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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Schoenfield: We have a new worst call ever

Last night’s Meals on Weals game that will forever leave a mark on Pirate fans…

Did I stay up until 2 a.m. watching the Pirates-Braves game that ended on the most controversial call since Jim Joyce ruined Armando Galarraga’s perfect game?

Yes, I did.

And it was something.

Twitter exploded immediately, with sympathy coming from across the country for America’s team. A Pirates fan who has lived in Italy for 19 years was watching the game and tweeted me in horror. Other Pirates fans called it the worst Pirates loss since the “Sid Bream Game” in 1992. Page 2 writer and Pirates fan DJ Gallo wondered just exactly where home plate umpire Jerry Meals had to go at 2 a.m. Joe Sheehan wrote that baseball is a wonderful game that deserves better than its umpires.

I simply said the call made me sad.

You can watch the video of the play in the bottom of the 19th inning that gave the Braves the 4-3 win. You can see a photo here. And a better one here. People tweeted that they saw a replay that was 100 percent conclusive that catcher Michael McKenry tagged out Julio Lugo (yes, Julio Lugo is still in the majors)

Repoz Posted: July 27, 2011 at 11:44 AM | 276 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: braves, game recaps, pirates

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   101. bunyon Posted: July 27, 2011 at 04:42 PM (#3886563)
I was thinking about it: if this were the NFL, would the replays overturn the call on the field? I don't think so. And I do think he tagged him (just from the reactions of the players, though, as many have said, that is fairly inconclusive).

I think it was probably the wrong call. Just not anywhere near worst call ever.

And, just as the Braves should have overcome Hrbek's shove and Gregg's strikezone, the Pirates could have scored a run in the 17 innings and saved everyone the trouble.
   102. Eddo Posted: July 27, 2011 at 04:46 PM (#3886567)
This. I think he was probably out, and if I was a Pirate fan I would be FURIOUS, but I don't get all the "100% CERTAINTY HE WAS OUT" and "WORST CALL EVAR!!!" cries. It looks an awful lot like he went for the sweep tag and missed, and none of the "conclusive" photos actually prove to me otherwise. Comparing this to the Galaragga call is nonsense.

I don't know - to me, the Youtube/MLB.com link(s) are damn convincing of the initial tag on the leg, and are quite suggestive that Lugo's arm/shoulder also is tagged as the catcher raises his glove.

Not "worst call ever", by any means (I would have to go with the Jeffrey Maier play there), but in my opinion, a total 100% incorrect call.
   103. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: July 27, 2011 at 04:49 PM (#3886571)
This on a day he throws 3 shut-out innings and drives in the winning run (kind of)?


C. Martinez - 6 innings, 2 hits, 0 walks, 6 Ks. Impressive.

S. Proctor - 3 innings, 1 hit, 3 walks, 0 Ks. Not impressive.

The most shocking fact about last night's game is that in nine thirteen at bats no Pirate launched a HR off of Scott Proctor's fastball.
   104. zachtoma Posted: July 27, 2011 at 04:50 PM (#3886574)
I don't know - to me, the Youtube/MLB.com link(s) are damn convincing of the initial tag on the leg, and are quite suggestive that Lugo's arm/shoulder also is tagged as the catcher raises his glove.

Not "worst call ever", by any means (I would have to go with the Jeffrey Maier play there), but in my opinion, a total 100% incorrect call.


I'm not sure how you're watching it then because, if anything, the replays show conclusively that Lugo was never tagged on the arm/shoulder.
   105. PreservedFish Posted: July 27, 2011 at 04:52 PM (#3886579)
Criticism of the Braves for celebrating wildly is off base. Don't look at this as an inappropriate celebration of a win they did not earn. The celebration is itself an acknowledgment of the fact that the win wasn't properly earned. There's a reason the party focused on Scott Proctor: the guy accomplished nothing, he hit a routine groundball to third and then fell on his face like an ass.

If you win the lottery, you haven't rightfully earned a damn cent, but that doesn't mean giddy celebration is inappropriate.
   106. Brian C Posted: July 27, 2011 at 04:55 PM (#3886584)
If Meals had called him out, no one on the face of the planet would have questioned it for even a second.
   107. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: July 27, 2011 at 04:56 PM (#3886586)
I'm not sure how you're watching it then because, if anything, the replays show conclusively that Lugo was never tagged on the arm/shoulder.
Yeah, I think it's inconclusive at best that he got him on the leg (though I'd wager he got him). But especially from the view from the front I don't how you can conclude he got him higher up on the follow through.
   108. attaboy Posted: July 27, 2011 at 04:58 PM (#3886587)
I thought the ump admitted that he 'probably' blew the call and he was 'probably' out?
   109. attaboy Posted: July 27, 2011 at 04:58 PM (#3886588)
I thought the ump admitted that he 'probably' blew the call and he was 'probably' out?
   110. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: July 27, 2011 at 04:59 PM (#3886589)
A list of the worst umpire calls in history has to include not calling interference against Ed Armbrister in the 1975 World Series.
   111. Dale Sams Posted: July 27, 2011 at 05:03 PM (#3886591)
and are quite suggestive that Lugo's arm/shoulder also is tagged as the catcher raises his glove.


See...this is why everyone needs to understand visual perspective and how the mind creates a foregone conclusion. When I first saw it, like the Atlanta announcers, it looks like he hit the leg and then came up to hit the shoulder. But when they showed other replays, I went "Ok, that leg swipe might have missed, let's see if he hit the shoulder. Hey, wheres the shoulder tag?" There is no shoulder tag, he missed his shoulder by three feet. But the perspective of the first replay makes it look like he tagged the shoulder. And if that's wrong, then the leg tag can be wrong too.

