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Was Dee Gordon safe or out?

Oct 5, 2013, 8:58 AM EDT

Andrelton Simmons Getty Getty Images

The Braves defeated the Dodgers 4-3 last night to even things up at 1-1 in the NLDS, but the win wasn’t without some controversy, as Dee Gordon was called out on a bang-bang play while trying to steal second base in the ninth inning.

Gordon entered the ballgame as a pinch-runner after A.J. Ellis drew a walk against Braves closer Craig Kimbrel. Included on the Dodgers’ NLDS roster for his speed, Gordon quickly took off for second base with pinch-hitter Andre Ethier at the plate. However, he ruled out by second base umpire Bill Miller after Andrelton Simmons was able to catch a throw from Gerald Laird on the short hop and apply the tag in one motion. Ethier would go on to draw a walk, but Carl Crawford struck out swinging to end the ballgame.

Much of the focus after the game was naturally on Gordon being thrown out at second base. Watching the play in real time, it certainly appeared that he was safe. However, if you slow it down, it appears that Simmons may have tagged Gordon on his backside before he was able to reach the base. Granted, Miller wasn’t in the best position to judge where Gordon’s hand may have been. The picture (captured by Scott Cunningham of Getty Images) in this post indicates the same thing, though it’s unclear whether the ball is in Gordon’s glove at this time. Check out the play below:

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly undoubtedly would have used one of his replay challenges if this was 2014, but I’m not sure there would have been enough evidence here to help him. MLB will likely have more angles available than TBS did on this particular play, but I don’t see anything definitive here that would have overturned the call.

  1. db1001 - Oct 5, 2013 at 9:05 AM

    Come on guys, let it go

  2. blacksables - Oct 5, 2013 at 9:08 AM

    You guys are the only ones making it controversial. If it was so close, then why didn’t Mattingly coming out and argue?

    And in what way would the replay have overuled the call?

    And if replay isn’t going to be able to conclusively prove one way or the other, then why is it needed?

  3. mplsjoe - Oct 5, 2013 at 9:15 AM

    I thought Ron Darling made a good point about the play: if Simmons actually tagged Gordon on the butt, with the ball in his glove, then why did Simmons make the extra movement to also try tag Gordon on the leg? The butt-tag is the only one on which Gordon would have been out. If Simmons really got him, why didn’t he just hold up his glove and show the umpire the ball?

    The answer, I think, is that Simmons knew he hadn’t gotten Gordon, either because he missed him (that’s what the replays I saw indicated) or because he didn’t fully have the ball. Because of this, he knew he had to make the extra effort to tag Gordon’s leg. It was only after that tag that Simmons showed the ump the ball. But by the time Simmons got Gordon’s leg, Gordon was safe.

    • cur68 - Oct 5, 2013 at 9:26 AM

      Or, the play was lightening-fast. I mean so quick, that even in replay it’s hard to tell what happened first: hand to bag or butt-tag (why does this all sound vaguely dirty?). It was likely so quick that even the principal players weren’t sure what was what. Simmons might not even have had time to register the initial tag and his ingrained habit of cleanly tagging the runner made that last tag to the leg.

      Watch that again in full speed. You can barely see the 2nd tag, much less the 1st, its that quick. How is Simmons supposed to stop that 2nd tag at that speed? Its going to be easier to check your swing than to hold up that 2nd tag.

      • missthemexpos - Oct 5, 2013 at 9:56 AM

        Bottom line, in future with instant reply challenges there will be some plays that will not be overturned because even with the best slow motion cameras available they are just too close to call.

      • mplsjoe - Oct 5, 2013 at 10:20 PM

        It’s the bang-bang nature of the play that makes me think Simmons didn’t get him the first time. The sequence is instinctual for middle infielders – grab ball, tag, show up ball. There’s no thought, but there also is no instinctual second tag. The only time the sequence doesn’t follow is if one of those steps doesn’t happen. If the infielder misses a step – like the tag – then his body knows he has to do something else.

        I’m not saying it was a terrible call. It was a tough call, especially with the ump out of position. And the replays aren’t clear. But I think Simmons’ actions give it away.

  4. spacemaker101 - Oct 5, 2013 at 9:16 AM

    Hahahahahaha wtf did you watch the game does this seriously need an article????? Or is it just bc the puigs lost.. Hahaha I mean the dodgers… they have to find something to blame it on other then themselves….

    • koufaxmitzvah - Oct 5, 2013 at 9:18 AM

      I’m not seeing any blame here. But if it makes you feel better than, I don’t know, cheering on Justin Upton for fouling a few pitches off of Clayton Kersahw, then have it.

    • Anoesis - Oct 5, 2013 at 12:34 PM

      I didn’t know there were microwave machines that could access the internet.

