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  1. #1
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    Default Blind Umpires May Decide the 2009 World Series Champion

    I am old enough to remember when the best umpires were selected to work postseason games. The last several years it seems that Affirmative Action is the name of the game as some of the worst umpires now work the most important games of the season - the postseason games.

    Tonight in the ALDS Game 2 between the Yankees and Twins Left Field Umpire Phil Cuzzi blew a call that cost the Twins a critical win and handed the Yankees a nearly unsurmountable two-game lead in a short five-game series. Leading off the top of the 11th Inning Joe Mauer sliced the ball down the left field line. Left Fielder Melky Cabrera had the ball tip off the end of his glove and land nearly a foot fair before bouncing into the stands for an obvious ground rule double. But Cuzzi, standing perhaps 15 feet away, called the ball foul! In postseason games there are 6 umpires instead of 4; an umpire is added down the right and left field lines to reduce the risk of bad calls in the outfield. So much for that theory.

    Mauer returned to the batter's box after the blown call and then singled. The two batters behind him each singled to load the bases with nobody out. Three outs later the Twins were turned away with no runs scored. A leadoff home run by Teixeira in the bottom of the 11th handed the Yankees an undeserved walkoff win.

    Had Cuzzi made the correct call on Mauer's ball Mauer would have been at 2nd base instead of 1st and (assuming things would have progressed the same) surely would have scored on one of the two singles. But the bad call by Cuzzi stands and the Twins have their backs against the wall thanks to a bad call.

    Cuzzi is not alone this postseason. Thursday in the ALDS Game 1 between the Angels and Red Sox First Base Umpire CB Buchnor blew not one, not two but THREE calls! The Red Sox probably would have still lost the game but the bad calls surely affected the game. (Major League players have twice voted Buchnor the worst umpire in the Major Leagues. And Buchnor was selected to work the postseason. Amazing!)

    There was also a bad call in the NLDS Game 1 between the Rockies and Phillies where Rockies catcher Torrealba was clearly safe at Third Base but was called out. That bad call probably did not cost the Rockies the game but it certainly took away an opportunity to score.

    The Twins may be in the postseason because of a missed call. In the top of the 12th Inning of the play-in game (aka Tie Breaker) on Tuesday versus the Tigers with the score tied and the bases loaded a pitch hit the shirt of batter Brandon Inge but Home Plate Umpire Randy Marsh called it a ball. Had Marsh correctly made the Hit Batter call the Tigers would have scored a run. Instead Inge hit into a fielder's choice and the Tigers failed to score. The Twins scored in the bottom of the inning to advance to the ALCS.

    Is it really that hard to find 24 good umpires to work the Division Series games? I guess it is. Heck, what is probably the absolute worst call ever by an umpire was made in Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS (as in American League Championship Series) between the Yankees and Orioles. The Championship Series determines who advances to the World Series. Derek Jeter hit a long fly to right field. Orioles Right Fielder Tony Tarasco went back to the wall and planted himself under the ball to make a routine catch. But a kid (a Yankee's fan no less) reached over the wall and deflected the ball over the wall. Clearly fan interference. But Right Field Umpire Rich Garcia called it a home run, helping the Yankees to a win and an eventual World Series Championship (over the Braves - Oh, how I remember that. I attended Games 3, 4 and 5 in Atlanta.) What is Rich Garcia doing now? He is the Supervisor of Major League Umpires. (I guess that explains a lot.)

    What a pity for players to play 162 (or 163) regular season games to earn the right to play in the postseason only to have the most important games of their season - perhaps the most important games of their careers - decided by bad calls by umpires.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Blind Umpires May Decide the 2009 World Series Champion

    My son is on a baseball travel team, he plays about 70 games a season. One thing I have learned over the years, is that when the calls are bad they are usually made on both side of the field. As long as the calls are consistent, they can be good or bad and it tends to work out in the end.

    I have seen plenty of bad calls, the funny thing is that you tend to notice them more when it is your team or when your team is behind.

    I must admit that they had some stinker calls in that game! It would be nice if MLB had a Red Flag to toss like the NFL has!

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    Default Re: Blind Umpires May Decide the 2009 World Series Champion

    Yes, bad calls seem to even out over the season. But a bad call is magnified in a postseason game. And a bad call that goes against the visiting team in extra innings of a postseason game can affect the outcome of that series.