Damn that catcher for trying to be cute. I've looked at these clips more than the Zapruder films.
   112. Dale Sams Posted: July 27, 2011 at 05:04 PM (#3886593)
I thought the ump admitted that he 'probably' blew the call and he was 'probably' out?


and if he was 'probably out', then he 'might have been safe', which is all the Anti-Worst-Call-In-The-History-Of-Mankind people are saying.
   113. Tuque Posted: July 27, 2011 at 05:07 PM (#3886600)
Not to mention the most obnoxious fan of all time. Seriously, she was screaming, "LET'S GO PIRAAAAAAAAAATES" for the whole game.

That girl was amazing. The sheer level of stamina that she had completely boggled my mind. Also, despite the repetitiveness of her commentary and the shrillness of her voice, all I could think was "this girl is so much more listenable than Hawk Harrelson."
   114. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: July 27, 2011 at 05:10 PM (#3886605)
We drink purple drank.


And the menstrual blood of their cousins. Straight from the tap, as it were.
   115. Drew (Primakov, Gungho Iguanas) Posted: July 27, 2011 at 05:11 PM (#3886608)
See...this is why everyone needs to understand visual perspective and how the mind creates a foregone conclusion.


Based on the uproar, I'm starting to wonder if a sizable portion of the population has a learning disability in this department.
   116. Colin Posted: July 27, 2011 at 05:12 PM (#3886612)
Criticism of the Braves for celebrating is silly. From the dugout they may not have had a clear view of the play, and in the moment they saw it only once in real time. I'm sure many of them suspected it was a blown call, but in that moment they might well have wondered if they missed something that the ump saw. We've all seen calls that looked obviously blown until the replay showed otherwise.
   117.   Posted: July 27, 2011 at 05:15 PM (#3886619)

Shooty's clip is the one that gets it. He tagged him. I still think McKenry set himself up for the bad call, the swipe tag there is the wrong play.


That's what gets me. You have tons of room, why are you doing that swipe thing? F'ing shove the glove into his leg so hard it pushes him into the dugout. I don't get the purpose of the swipe tag.
   118. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: July 27, 2011 at 05:18 PM (#3886625)
This call reminds me so so much of the call at 7:30 in this video...see for yourself.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfH-EUvpx34
   119. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: July 27, 2011 at 05:20 PM (#3886628)
And the menstrual blood of their cousins. Straight from the tap, as it were.


One of the two cities involved in last night's OMG! game is located in Appalachia. The other is the capital of Georgia.
   120. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: July 27, 2011 at 05:23 PM (#3886634)
I would pick Louisville or perhaps Morgantown as the capital of Appalachia.
   121. Spahn Insane Posted: July 27, 2011 at 05:27 PM (#3886645)
It might be worth noting that this was the Braves' backup catcher, as McCann got hurt earlier in the game.

We're talking about the Pirates' catcher.


But if it were the Braves' backup catcher, it'd certainly be more plausible that he deliberately whiffed on the swipe tag. Since the runner was on his own team, and all.
   122. SoSH U at work Posted: July 27, 2011 at 05:30 PM (#3886651)
I would pick Louisville or perhaps Morgantown as the capital of Appalachia.


Louisville? Sam's home is closer to Appalachia than Lou-uh-vul.
   123. phredbird Posted: July 27, 2011 at 05:30 PM (#3886652)
See...this is why everyone needs to understand visual perspective and how the mind creates a foregone conclusion.


Based on the uproar, I'm starting to wonder if a sizable portion of the population has a learning disability in this department.


as a person who knows perspective and knows how to draw, i can say pretty confidently that a shocking number of people are deficient in this skill, and, what's worse, they don't know it.

as for the play ... i ... i ... jeez, i'm not entirely sure either. i've looked at several replays. all i can say is its entirely possible the catcher missed the swipe.

what i do know is this. worst call EVAH is the denkinger call, because of two things: the importance of the game, and the conclusiveness of the replays and photos. that call basically caused a cascade that cost the cardinals a WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP. and i'm not saying that just because i bleed cardinal red ...
   124. Sam M. Posted: July 27, 2011 at 05:31 PM (#3886653)
I would pick Louisville or perhaps Morgantown as the capital of Appalachia.

Picking Louisville as the capital of Appalachia would be a bit like picking Moscow as the capital of Ukraine.
   125. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: July 27, 2011 at 05:32 PM (#3886658)
Louisville? Sam's home is closer to Appalachia than Lou-uh-vul.

You know, I really meant Lexington
   126. SoSH U at work Posted: July 27, 2011 at 05:34 PM (#3886668)
You know, I really meant Lexington


And just to clear up any potential confusion, I meant bad Sam, not good one.
   127. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: July 27, 2011 at 05:36 PM (#3886674)
One of the two cities involved in last night's OMG! game is located in Appalachia. The other is the capital of Georgia.


It figures that a product of Atlanta's school system would say something like that.
   128. Lassus Posted: July 27, 2011 at 05:36 PM (#3886676)
I've looked at all the pics and video in this thread. I still haven't seen a tag.

He probably tagged him, based on Lugo's reaction. But the ump has to make the call immediately, not look at Lugo and go "oh, he thinks he's out, guess I'll call him out."


This, as they say. I'm starting to question even my own initial post now.


That's what gets me. You have tons of room, why are you doing that swipe thing? F'ing shove the glove into his leg so hard it pushes him into the dugout. I don't get the purpose of the swipe tag.