  5. spacemaker101 - Oct 5, 2013 at 9:18 AM

    Btw Dee Gordon is a JOKE! dude can’t hit It out the infield lmao.

    • cur68 - Oct 5, 2013 at 9:31 AM

      Keep taking that lithium, ok?

  6. thebadguyswon - Oct 5, 2013 at 9:27 AM

    I think Simmon’s leg blocked the bag enough for him to tag Gordon before he touched the base.

  7. tjgrizz - Oct 5, 2013 at 9:29 AM

    His glove was touching Gordon when he caught the ball and before gordon touched the base

  8. dracko19 - Oct 5, 2013 at 9:40 AM

    In almost all steal attempts, if the ball beats the runner, he’s going to be called out. I slowed this down with instant reply AND DVR going frame by frame. The ball enters the glove while the 2nd baseman is touching Gordon and is controlled. He is clearly out. It was a perfect throw. The tag on his leg was irrelevant. I’m a Tigers fan, so I have nothing invested in this play. Just giving the facts here.

    • lockhart7 - Oct 5, 2013 at 11:53 AM

      While you’re using instant reply (sic) AND DVR, remember that it’s Andrelton Simmons, Atlanta’s shortstop, that’s making the catch there. I agree the tag on Gordon’s leg irrelevant but so is whether or not the ball is controlled. Just giving the facts here.

  9. bigdaddy44 - Oct 5, 2013 at 9:43 AM

    This is the type of play that could have been called either way and the ump should not be faulted for the call. Replay will take care of most of these bang bang plays. Unfortunately, there are some umpires who are just plain bad, and will have plays reviewed much more than others. There needs to be accountability for umpires. In a sport where, in most cases, keeping your job means performing to a certain level, umps have a job for life. Players, managers, coaches, front office personnel and scouting staffs continued employment is based on results. It’s time to get rid of consistently bad umps. The Chris Gucciones, C B Buckners and Angel Hernandez’ of MLB need to perform or be fired. It also seems that the worse they are, the more arrogant they are, often causing situations to escalate, rather than just doing their job. Hopefully, Bud’s successor will have the stones to do something about it when the next umpires contract comes up.

  10. chiadam - Oct 5, 2013 at 10:11 AM

    This play is exactly why replay should not be expanded. If you’re going to stop play for ten minutes to stare at a monitor, then you better get the call right. I’ve watched this play over and over and still cannot tell if he was out or safe. If you’re not guaranteed to get the right call on every play, then replay is pointless. Yes, it might clean up some obvious terrible calls. But the correct course of action to clean those up is to get rid of the umpires that keep making them (Bucknor).

    • 18thstreet - Oct 5, 2013 at 10:45 AM

      Totally agree. My main objection to replay is that it will slow the game down even further.

  11. sdemp - Oct 5, 2013 at 10:44 AM

    Safe or out, it really doesn’t matter. Human error is a MAJOR part of all sports.

    Instant replay has proven not to be perfect. The more we implement replay into sports the more sports become entertainment and not a sport.

    • evanfreeward - Oct 5, 2013 at 2:07 PM

      I am entertained by sports, particularly when the players determine the outcome and not the umpires. When that happens, sports are not entertaining at all, even if the call went for the team I cheer for–which, being a Braves fan, practically never happens.

  12. jayquintana - Oct 5, 2013 at 10:55 AM

    As a Dodgers fan, I gotta admit… I honestly don’t know if he was safe or out. I can live with a tie going to the home team.

  13. pastabelly - Oct 5, 2013 at 11:08 AM

    Nobody will convince anyone either way. Time to move on and live with call on the field. We’ve lived with horrible calls and this doesn’t fall in that group.

  14. pappageorgio - Oct 5, 2013 at 11:23 AM

    Not a Rogers or a Braves fans (I actually really dislike the braves…..and the dodgers…..but the braves slightly more this year because of McCann). thought it was a good call.

  15. notsofast10 - Oct 5, 2013 at 11:44 AM

    This just shows why umping is do difficult. Even in slo mo you could call it either way. Instant replay would not help here because there is nothing definitive to change the call either way!

  16. steelers88 - Oct 5, 2013 at 11:47 AM

    Safe.

  17. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 5, 2013 at 11:48 AM

    Some pretty good screenshots showing the tag, but as notsofast10 mentions, umpiring is a damn difficult job:

    http://imgur.com/a/77f84

  18. earpaniac - Oct 5, 2013 at 11:54 AM

    Damn that’s close! But after having watched it a bunch, it appears the right call was made.

