Robinson Cano's 'Home Run' and The 25 Most Disputed Calls In MLB Playoff History
There have been a lot of disputed and controversial calls in MLB playoff history.
From Jeffrey Maier to Steve Bartman, to balls called strikes and safe runners called out, there's controversial calls in every postseason.
In this article, I'll recognize the most important and most controversial calls in MLB playoff history.
25. 2010 ALDS: Carlos Pena Gets Hit By Pitch, Doesn't Get Call
This was one of the controversial calls from the 2010 postseason.
In the first game of the ALDS between the Rangers and the Rays, the Rays threatened early. They had the bases loaded with no outs in the first inning. Carlos Pena came up to the plate.
One of the pitches to Pena grazed him, but it was called a foul ball. Instead of being up 1-0 with the bases loaded, the Rays got struck out three times in a row, and ended up losing the game and the series.
24. 2010 ALCS: Yankees Score On What Should Have Been a Dead Ball
In Game 6 of the 2010 ALCS, the Yankees scored a run on a disputed call.
With Alex Rodriguez on third, a pitch hit the batter, Nick Swisher (him again?!!). It was called a ball, and Rodriguez scored from third.
Although the Yankees still lost, this is another example of the umpiring mistakes made in the postseason.
23. ALDS 2010: Strike Called Ball On Lance Berkman, Hits Next Pitch For RBI
In the seventh inning of Game 2 of the 2010 ALDS between the Yankees and the Twins, Lance Berkman came to the plate with the score 2-2 and a runner on first.
With the count 1-2, Twins pitcher Carl Pavano pitched what looked like a borderline strike to Berkman. The umpire called it a ball, and Berkman hit a double on the next pitch, knocking in the go-ahead run.
The Yankees went on to win the game and the series.
22. NLDS 2010: Buster Posey Called Safe, Wins Game For San Francisco
This was one of the controversial calls in this year's postseason.
With the first game of the series between the Giants and the Braves tied 0-0 in the fourth inning, rookie Buster Posey was on first. He stole second, and was clearly out. The umpire wrongly called him safe, and he went on to score the only run of the game.
21. 2010 NLCS: Roy Halladay Bunt Goes Foul, Called Fair
This missed call changed the whole outcome of Game 5 of the NLCS between the Phillies and the Giants.
With runners on first and second and the Phillies down 1-0, their pitcher Roy Halladay came up to bat.
He laid down a bunt that went foul, but the umpire called fair. Giants catcher Buster Posey threw to third, but the third baseman stepped on the bag too late.
Halladay got thrown out at first, so his sacrifice worked, although it should have been called foul.
This call set the Phillies up to score three runs, eventually winning the game 4-2. They didn't win the series, but this call was still very bad.
20. 2010 ALDS: Michael Young Gets Home Run After Strike Three Is Called A Ball
This was another bad call that happened in the 2010 postseason.
With the Rangers leading the Rays 2-0 in the second game of the series, Michael Young hit a three-run home run after a swinging strike three that was called for a check swing.
The Rays may have come back from a 2-0 deficit, but not from down 5-0, and they ended up losing both the game and the series.
19. 2010 ALCS: Yankees Fan To The Rescue Again With Robinson Cano Home Run
A lot similar to the Jeffrey Maier interference, a fan helped a Yankees home run in the 2010 ALCS vs. the Rangers. Cano hit a long fly ball to the fence that was almost caught by Nelson Cruz, but barely made it over the fence.
There was a lot of debate about whether the fans reached over, and whether the fan hit Cruz's glove or not.
18. ALCS 2009: Nick Swisher Picked Off, Called Safe
Three bad calls were made in the same game of the 2009 ALCS, and two of them were made on Nick Swisher. Both were in the second inning.
The first one happened when Swisher was on second base. The Rangers pitcher threw to second, and plainly picked off Swisher. The umpire didn't seem to see that, though, because he called Swisher safe.
17. ALCS 2009: Swisher Called Out For Tagging Up Early
The second controversial call on Swisher was this:
After Swisher was called safe after getting picked-off second, he got to third. On a fly ball, Swisher tagged up and scored. He was called out for leaving the base early, but he actually left after the catch.
As you can see, this second play wouldn't even have happened if the right call had been made at second.
16. ALCS 2009: Umpire Fails To Notice That Cano's Foot Is Off Bag
This play took place in the same game that the bad calls were made on Swisher.