    No sour grapes on my part. I am not a fan of the Twins. The Twins cheated to beat my Braves in the 1991 World Series. Remember when Twins First Baseman Kent Hrbek lifted Braves base runner Ron Gant's foot off the bag and tagged him out? (Great umpiring there!) And it is common knowledge that the Twins change the direction of air flow in their stadium depending on who is batting. (Blows out when Twins are batting. Blows in when opponent is batting.)

    No, no sour grapes on my part regarding that blown call that cost the Twins a win last night. I just want the eventual pennant winners and World Series Champion to be determined by who played the best baseball, not by bad umpiring.

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    Default Re: Blind Umpires May Decide the 2009 World Series Champion

    It's baseball's attempt to get replay and challenges like football, basketball, tennis....................


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    Default Re: Blind Umpires May Decide the 2009 World Series Champion

    I agree Bruce. The umpiring has been abysmal and wildly inconsistent. During the Phils Rockies game last night, pitches that were just off the edge of the plate at the start of the game were appropriately called balls. In the later parts of the game, pitches coming in 3 ball widths off the plate were now strikes. I don't know where they got these umps but they have been poor.


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    Default Re: Blind Umpires May Decide the 2009 World Series Champion

    Nick,

    I know we are on opposite sides of the fence in the Rockies-Phillies series but I think we will both agree that we want the better team to win on their own merits, not due to some action or inaction or inconsistency of the umpiring crew.

    How about Gonzalez for the Rockies! Can he hit or what? He played AAA ball here until early June and he was an RBI machine. I'm glad to see him doing well in the postseason. Now if we can only get my buddy Clint Barmes to start hitting.

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    Default Re: Blind Umpires May Decide the 2009 World Series Champion

    I'm taking Angel Hernandez off my Christmas card list. He blew a call at 1st base in the 1st inning. Howard was clearly out for a double play but Hernandez called him safe. Are these routine calls really THAT hard to get right for the cream of the crop Major League umpires?

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    Default Re: Blind Umpires May Decide the 2009 World Series Champion

    Gerry Davis missed a call at 3rd base. Victorino was out but Davis called him safe. So now Davis is off my Christmas card list.

    I wonder why ALL the bad calls seem to go against the Rockies. Strange.

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    Default Re: Blind Umpires May Decide the 2009 World Series Champion

    Bad umpriring all around Bruce. I'm not used to all of this going in the Phillies favor but I won't grouse about it. It's a shame though that the playoffs and some series have to have bad umpriring clouding the outcome and leaving questions as to whether or not the better team won.

    Gonzalez was a hitting machine. He made up for what I would have expected out of Helton.

    The last two innings of this game were mind boggling. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. It would have gone down as an immensely entertaining game regardless of who won but I'm happy as hell the Phils get to continue defending the crown.

    Home plate umpiring of balls and strikes in this series was a joke.


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    Default Re: Blind Umpires May Decide the 2009 World Series Champion

    Good luck in the NLCS. I guess I'll return my NLCS tickets for a refund. Too bad because they were GOOD seats 20 rows directly behind Home.

    I wonder which team will benefit from bad umpiring in the NLCS. You can only hope the bad calls continue to go in the Phillies' favor. It goes without saying that the Yankees will have most bad calls go in their favor.

    The important thing is to keep the World Series Trophy in the National League and absolutely critical to keep it out of the hands of the Yankees. (Go Angels in the ALCS.)

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    Default Re: Blind Umpires May Decide the 2009 World Series Champion

    Have any of you guys umpired any professional games? My highest level of umpiring was high school and let me tell you, it is very hard to make the "right" call. You are trying to concentrate on when the foot touches the bag, when the fielder catches the ball, is one nano second. Plus you are trying to use your peripheral vision to see caught ball...foot touch. You try to listen for the pop of the glove and focus on the foot, but that is not always an option.

    My experience was only high school! I can only imagine calling a professional game! The better umpires are the ones that have the best gut feeling on the play, and it must be made instantly. You hesitate and it's just that much worse!

    Yes they blow calls! But they also make a ton of correct calls. I just mad because Texas can't even smell a play-off ticket!


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    Default Re: Blind Umpires May Decide the 2009 World Series Champion

    Wayne,

    I appreciate what you are saying BUT these guys working the postseason are supposed to be the best Major League umpires. They are supposedly highly trained with years and years and years of experience. Yes, I would miss a lot of these calls if I stepped on the field today and umpired a game. I don't have the training or experience. These guys do. Big difference.


