MLB Power Rankings: The 10 Biggest Blown Calls in MLB History (Video Included)

Josh Schoch@JoshSchochAnalyst IIIJune 14, 2011

MLB Power Rankings: The 10 Biggest Blown Calls in MLB History (Video Included)

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    Major League Baseball is umpired by humans, and as humans, we all have weaknesses.  These weaknesses in umpires can lead to terrible calls, and the MLB has definitely seen its fair share of those.

    In its history spanning three centuries, Major League Baseball has seen ridiculously bad calls.  Calls that have ruined history or have incited rage that led to fights.

    This slideshow counts down the 10 worst calls in history, with video included of course.

    With that, I give you the 10 worst calls in MLB history.

10. 2007 National League Wild Card Play-in Game

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    The 2007 National League play-in game between the Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres contained our first blown call, made by Tim McClelland.

    In the game, the teams went into the 13th inning tied 6-6.  As seen in the recap of the game that contains the replays of the call, the Padres took an 8-6 lead on a two-run home run and called upon Trevor Hoffman to record the save.

    This did not happen, however, as the Rockies strung together two doubles, a triple, a walk and an apparent sacrifice fly in that order.

    Matt Holliday came home, and the throw from Giles was on the money, the catcher blocked the plate despite dropping the ball, and McClelland saw the ball was out and called Holliday safe.

    The replays clearly show that Holliday never touched home plate, and that the play should have actually been ruled a double play.

    This would have extended the game, and the Rockies may not have made it to the playoffs.  The Rockies made it through the first round, beating the Phillies, and we never know what may have happened if the call had been made correctly.

    This called may have altered the entire 2007 postseason, and we will never know for sure what would have happened.

9. The Pine Tar Incident

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    A better video of this can be found here.

    In this game, George Brett came up to bat with a runner on in the top of the ninth inning, down 4-3 against the New York Yankees.

    The Yankees thought that Brett was using an illegal bat because the pine tar was too high, and as it turns out, they were right.

    Manager Billy Martin decided not to tell the umpires until Brett had a major hit, however, and that came when Brett homered in the ninth to give the Kansas City Royals the lead.

    Umpire Tim McClelland was confronted by Martin after the home run, and he ruled it to have been an illegal at bat, and he ruled Brett out.  This ended the game, and the Yankees were given a victory.

    The rule was that pine tar was not allowed to exceed 16 inches on a bat, and Brett's was at 24.  The rule was created in order to stop the tar from rubbing on balls and having to throw out the ball.  It did not help a hitter at all.

    Well, Martin made his case, which was justifiable in the minds of some, and Brett was called out with the game ending then.

    But hold on, the pitcher, Goose Gossage said that the home run should have counted, and the game was finished after the home run 25 days later.  This reversal of the call (which was actually completely fair), is what landed them on this list.

    The Royals won the make-up game, and both teams lost an off day to play one-half of an inning.  I would say that making the right call and then overturning it is pretty bad.

8. Ron Gant Is Pushed Off of First Base

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    During the 1991 World Series between the Atlanta Braves and Minnesota Twins, umpire Drew Coble missed a call that could have changed the entire series.

    Ron Gant of the Braves hit a single and rounded first base.  A surprise throw to first from pitcher Kevin Tapani made him hastily retreat, and he made it back safely but awkwardly.

    When first baseman Kent Hrbek caught the ball, he pushed Gant off of the base by "tagging" him.  This led to Coble calling Gant out.

    What really happened was that Hrbek, the bigger man, pushed Gant off illegally, and the fans and announcers took notice, but Coble just botched the call.

    The game was eventually won by the Twins 3-2, and the Braves lost in seven games in a series that had five games decided by one run.

    Coble may have accidentally cost the Braves the World Series by making that call.

7. A.J. Pierzynski's Strikeout

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    In Game 2 of the 2005 ALCS, Chicago White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski was up to bat in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and no one on.

    Pierzynski appeared to have struck out on a pitch that was low, and he took a few steps toward the dugout.

    Pierzynski did not hear himself called out, however, and he ran and took first base before the Los Angeles Angels knew what was going on.

    Pierzynski was then called for a pinch runner who scored, and the White Sox won the game, the series and eventually the World Series.

    The question was, did catcher Josh Paul catch the ball cleanly?  The answer appears to be yes, as seen on instant replay.

    Umpire Doug Eddings made a sign that appeared to be a clenched fist, and Paul dropped the ball, but when Pierzynski took first, he raised no objections.

    This call—or lack thereof to be more specific—may have cost the Angels the game and may have altered the entire postseason.

6. Player Interference in the 1975 World Series

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    In Game 3 of the 1975 World Series, the Boston Red Sox and Cincinnati Reds took the game into the 10th inning.

    The Reds Cesar Geronimo led off with a single.  Pinch hitter Ed Armbrister bunted, but the ball bounced in front of home plate, giving Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk a chance to get Geronimo at second, a chance which he took.

    Well, Armbrister, trying to save the game, collided with Fisk, causing an errant throw, allowing the runners to go to second and third.

    The Reds immediately protested the call, saying that Armbrister should be called out, and that Geronimo should have to go back to first base.

    The appeal was rejected, and Joe Morgan later hit Geronimo in to win the game 6-5.

