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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Five worst umpiring calls in history

Hey, its Enrico Palazzo!

2. Denkinger’s debacle: 1985 World Series Game 6—Royals 2, Cardinals 1

Perhaps the most famous blown call in World Series history. But perhaps also the most overrated….

Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog went ballistic afterward. “The two best teams are supposed to be in the World Series,’’ he said. ‘‘They ought to have the best umpires in it, too. I think it’s a disgrace. It’s a joke. We haven’t got one call from the three American League umpires in this thing. You want my opinion? It stinks.”

“The whole inning was screwed up when he missed the call at first,” Herzog said in his office after the game. “I went out and asked why he was safe, and the umpire said he beat the throw. I said how the hell could he be safe when he stepped on Worrell’s foot going across the bag?”

Whitey wasn’t done.

‘‘When I went out, I thought it was a question of Worrell missing the bag. If he’d have said Worrell missed the bag, I’d have shut up. But he didn’t. He said Orta beat the throw. But he didn’t beat the throw. He was out by two steps. I’m not supposed to say anything about the umpires. But I sit here and manage this club, and I see what happens. We haven’t got one call from those guys, and I mean the three from the American League.”

Of course, it didn’t matter that Kansas City’s two previous wins were by 6-1 scores, so the umps clearly had little to do with those defeats. Or that if Clark had caught the foul pop or the passed ball hadn’t happened, the Cardinals likely would have escaped the inning anyway. Blaming Denkinger was the easy thing to do.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 14, 2012 at 02:40 PM | 97 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: black friday, cardinals, dodgers, don denkinger, jeffrey maier, joe mauer, orioles, phillies, reggie jackson, royals, twins, umpires, yankees

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   1. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: June 14, 2012 at 03:44 PM (#4156986)
I refuse to believe that the first 100 years of Major League Baseball didn't feature a call worse than these five.

I think 3 and 4 are both unfairly included. The Lopes/Bowa play is clearly the wrong call on replay but he's out by inches, not by feet, that's a terribly close play. The Reggie play is weird. If they call Reggie out for interference I think it is still on this list because Russell probably should have been called for intentionally dropping the ball.
   2. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 14, 2012 at 03:48 PM (#4156992)
   3. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: June 14, 2012 at 03:50 PM (#4156995)
I refuse to believe that the first 100 years of Major League Baseball didn't feature a call worse than these five.

These articles should really be called "The Most (whatever) In The Last Thirty Years Or So, Or Maybe Older If It Still Exists On Film"...
   4. ColonelTom Posted: June 14, 2012 at 03:52 PM (#4157000)
On (3), I'm still trying to figure out how Lopes' helmet ended up flying forward in front of the first baseman as he reached to catch the throw. The only way that could have happened is if Lopes batted it in that direction. That may have distracted the umpire enough to miss the admittedly close call.
   5. BDC Posted: June 14, 2012 at 03:59 PM (#4157010)
Agreed, Jose. The Lopes play is an odd one to include. I watched that game unfold in abject horror, and I'll remember both Davalillo's hit and Mota's forever, but I neither remember the Lopes call very well nor have much of a sense that it's passed into abiding lore. The Phillies did too many other things wrong in that inning to obsess much about that call, which is awfully close even on replay.

Nothing like the Denkinger play, for instance. I didn't even have much of a rooting interest in that Series, and I was still scandalized when I saw it. It was your basic defiance of reality (I'm sure an unconscious and accidental defiance, but amazingly so).
   6. Curse of the Graffanino (dfan) Posted: June 14, 2012 at 04:02 PM (#4157012)
Thank you MCoA. That's still the picture that pops into my head when I see the phrase "worst umpiring call".
   7. JJ1986 Posted: June 14, 2012 at 04:04 PM (#4157014)
I think the one where the umpire didn't call both Yankees out at third was worse. There was no bang-bang element to it, nothing that he had to see quickly in real time; nothing hard to see at all.
   8. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 14, 2012 at 04:06 PM (#4157015)
But what about...


Or this.

Or this.

This.

Or this.
   9. SoSH U at work Posted: June 14, 2012 at 04:09 PM (#4157017)
But what about...


That was the first one that jumped to mind (that and the Armbrister play, cheating bastard). It was a much more obvious blown call than the Lopes play.

The Reggie play is weird. If they call Reggie out for interference I think it is still on this list because Russell probably should have been called for intentionally dropping the ball.


And why the hell didn't Russell just tag Munson and step on second?

I also figured the Galarraga call would be on here.
   10. John DiFool2 Posted: June 14, 2012 at 04:10 PM (#4157019)
What was Luzinski still doing in left field in the 9th inning of a 2-run game?
   11. JJ1986 Posted: June 14, 2012 at 04:10 PM (#4157020)
I've never seen that Helton play. He was called out?
   12. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: June 14, 2012 at 04:10 PM (#4157021)
Jerry Meals: <a href="http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20110727&c>Never Forget</a>.
   13. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: June 14, 2012 at 04:10 PM (#4157022)
the thing forgotten is that in the broadcast booth jackson was lauded for his crafty gamesmanship