Probably because it wasn't out #3 and he wanted to be ready and able to get the third out somewhere to end the inning, I'd say.
   129. Gamingboy Posted: July 27, 2011 at 05:37 PM (#3886677)
Nothing ever good happens for the Pirates when there is a play at the plate in a game against the Braves.
   130. Gamingboy Posted: July 27, 2011 at 05:38 PM (#3886680)
Nothing ever good happens for the Pirates when there is a play at the plate in a game against the Braves.
   131. zenbitz Posted: July 27, 2011 at 05:42 PM (#3886684)
Ill just leave this here:

What I learned from the 19 inning Braves/Pirates game by Grant Brisbee
   132. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: July 27, 2011 at 05:45 PM (#3886688)
Probably because it wasn't out #3 and he wanted to be ready and able to get the third out somewhere to end the inning, I'd say.


In that situation the catcher HAS to get the out at the plate. To be thinking about a double play when the front end is a tag play is lunacy. Yeah, if you can do it, do it, but you have to make 110% certain you have out number one first.
   133. Brian C Posted: July 27, 2011 at 05:45 PM (#3886689)
Arguing for Means at this point is a little like Bill James's argument for Pete Rose back in the day - the only way to make the argument persuasive is by interpreting the evidence in a way that fits the predetermined assumption.

Of course it's possible that Means was right, and I'll even agree that the "worst call ever" stuff is hyperbolic. But hinging the argument on the word "possible" ignores what is "likely". The throw beat the runner by a sizable margin, the runner slid short of the plate by several feet, and no evidence exists that the catcher missed the tag - there exists only evidence that is, if viewed with maximum charity towards Meals, inconclusive that he made the tag. Which is not the same thing.

In those circumstances, it seems irrational to me to be arguing on Meals's behalf, especially since Meals himself responded by basically throwing his hands up and saying "whatever." As far as anyone can reasonably tell, the runner should have been called out.
   134. Comic Strip Person Posted: July 27, 2011 at 05:57 PM (#3886704)
Having read the Brisbee piece, what in the world was Scott Proctor doing?
   135. spike Posted: July 27, 2011 at 05:57 PM (#3886705)
Eric Gregg single handedly rigging the outcome of Game 5 in the '97 NLCS. I guess that's multiple calls, but in terms of a one game performance, exceptionally worthy of infamy generated.
   136. JC in DC Posted: July 27, 2011 at 05:58 PM (#3886709)
no evidence exists that the catcher missed the tag


Isn't this backwards? Doesn't the evidence have to show that he MADE the tag?
   137. Mike A Posted: July 27, 2011 at 06:05 PM (#3886719)
This Braves fan doesn't think Meals was right. He was pretty awful at home plate all night, his random strike zone really screwed the Braves for a while (and later in the game screwed the Pirates).

But to be fair, we're talking 19 innings in 152% humidity. He saw a swipe tag that he thought missed. Bad call, but not the 'worst ever.'
   138. Vegas Watch Posted: July 27, 2011 at 06:07 PM (#3886722)
In that situation the catcher HAS to get the out at the plate. To be thinking about a double play when the front end is a tag play is lunacy. Yeah, if you can do it, do it, but you have to make 110% certain you have out number one first.

I can't see this. Particularly since Schafer had gotten to third, there is significant value in being in position to throw to first and (theoretically) end the inning, and the swipe tag obviously helps toward that.

The catcher must get the call on this play >95% of the time. Didn't work out here, but I think the reaction has shown that calls like this are a rare exception.

If the catcher goes all out for the tag at home, doesn't throw to first, and then Prado singles in Schafer, he (McKenry) is getting killed today.
   139. bunyon Posted: July 27, 2011 at 06:08 PM (#3886723)
Picking Louisville as the capital of Appalachia would be a bit like picking Moscow as the capital of Ukraine.

I had no idea that Louisville was in Appalachia from 1920 to 1990.
   140. Howie Menckel Posted: July 27, 2011 at 06:12 PM (#3886729)
"worst call EVAH is the denkinger call, because of two things: the importance of the game, and the conclusiveness of the replays and photos. that call basically caused a cascade that cost the cardinals a WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP. and i'm not saying that just because i bleed cardinal red ..."

sigh.
The Orta call was in GAME 6, with the Cardinals holding a 3-2 lead in the Series and a 3-2 lead in the game. Horrendous call that left Orta at first base with none out - and the Cardinals holding a 3-2 lead in the Series and a 3-2 lead in the game.

so if Orta is properly called out, there is no chance that the Cardinals lose anyway, yet if he's called safe, then it's the umpire's fault if the Cardinals blow both games?

I could have cared less who won that Series, but it sure almost seemed before Game 7 that Whitey Herzog, his players, and many Cardinals fans seemed determined to ensure more than a quarter-century of whining by kicking away that game. Otherwise, sure there's a championship, but no one would remember the TERRIBLE CALL. Oh no!

Trivia(l): My wife's cousin played in that game (same last name as her maiden name as well), though I didn't meet her until a decade later.
   141. Brian C Posted: July 27, 2011 at 06:16 PM (#3886732)
Isn't this backwards? Doesn't the evidence have to show that he MADE the tag?

No, we're arguing whether Meals made the right call or not, not whether or not replay should have overturned it in an alternate universe where MLB has instant replay. And in that argument, I think there's clear and convincing evidence that the runner should have been called out.
   142. bunyon Posted: July 27, 2011 at 06:20 PM (#3886736)
I think there's clear and convincing evidence that the runner should have been called out.

Which is? I mean, if the video doesn't show it, what is it you have that convinces you, much less clearly?