    The call has many Red Sox fans believing that they were snubbed from the World Series title that year, and they would have to wait for the turn of the millennium to win a World Series.

5. Chuck Knoblauch's "Tag"

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    In Game 4 of the 1999 ALCS, the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees renewed their rivalry.

    In the ninth inning, Jose Valentin hit a routine ground ball to Yankees second baseman, Chuck Knoblauch.  Knoblauch went for the tag on the runner heading to second and then threw to first, recording a game-ending double play.

    In reality, Knoblauch did not actually tag the runner, missing by about three feet, and the only one who saw a tag was umpire Tim Tschida.

    The call was so bad that Red Sox fans proceeded to throw garbage onto the field in protest.  Red Sox fans still blame their loss of the series on this call, yet they do not have a very strong argument.

    If the call had been made correctly, then the Red Sox would have had Offerman on second with two outs, and Nomar Garciaparra up.  While this could be an opportunity to score one run, the Red Sox were actually down by seven. losing 9-2.

    The Red Sox would have needed back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back home runs to have tied this game.  The team probably would have still lost the game, and they are therefore in the five-spot for this list because the repercussions were not too great.

4. Fan Interference by Jeffrey Maier

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    A video of this can be seen here.

    In Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS, the New York Yankees were playing the Baltimore Orioles.  The Yanks were down 4-3 in the eighth inning, when rookie sensation Derek Jeter steeped up to bat.

    Jeter hit a long fly ball to right field, and when Orioles outfielder Tony Tarasco looked up to make the catch, 12-year-old Jeffrey Maier reached over the fence and hit the ball into the stands.

    A simple interference call was all that was needed, yet the umpires did not see it.  Right Fielder umpire Rich Garcia completely blew the call, being so close and not seeing a young fans grab the ball.

    The ball was ruled a home run, and the Yankees tied the game 4-4.  The Yankees went on to win the game in extra innings.  The Yankees then won the series and eventually the World Series, with Maier helping them along.

    Jeffrey will go down in baseball lore but not for the reasons anyone wants to be in it for.

3. Tim Mclelland Needs to Get His Eyes Checked

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    Umpire Tim McClelland is making his third appearance on this list and for all of the wrong reasons.

    During a game between the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Angels, McClelland either forgot the rules or forgot his glasses.

    In the top of the fifth innings of a game, outfielder Melky Cabrera hit a ball back to Angels pitcher Darren Oliver with runners on second and third.  Oliver threw home to catch Jorge Posada in a pickle between third and home.

    During the play, Robinson Cano came from second to take third but was standing off of the bag for some reason.

    Angels catcher Mike Napoli ran Posada down around third, and, seeing Cano off the bag, tagged him then Posada who was also off of the base.

    This should have led to a double play, but McClelland called Cano safe at third in a play that was ruled as the worst call in history at the time.

    After the game, McClelland said: "[The replay] showed that Cano was off the bag when he was tagged. I did not see that for whatever reason."

    The reason may have been that he forgot the rules, or perhaps he needs to have his eyes checked.  Either way, this would have been the worst call if it had had bigger implications.

2. Armando Galarraga’s Near-Perfect Game

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    We all remember this call, and how could we forget?

    Last year, during the 2010 season, Armando Galarraga retired the first 26 batters he saw with apparent ease.  The 27th?  Well, he should have been out too.

    Galarraga pitched to the batter, and he grounded the ball to first base.  The first baseman picked up the ball, and threw it to Galarraga, who touched the base and should have started to celebrate his perfect game.

    Why did I say should have?

    Umpire Jim Joyce blew the call in this one, saying that the runner was safe when replay showed that he was clearly out.

    Joyce's mistake cost a young pitcher a perfect game and a no-hitter all in one go, and he publicly apologized afterward.

    This terrible call stopped a perfect game, which would have solidified 2010 as the Year of the Pitcher Part II and took away the highlight of a career for a young man.

1. Don Denkinger's Blown Call

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    This call is clearly the worst in history and deserves the No. 1 spot on this list.

    During Game 6 of the 1985 World Series, The St. Louis Cardinals could taste victory in the series, leading 3-2 and winning the game 1-0 in the ninth inning.

    Three outs away from being crowned World Champions, however, the Kansas City Royals leadoff hitter Jorge Orta hit a slow roller up the first base line to Jack Clark, who threw to pitcher Todd Worrell, who easily retired Orta.

    However, Orta was ruled safe by first base umpire Don Denkinger, despite being beat to the bag by about a full step.

    The Cardinals became disgruntled by the call, and they became sloppy.  Later in the inning, with runners on first and second, a passed ball allowed two runners to get into scoring position, and the Cardinals intentionally walked the next batter to load the bases.

    The Royals pinch-hitter Dane Lorg hit a long single to drive home the tying and winning runs with two outs and bases loaded in the ninth.

    The Cardinals should have been celebrating a World Series victory at this point, but because of Denkinger, the team was forced to play a Game 7.

    Game 7 was a fiasco for the Cardinals.  Tempers built up, and with Denkinger umpiring from behind home plate, the Cardinals were unnerved.

    The Redbirds eventually lost the game 11-0, and their starting pitcher said it was because having Denkinger behind the plate was so distracting.

    Denkinger cost the Cardinals the 1985 World Series because of a call similar to that of Jim Joyce in Armando Galarraga's perfect game, but this call was easier to make correctly.