nobody was criticizing the umpires. nobody

   14. SoSH U at work Posted: June 14, 2012 at 04:14 PM (#4157028)
I've never seen that Helton play. He was called out?


Yeah, based on the angle Helton took fielding the ball, the umpire couldn't see that he was off the base. It really begged for assistance from one of the other umps, though obviously that only happens if the base ump asks first.
   15. The District Attorney Posted: June 14, 2012 at 04:15 PM (#4157030)
For posterity's sake, the rest of the list from TFA is:
5. Mauer's foul ball: 2009 ALDS Game 2 --- Yankees 4, Twins 3
4. Reggie's hip check: 1978 World Series Game 4 -- Yankees 4, Dodgers 3
3. Black Friday: 1977 NLCS Game 3 -- Dodgers 6, Phillies 5
1. The Jeffrey Maier affair: 1996 ALCS Game 1 -- Yankees 5, Orioles 4
I dunno how (or why...) to evaluate such a list, but I will always treasure Joe Posnanski's description of the call that ended the 19-inning Pirates-Braves game on July 26, 2011.
the immediate reaction was something resembling horror -- it seemed impossibly obvious that Lugo was out. The throw beat him by six feet, at least. McKenry was so sure that he made the tag that he was looking to see if a double play was still possible. Lugo was so sure that that he was tagged that he hardly seemed interested in touching home plate. The crowd noise -- at least what you can pick up on video -- was the sound of deflation. Everything so vividly pointed to out that the safe call was as shocking as, say, someone shooting and killing Rambo or Dirty Harry 15 minutes into the movie. People were not thinking: "My, the umpire appears to have missed that call." They were thinking: "What a minute … am I going crazy? What happens now?"
   16. DKDC Posted: June 14, 2012 at 04:16 PM (#4157032)
The Maier call should be ranked higher.
   17. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: June 14, 2012 at 04:16 PM (#4157033)
Or this.
   18. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: June 14, 2012 at 04:16 PM (#4157034)
I can't believe he left off the Hrbek play. That was a horrible, horrible call, and IMO it's worse than many of the others because it involved a player consciously cheating.

But the Helton, Knoblauch, and two yankees on third incidents were also terrible.
   19. TDF, situational idiot Posted: June 14, 2012 at 04:19 PM (#4157038)
I refuse to believe that the first 100 years of Major League Baseball didn't feature a call worse than these five.
...
Or this...
Never forget
True, but FTA:
Here are what I rate as the five worst calls ever and what went wrong, as those calls perhaps changed the course of baseball history.
If you notice, all 5 are post-season games. None of the pictures depict such important games, while the 5 calls listed (in the writer's mind) affected who ultimately played in or won the World Series.

EDIT: Although #17 is a post-season game. That one was pretty bad.
   20. booond Posted: June 14, 2012 at 04:23 PM (#4157043)
Reading an ESPN top-5 article is a bad call.
   21. just plain joe Posted: June 14, 2012 at 04:24 PM (#4157044)
What was Luzinski still doing in left field in the 9th inning of a 2-run game?


For real; I remember watching that game with a die-hard, bleeds red & white Phils fan and we had to restrain him to keep him from throwing a pewter beer mug at the TV. That doesn't excuse the poor call but all year the Phillies had substituted someone (Jerry Martin if my old mind remembers correctly) for Luzinski in exactly these situations so they have only themselves to blame for this.
   22. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: June 14, 2012 at 04:36 PM (#4157054)
jpj, yep, Jerry Martin. I was driving home; I could picture poor Bull giving it his (meager) all.
   23. Rafael Bellylard: Built like a Panda. Posted: June 14, 2012 at 04:42 PM (#4157066)
The five worst calls in baseball history were all made by Eric Gregg during Livan Hernandez' 15K game in 1997.
   24. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: June 14, 2012 at 04:45 PM (#4157071)
robinson getting called safe at home in the 1955 series eats at every yankee fan i know of my generation since whenever yogi is interviewed he insists robinson was out

   25. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 14, 2012 at 04:47 PM (#4157073)
If you notice, all 5 are post-season games. None of the pictures depict such important games, while the 5 calls listed (in the writer's mind) affected who ultimately played in or won the World Series..


The Pieryznski dropped-third strike led to the White Sox winning Game 2 of the ALCS when they went on to win the World Series. And the Hrbek play was in the 1991 WS, one of the tightest WS ever.
   26. zonk Posted: June 14, 2012 at 04:47 PM (#4157076)
Well, if Milt Pappas is ever going to register for BTF, I guess this would be the day...
   27. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: June 14, 2012 at 04:50 PM (#4157081)
This has always been the worst one, in my opinion.
   28. Ron J Posted: June 14, 2012 at 04:54 PM (#4157086)
What was Luzinski still doing in left field in the 9th inning of a 2-run game?


You know this almost paid off. He was up 3rd in the bottom of the 9th and reached on a HBP

I was going to mention that Lonnie Smith was his defensive replacement, but that was a few years away. Jerry Martin was available and was a decent defensive player.
   29. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: June 14, 2012 at 04:55 PM (#4157087)
The called "strike" on Van Slyke to close out Game 6 of the 1991 NLCS with the tying run on third was abject garbage.
   30. just plain joe Posted: June 14, 2012 at 05:25 PM (#4157110)
You know this almost paid off. He was up 3rd in the bottom of the 9th and reached on a HBP


I think the accepted wisdom is that Martin probably would have made the play that Luzinski didn't, which would have likely made the bottom of the 9th academic.
   31. smileyy Posted: June 14, 2012 at 05:28 PM (#4157111)
Thanks to those who remember the Hrbek play. 11-year-old me adopted the Cardinals because they beat the Giants that finished in first place above the Reds. Plus they were a sillyball team, in the opposite direction. What kid wouldn't love Vince Coleman stealing 9000 bases?

And then I saw how you can blatantly cheat and get away with it on baseball's biggest stage.

Edit: Ok, wow, I was confused. I could have sworn that was the Twins vs. Cards in 1987.
   32. Devin has a deep burning passion for fuzzy socks Posted: June 14, 2012 at 05:37 PM (#4157118)
Maybe I'm just blanking on them, but I can't think of many famous bad umpire calls from the pre-TV era. Obviously having the calls on film makes a difference in how they stick in the memory.

There's obviously the Merkle game, although that's more a question of rule interpretation than a mistake about what happened.

There's Game 7 of the 1925 World Series, both in allowing it to be played in lousy weather (although I think that may have been Landis' decision), and some of the calls during the game (although visibility may have been an issue).

The Jackie Robinson steal of home, as mentioned.

I'm sure there's others I'm forgetting.
   33. AndrewJ Posted: June 14, 2012 at 05:39 PM (#4157119)
"I don't know if it hit the wall or what. Bull was a good fielder.