In the fifth inning, Jorge Posada was on third base and Robinson Cano was on second. Nick Swisher came up to the plate (I guess he does have to do with this one, too).
He hit a ground ball, and Posada was caught in a rundown in-between third base and home plate. Cano ran down to third, assuming that Posada would get out.
Unfortunately, Posada got back to third safely. He knew that he would be out, so he stepped off the base to let Cano be the safe runner. Cano seemed to have the same thought, so he stepped off, too. This left two runners off bases and none on.
The catcher had ran Posada back to third, so he quickly tagged both Posada and Cano. Immediately after Cano was tagged, he stepped back onto the base (great timing, right?). The umpire saw Cano's foot on the bag and called him safe, breaking up the double play.
15. NLCS 2003: Steve Bartman Interferes With Foul Ball
This call was a lot like the Jeffrey Maier call and the Robinson Cano home run call.
In Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS the Chicago Cubs were beating the Florida Marlins 3-0, and had a 3-2 series lead. In the eighth inning, the Marlins hit a high fly ball into foul territory. Moises Alou went back for the catch.
As Alou was about to make the catch, Steve Bartman and other fans reached out for the ball. Bartman caught it, and it was debated whether he had interfered.
Instead of being four outs away from a World Series, the Cubs lost their lead, and lost the series in seven games.
14. World Series 1998: Tino Marinez Hits Grand Slam After Controversial Call
This controversial call was based on one pitch.
In the seventh inning of game one of the 1998 World Series between the Padres and the Yankees, the scored was 5-5. Tino Martinez came to bat with the bases loaded.
The count was 2-2. The pitch came in, and was a borderline strike. Home plate umpire Rich Garcia called it a ball, and Martinez hit a grand slam on the next pitch.
The Yankees ended up winning the game 9-6 and went on to sweep the Padres for the World Series title.
13. NLDS 2010: Jason Heyward Strikes Out On Only One Real Strike
This was another of the bad calls in the NLDS between the Giants and the Braves.
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 3, Jason Heyward came up to bat. The Braves were down 3-2. Heyward struck out on five pitches, but apparently only one pitch was in the strike zone.
If the umpire had called the pitches right, Heyward would have walked, and the Braves could have won the critical Game 3. Instead, they lost the game and the series to the Giants.
12. 2007 Rockies-Padres Play-In: Garrett Atkins Homer Called Double
In a 2007 play-in for the Wild Card between the Colorado Rockies and the San Diego Padres, there were two controversial calls. Here is one of them:
With the Colorado up 6-5, Rockies' Garrett Atkins hit what looked to be a home run. It bounced off a wheelchair in the stands and came back onto the field. The umpires mistakenly ruled it a double, and no run scored that inning.
The Padres ended up tying it up and forcing the game into 13 innings, which wouldn't have happened if Atkins' home run hadn't been called a double.
11. 2007 Rockies-Padres Play-In: Holliday Scores Without Touching Home Plate
The second bad call went like this:
In the bottom of the 13th inning, Matt Holliday was at third. The batter lined out, so he tagged up and ran home, scoring the winning run.
The only problem was that the umpire didn't notice the fact that he didn't touch home plate. Holliday was tagged out, but the umpire called him safe.
Just one missed call can change the outcome of the playoffs.
10. 1992 World Series: Umpire Blows Blue Jays Chance For History
This call may not have been important to the game or the series, but it blew the Blue Jays chance for history.
In Game 3 of the 1992 World Series, David Justice came to the plate for the Atlanta Braves. There were runners on first and second with no outs.
Justice hit a line drive into the outfield that was snagged by center fielder Deron White for the first out. Terry Pendleton and Deion Sanders crossed paths in the base-path, resulting in out No. 2.
Deron White threw the ball in and Sanders was caught in a rundown. Third baseman Kelly Gruber tagged Sanders out, but umpire Bob Davison mistakenly thought that Gruber had missed the tag.
This play wasn't important to the game, as the Blue Jays went on to win the game and the World Series, but it still took history away from the Blue Jays.
This would have been the second triple play in World Series history and the first since 1920.
9. ALDS 2009: Joe Mauer and Twins Robbed Of Potential Game-Winning Run
This bad call against the Twins in the 2009 ALDS cost them the game.
The Yankees and the Twins were in the 11th inning of Game 2 of the ALDS. Joe Mauer led off the inning with a hit deep into left field.
The ball bounced off right fielder Melky Cabrera's glove in fair territory, and then bounced to the ground in fair territory. It bounced out of play, giving Mauer a ground rule double.