I completely agree that at full speed, he looked out and I wouldn't have been all that upset if he was called out and video clearly showed the tag was missed. It would have been an equally blown call but runners who are that much later than the ball generally don't get the breaks. And I'm sympathetic to the idea that, since he looked out at full speed and the video is inconclusive, a person might think, well, then, he was out.

But, again, what evidence is there, other than video, that the runner was tagged?
   143. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: July 27, 2011 at 06:21 PM (#3886741)
And just to clear up any potential confusion, I meant bad Sam, not good one.


One of the Sams lives in Louisville, no?
   144. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: July 27, 2011 at 06:26 PM (#3886747)
You know, I really meant Lexington


Lexington? That's equally wrong.
   145. Brian C Posted: July 27, 2011 at 06:29 PM (#3886752)
But, again, what evidence is there, other than video, that the runner was tagged?

I think the video shows a tag. Is it 100% conclusive? I'd say not. But all the angles I've seen look much more like a tag than they do not a tag. And I think it's borderline implausible (though not impossible) that he missed the tag when so many angles show what looks like a tag, and none of them show him missing it.

That, along with the other circumstances (e.g., throw beat him, slide was short of the plate, Lugo's reaction, Meals's postgame comments), make it seem like a rather extraordinary claim that he was actually safe. And I just don't see the evidence for such a claim to withstand scrutiny on any practical grounds.
   146. SoSH U at work Posted: July 27, 2011 at 06:30 PM (#3886754)
One of the Sams lives in Louisville, no?


Yes, good Sam is in Louisville, which is not as close to Appalachia as bad Sam's Atlanta is.
   147. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: July 27, 2011 at 06:32 PM (#3886757)
Lexington isn't in Appalachia? That's the impression I got from Justified.
   148. smileyy Posted: July 27, 2011 at 06:46 PM (#3886774)
I think I hate any baseball play that involves close interactions between two opposing players. Every other play but a tag at a base is mediated by the ball in some way. Histrionics involved in avoiding a tag are kind of ridiculous.

I don't like any interpretation of baseball rules where Lugo could ever be safe on that play. Ball gets to the catcher well before the runner. Catcher is in the baseline with the ball well up the line. Catcher and runner make contact. Short of the catcher dropping or not having control of the ball, Lugo is out with only incidental contact between them.

If the game allows the phantom touch of second base for double plays (for the safety of the players, presumably), plays at the plate shouldn't involve the catcher having to pin the runner to the ground and tag him for it to be definitively an out. Timing and position are enough to presume the eventuality of the play.

You could also talk me into ending the rundown -- another silly play in baseball. Once a runner reverses directions on the basepaths, it should be a forceout if the fielders touch both bases while having the ball. That is, runner between second and third, third baseman gets the ball. If the runner turns and heads back to second, if the third baseman can step on third and throw to second, its a force play at second.
   149. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: July 27, 2011 at 06:54 PM (#3886788)
smileyy: your ideas are ####### awful.
   150. Barnaby Jones Posted: July 27, 2011 at 06:54 PM (#3886791)
I think the Gant/Hrbek call is the most "overrated" bad call in history. At live speed with one look at it I think it's easy to conclude that Gant's momentum was the driving force in him coming off the bag.


This is the exact opposite of how I see it. At live speed, it looks WAY worse; the still frames might lead one to believe maybe Hrbek was just catching a falling baserunner, but someone watching the video and thinking Gant somehow ran him over would have to be blind.

the Clairmont Hotel


It's the "Clermont" Hotel. And unfortunately for the world, it has been shut down by the city for being unfit for people to dwell in. However, the lounge is still open!
   151. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: July 27, 2011 at 06:55 PM (#3886792)
I think the video shows a tag. Is it 100% conclusive? I'd say not. But all the angles I've seen look much more like a tag than they do not a tag. And I think it's borderline implausible (though not impossible) that he missed the tag when so many angles show what looks like a tag, and none of them show him missing it.
Without knowing much in specific about what Meals has said since the game, I will note that (assuming he got his head steadied after dealing with getting the bat out of the way), the angle that Meals had was about perfect to see whether the glove made contact with his leg, and is superior to any replay we have or will likely get (the behind-home-plate vantage might have worked but they didn't zoom in until after the tag/non-tag, plus it's obviously at a steeper angle).

I think the video we have shows that he probably (barely) tagged him, but it's possible he didn't. But that, again, Lugo was so dead to rights that Meals has to be certain to call him safe.
   152. Drew (Primakov, Gungho Iguanas) Posted: July 27, 2011 at 06:56 PM (#3886793)
Of course it's possible that Means was right, and I'll even agree that the "worst call ever" stuff is hyperbolic. But hinging the argument on the word "possible" ignores what is "likely". The throw beat the runner by a sizable margin, the runner slid short of the plate by several feet, and no evidence exists that the catcher missed the tag


Except that umps aren't supposed to deal in "likelihoods". They're supposed to get the call right. If "likelihoods" were allowed, the ump would look at Lugo and gauge his reaction before making the call.

Not to mention that the ump appears to be in good position and thus has an angle that we don't have.
   153. SteveF Posted: July 27, 2011 at 06:57 PM (#3886796)
There's really not that much difference between saying he was probably wrong and he was definitely wrong. Given there's only two options (safe or out), if the evidence suggests a > 50% chance the runner was out, the correct call is to say the runner is out. The only thing the % effects is the egregiousness of the umpire's mistake.

I think given the rate at which umpires get tag plays wrong (it's pretty high) and given the usually significant difference in expected run scoring there is between an out and safe call (loss of a base runner and an out can exceed the value of a solo home run), I think there's a strong argument for replay on all plays of this kind -- at every base.
   154. Dale Sams Posted: July 27, 2011 at 06:58 PM (#3886797)
I wouldn't be opposed to changing 'tag the runner with the ball' to 'touch the runner while you have the ball.'...that might lessen Posey-like plays a bit.

