul 30, 2013, 12:19 AM EDT

Jerry Meals

Make no mistake: the Red Sox played some pretty terrible baseball in losing 2-1 to the Rays on Monday. Still, a blown call at home plate in the bottom of the eighth cost them the tying run and, for that, Jerry Meals was to blame.

Here’s the video:

Meals admitted after the game that he made the wrong call. Which is good. Personally, I have less of a problem with the call itself than his positioning to make the call. Everything happens so fast that bad calls are going to happen. It’s giving oneself the best chance to make the right call that’s important. Meals had all day to set up, knowing that the play at the plate was forthcoming. Yet he still put himself at the worst possible angle to judge the play. It’s ridiculous that home-plate umpires still retreat behind the catcher to make the call at the plate. The percentage of missed calls at home plate is maybe the single biggest reason expanded instant replay is needed.

But let’s not make this all about Meals. Let’s also spent some time on all of the stupid things the Red Sox did in the final two innings:

– After Ryan Lavarnway‘s one-out double in the frame, the Red Sox sent in Daniel Nava to pinch-run, even though they still had Jose Iglesias on the bench. Not only is Nava just not that fast, but the move robbed them of one of their two quality pinch-hitting options.

Stephen Drew followed with a double over Wil Myers‘ head in right. Nava did a terrible job reading it and only advanced to third on the play. Inexcusable.

– That brought Brandon Snyder to the plate against Joel Peralta. Snyder was 6-for-45 with no extra-base hits and 18 strikeouts lifetime against right-handers, so pinch-hitting for him was an obvious, obvious call. Except Snyder had homered earlier off lefty David Price. Apparently, that warranted him another opportunity in John Farrell’s book. Besides, Farrell had already burnt one of his pinch-hitting options in Nava. It would have been Mike Carp hitting for him. Snyder was the player who hit the fly to left on which Nava was thrown out at the plate.

– In the ninth, Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a single. The same Jacoby Ellsbury who happened to be leading the majors with 38 steals in 41 attempts. Regardless, the Red Sox had Shane Victorino try to bunt against Fernando Rodney anyway. It didn’t work, and Victorino ended up softly lining out on an 0-2 pitch after fouling off his bunt attempts. With Dustin Pedroia up, Ellsbury easily took second for his 39th steal.

– The Red Sox pushed the envelope no further from there. Baserunners are 11-for-13 lifetime stealing third off Rodney, but Ellsbury never went. He also decided to hang back on Pedroia’s grounder to short, when he could have gotten aggressive and tried to take third on the relay. Since he was only on second, the wild pitch Rodney threw to Mike Napoli with two outs proved harmless. Napoli ended up striking out to end the game, putting the Rays back in first place in the AL East at 63-43. The Red Sox are 64-44, a half-game behind.

  1. babyfarkmcgeezax - Jul 30, 2013 at 12:27 AM

    Glad to see Meals is still on top of his game after the Pirates-Braves debacle from a couple years ago

    • unclemosesgreen - Jul 30, 2013 at 11:04 AM

      That was a thoughtful and responsive post. When I get angry at you it is because I know you are capable of this – but you all too often resort to trolling and responding to headlines without reading the article. Keep doing better.

      • heyblueyoustink - Jul 30, 2013 at 11:19 AM

        I don’t think a lot of the newbies here get that. If you usually provide decent material, the occasional weirdness or faux hate becomes more tolerable.

      • unclemosesgreen - Jul 30, 2013 at 11:29 AM

        If they have potential – coach ’em up. If they’re sub-human – they need to get bounced so all the nice people can have a good time. Amiright blue?

  2. rave7215 - Jul 30, 2013 at 12:30 AM

    Jerry Meals blows a call? Color this Pirates fan shocked!

  3. tigersfandan - Jul 30, 2013 at 12:30 AM

    You can complain about Meals’ positioning, but do you remember what happened to Greg Gibson last year when he tried to get in a good position to see the play?

    • petcharles - Jul 30, 2013 at 8:16 AM

      Just so everyone is clear: Your point is that because Gibson was clipped by a flailing foot from Hunter as he leaned in to get a view of the play, umpires shouldn’t try to get in the best possible position possible to make the appropriate call? That’s a heck of a stance for a job description that involves standing within a few feet of swinging pieces of wood and speeding baseballs while on the job once, and more often twice per week. I see your point.

      • tigersfandan - Jul 30, 2013 at 12:22 PM

        I was just making an observation, that’s all. I’ll get off your lawn now.