  19. db1001 - Oct 5, 2013 at 12:32 PM

    So everyone has seen the replay yet no one can come to a for sure conclusion, so what makes us think the umpires will be able to with expanded reply. We’ve already seen what happened with Angel Hernadez.

  20. Anoesis - Oct 5, 2013 at 12:33 PM

    I just hope the umps give the Dodgers the same home-field advantage in L.A.

  21. evanfreeward - Oct 5, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    My first HBT post ever. I can’t believe I’m the first one to say this, and I wish I had the technical savvy to post a screenshot of the Pitch Trax (or whatever TBS calls it) for the “walk” by A.J. Ellis. If you could go back and look, you’d see a green circle well inside the strike zone box during his at bat, in which he walked on a full count. Same is true for Ethier, who walked in the next at bat. In other words, not only was the play so fast that watching slo-mo replays from multiple angles are inconclusive, but the guy shouldn’t have even been on base, nor Ethier after him. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. I’ll be here all week.

    • bigdaddy44 - Oct 5, 2013 at 1:36 PM

      Umpire Chris Guccione made one of the worst ball/strike calls I have ever seen in the Tampa Bay-Boston game. With a 2 and 2 count in the second inning, Jon Lester threw a perfect breaking ball for a clear strike three on Sean Rodriguez, and started to walk off the mound. Almost unbelievably, Guccione calls it a ball. Replays showed that it was clearly a strike, and the announcers were in agreement and also maybe a little dumbfounded, sounding like they were trying to be careful about not bashing Guccione too much. Lester then lets it get to him and throws a meatball on the next pitch that Rodriguez hits out for a home run and a 1-0 lead.. That pitch is on Lester, no doubt, but he should not have been in that situation. Umpires will always miss a couple of ball/strike calls during a game, but this was ridiculous. I truly believe that, after watching Guccione over the years, that he purposely called it a ball because Lester started to walk off the mound. Fortunately, in this case, it did not affect the outcome, but that is not the point. Whether it was Guccione’s continued incompentence or continued arrogance, bad umpires need to be accountable. How in the world does MLB have a system that can not only put the worst umpires behind home plate in a postseason game, but also keep their jobs for life?

      • evanfreeward - Oct 5, 2013 at 1:58 PM

        Wow! My first ever post on HBT got one of the best ever replies. I’m with you 100%. I am even more surprised that my post hasn’t brought the Braves haters out of the woodwork, yet. After all, they do make up 90% of the commenters (and 100% of the bloggers–Craig, I’m looking primarily at you.) on this site.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 5, 2013 at 2:25 PM

        my post hasn’t brought the Braves haters out of the woodwork, yet. After all, they do make up 90% of the commenters (and 100% of the bloggers–Craig, I’m looking primarily at you.) on this site.

        You should lurk more, then you’d realize that Craig is a huge Braves fan.

      • josem1965 - Oct 5, 2013 at 3:02 PM

        It is in the South. What do you expect? “THE MAN” has to keep a brotha down!

      • Walk - Oct 5, 2013 at 11:57 PM

        Wait until you see marvin Hudson behind the plate calling balls and strikes. He united braves and nats fans earlier this year he was so inconsistent.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 5, 2013 at 2:24 PM

      I can’t believe I’m the first one to say this, and I wish I had the technical savvy to post a screenshot of the Pitch Trax (or whatever TBS calls it) for the “walk” by A.J. Ellis.

      AJ Ellis at bat you are referring to:

      http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/cache/numlocation.php-pitchSel=518886&game=gid_2013_10_04_lanmlb_atlmlb_1&batterX=68&innings=yyyyyyyyy&sp_type=1&s_type=3.gif

      Ethier AB:

      http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/cache/numlocation_io.php-pitchSel=518886&game=gid_2013_10_04_lanmlb_atlmlb_1&batterX=69&innings=yyyyyyyyy&sp_type=1&s_type=3.gif

      For reference, Greinke plot:

      http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/cache/location.php-pitchSel=425844&game=gid_2013_10_04_lanmlb_atlmlb_1&batterX=&innings=yyyyyyyyy&sp_type=1&s_type=.gif

      A few strikes called balls, and Minor’s plot:

      http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/cache/location.php-pitchSel=501985&game=gid_2013_10_04_lanmlb_atlmlb_1&batterX=&innings=yyyyyyyyy&sp_type=1&s_type=.gif

      He definitely got the lefty strike:

      http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/cache/location.php-pitchSel=501985&game=gid_2013_10_04_lanmlb_atlmlb_1&batterX=&innings=yyyyyyyyy&sp_type=1&s_type=.gif

      Lots of missed calls, doesn’t look biased towards anyone.