Gene Garber went on to call Christina Hendricks "anorexic" and 2002 Iraq "simply crawling with WMDs."
   34. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 14, 2012 at 05:48 PM (#4157127)
There was a onetime famous play in Game One of the 1948 World Series, where the Indians appeared to have picked the Braves' Phil Masi off second - and replays confirmed it - but he was called safe. Masi was promptly singled home to score the only run of the game. Masi later admitted in his will that he was out.

But that game didn't involve a New York team, so no one cares now.
   35. The elusive Robert Denby Posted: June 14, 2012 at 05:51 PM (#4157131)
Joaquin Andujar, relief pitcher. Now that was a bad call, Whitey.
   36. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: June 14, 2012 at 06:09 PM (#4157135)
If you notice, all 5 are post-season games. None of the pictures depict such important games, while the 5 calls listed (in the writer's mind) affected who ultimately played in or won the World Series.

The Pieryznski dropped-third strike led to the White Sox winning Game 2 of the ALCS when they went on to win the World Series.

Given that a large majority of the commentary I've heard on the Pieryznski call say the ump got it right, I don't see how that makes the list.

I'm sure there's others I'm forgetting.

Sam Rice jumping into the stands to catch a ball - either the 1925 or 1933 World Series. The ump called the guy out, always a source of controversy. Rice had a statement on the play to be opened on his death saying he caught the ball and never lost control. But a few days after that statement went public, a person who'd been in the first row of the stands that day said Rice caught it, but then dropped it, and then picked it up.

My favorite is the 1970 World Series call at the plate. It's famous as the play everyone got wrong. The runner missed the plate when he slid. The catcher tagged the runner with his glove while he held the ball in the bare hand. And the umpire was up the line and literally had his back to the plate at the time. That didn't stop him from making a call anyone - he called runner Bernie Carbo out.

That wins my vote for worst call. It wasn't just blowing a call or missing something - he was completely out of position and should never have made the call - yet he did it anyway.

There's Game 7 of the 1925 World Series, both in allowing it to be played in lousy weather (although I think that may have been Landis' decision), and some of the calls during the game (although visibility may have been an issue).

There's a World Series game - in 1922, I believe - where the umpire oddly and inexplicably ended the game due to darkness with an hour of sunlight left. Yeah, that's bad.
   37. The District Attorney Posted: June 14, 2012 at 06:27 PM (#4157146)
There was a onetime famous play in Game One of the 1948 World Series, where the Indians appeared to have picked the Braves' Phil Masi off second - and replays confirmed it
*Photographs* confirmed it. Surprisingly, I can't find it now, but I've seen it many times...
   38. Don Malcolm Posted: June 14, 2012 at 06:32 PM (#4157148)
There's a World Series game - in 1922, I believe - where the umpire oddly and inexplicably ended the game due to darkness with an hour of sunlight left. Yeah, that's bad.

Chris, Judge Landis had been set up for a hot date with 17-year-old Brooklyn hottie Clara Bow, who was as much of a "prodigy" as Bob Feller...it was "now or never," so he told the umps to call the game.

And, you know, it's a cryin' shame that Jeffrey Maier didn't turn out to be good enough to at least play minor-league baseball. Think of the field day everyone would have had if that had been the case...
   39. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: June 14, 2012 at 06:34 PM (#4157149)
I've never understood the appeal of Clara Bow.
   40. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: June 14, 2012 at 06:42 PM (#4157151)
The Pieryznski dropped-third strike led to the White Sox winning Game 2 of the ALCS when they went on to win the World Series. And the Hrbek play was in the 1991 WS, one of the tightest WS ever.
And the first alternate suggestion offered, the Knoblauch-Offerman non-tag, was in the 1999 ALCS.

But other than those TD, you're right. ;)

The Meals call can't be the worst because he might have gotten it right.
   41. salvomania Posted: June 14, 2012 at 06:43 PM (#4157152)
Edit: Ok, wow, I was confused. I could have sworn that was the Twins vs. Cards in 1987.


You're right---Hrbek also did the "shove the runner off the bag and tag him out" play in that '87 series, against Tommy Herr. My recollection is that Herr was picked off first (or had broken for second before the pitch) and was scrambling back to first and Hrbek used his body to block/shove Herr, and then applied the tag. Egregious, obvious interference in a tight game during a tight 7-game series.
   42. Mefisto Posted: June 14, 2012 at 06:44 PM (#4157153)
The worst call I know of (setting aside the importance of the game) was Harry Wendelstedt's refusal to award Dick Dietz first base after Drysdale hit him with a pitch with the bases loaded. This was in 1968 and Drysdale was 48 innings into his scoreless innings streak. The game was in Dodgers Stadium, and Wendelstedt, unforgiveably, let the streak affect his call.

Wendelstedt said later that Dietz hadn't made enough effort to avoid the pitch, but (a) this was Don Freakin' Drysdale, who hit batters all the time; (b) that call was never made (though I've seen it a few times since); and (c) players of that era like Ron Hunt notoriously stepped into pitches all the time in order to get on base (not that Dietz did that, just that the hypocrisy of Wendelstedt's explanation was so glaring).
   43. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: June 14, 2012 at 06:52 PM (#4157157)
The Orioles won Game Two of the series when the Oriole scored three runs off of Jeff Nelson, who was pitching in the seventh and eighth -- which was normally when Mariano Rivera pitched. But Rivera threw 44 pitches in Game One, after coming in in the 10th, and was unavailable for Game Two.

If Jeter's ball is called an out, the Yankees win Game Two, the O's lose in 5.

This line of reasoning is better than the assumption that if the Orioles had won Game One, they would have still won Game Two and not lost all three games at home, because if the rest of the series had played out the same (since we're assuming Game Two plays out the same in favor of Baltimore), the O's go back to Yankee Stadium down 3-2 in the series.
   44. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: June 14, 2012 at 06:53 PM (#4157158)
The worst call I know of (setting aside the importance of the game) was Harry Wendelstedt's refusal to award Dick Dietz first base after Drysdale hit him with a pitch with the bases loaded. This was in 1968 and Drysdale was 48 innings into his scoreless innings streak. The game was in Dodgers Stadium, and Wendelstedt, unforgiveably, let the streak affect his call.

