Twice this past week I have witnessed hit by pitches that resulted in an umpires’ call, followed by a full crew meeting, followed by a second decision. The first keeping the same result, the second being the call overturned. After witnessing this happening in both an extra-inning Yankee/Toronto game and the Mets/Reds game….and being a soccer (sorry! sorry! Football! Hey, I’m American. We always screw that up.) fan, watching the refs blow all these calls in the World Cup, and hearing Keith Hernandez's comments in the Mets game, I thought enough is enough.
The first call, in the Yankee/Toronto extra inning game, involved Alex Gonzalez supposedly getting hit in the arm/hand by a pitch with a man on first and second. This would’ve loaded the bases for the Blue Jays. However, after arguing the call and a visit from Cito Gaston, the umpires got together to discuss the situation. It was ruled that the ball hit the base of the bat (which was overly loud) and after more arguing and an ejection; Gonzalez was led back to the batter box to strike out to end the inning. (The Blue Jays went on to win 6 -1.)
Tied at one in last night’s Mets/Reds game, a similar situation occurred when with the bases loaded, it appeared Scott Rolen was hit in the arm by a pitch. This would’ve given the Reds the go-ahead run and kept the bases loaded. Rolen trotted down to first without much hesitation, but halfway up, he was called out on a foul-tip called strike three. He immediately approached to argue, followed by Dusty Baker (doing some fancy dodging moves of the bat boy) coming along to do the same. Once again, the umpires converged to discuss the call and this time, it was overturned, allowing Rolen to first and giving the Reds a 2 – 1 lead and Mets’ manager Jerry Manuel an earlier dinner reservation. (I’ll say one thing for Manuel, I can read lips and I never once saw him curse. Bravo Manuel!)
Here’s my issue: apparently Keith Hernandez: 1. Didn’t watch and/or hear about the similar situation with the Yankees and 2. He doesn’t listen to himself talk.
After Rolen was called out, Hernandez spoke about how the Mets caught a huge break. (Pelfrey was really struggling.) After reviewing the replay, he again said they caught a break and the umpires got the call wrong. Once the umps started to discuss the call Hernandez freaked out about how they should not be discussing the call because it’s said and done.
Huh? Shouldn’t it be about getting the call….RIGHT!? Come on now. Hernandez stated that back in his day, a call was a call and it wasn’t discussed. You lived with it and went on from there. Unfortunately, someone needs to tell him that it’s 2010. Maybe he missed that fact. These days, in the era of advanced television technology and all these fancy schmancy doo-hickies, is it so terrible that a human being ask other human beings for help? (Yes, umpires, refs, officials, etc….are human. It’s true.) It made me sick to hear that an ex-player and announcer would suggest if the call is wrong and they fix it, it’s the wrong thing to do.
NO IT’S NOT!
Anyone who has witnessed any of the World Cup games have seen/heard about the scrutiny FIFA is under for not using replays. The referees have made calls without any explanation and hand out yellow & red cards for the silliest gestures. For such a high scale, important series of games, you would think that a little help to get calls correct when so much is on the line wouldn’t be such a bad thing. (Especially also since a ca-trillion people are watching.) It’s terrible that a team’s dreams can be broken over a blown call. And…get this…FIFA won’t discuss ANY questionable calls till AFTER the Cup is over. Seriously? Is this the twilight zone?
NASCAR is just about the only sport that uses mostly computer technology for judgment calls. Speeding and caution placement are determined by computers and replays. Do drivers still argue calls? Yes. Athletes will always argue when the call doesn’t go in their favor. That will never change.
Anyone who watched Armando Galarraga’s perfect game ruined with 2 outs in the 9th inning by a terrible call should agree that we can change these indignations. Otherwise, eliminate all technology, never have the umpires or referees discuss anything and leave everything to human judgment, the way it was 70 years ago.
The umpires and referees and officials are always overly scrutinized for anything bad they do. This time, they should get some credit for trying to do what was right. Hey, at least they’re trying. Bravo!