      • evanfreeward - Oct 5, 2013 at 9:04 PM

        Thank you. That is exactly what I meant. I didn’t get to watch the whole game because of a DVR/Mobile App fail. (I recorded the reshowing of the game on MLB Network this morning accidentally.) I didn’t go on the record that the calls were biased that game–just said the guy shouldn’t have been on base to begin with, because those particular at bats had bad calls that went against Kimbrel.

  22. davidly - Oct 5, 2013 at 12:54 PM

    Granted, Miller wasn’t in the best position to judge where Gordon’s hand may have been.

    Granted, my @ss. D.J. Short doesn’t seem to be in a position to judge how the umpire could have seen the whole play, but the umpire saw it and nailed it. He couldn’t have made a better call and I’m all-in for D-blue.

  23. nbjays - Oct 5, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    The umpire called him out, therefore he was out. Pretty much end of story.

    Not quite sure what all the discussion is about.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 5, 2013 at 2:26 PM

      That the ump could have been wrong? You really don’t see what the discussion is about?

      • evanfreeward - Oct 5, 2013 at 3:23 PM

        (I couldn’t reply to you a few posts up, so this will have to do. I’m new. Am I breaking a rule by doing this?)

        As for Craig being a Braves fan, I’ve been lurking for quite a while–and no, he is not.

        Exhibit 1 for the Prosecution: No Braves fan would have taken the cheap shot at BMac that he took yesterday.

      • Reflex - Oct 5, 2013 at 3:55 PM

        Uh, what? So you’ve been lurking for a while yet you’ve missed all his posts about growing up and adopting the Braves as his favorite team, his near worship of Maddux and so on and so forth? He’s by far the biggest Braves fan on the site.

        The difference between you and Craig is that Craig does not defend idiocy by players, coaches, managers or front offices, regardless of whether they are part of ‘his team’ or not. Brian McCann has been an idiot for the past week and a half. He deserves to be called out for it. His team is irrelevant. Craig is being intellectually honest and consistent in calling out McCann for the same things he has called out players on other teams, to do anything different would be hypocritical.

      • nbjays - Oct 6, 2013 at 2:10 PM

        Church, I see what the discussion is about, I just don’t see any point in it since the umpire’s call is not going to change… wrong OR right.

  24. grumpyoleman - Oct 5, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    I’m going to hate replay

    • evanfreeward - Oct 5, 2013 at 2:10 PM

      …and I’ll love it even more. I can’t wait until a machine calls the balls and strikes. That will be some awesome baseball!

      • apmn - Oct 5, 2013 at 2:43 PM

        In what ways would that make for “awesome baseball”? How would it change the game itself in a meaningful way? I have a hard time seeing how that would shake out. Mind you, I am talking about quantifiable changes to the awesomeness of baseball, not changes to your perception of the game.

        Be specific, please.

      • evanfreeward - Oct 5, 2013 at 3:05 PM

        I think it is perfectly fine to keep awesomeness in the realm of perception, rather than having to quantify it. However, I shall attempt to give you the answer that you are looking for, anyway.
        It would be awesome, because the high-tech type of “machine” that I believe is perfectly within the realm of possibility today, would establish the strike zone as it is supposed to be, namely, a rectangle–and not the oval that so many umpires must think it is. It would allow for the fairest of statistics to be kept: No pitchers with walks on their records that should have been strikeouts, etc.
        As for my perception, it will allow me to enjoy the entire game, rather than stew about the call that was missed 3 batters ago, wondering “what if?”. When it’s guys like CB Buckner, my thoughts aren’t quite that tame, particularly because when he’s calling a Braves game, his bad calls are 5 to 1 against the Braves. How could reducing the capacity of stupidity and bias, along with good old-fashioned human error, to influence the outcome of a game be a bad thing? Bring on the technology. I, for one, am past being ready for it.

      • db1001 - Oct 5, 2013 at 7:11 PM

        Are u serious, just imagine how anti-climactic a called strike 3 would be, or a play at the plate, how about the ending to last years World Series? Like it or not umpires are an integral part of the game of baseball and in my opinion always should be, plus if there were no umpires we wouldn’t be able to have so much fun arguing about this kind of stuff.

      • evanfreeward - Oct 5, 2013 at 9:09 PM

        There would be called third strikes, just not by a mistake-prone human being. It would be climactic, and the call theoretically would always be correct. How is this not better than hoping that the umpire calls it the way you want it to go? It’s still going to be a clutch pitch. I don’t like that they are integral (that is, their calls influence the outcome of the game), and I am one voice saying that this should end.

  25. MyTeamsAllStink - Oct 5, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    why are you stealing with one out in the ninth anyways?If there were no outs sure but that was a bad decision on mattinglys part to send him.Then again Carl Crawford would of just grounded into another double play anyways.

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