Wendelstedt said later that Dietz hadn't made enough effort to avoid the pitch, but (a) this was Don Freakin' Drysdale, who hit batters all the time; (b) that call was never made (though I've seen it a few times since); and (c) players of that era like Ron Hunt notoriously stepped into pitches all the time in order to get on base (not that Dietz did that, just that the hypocrisy of Wendelstedt's explanation was so glaring).
But it was a proper call. The rule doesn't say "unless nobody ever calls it". Just because everyone else was making the wrong call doesn't make this call wrong.
   45. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: June 14, 2012 at 06:54 PM (#4157160)
The Orioles won Game Two of the series when the Oriole scored three runs off of Jeff Nelson, who was pitching in the seventh and eighth -- which was normally when Mariano Rivera pitched. But Rivera threw 44 pitches in Game One, after coming in in the 10th, and was unavailable for Game Two.

If Jeter's ball is called an out, the Yankees win Game Two, the O's lose in 5.

This line of reasoning is better than the assumption that if the Orioles had won Game One, they would have still won Game Two and not lost all three games at home, because if the rest of the series had played out the same (since we're assuming Game Two plays out the same in favor of Baltimore), the O's go back to Yankee Stadium down 3-2 in the series.
It doesn't work like that.
   46. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: June 14, 2012 at 06:58 PM (#4157163)
The five worst calls in baseball history were all made by Eric Gregg during Livan Hernandez' 15K game in 1997.

It may have been the worst 50.

-----------------------------------------------

robinson getting called safe at home in the 1955 series eats at every yankee fan i know of my generation since whenever yogi is interviewed he insists robinson was out

I'm a Yankee fan, I watched that game, and if anyone cares to look at the photos on pp. 16-17 of the SI issue that covered that World Series, he can clearly see that contrary to Yogi's opinion, Robinson was safe.

And of course the Yanks won that game, anyway, so even if Robby had been called out, it wouldn't have changed the outcome. It was a big stink about nothing.
   47. asdf1234 Posted: June 14, 2012 at 06:59 PM (#4157165)
Joaquin Andujar, relief pitcher. Now that was a bad call, Whitey.


Some men just like to watch the world burn.
   48. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 14, 2012 at 07:01 PM (#4157167)
*Photographs* confirmed it.


There was newsreel footage too, which I saw many years ago. I remember seeing Lou Boudreau jumping up and down, literally hopping mad at the call.
   49. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: June 14, 2012 at 07:26 PM (#4157186)
I love this "aftermath" of the Maier call, which assumes that Game 2 would then have transpired exactly as it did, while also assuming the next three games wouldn't have! You've gotta admire such original consistency.

The aftermath: The Yankees eventually won the series in five games and went on to capture their first of four World Series championships in a five-year span. But what would have happened if Garcia had made the correct call? The Orioles would have won the game and, after winning Game 2, would have held a 2-0 series advantage. The Yankees likely would lose the series, George Steinbrenner probably would fire Joe Torre, Benitez and not Mariano Rivera would turn into the greatest closer of all time and the whole Yankees dynasty never would materialize. Wow. As Andy Pettitte says in the video link above, "You gotta have luck."


And of course the Yankees would never, ever recover from a 2-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven. Why, just ask Sam Rickey and his buddy Mark Wohlers.
   50. willcarrolldoesnotsuk Posted: June 14, 2012 at 07:26 PM (#4157187)
I also came here to mention the Hrbek/Gant play, but looking at it again, it doesn't seem as obviously horrible as I remember. From some angles, it seems at least reasonably consistent with Hrbek's contention, which is that he wasn't pulling, he was just keeping the tag on him, and Gant was falling over.

The ump is also interviewed in that video, and what he says seems at least vaguely reasonable to me: In order to be called safe, you not only have to be in contact with the base, you also have to be under control (I don't know if this is true or not, but it's what the ump says). He goes on to say that everybody looks at the feet on the replay, but if you look at the upper body, Gant was already falling over. Not in control.

I'm not saying it was definitely a good call; I'm just saying it looks to me a lot less obviously bad than I thought it was twenty years ago.
   51. vortex of dissipation Posted: June 14, 2012 at 07:44 PM (#4157199)
My favorite is the 1970 World Series call at the plate. It's famous as the play everyone got wrong. The runner missed the plate when he slid. The catcher tagged the runner with his glove while he held the ball in the bare hand. And the umpire was up the line and literally had his back to the plate at the time. That didn't stop him from making a call anyone - he called runner Bernie Carbo out.

That wins my vote for worst call. It wasn't just blowing a call or missing something - he was completely out of position and should never have made the call - yet he did it anyway.


That was the first one I thought, of, too. Elrod Hendricks was the catcher, and Ken Burkhart the umpire.

Here's the Phil Masi play in the '48 Series.
   52. Moeball Posted: June 14, 2012 at 07:47 PM (#4157201)
RE: The Denkinger call - to this day Whitey still insists that call cost him the Series. But Whitey, Don didn't: miss easy popups, allow passed balls, groove pitches or tank Game 7. Your boys did that. How people react to misfortune is as much a part of the tale as the misfortune itself.

Question - can anyone think of an example where a really horrible call in a critical postseason game clearly DID help one team win a game they shouldn't have - particularly in a game 6 - yet the team that got screwed by the call went on to win Game 7 anyways to render the call moot?
   53. vortex of dissipation Posted: June 14, 2012 at 07:50 PM (#4157204)
Question - can anyone think of an example where a really horrible call in a critical postseason game clearly DID help one team win a game they shouldn't have - particularly in a game 6 - yet the team that got screwed by the call went on to win Game 7 anyways to render the call moot?