    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Carlisle View Post
    Yes they blow calls! But they also make a ton of correct calls.
    Making a "ton of correct calls" is not good enough, not for crucial postseason games. I expect better than that. A blown call may equate to losing a game and a series. (Ask the Twins about that.) Sure, it is understandable that an umpire will miss some of the bang bang plays but explain to me how Cuzzi missed that fair-foul call down the line. THAT is inexcusable and he should not be working any more postseason games (in my opinion). But I know the umpires' union won't stand for any punishment for incompetence.

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    Default Re: Blind Umpires May Decide the 2009 World Series Champion

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Breedlove View Post
    BUT these guys working the postseason are supposed to be the best Major League umpires.
    Actually, they are not.

    There was an article in the paper the other day about the bad calls in those games and umpiring the post season, and, well ...

    Typically, the umpires operate as a team, they get to know each other and each others weaknesses and strengths, and they each help take up the slack for each other. They are a team and work as a team.

    When the post season comes, umpires from different teams are selected, and one of the things they must agree to is TO NOT WORK THE FOLLOWING POST SEASON ... so much for the post season umpires "being the best there are", they are basically rotating in the post seasons.

    To make matters worse, they are no longer umpiring with "their teammates", they are matched with other umpires who were selected for the post season ... so much for the post season umpires "being the best there are", they are taken out of their team and have to work with other unknown factors.

    If they are going to rotate "umpire teams" (which still means *not the best umpires in the post season*) during the post season, then they should rotated the umpires as "teams", where the umpires are used to working with each other and can take up the slack for each other, like they have been doing all season. Like the ball "team" the umpire "team" works better after having gotten to know each other and learning the weak points and strong points of the teammates.

    I was not going to post to this thread as my response every time I read it was "who cares" , but some do care , so I just posted what was clarified about the umpiring with what was in the article in the newspaper.

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    Default Re: Blind Umpires May Decide the 2009 World Series Champion

    Jerry,

    Your proposal to use an intact umpiring crew (not 'team') that has worked together throughout the regular season has merit. I'm sure that discussion will come up during MLB's winter meetings.

    One thing you may have overlooked is that during the regular season an umpiring crew is comprised of 4 umpires. During postseason games 6 umpires are used. I guess you could use an intact umpiring crew of 4 and add a couple of other umpires who would only work down the lines. That way the intact umpiring crew would be working their familiar positions with their crewmates. The other two umpires would have to be content to working down the lines.

    I hope MLB does something to address their umpiring problem this postseason.

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    Default Re: Blind Umpires May Decide the 2009 World Series Champion

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Breedlove View Post
    Your proposal to use an intact umpiring crew (not 'team') that has worked together throughout the regular season has merit. I'm sure that discussion will come up during MLB's winter meetings.
    Bruce,

    Not my proposal, one that was discussed in that newspaper article.

    One thing you may have overlooked is that during the regular season an umpiring crew is comprised of 4 umpires. During postseason games 6 umpires are used.
    That was also mentioned and discussed.

    I guess you could use an intact umpiring crew of 4 and add a couple of other umpires who would only work down the lines.
    Basically what that article mentioned.

    Bruce, what about the condition the umpires have to agree to NOT WORKING THE NEXT post season?

    If "the best" umpires are selected one year, and they are not allowed to work the next year, does that then mean "the second best" umpires work that next year?

    Should "the best" two teams use "the second best" umpires?

    Also mentioned in that article.

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    Default Re: Blind Umpires May Decide the 2009 World Series Champion

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    If "the best" umpires are selected one year, and they are not allowed to work the next year, does that then mean "the second best" umpires work that next year?

    Should "the best" two teams use "the second best" umpires?
    I don't have an answer to that other than it is probably some union rule (i.e., don't reward excellence and reward failure). MLB has a big problem with umpiring (especially for postseason games) and they need to address it. It only makes sense that the BEST umpires work postseason games, regardless of whether they worked the previous postseason or not.

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    Default Re: Blind Umpires May Decide the 2009 World Series Champion

    What about that call last night? Runner got caught between home and third, catcher runs him back, both players off base, catcher tags both players and they only call one out.

    I had to leave the room, did they change it to both out or just call one out??


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    Default Re: Blind Umpires May Decide the 2009 World Series Champion

    I was screaming at the TV, "They're BOTH out! They're BOTH out!" I could not believe it when the umpire -- the crew chief no less - only called one runner out.

    But then again it was the Yankees who benefitted from the blown call.