    • petcharles - Jul 30, 2013 at 8:50 AM

      To be slightly less sarcastic and reply with the appropriate level of angst (that is, none at all), MLB can mitigate the issue of injury in such a scenario by having its umpires stand at a safe distance from the potential action, i.e., a couple feet farther away. Matthew’s general theme – that this incident is all about positioning – is critical here. The reason an umpire would position himself parallel to the direction of the runner’s advance and behind the fielder is a mystery. He and all umpires should be taught to take a line as the aforementioned Gibson so they have they best possible view. Just stand a few feet more distant. It’s a policy issue.

    • umpire - Aug 2, 2013 at 2:16 PM

      What happen? Anyways meals admit he miss the call and he was in wrong position but plays sometimes happen to fast you can’t fix your mistake. I am red sox fan but i can’t blame meals for making the red sox loose that game they had more than once chance to score.

  4. Stiller43 - Jul 30, 2013 at 12:35 AM

    Meals strikes again!!!

    How does this guy have a job?

    • umpire - Aug 2, 2013 at 2:17 PM

      Just like every other human whom makes a mistake at work has a benefit of doubt you people act like you could do so much better. But in fact you be worst.

  5. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jul 30, 2013 at 12:40 AM

    Made this point about a year ago to the day: the home plate umpire should have a great view of the goddamn plate. That’s one of two parts of his job.

    I’d never blame the outcome of a game on one call butl I’d like to see the players decide the game.

  6. walterwhite1976 - Jul 30, 2013 at 12:40 AM

    Horrible call.. yes, 1 blown call in July can eventually cost a team the division. Also, a bad baserunning mistake by Nava.

    • jm91rs - Jul 30, 2013 at 9:26 AM

      I don’t see the base running mistake here. On a pop fly that deep you absolutely have to get home. He was sent in as a pinch runner, he knew his job there. The problem is that he wasn’t the right guy to be running. Great throw, bad call, but if your pinch runner is that slow it’s on the manager too.

      • Glenn - Jul 30, 2013 at 10:12 AM

        The base running mistake was made by Nava on the play before. He should have scored then.

  7. goodknave - Jul 30, 2013 at 1:38 AM

    Before Giambi’s homer, the Indians could have lost tonight because of bad call at second base. Would that have been a story on this site? Of course not. It’s only when the Yankees or Red Sox lose with the help of a controversial call that anyone writes about it. Otherwise, it’s as if it never happened.
    And it’s not just this site…it is pretty much true everywhere but MLB Network. Stop whining, Nor’easters.

    • petcharles - Jul 30, 2013 at 8:28 AM

      I don’t know what this user is talking about, although the idea of MLB expanding beyond it’s current two-team league is interestng.

    • turdfurgerson68 - Jul 30, 2013 at 9:47 AM

      Hey goodnave, you want some cheese with your w(h)ine?

      It was Indians-White Sox…who cares?

      • stlouis1baseball - Jul 30, 2013 at 10:58 AM

        Ummm…Indians and White Sox fans? Baseball fans? The players, coach’s and managers on the respective teams? The Owners? The stadium employees?
        Other than that…I am not sure who cares.

  8. connormyboy - Jul 30, 2013 at 2:36 AM

    Blown calls or not the game shouldn’t of been this close if it weren’t for the rays offense shooting themselves in the foot repeatedly with runners on base numerous times.

  9. Stiller43 - Jul 30, 2013 at 2:39 AM


    Its all about ratings/clicks…

  10. onbucky96 - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:47 AM

    Nah, blame the ump. Hr’s lucky the family of that Brazilian soccer player weren’t in the house. Ok, too much, too soon.

  11. Walk - Jul 30, 2013 at 4:49 AM

    I remember watching that 19 inning game and thinking meals just wanted to go home. There is no way I could have worked the plate in that game or any that probably goes past the seventh. I have a lot of respect for them, catchers get to come out every half inning for a break. That being said here are my thoughts: Initially meals was in a good spot to make the call, but when the throw went a bit to the first base side his view was obscured. Once that happened meals needed to shift a step to his right to view the plate again, which he did not do. The lesson here is not to root yourself to a spot and try to make a call with xray vision.

    • umpire - Aug 2, 2013 at 2:20 PM

      He had no chance to make a move you cannot make a call while your moving as an umpire.

  12. bosoxfan15 - Jul 30, 2013 at 5:39 AM

    @connormyboy, please learn the subtle differences between he words have and of. It amazes me how many people butcher the English language.