..and Lugo would have been out when their arms got tangled up.
   155. SoSH U at work Posted: July 27, 2011 at 07:00 PM (#3886803)
don't like any interpretation of baseball rules where Lugo could ever be safe on that play. Ball gets to the catcher well before the runner. Catcher is in the baseline with the ball well up the line. Catcher and runner make contact. Short of the catcher dropping or not having control of the ball, Lugo is out with only incidental contact between them.

If the game allows the phantom touch of second base for double plays (for the safety of the players, presumably), plays at the plate shouldn't involve the catcher having to pin the runner to the ground and tag him for it to be definitively an out. Timing and position are enough to presume the eventuality of the play.


A similar line of thought came up after the Posey play, and I still can't get on board. If you don't require a tag, then you've basically made every out a force play - I don't see how you can find a middle ground that wouldn't involve far greater umpire discretion (and, ultimately, more disagreement). And if you make everything a force play, you've basically eliminated the stolen base as an option, and probably reduce other plays that are among baseball's most exciting.

I'm fully open to the idea of getting rid of the intentional collisions, but I think the tag on non-forecouts needs to stay.
   156. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: July 27, 2011 at 07:03 PM (#3886804)
I think there's a strong argument for replay on all plays of this kind -- at every base.


Replay sucks.

Instead of bogging the game down with endless reviews, just fire the umpires that suck and replace them with ones that don't. Seems simple enough.
   157. SteveF Posted: July 27, 2011 at 07:08 PM (#3886811)
Instead of bogging the game down with endless reviews, just fire the umpires that suck and replace them with ones that don't. Seems simple enough.


Well, I suspect there's a human limitation involved. I don't think Meals is inept. I think that the call he had to make is just really hard to make.
   158. Fly should without a doubt be number !!!!! Posted: July 27, 2011 at 07:10 PM (#3886813)
A similar line of thought came up after the Posey play, and I still can't get on board. If you don't require a tag, then you've basically made every out a force play - I don't see how you can find a middle ground that wouldn't involve far greater umpire discretion (and, ultimately, more disagreement). And if you make everything a force play, you've basically eliminated the stolen base as an option, and probably reduce other plays that are among baseball's most exciting.

The problem is, if Lugo isn't out on this play, where he clearly didn't try to score, and the catcher clearly had the ball, and applied the tag on a non-evading runner, then we are brought to a point where the catcher is obligated to flatten the runner on every play at the plate. Which you can be fine with, I suppose, but I'm not. I don't think it takes away the stolen base to allow both players to basically admit that the runner was out, which is what happened on this play. Both the catcher and the runner abandoned the play, before any attempt at a tag was even made, just like the runner will often pull out of the baseline on the neighborhood play at second, in the interest of player safety.
   159. Walt Davis Posted: July 27, 2011 at 07:11 PM (#3886814)
Many of you say Meals hesitates. He doesn't. He's not supposed to make a "safe" call until the player touches the base. As soon as Lugo touches the plate, he calls him safe.

Haven't read past post 90 or so but I haven't seen a conclusive photo/video of the tag yet either.

I do feel for McKenry too. He had plenty of time to make sure of the tag and probably should have. But, in those spots, you always debate quickly whether going to tag Lugo a second time is only going to convince the ump you missed him the first time.
   160. Lassus Posted: July 27, 2011 at 07:13 PM (#3886818)
With all the talk about Lexington, Louisville, Atlanta, and other godforsaken cities, this seems like the right place to point out that parts of rural New York state have distinct qualities of both northern Appalachia and southern New England. It's some really odd juju in the right spots.
   161. bunyon Posted: July 27, 2011 at 07:14 PM (#3886819)
Primey for 149.

And the idea that there is no middle ground between the inept tag "applied" by the catcher in this play and flattening the runner is crazy. Fielders tag runners all the time without pinning them down and without leaving any doubt whatsoever that a tag was made.
   162. Brian C Posted: July 27, 2011 at 07:14 PM (#3886820)
Except that umps aren't supposed to deal in "likelihoods". They're supposed to get the call right, or not. If "likelihoods" were allowed, the ump would look at Lugo and gauge his reaction before making the call.

I'm not sure what you're trying to say here. Am I arguing that umpires should take players' reactions into account when making a call? No. Is that implied by what I've written? No. I'm making an argument as someone who has the benefit of hindsight, not as an umpire who had to make the call at the time.

But I will say this: if an umpire isn't sure - and Meals clearly wasn't ("I'm guessing he might have got him, but when I was out there when it happened I didn't see a tag," he said afterwards) - I'd rather him make a call that is likely right and turn out to be wrong, than a call that is likely wrong and turn out to be wrong.

Not to mention that the ump appears to be in good position and thus has an angle that we don't have.

Big deal. Umps get calls wrong all the time when they have good angles. I'm willing to give the guy the benefit of the doubt - I'm not saying he should be fired for this one call or anything - but the evidence does not suggest he was right. It merely suggests that it's not 100% certain he was wrong.
   163. SoSH U at work Posted: July 27, 2011 at 07:21 PM (#3886827)
The problem is, if Lugo isn't out on this play, where he clearly didn't try to score, and the catcher clearly had the ball, and applied the tag on a non-evading runner, then we are brought to a point where the catcher is obligated to flatten the runner on every play at the plate. Which you can be fine with, I suppose, but I'm not. I don't think it takes away the stolen base to allow both players to basically admit that the runner was out, which is what happened on this play. Both the catcher and the runner abandoned the play, before any attempt at a tag was even made, just like the runner will often pull out of the baseline on the neighborhood play at second, in the interest of player safety.