Well, the Phikl Masi call referenced above helped give the Baraves their only run in a game they won 1-0, but the Indians came back to win the Series in six. It was Game One, though.
   54. Davo Dozier Posted: June 14, 2012 at 07:52 PM (#4157206)
The worst calls are, to me, the ones where there can be absolutely no argument whatsoever that the call was blown:

Armando Galarraga's perfect game
Chuck Knoblauch's phantom tag
The double-play at third base in the Yankees-Angels ALCS that wasn't called
The Helton scoop from a month ago (where he was a foot off the bag)

I'm sure there are others...but, yeah, I'm sure instant replay will show that a lot of bang-bang plays are called the wrong way. That doesn't bother me so much. Indisputable errors--where every other person on the field except the umpire knows the call was wrong--those bug me, and they should do more to address them.
   55. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: June 14, 2012 at 07:57 PM (#4157208)
My favorite is the 1970 World Series call at the plate. It's famous as the play everyone got wrong. The runner missed the plate when he slid. The catcher tagged the runner with his glove while he held the ball in the bare hand. And the umpire was up the line and literally had his back to the plate at the time. That didn't stop him from making a call anyone - he called runner Bernie Carbo out.

That wins my vote for worst call. It wasn't just blowing a call or missing something - he was completely out of position and should never have made the call - yet he did it anyway.


That probably was the worst all-around call ever, but calls like that are why we all love baseball.
   56. Mefisto Posted: June 14, 2012 at 08:15 PM (#4157214)
But it was a proper call. The rule doesn't say "unless nobody ever calls it". Just because everyone else was making the wrong call doesn't make this call wrong.


There isn't any video of the call AFAIK, so I don't want to argue whether Dietz made a legitimate effort to avoid the pitch. It's a judgment call anyway.

The way I see it, assuming Dietz just stood there, is that it's like the phantom double play. If the standard is to call the runner out at second, even though the SS doesn't touch the bag, then a single umpire can't just arbitrarily call a runner safe because of the game situation. That corrupts the game.
   57. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: June 14, 2012 at 08:45 PM (#4157226)
The Maier call should be ranked higher.
And should be listed more times.
   58. DKDC Posted: June 14, 2012 at 08:49 PM (#4157227)
The article overreaches when it tries to predict how events would've transpired if Garcia had made the right call just like Larry and other Yankee fans overreach when they claim it wouldn't have made a difference.

The truth is that we don't know what would've happened if Garcia made the correct call, but we do know that a very bad call that had a signficant impact on a playoff game was made in favor of the Yankees. We do know that fan interference was only possible because the Yankees failed in their duty as home team to secure the field of play. We do know that, worst of all, instead of booting Maier out of the stadium and condemning him, the Yankees paraded him around new york as a hero and gave him free tickets to later games. And we do know that YES continues to promote the play as a great moment in Yankee history and a hallmark of the greatest franchise in the greatest stadium and the greatest uniform in the universe.

I'm almost glad it happened. It's rare as a parent to have a convienent embodyment of sneer, of entitlement, of win-at-all-costs, of self-promotion - a paragon of bad values to point to as everything we don't want our children to grow up to be.
   59. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: June 14, 2012 at 09:06 PM (#4157231)
Randy Marsh missed a clear HBP of Brandon Inge with bases loaded, one out, top of the 12th, tie score in Twins-Tigers Game 163 in 2009.

That was pretty ####### bad.
   60. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: June 14, 2012 at 09:22 PM (#4157243)
The article overreaches when it tries to predict how events would've transpired if Garcia had made the right call just like Larry and other Yankee fans overreach when they claim it wouldn't have made a difference.

It would've prevented the Yankees from tying one game at that one point. To say with any degree of certainty what would or wouldn't have happened after that is a bit like trying to say what the world would have been like in 1869 if Lincoln had survived his second term. At least with the correct Denkinger call the Cardinals were but two outs away from winning the Series. With the correct Jeter call the Yankees still would've had four more outs and three more games before they were eliminated. A different call wouldn't necessarily have given Todd Zeile a brain, it wouldn't have transformed Rocky Coppinger into Cinderella, and it wouldn't have magically restored Scott Erickson's effectiveness. The Orioles had a gazillion chances to recover after Maier, and after the second game they blew every single one of them.
   61. cardsfanboy Posted: June 14, 2012 at 09:27 PM (#4157248)
I do think it's great to read Whiney Herzog's quotes. I mean that is some grade A whining. Between that and Ron Cey's comments about the team basically quitting(the '78 Dodgers) because of the call, makes me think that ball players of the late 70's and 80's were a bunch of pussies. Those guys better not ever try to compare themselves in the old style arguments "when we played...." with today's players. Today players never give up on a game.
   62. Shredder Posted: June 14, 2012 at 09:40 PM (#4157253)
Given that a large majority of the commentary I've heard on the Pieryznski call say the ump got it right, I don't see how that makes the list.
This is either complete bullshit, or you restrict your reading entirely to White Sox blogs. Almost no one believes that piece of canine excrement "got it right". Many believe (ignorantly) that Josh Paul still should have tagged him regardless, even though Josh Paul and everyone who has ever caught high quality pitching knows Paul did nothing wrong. But beyond that, Eddings and MLB went in front of live TV cameras and blatantly, undoubtedly lied about what transpired. There are calls on that list that are worse, because they were huge mistakes by umpires that should have known better. Eddings has the mental capacity of a three year old, as he's proven many times before and after, so it's up to the individual to decide whether he was wrong or simply lacks the mental capacity to operate in an adult world. But by no means did he "get it right".
   63. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: June 14, 2012 at 09:53 PM (#4157258)
It doesn't work like that.
No, you're right, the only logical thing to believe is that everything that worked out for the Orioles would play out exactly the same way (even though it would be completely illogical for Rivera to not pitch in Game Two), and the stuff that worked out for the Yankees (the other three games of the series) would *not* work out the same way. That that one bad call not only cost them that one game, but somehow cost them four games. And, of course, it's completely unreasonable to believe that Mariano Rivera wouldn't have given up Game Two. I mean, who the #### was that guy? He certainly wasn't as good as we thought he was in 1996.