    • jackrabbit56 - Jul 30, 2013 at 6:42 AM

      Off topic, I know, but the misuse of of/have ranks right up there with then/than on my pet peeve list. Plus, I’ve just decided to name my next dog Peeve, just so I can say to people this is my pet, Peeve…

      • stlouis1baseball - Jul 30, 2013 at 11:00 AM

        I admit to butchering then/than on more than one occasion.
        My pet peeve? When people correct other people’s grammar on a blog.

  13. modellforprez - Jul 30, 2013 at 6:23 AM

    worse umpire ever. one Jerry “the Bum” meals. how this dude is still an ump is baffling. and remember kids you can jump of a bridge cause jerry meals says its safe

  14. jasjbb - Jul 30, 2013 at 7:11 AM

    Look at his positioning on that play…absolutely atrocious.

  15. Jack Marshall - Jul 30, 2013 at 8:19 AM

    Welcome to the world of hindsight bias. If Snyder’s fly had scored Nava, as it in fact did, Snyder would have been taking high fives in the dugout and nobody would be judging Farrell’s choice of hitter. If Ellsbury had been thrown out trying to go to third on Pedey’s grounder, he would have been pilloried for it….even if the ump blew the call. If Napoli had connected, as he occasionally does, and scored the two runs for a thrilling Sox win, Farrell’s a genius, and Meals is a footnote.

    It was a fun game to watch.

    • homelanddefense - Jul 30, 2013 at 8:56 AM

      I agree with Jack Marshall. Most of the article was on point. But complaining about Snyder (when he in fact hit the sac fly that was needed) and Elsbury not trying to advance on a ground ball in front of his while in scoring position in the 9th, is going a bit too far.

  16. danaking - Jul 30, 2013 at 9:04 AM

    Horrible positioning led to a missed call, but let’s not overlook the fact Fuld made a hell of a throw.

    • psousa1 - Jul 30, 2013 at 9:38 AM

      That is true. Strong, accurate, one hopper to the plate. Not enough OF’s take enough shots at throwing out runners anymore.

    • soberlyf - Jul 30, 2013 at 12:08 PM

      and Molina sold it well, Nava hook-slides and Meals doesn’t have a tough call.

  17. psousa1 - Jul 30, 2013 at 9:37 AM

    How did Meals expect to make the call when he positioned himself behind the catcher? Nava could have jumped on top of the plate but Meals looked like he was only concerned that Molina held on to the ball and it really didn’t matter if the runner touched home. He treated it like a force play.

  18. mtr75 - Jul 30, 2013 at 10:21 AM

    That was hardly the worst call I’ve ever seen. That’s a bang-bang play, and the ball beat the runner. Sure, if you watch it in hi-def slo-mo, he was safe, but even then just barely.

  19. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Jul 30, 2013 at 10:30 AM

    Yea, he got the call wrong, (Which to his credit, he fully admitted after the game) his positioning was terrible, however, it was hardly that terrible of a call. It really was a really close call, and even with proper positioning, I could easily see that call going either way. My initial reaction on the play was to call him out, until I saw it in super-slow-mo. There are PLENTY of calls that are MUCH worse every day, worthy of calling out. For example this blown double play call that ended the game. Where was the post on this one?

    • myopinionisrighterthanyours - Jul 30, 2013 at 11:54 AM

      People weren’t up in arms about this because it didn’t involve the Sawx. The call you refer to was 10 times worse than Meals, although both were brought about by bad positioning. But it was a bang-bang play, and the people at the four letter network were acting like he was safe by a mile. The play you refer to, the player tagged nothing but air. Being a bang-bang play doesn’t excuse a bad call, but it does dismiss the feigned indignation of those complaining about it. Lest you all would like to be in that LIVE situation.

  20. soberlyf - Jul 30, 2013 at 12:06 PM

    I don’t have a dog in the fight but as a baseball aficionado, it was not an “obvious” blown call from the camera angles we were shown here…I’m sure the game had better angles on TV. That said, Molina did a great job of selling it, Nava’s baserunning was terrible going in straight on a close play, if he hook-slides or goes in with his left hand, he takes Meals out of the mix and Nava would have been safe with no controversy…going into a blocked plate, he left it up to the fates. You Pirate fan commenting on a play Meals blew 2 years ago, need a hobby. Looking at the line, the Sox didn’t deserve to win this one, they would have stolen it if they had tied it and won it later…more “if’s”.
    The very fact that they went with Nava as the pinch runner made no sense here. Getting thrown out on a medium depth fly ball to center is pathetic, a decent runner would have been in the dugout watching the replay already.

  21. elks84 - Jul 30, 2013 at 12:27 PM

    “Which is good,” is not a sentence or good writing.

  22. mungman69 - Jul 30, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    All umpires should be fired.

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