Or, you just acknowledge that sometimes the ump will miss the call and you move on. It doesn't mean you have to change longstanding rules about the way the game is played (changes that will surely have some unintended consequences), or that some new level of runner-flattening is required just because Jerry Meals missed a weak tag at 2 a.m.
   164. Fly should without a doubt be number !!!!! Posted: July 27, 2011 at 07:23 PM (#3886830)
Or, you just acknowledge that sometimes the ump will miss the call and you move on.

Well, sure. I agree. I meant my point more in response to those arguing that perhaps the call wasn't wrong.
   165. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: July 27, 2011 at 07:24 PM (#3886831)
Without knowing much in specific about what Meals has said since the game, I will note that (assuming he got his head steadied after dealing with getting the bat out of the way), the angle that Meals had was about perfect to see whether the glove made contact with his leg, and is superior to any replay we have or will likely get (the behind-home-plate vantage might have worked but they didn't zoom in until after the tag/non-tag, plus it's obviously at a steeper angle).

Pretty much exactly what I was going to say.
Once in awhile there's a play like this on a steal of second, where the fielder times the sweep a little wrong, and doesn't quite touch the runner, and everybody freaks out.
Umpires blow calls sometimes, of course they do. But Meals was positioned properly to see a tag, and he didn't see a tag.
   166. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: July 27, 2011 at 07:30 PM (#3886837)
I kind of like where Fly's going with this; I'm not seeing any downside to a rule governing runners and home plate where the runner is forbidden from trying to knock the ball from the catcher's possession, just as runners can't try to knock the ball out at other bases. To enforce the rule, you may also have to mandate a bona fide slide or going in sans slide, a la Jeremy Giambi.

I see no purpose served by permitting home plate collisions.
   167. William Satterwhite Posted: July 27, 2011 at 07:31 PM (#3886838)
if this were the NFL, would the replays overturn the call on the field?


This seems to be the thing a lot of the people using this play as an example of baseball needing instant replay seem to be missing- using the NFL/NHL standard of indisputable proof, this play couldn't possibly have been overturned. If anything, having seen the play live as it happened, all the replays I've seen since haven't done anything but create more doubt in my head- I was sure Lugo was out initially but now I'm at least skeptical.
   168. Harmon "Thread Killer" Microbrew Posted: July 27, 2011 at 07:35 PM (#3886843)
I see no purpose served by permitting home plate collisions.


Amen to this.
   169. phredbird Posted: July 27, 2011 at 07:42 PM (#3886847)
sigh.
The Orta call was in GAME 6, with the Cardinals holding a 3-2 lead in the Series and a 3-2 lead in the game. Horrendous call that left Orta at first base with none out - and the Cardinals holding a 3-2 lead in the Series and a 3-2 lead in the game.

so if Orta is properly called out, there is no chance that the Cardinals lose anyway, yet if he's called safe, then it's the umpire's fault if the Cardinals blow both games?


you think i don't know what game it was? and the score was 1-0. what i said was it started a cascade. and i can get my head around the idea that anything can happen going forward, so it doesn't necessarily follow that the cards are guaranteed the win. but if the call is correct, the probability is dam high that they take the game and the WS. that's what makes the call so egregious. the stakes were really really high.
   170. Brian C Posted: July 27, 2011 at 07:52 PM (#3886858)
This seems to be the thing a lot of the people using this play as an example of baseball needing instant replay seem to be missing- using the NFL/NHL standard of indisputable proof, this play couldn't possibly have been overturned.

But it almost certainly would have been. The replay official (whoever that might be) would look at it, say "uh-oh", and overturn it based on the angle that looked like the highest probability of a tag. And no one would have cared one bit, because anyone who would have continued to argue that it's not 100% certain that the tag would look like a total crank on a play where the throw beat the runner by 1.6 miles and was likely tagged out several feet in front of the plate.

People need to watch more NFL if they think this call couldn't have been reversed by those standards. "Indisputable" is knocked down to "high degree of certainty" all the time, and it bothers no one except for the announcers who are apparently contractually obligated to have the exact same argument about what "indisputable" means every time there's a close play under review. Once the review is over, everyone moves on and it's quickly forgotten unless Peter King has an axe to grind the next morning.
   171. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: July 27, 2011 at 08:03 PM (#3886877)
People need to watch more NFL if they think this call couldn't have been reversed by those standards.

I will promise to disagree with the call if I don't have to watch the ####### NFL. No excuse for making an hour-long game take three hours. ####### unbearable.
   172. Best Dressed Chicken in Town Posted: July 27, 2011 at 08:06 PM (#3886880)
If the game allows the phantom touch of second base for double plays

It doesn't.

This is 2011, not 1980.
   173. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili(Teddy F. Ballgame) Posted: July 27, 2011 at 08:10 PM (#3886888)
Worst call ever: Softball game, man on first, one out. Looping line drive to the 1B that lands four feet in front of the first baseman. Ump calls me out for "Infield fly rule".


I'm sympathetic, but I'm also pretty sure a line drive, no matter how looping, can't land four feet in front of a first baseman who's actually on the infield. Especially on a softball diamond. A 56-foot looping hit can't really be considered a liner.