It's a bad call, but let's not make it seem like it cost Baltimore the series, or even a shot at the series. They lost the series 4-1.
   64. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: June 14, 2012 at 09:58 PM (#4157259)
My point is that you cannot assume that the Orioles would have won Game Two if Garcia doesn't blow that call. Mariano Rivera would have been pitching when Nelson pitched in that game, if everything else was the same. Maybe they would have won, but it would not have been the same game.
   65. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: June 14, 2012 at 10:03 PM (#4157262)
Eric Gregg: Lanta vs them Marleens
   66. BWV 1129 Posted: June 14, 2012 at 10:06 PM (#4157266)
iven that a large majority of the commentary I've heard on the Pieryznski call say the ump got it right, I don't see how that makes the list.


What? No, they don't. He probably got it wrong -- but getting the tip wrong wasn't the problem. It was making the out signal and then disregarding it.

Eddings has made worse calls, though, though usually with less at stake. Earlier that season, Darin Erstad was up, with John Buck catching. Erstad swung at a pitch and Buck's glove got in the way, and got knocked a couple of feet up the third base line. Eddings declined to call catcher's interference, as he apparently thinks that catchers routinely throw their gloves toward third base while trying to catch pitches. In fairness, Buck did play for the Royals at the time, but even so ...

In terms of just absolute unbelievable wrongness, I think the Helton and the McClelland not noticing two guys off the bag might rank the highest in the footage-saturated era. Some of the bad calls are due to poor rule interpretation, some due to awful communication by umpires, and some are bang-bang plays that are difficult to adjudicate. Other bad calls are by Joe West.
   67. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: June 14, 2012 at 10:10 PM (#4157267)
The way I see it, assuming Dietz just stood there, is that it's like the phantom double play. If the standard is to call the runner out at second, even though the SS doesn't touch the bag, then a single umpire can't just arbitrarily call a runner safe because of the game situation. That corrupts the game.
So you're one of those people who thinks the Angels got screwed by the correct call being made in 2009, too?
   68. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: June 14, 2012 at 10:12 PM (#4157272)
I do think it's great to read Whiney Herzog's quotes. I mean that is some grade A whining. Between that and Ron Cey's comments about the team basically quitting(the '78 Dodgers) because of the call, makes me think that ball players of the late 70's and 80's were a bunch of pussies.

When the Dodgers spit the bit in game 5 of that 1978 World Series, Bill Russell of the Dodgers said it had completely ruined his sense of security when he saw people still in the ballpark after the seventh inning. It was such a foreign experience that he thought they were all just waiting to roll him after the game was over.
   69. Mefisto Posted: June 14, 2012 at 10:48 PM (#4157287)
So you're one of those people who thinks the Angels got screwed by the correct call being made in 2009, too?


My view is that if umpires act in such a way that the players come to rely on calls going a certain way, a single ump can't suddenly call it differently just because of the game situation (obviously, any ump might get it wrong in given case).
   70. FrankM Posted: June 14, 2012 at 10:49 PM (#4157289)
There isn't any video of the call AFAIK, so I don't want to argue whether Dietz made a legitimate effort to avoid the pitch. It's a judgment call anyway.

I remember seeing a replay of the Dietz call on TV the following day. My memory, admittedly hazy, is that while Dietz didn't make a herculean effort to get out of the way, he didn't just stand there either. He sort of turned away, like a lot of batters do. I do distinctly remember thinking it was a horrible call.

I'm surprised there isn't some surviving video of the play.

   71. Mayor Blomberg Posted: June 14, 2012 at 11:00 PM (#4157301)
Meals' call's not terrible. I don't see an angle that (ETA: definitively)shows there was contact on the sweep tag.

More interesting was that after the batter belly-flopped, if McKenry had thrown to first, the run might well have been erased. But, no, he pulled a Knoblauch.

Further, the idea that Lugo didn't touch the plate until after the call (Pos's claim) is just nuts.
   72. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: June 14, 2012 at 11:21 PM (#4157310)
   73. haggard Posted: June 14, 2012 at 11:45 PM (#4157330)
My memory, admittedly hazy, is that while Dietz didn't make a herculean effort to get out of the way, he didn't just stand there either.

My memory is that that he did just stand there and let it hit him. But it was a very unusual call.
   74. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: June 14, 2012 at 11:49 PM (#4157344)
Many believe (ignorantly) that Josh Paul still should have tagged him regardless, even though Josh Paul and everyone who has ever caught high quality pitching knows Paul did nothing wrong.


Of course Josh Paul should have tagged him. If he had, then Eddings mistake would have been moot.

And why should Paul have slapped the tag on Pierzynski? Because he should have known that whatever half-assed gestures Eddings was making with his hands (which was something that the other Angels could see, but he most certainly could not), he was not making the same vocal gestures that indicated an out had been recorded. It was the absence of any noise from the ump that triggered Pierezynski's dash to first. A.J. was headed back toward the dugout, but recognized that something was amiss based on Eddings' conduct and took off.

I can't blame the rest of the Angels for thinking A.J. was being called out because of what they could see Eddings doing. But Paul couldn't possibly see Eddings' arm gesture, and the absence of any vocal clue, should have alerted him that something was amiss. Eddings ###### it up, of that there's no question. But Paul most definitely deserves a dollop of scorn for failing to recognize that Eddings ###### it up and acting accordingly, which any catcher with common sense would have done, your appeal to catching high-quality pitching notwithstanding.
   75. Davo Dozier Posted: June 14, 2012 at 11:49 PM (#4157350)
More interesting was that after the batter belly-flopped, if McKenry had thrown to first, the run might well have been erased. But, no, he pulled a Knoblauch.
There was only one out when the play happened.
   76. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: June 14, 2012 at 11:55 PM (#4157356)
This is either complete ########, or you restrict your reading entirely to White Sox blogs. Almost no one believes that piece of canine excrement "got it right".

