“The best umpired game is the game in which the fans cannot recall the umpires who worked it.” Bill Klemm
Angels Catcher Mike Natoli Puts Both Posada and Cano Out…Well Not According to Umpire Tim MacClelland
Monday was such a great night for baseball, two excellent games both decided by walk off hits which left the Angels back in their series with the Yankees and the Phillies within a game of going back to the World Series when they came back in the 9th inning with 2 outs and Jimmy Rollins at the plate with two strikes on him. It was awesome to behold and it looked like all was well again in the 2009 MLB League Championship Series.
Then fallen humanity struck…
And 3rd Base Umpire Tim McClelland has now discovered what it means to be remembered for all the wrong reasons, two badly blown calls and a lame excuse for blowing them.
See the calls:
As I sat watching the Yankees destroy the Angels last night I was amazed at the bad calls. Now this playoff season there have been a number of really grotesque calls on the part of umpires. This year I have found some of the calls so unbelievably bad that even I, a traditionalist in the Church of Baseball who detests replay reviews in the NFL think that the time has come to consider some form of replay.
My view that that baseball is the most human of sports, perfection is seldom reached and never maintained. People who hit .300 make it to All-Star teams as well as the Hall of Fame. Rain delays, bad calls and close calls that could go either way are all part of the fabric of baseball. In principle I don’t like replay. I believe that umpires, like everyone else are human and that the imperfection of the umpires is as much as part of the game as a fielding error, wild pitch or bad at bat. However some of the calls this post-season have been particularly egregious and the crew chief on the field should have overruled to call, especially when Angels Catcher Mike Napoli clearly tagged out Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada who were both well of the base. McClellan’s excuse about how he missed the call was lame and he compounded the issue by calling Nick Swisher out for supposedly leaving third base early on a sacrifice fly, which the replay showed that he had not done so and should have scored. Once again though there were two extra umpires no one caught the play.
My recommendation is for an “eye in the sky” umpire who can review the call in real time and overrule the call on the field if the call is clearly wrong, this would not apply to called balls and strikes, but only on balls that are put in play. To overturn the call the “eye in the sky” umpire would have to determine that the play was clearly blown and not simply a call that could have gone either way. He would have to account for the umpires position and visibility in relationship to the play and if it could be reasonably expected that any umpire would make the same call. If the replay clearly shows that the umpire on the field missed the call the “eye in the sky” umpire could then overturn the call. Such a mechanism would maintain the flow of the game as the umpire on the field would not have to go to a replay booth, taking valuable time and would provide some measure of accountability when a play is as badly called as McClellan’s. It would not take out the human factor of calls that can go either way or where bad positioning or visibility could have affected the call. It would however ensure that calls like last night’s by McClellan are quickly rectified with minimal delay to the game, calls that could easily decide the fate of a series in a close game. Thankfully because of the blowout of neither Angels nor the Yankees could claim that the calls affected the game’s outcome.
I missed the game tonight because of being involved with critical situations here at the Medical Center, but the Evil Dodgers were crushed by the Phillies tonight 10-4 ending their season. I picked the Phillies in 7 because I thought that the Dodgers bullpen would make a difference but the Dodgers bullpen was about as effective as a pocketknife in a gunfight and the Phillies bullpen, derided by many stepped up, especially closer Brad Lidge who had such a miserable and ineffective season after a great 2008 where he was just about perfect. The Phillies hitters owned the Dodgers pitching staff driving in 45 runs in the 5 games of the series. Anytime a team averages nine runs a game it will win the series.
Tonight the Yankees and Angels square off in Anaheim for what could be the deciding game of their series. The question is can the Angels mount a comeback and will the “X” factor of Nick Adenhart inspire them enough to win the game and get the series back to New York? I had picked the Angels in six figuring that the Yankees could not keep up the pace, but the Yankees are locked on, they have an edge and every member of the team is playing hard, Alex Rodriguez is in the process of establishing himself as a clutch Mr.October the likes which have not been seen since Reggie Jackson. Derek Jeter has helped lead the team and hit well while the pitching staff led by C.C. Sabathia has been amazing and Mariano Rivera as usual has been a hero. Joe Girardi has managed the team exceptionally well and is getting performance and teamwork out of the Yankees far more effectively than Joe Torre who was ushered out of the playoffs with the Dodgers in much the same way that he was ushered out with the Yankees from 2003 to the end of 2007.