Not that it can't be a base hit, mind you.
   174. rb's team is hopeful for the new year! Posted: July 27, 2011 at 08:13 PM (#3886893)
There is now way in hell lugo was safe last night. And it surprises me to see fellow braves fans saying he was, or that replays were inconclusive.
   175. smileyy Posted: July 27, 2011 at 08:20 PM (#3886902)
Do the people who oppose a probabilistic or eventual outcome interpretation of the play (tag or not), also oppose the phantom second base touch on the double play?
   176. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: July 27, 2011 at 08:22 PM (#3886906)
Lousy call. Worst call? With just 61 games to go for the '11 Pirates? Has Matt Holliday touched home plate yet?
   177. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: July 27, 2011 at 08:22 PM (#3886904)
I don't think Meals is inept. I think that the call he had to make is just really hard to make.


The call he had to make was easy. Lots of people in this thread made it correctly. The only reason it was hard for him is that he's inept.

This isn't the only thing Meals ###### up this game, just the most visible. His strike zone was incredibly inconsistent all game, for example, with the end result of McLouth and Fredi Gonzalez getting tossed in the 9th.
   178. Dale Sams Posted: July 27, 2011 at 08:22 PM (#3886905)
I'm sympathetic, but I'm also pretty sure a line drive, no matter how looping, can't land four feet in front of a first baseman who's actually on the infield


I don't know how, but it died awfully quick. Besides, you also can't call the Infield fly Rule with just a runner on first.
   179. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: July 27, 2011 at 08:29 PM (#3886912)
Do the people who oppose a probabilistic or eventual outcome interpretation of the play (tag or not), also oppose the phantom second base touch on the double play?


It's a moot point because McKenry tagged him.
   180. rb's team is hopeful for the new year! Posted: July 27, 2011 at 08:37 PM (#3886921)
I don't think Meals is inept.

I do.
   181. SoSH U at work Posted: July 27, 2011 at 08:39 PM (#3886924)
Do the people who oppose a probabilistic or eventual outcome interpretation of the play (tag or not), also oppose the phantom second base touch on the double play?


I oppose it because to make it work you either have to invite more subjectivity into the play (How much does the ball have to beat the runner by for a probabilistic approach to take hold? Does it vary by umpire?) or you have to simply eliminate tag plays altogether. Neither seems like a good fix.

And while Best Dressed correctly notes that the neighborhood play doesn't really exist any longer, I just don't see those things as being the same. On the neighborhood play, the offensive team had no say in the outcome - the ball beat the runner on a force, the only question is whether you want to require the fielder to be on the bag the time the throw was caught (it honestly never bothered me). But on tag plays, the runner can take evasive action to avoid the out, often in quite entertaining fashion. I don't think that particular skill should be removed from the contest.

But as I said earlier, I'm all in favor of getting rid of collisions. I don't see how they're necessary or consistent with the rest of the way the game is played.
   182. Dale Sams Posted: July 27, 2011 at 08:40 PM (#3886925)
Well, the ump in the White Sox-Tigers game sure isn't going to mess around with controversy. Ball beats him, he's out!!
   183. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: July 27, 2011 at 08:51 PM (#3886937)
People need to watch more NFL if they think this call couldn't have been reversed by those standards.
I watch probably a game a week. And I disagree. In this case, barring another angle I haven't seen yet, *no matter which call Meals made* that call would have been allowed to stand. You simply can't conclude one way or the other based only on the video, especially once you separate out the irrelevant (for replay purposes) fact that the ball beat him by plenty and he definitely "should" have been out.
   184. William Satterwhite Posted: July 27, 2011 at 08:52 PM (#3886939)
But it almost certainly would have been. The replay official (whoever that might be) would look at it, say "uh-oh", and overturn it based on the angle that looked like the highest probability of a tag. And no one would have cared one bit, because anyone who would have continued to argue that it's not 100% certain that the tag would look like a total crank on a play where the throw beat the runner by 1.6 miles and was likely tagged out several feet in front of the plate.

People need to watch more NFL if they think this call couldn't have been reversed by those standards. "Indisputable" is knocked down to "high degree of certainty" all the time, and it bothers no one except for the announcers who are apparently contractually obligated to have the exact same argument about what "indisputable" means every time there's a close play under review. Once the review is over, everyone moves on and it's quickly forgotten unless Peter King has an axe to grind the next morning.


I've seen plenty of plays in the NFL and NHL where the action in question was even clearer than this one was that weren't overturned because the replay still didn't remove any doubt that the official got it right- from every replay I've seen, there's nothing that shows the catcher clearly tagged Lugo and using the NFL/NHL standard, that is what you would need.

I'm not saying Lugo wasn't out, just that the replays don't remove all doubt that he wasn't out and that is the standard instant replay would impose. Look at any Fox NFL game this season and whenever an instant replay situation comes up, Mike Pereira will show exactly why a given replay won't be overturned due to it's inconclusive nature.
   185. Brian C Posted: July 27, 2011 at 09:03 PM (#3886950)
Except that I've seen Pereira predict wrongly on more than one occasion - he'll call it one way, and then the replay will go another. And I've seen him say that something was clear that I thought was inconclusive.
   186. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: July 27, 2011 at 09:12 PM (#3886953)
Worst call ever: Softball game, man on first, one out. Looping line drive to the 1B that lands four feet in front of the first baseman. Ump calls me out for "Infield fly rule".