Funny. I was going to say the only people I've ever heard complain about that call are Angels fans. So that the site's leading Angels fan complains about it. I'm not really rethinking what I said. Swinging strike three on a ball in the dirt.

(reads on). Oh, then another Angels fan whines about it. Same as it ever was.
   77. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: June 15, 2012 at 12:29 AM (#4157378)
Actually, checking the original thread from 2005, it looks like my memory is badly skewed, so nevermind me then.

The main argument was if Paul should've tagged, not if the ump made a good call or not. Got that conflated in my mind. Apologies all.

It nothing else, the ump clearly let a player guide his decision, and that ain't good. And then made a lame excuse/answer about it after the game, which also is bad.

Nevermind me, then.
   78. asdf1234 Posted: June 15, 2012 at 01:03 AM (#4157388)
RE: The Denkinger call - to this day Whitey still insists that call cost him the Series. But Whitey, Don didn't: miss easy popups, allow passed balls, groove pitches or tank Game 7. Your boys did that. How people react to misfortune is as much a part of the tale as the misfortune itself.


It's rarely recognized this way, but the meltdown that it preceded and precipitated is what makes the Denkinger call so important in baseball lore. If the Cardinals had bounced back and recorded the win in Game Six like any team would nine times out of ten, no one would care about Denkinger and his brain fart in the least. What makes it important is that it obviously did rattle the Cardinals, who were constitutionally inclined to ##### and moan and play with their hearts on the sleeves. That club was full of mercurial and high-strung personalities, from Tudor (who famously tore up his pitching hand punching a box fan after he fell apart in Game Seven) to Clark to Andujar to Whitey himself. If ever there were a championship club that would melt down after a terrible, pivotal call, it was the 1985 Cardinals, and the fact that Jack Clark played a key role in the team's self destruction is no great shock.

In that respect, Whitey and TLR were similar--they and their teams played angry (or passionately, if you prefer), but that passion did not swing exclusively to their advantage.
   79. Mayor Blomberg Posted: June 15, 2012 at 02:00 AM (#4157394)
75 - right, thanks. I actually knew that when I started watching replay.
   80. The Yankee Clapper Posted: June 15, 2012 at 02:04 AM (#4157395)
The truth is that we don't know what would've happened if Garcia made the correct call . . .

Garcia, with the benefit of replay, has said the "correct call" would have been ground rule double since Tarrasco wouldn't have caught the ball. Since he's a professional umpire, who can argue.

In any event, as others have noted, it's hard to say how the rest of the series would have played out, but the fact the Orioles didn't win a single game against the Yankees at Camden Yards all year suggests that the teams may not have been so close that the Maier play was the difference. Regular and post-season, it was 14-4 Yanks.
   81. BWV 1129 Posted: June 15, 2012 at 02:55 AM (#4157403)
And why should Paul have slapped the tag on Pierzynski? Because he should have known that whatever half-assed gestures Eddings was making with his hands (which was something that the other Angels could see, but he most certainly could not), he was not making the same vocal gestures that indicated an out had been recorded. It was the absence of any noise from the ump that triggered Pierezynski's dash to first. A.J. was headed back toward the dugout, but recognized that something was amiss based on Eddings' conduct and took off.

I can't blame the rest of the Angels for thinking A.J. was being called out because of what they could see Eddings doing. But Paul couldn't possibly see Eddings' arm gesture, and the absence of any vocal clue, should have alerted him that something was amiss. Eddings ###### it up, of that there's no question. But Paul most definitely deserves a dollop of scorn for failing to recognize that Eddings ###### it up and acting accordingly, which any catcher with common sense would have done, your appeal to catching high-quality pitching notwithstanding.


At the time, someone made the point that Pierzynski knew Eddings' verbalization patterns because he'd been in the whole game, but Pope Josh Paul didn't because he had just entered the game. All Paul knew was he caught the ball.

And "half-assed gesture" isn't quite right. Eddings did exactly the same thing he did that ended every strikeout in the game (except for one where he totally fist-pumped out Konerko on a checked swing he declined to get help on, because he's Doug Eddings and that's what he does). That was the problem.
   82. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: June 15, 2012 at 07:17 AM (#4157418)
Garcia, with the benefit of replay, has said the "correct call" would have been ground rule double since Tarrasco wouldn't have caught the ball. Since he's a professional umpire, who can argue.
I'll argue with that. Maybe *he* would have called it a double, but you almost always see that called an out.
   83. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: June 15, 2012 at 07:22 AM (#4157421)
It's rarely recognized this way, but the meltdown that it preceded and precipitated is what makes the Denkinger call so important in baseball lore. If the Cardinals had bounced back and recorded the win in Game Six like any team would nine times out of ten, no one would care about Denkinger and his brain fart in the least. What makes it important is that it obviously did rattle the Cardinals, who were constitutionally inclined to ##### and moan and play with their hearts on the sleeves. That club was full of mercurial and high-strung personalities, from Tudor (who famously tore up his pitching hand punching a box fan after he fell apart in Game Seven) to Clark to Andujar to Whitey himself. If ever there were a championship club that would melt down after a terrible, pivotal call, it was the 1985 Cardinals, and the fact that Jack Clark played a key role in the team's self destruction is no great shock.

With the sole exception of Ozzie Smith, those 1985 Cardinals were the sourest and whiniest team in the history of baseball. Whitey, Clark, Coleman, Andujar, Mr. "acts-like-he-hasn't-taken-a-dump-in-a-week" Tudor, and that's probably just scratching the surface. Even though they would've (maybe) won the Series with a correct Denkinger call, who could ever feel sorry for them after they played game 7 like a child holding its breath in protest of not getting a pony for Christmas?

Of course to a Cardinals fan none of this would've mattered, but how many other teams could've had most of the rest of the country rooting for the ####### Mets?

