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This wasn't a bang-bang play; it was just wrong, because the umpire missed a plain fact that was evident to all.
It was only "astonishingly wrong" on the television and replay. It wasn't even very bad as a play made by a human umpire, trained to call plays at first base in the majors. As others have noted, you are trained to watch the bag and listen for the ball. If you're watching the bag and listening for the ball - that is, doing your job exactly as you're supposed to do it - you hear the ball hit glove and see the runner's foot is not to the bag, so you call the out. You never remotely think "was that the sound of the first baseman's glove, or the pitcher's glove?"
My biggest frustration on these plays (and particularly Angel Hernandez's farkups) is the refusal to gather the umps as a group and make sure the right call was made. If they gathered, and still think they made the right call, fine. But Angel makes an absolutely terrible call and refuses to even consider conferring with his TEAMMATES to make sure he got the right call.
*the idea that a major league pitcher who just intercepted a double play ball but got away with it is going to casually give that out back, as if this were Little League and everyone gets to bat, is just silly.
I acquired a copy of the Florida Marlins' first game recently. The first out they recorded was a strikeout. Strike three was called -- about one foot off the plate and low. You never see ball/strike calls that blatantly poor these days.
I've also never heard of a botched umpire play that comes close to the 1980 NLCS Game 4, top of the 4th inning. See if you can find video of that bizarre incident.
the attitude that the umpires themselves are putting out there and it becomes an issue.
The attitudes are frustrating but I think the overall umpire attitudes were considerably worse in my opinion back before the 1999 purge. Those guys were atrocious.
I firmly believe that a simple carrot and stick approach of rewarding the good umps and punishing the bad umps will work.
How great would it have been if the pitcher who caught the ball quietly walked over to the umpire (Nelson) and showed him the ball, so the umpire could reverse the call, and get it right? I do not feel that this is some hypothetical slippery slope where players would then be expected to admit that the runner really beat the ball to the base, or something like that.
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