No, here's the worst call ever. My 11-12 YO little league team last year. Top of the 6th (last inning), score tied, runners on second and third, one out. We are the home team, thus on defense. Batter hits a popup to short center. Runner on third lights out for home at the crack of the bat. My CF catches the ball, throws to third for an inning ending double play. The team trots in, I run out of the dugout to congratulate them for a fine play. Next thing I notice is the other team cheering wildly, jumping up an down, and lining up to shake hands. The umps are nowhere to be seen. I ask the other coach what is going on, he says, "We won." I say (words to the effect) "Like hell, your runner was out, and besides, we are the home team. You can't win yet, even if the run counted" He says, "Well, the umps said we won, and they took off. It's in the books."
   187. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: July 27, 2011 at 09:16 PM (#3886956)
I am fairly certain that Lugo was out based on his and the catcher's reactions, and I think if Meals had called him out there would not have been any controversy around the call, since the throw beat him by such a large margin. That said, I don't think any of the photos or videos are conclusive either way.
   188.   Posted: July 27, 2011 at 09:20 PM (#3886960)
I think:

1) It's entirely reasonable to think he missed the tag.

2) The runner is probably called out 99.9% of the time when the throw beats him by that much and the catcher comes that close to tagging him. Sort of like phantom base touches.
   189. smileyy Posted: July 27, 2011 at 09:26 PM (#3886966)
But on tag plays, the runner can take evasive action to avoid the out, often in quite entertaining fashion. I don't think that particular skill should be removed from the contest.


I do. But that's fair. You can tell how much baseball I watch these days -- I watched a ton more in my youth (late 80s, early 90s) where the neighborhood play was horribly abused and infuriated me to no end.

I see tag plays as infrequent and incredibly error-prone, even in obvious circumstances as this one.
   190. Howie Menckel Posted: July 27, 2011 at 09:37 PM (#3886974)
"but if the [Orta] call is correct, the probability is dam high that they take the game and the WS."

yes. And when the call was made incorrectly, the probability still was dam high - though not as high - that they take the game and the WS.

No team can plausibly say, "We are such championship material that one terrible call at first base to a leadoff batter in Game 6 when we have a 1-0 lead and our preferred pitcher on the mound in the 9th inning would be enough to send us into such a collective schoolgirl snit that we can't field, hit, or pitch worth a damn for the final 10 innings of pitiful play."

#deliberaterunonsentence
   191. Tom Nawrocki Posted: July 27, 2011 at 09:44 PM (#3886984)
The Pirates have filed a protest over the game, to what end I cannot fathom. But interestingly enough, both Joe Torre and Jerry Meals have acknowledged that the call was wrong.
   192. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: July 27, 2011 at 09:48 PM (#3886991)
If the game allows the phantom touch of second base for double plays

It doesn't.

This is 2011, not 1980.


How much baseball do you watch? I see it at least once a week.
   193. William Satterwhite Posted: July 27, 2011 at 09:50 PM (#3886993)
Except that I've seen Pereira predict wrongly on more than one occasion - he'll call it one way, and then the replay will go another. And I've seen him say that something was clear that I thought was inconclusive.


We'll probably have to agree to disagree on this, I would say the vast majority of NFL replays that I've ever seen that were actually in doubt are not overturned solely due to the replays being inconclusive.
   194. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: July 27, 2011 at 09:54 PM (#3887000)
No excuse for making an hour-long game take three hours. ####### unbearable.


And yet you watch baseball.
   195. Howie Menckel Posted: July 27, 2011 at 09:55 PM (#3887001)
Pereira had a very good track record on predictions, better than the average Joe off the street for sure. I think he's a good addition.

I think the NFL replay guys are less afraid to overturn a call based on preponderance of the evidence, though it may not be overwhelmingly clear, than most announcers seem to think.
   196. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: July 27, 2011 at 10:01 PM (#3887006)
And yet you watch baseball.

Oh, I think MLB games take way too damn long, too. (I am occasionally audible on A's radio broadcasts yelling things like "Babe Ruth's dead! PITCH the ball already!")
But to have a rigidly-timed game, with a clock, that takes three times as long to play as the "clock" time? Awful. Horrendous. Stupid. Etc.
   197. Mash Wilson Posted: July 27, 2011 at 10:24 PM (#3887028)
I just want it on the record that if the Pirates now embark on a death spiral, it was because they're not very good, not because of this bad call.

The game went 19 ####### innings and the Pirates got shut out for like eight of them by Christhian Martinez and Scott Proctor. That has more to do with them losing than one bad call, anyhow.

Oh, and Re: 196, if you ever hear a guy go apeshit and start screaming insults at the pitcher after he's thrown the ball to first base a third time in a row, that's probably me.
   198. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: July 27, 2011 at 10:36 PM (#3887040)
I find it disturbing that people really seem to think that what a 19 inning, six hour game really needed, most of all, at 2:00 in the damned morning of the day after the game started, was a 30 minute umpire huddle around a replay monitor having this discussion over and over again.

You may make the case that the runner seemed to be out.

You may not make the case that the video/replay evidence is conclusive. It's simply not.

As such, you may not make the case that this is a shining example of how baseball would benefit from more replays.

The umpire who made the call had...wait for it...wait for it...the best seat in the house! to view that play. He also had final authority on any overturning of the play, as the HP ump (assuming it's not he crew chief there.)

Adding technology into the ball/strike mix seems like a good idea to me. Adding technology such as the tennis "eye" laser onto foul lines seems like a good idea. Turning this play into a replay rehash that delays a 19th inning game until 2:30 AM is just fcuking bad idea all around.
   199. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: July 27, 2011 at 10:44 PM (#3887051)
Oh, and Re: 196, if you ever hear a guy go apeshit and start screaming insults at the pitcher after he's thrown the ball to first base a third time in a row, that's probably me.

Especially when the runner at first is somebody like Jack ####### Cust. GAH.
   200. Phil Coorey is a T-Shirt Salesman Posted: July 27, 2011 at 11:00 PM (#3887068)
Lugo is still in the majors? #### that lemon

What a terrible call - hopefully the Pirates should be able to bounce back.
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