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    Default Re: Blind Umpires May Decide the 2009 World Series Champion

    I didn't see that one, but did you catch the non-double play when the Yankees and Angels were playing? The Angels second baseman didn't touch the bag when turning the double play, and they called the runner safe. Technically it's correct, but that system of being near the bag on the double play has been called out for years and years. Probably many times in these playoffs. I'm for the Phils, so it didn't matter to me, but I thought it was pretty unusual to make that call in the playoffs.

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    Default Re: Blind Umpires May Decide the 2009 World Series Champion

    Jim,

    Yeah, I saw that one. What a time for the umpire to start calling that. I think it is called "being in the neighborhood" and for far longer than we have been alive umpires call the out at 2nd on a double play if the defensive player is in the "neighborhood" of the bag when he has the ball. They do this to protect the players; I guess there were too many injuries when the player had to actually put his foot on the bag with the runner sliding in to break up the double play. It's just a quirk of the game.

    What poor umpiring this postseason. Amazingly horrid. MLB needs to address it this winter. (But I'm sure the umpire's union will stand in the way of actual progress.)

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    Default Re: Blind Umpires May Decide the 2009 World Series Champion

    I remember during the umpires' strike years ago, they brought in new umpires (I don't remember from where...college ball?). Anyway, they were notorious for calling the runner safe at second on that "in the vicinity" double play. I remember all of the talking heads making a big deal of it, saying the "scabs" didn't know the game, and that's a call a pro ump would never make.
    By the way, I'm a Red Sox fan. I'm used to seeing the Yankees get the calls. I'm rooting for anybody but the Yankees


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    Default Re: Blind Umpires May Decide the 2009 World Series Champion

    Dodgers???.......................Done. Who's next?

    This is the golden age of Phillies baseball. Now it's time to take down the Yanks.


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    Default Re: Blind Umpires May Decide the 2009 World Series Champion

    How about this fine piece of umpiring by Tim McClelland in Game 4 of the ALCS? The baserunner (Cano) is standing off the bag at 3rd when the catcher (Napoli) tagged him out. McClelland called Cano safe. Notice McClelland has an excellent view of the play. How does he miss that one?

    This was an interesting play and one that you don't see the Yankees screw up very often. The Yankees had baserunners on 2nd (Cano) and 3rd (Posada) when the batter (Swisher) hit a comebacker to the pitcher (Oliver). The pitcher alertly threw the ball home and the catcher (Napoli) got Posada trapped between 3rd and Home. Posada retreated to 3rd. Meanwhile Cano advanced to 3rd.

    The rulebook states the base belongs to the runner who has reached the base safely and has not advanced to the next base. (That would be Posada.) Since two men cannot occupy a base the same time the newly arriving baserunner (that would be Cano) is liable to be tagged out.

    For some reason Posada stepped off the bag when he returned to 3rd. (Perhaps, since he is a catcher and catchers typically are not the best baserunners, he decided to give himself up and allow the swiftier Cano to be the runner at 3rd.) But as it turned out BOTH Posada and Cano were off the bag. And Napoli very alertly tagged them both - while they were off the bag - for an apparent double play. But Tim McClelland is apparently blind and called Cano safe even though he was looking squarely at Cano as he was tagged out off the bag.

    McClelland was looking at Cano much more squarely than he was looking at Swisher an inning earlier when he called him out on an appeal for leaving the bag early on a sacrifice fly. Replays clearly show Swisher did not leave the bag early. The replays also clearly show McClelland was not even looking at Swisher when the sac fly was caught. And McClelland is the CREW CHIEF! This fiasco came minutes after another blown call by 2nd Base umpire Dale Scott who called Swisher safe at 2nd on a pickoff attempt when replays clearly show shortstop Aybar tagged him out. (Was McClelland's blown "out" call on Swisher at 3rd a makeup call for the previous blown call? Hmmmm.)

    Here is an interesting bit of trivia. Who was the Home Plate Umpire that called George Brett out in the infamous "Pine Tar Incident"? That's right - Tim McClelland, rookie umpire. McClelland called Brett out for having too much pine tar on his bat, disallowing a go-ahead home run and sparking a tirade from Brett. McClelland's decision was later overruled, the run put back on the scoreboard and the game resumed at that point at a later date. (The Royals ended up winning.)

    For you people that don't give a darn about baseball you really should start watching the postseason games. You don't want to miss the show the umpires are putting on this year.

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    Default Re: Blind Umpires May Decide the 2009 World Series Champion

    Go YANKEES!!!!

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