------------------------------------------------

In any event, as others have noted, it's hard to say how the rest of the series would have played out, but the fact the Orioles didn't win a single game against the Yankees at Camden Yards all year suggests that the teams may not have been so close that the Maier play was the difference. Regular and post-season, it was 14-4 Yanks.

Against the three other AL playoff teams that year, plus the Braves, the Yankees had a combined regular and postseason road record of 21 and 5, with all 5 of those losses coming to Texas in the regular season, and only 2 of them coming after April 7th. In Camden, the Jake and FuCo they went 18 and 0.


   84. tfbg9 Posted: June 15, 2012 at 08:32 AM (#4157455)
Post number 58 is the best post in the thread, nay, its the single greatest example of sportswriting in all history.

The Armbrister call was brutal. Taught me life's unfair.
   85. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: June 15, 2012 at 08:40 AM (#4157459)
as a brewer fan having don money's game winning grand slam taken away because the first base umpire called time remains a bitter, bitter memory.

   86. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: June 15, 2012 at 08:40 AM (#4157460)
At the time, someone made the point that Pierzynski knew Eddings' verbalization patterns because he'd been in the whole game, but Pope Josh Paul didn't because he had just entered the game. All Paul knew was he caught the ball.


And that's not enough. Josh Paul doesn't make the call, Eddings does. Absent any verbal signal from the umpire that an out has been recorded (the only kind of gesture he was capable of registering), it behooved him to make sure that A.J. was indeed out. He didn't. That he genuinely caught the ball is of no solace.

It doesn't remove any of the blame on Eddings for his mishandling of the situation. But yes, Paul should have simply tagged him when it became obvious that no verbal out call had been made.




   87. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: June 15, 2012 at 08:41 AM (#4157461)
What about Matt Holliday?
   88. BDC Posted: June 15, 2012 at 09:02 AM (#4157472)
Paul should have simply tagged him

Correct. It's a play you see routinely: ball near the dirt on strike three, catcher tags batter just to be sure.
   89. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: June 15, 2012 at 10:15 AM (#4157548)
as a brewer fan having don money's game winning grand slam taken away because the first base umpire called time remains a bitter, bitter memory.

Which I declared the worst ending to a regular season game in history.
   90. SandyRiver Posted: June 15, 2012 at 10:20 AM (#4157556)
The Armbrister call was brutal. Taught me life's unfair.

Not too long ago, I read a rather convoluted presentation saying that Barnett's non-call was correct. As a Red Sox fan, I found it unconvincing. However, I will admit that Roger Angell ("Five Seasons") got it right. After discussing the play at some length (and taking a different position than that recent article), he noted that Fisk still had plenty of time after the body block to make the play at 2nd, but airmailed the throw.

Cokes to those who commented on the importance of how teams/players react to adversity.

Edit: The "Barnett was right" account was in Bruce Weber's "As They See 'Em" book about his Plimpton-like umpire experience.
   91. Nasty Nate Posted: June 15, 2012 at 10:34 AM (#4157575)
Post number 58 is the best post in the thread, nay, its the single greatest example of sportswriting in all history.


I was going to compliment it also.

I'm almost glad it happened. It's rare as a parent to have a convienent embodyment of sneer, of entitlement, of win-at-all-costs, of self-promotion - a paragon of bad values to point to as everything we don't want our children to grow up to be.

This is gold.
   92. The District Attorney Posted: June 15, 2012 at 10:40 AM (#4157586)
It's rare as a parent to have a convienent embodyment of sneer, of entitlement, of win-at-all-costs, of self-promotion - a paragon of bad values to point to as everything we don't want our children to grow up to be.
Ehh. My reaction to this was "Didn't the previous century of Yankee history suffice?"
   93. Nasty Nate Posted: June 15, 2012 at 10:42 AM (#4157595)
a century is not a convenient embodiment
   94. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: June 15, 2012 at 11:10 AM (#4157633)
No, you're right, the only logical thing to believe is that everything that worked out for the Orioles would play out exactly the same way (even though it would be completely illogical for Rivera to not pitch in Game Two), and the stuff that worked out for the Yankees (the other three games of the series) would *not* work out the same way. That that one bad call not only cost them that one game, but somehow cost them four games. And, of course, it's completely unreasonable to believe that Mariano Rivera wouldn't have given up Game Two. I mean, who the #### was that guy? He certainly wasn't as good as we thought he was in 1996.
You'll note I didn't say any of that. The Orioles got screwed by a bad call, but if you're being objective about it at best you can say that it made winning that game, and therefore the series, more difficult. Impossible to say if it would have changed the overall outcome.
   95. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: June 15, 2012 at 11:43 AM (#4157700)
You'll note I didn't say any of that.


And Larry didn't say that the Yankees definitely would have won game 2 if Rivera hadn't pitched in game 1. He only said that "This line of reasoning is better than the assumption that if the Orioles had won Game One, they would have still won Game Two and not lost all three games at home..." Yet his post stating that one can't make assumptions about how the rest of a series would have played out got an immediate response protesting that you can't make assumptions about how the rest of the series would have played out. Etc, etc, etc.

Gosh I loves me teh intranets.
   96. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: June 15, 2012 at 12:40 PM (#4157786)
Yet his post stating that one can't make assumptions about how the rest of a series would have played out
Except that his post didn't say that at all. He was taking issue with the assumptions that favored the Orioles, and presenting an alternate (and, granted, maybe more plausible) set of assumptions that favored the Yankees.

He may have been thinking that it's foolish either way, but that's not the way he presented it.
   97. Rants Mulliniks Posted: June 15, 2012 at 01:05 PM (#4157824)
For some reason I remember very, very few individual plays, or games, for that matter. I've probably watched an average of 25 or so full games on TV every year for the past 25 years, and other than the exceptional plays that get re-hashed year after year (like the Armando Galarraga perfect game, or the Blue Jays triple play in the '92 series) I never remember them. I've only been to 6 live games, and I only remember who won two of them, let alone any plays that stood out.

Stats on the other hand, I have bascially an encyclopedic memory for them.

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