Umpire Phil Cuzzi saw it differently, though. He called the ball foul, and Mauer got a single later in the at bat.
You may say that one base doesn't matter much, but the next two batters got singles. If Mauer had been on second, he would have scored, but he was on first, and the Twins were not able to score.
Mark Texiera hit the walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th, but the homer should have only tied it. The Yankees ended up sweeping the Twins.
8. World Series 1978: Reggie Jackson Gets Hit By Thrown Ball
This incident in the 1978 World Series between the Yankees and the Dodgers is very well-known.
In the sixth inning of Game 4, Lou Piniella came up to bat with 'Mr. October' Reggie Jackson (hey, his nickname just states that he does important things in October, not necessarily good things) was on first and Thurman Munson on second with one out.
Piniella hit a line drive into the outfield. Jackson stayed between second and first to see if it would be caught.
The ball was not caught, so Reggie Jackson ran to second. The throw in hit Jackson and bounced away, letting the runner score from second.
There was a lot of debate about whether Jackson purposefully got in the line of the ball or not, as the Yankees won the game and the World Series in six games.
7. World Series 1991: Ron Gant Is Pushed Off First Base
In the 1991 World Series between the Atlanta Braves and the Minnesota Twins, Ron Gant was called out in a strange situation at first base.
In Game 2 of the series, the Twins were up 2-1. Ron Gant came to the plate in the top of the third inning with two outs and a runner on, trying to score the tying run.
Gant knocked a single into the outfield. As he was rounding first, the throw came to the base. Gant stepped back on first as first baseman Kent Hrbek got the ball. Hrbek, being the bigger of the two, seemed to wrestle Gant off the base and tag him out.
The umpire, though, did not see this, and called Gant out, ending the Braves chance to score.
Minnesota went on to win the series in seven games.
6. World Series 1975: Ed Armrister Collides With Carlton Fisk, Forces Error
A collision on the field changed the outcome of the 1975 World Series.
In game three of the 1975 World Series between the Cincinnati Reds and the Boston Red Sox, the Reds were leading Boston 5-1. The Red Sox made a comeback and tied it up, sending the game into extra innings.
With a runner on first in the bottom of the 10th inning, Ed Armbrister came up to the plate. He laid down a bunt to advance the runner.
As Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk went to field the ball, Armbrister collided with him, forcing a wild throw to second. The Red Sox though that Armbrister should be charged with interference, but no such call was made, and the runners moved to second and third. The Reds eventually scored on a sacrifice fly.
The Reds took the series in seven games, but if Armbrister had been charged with interference, the outcome of the series may have changed.
5. ALCS 2005: A.J. Pierzynski Gets Dropped-Third-Strike Call, Changes Game
A call in the 2005 ALCS between the White Sox and the Angels resulted in lots of controversy.
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning of the second game of the series, A.J. Pierzynski came up to bat for the White Sox. The game was tied.
When Kelvim Escobar pitched strike three to Pierzynski, Angels catcher Josh Paul ran off the field, assuming that the inning was over.
Umpire Doug Eddings claimed that Paul hadn't caught the ball, so Pierzynski got to first on a dropped-third-strike.
A double by Joe Crede scored Pierzynski and won the game. The White Sox went on to win the series, too.
4. 1996 ALDS: 12-Year-Old Jeffrey Maier Helps Derek Jeter With Home Run
This call in 1996 was one of the most famous fan interferences in baseball. In the first game of the ALCS, the Yankees were losing 4-3.
Derek Jeter hit a long fly into the outfield. Baltimore Orioles outfielder Tony Tarasco went back for the catch at the wall.
As he reached up for the ball, 12-year-old Yankees fan Jeffrey Maier reached out and helped the ball into the stands. After lost of yelling and arguing, the hit was ruled a home run.
This tied the game, and the Yankees ended up winning off a home run in the 11th inning.
3. 1997 NLCS: Eric Gregg Calls Giant Strike Zone
Umpire Eric Gregg is very well-known for this game in particular. Unlike many others, it was not one bad call that changed the game, but many bad calls throughout the game. Although there was one call at the end of the game that especially outraged many fans.
In game 5 of the 1997 NLCS between the Atlanta Braves and the Florida Marlins, Eric Gregg was the home plate umpire. Throughout the whole game, he had been making terrible calls in terms of strikes and balls. Some pitches looked to be almost a foot off the plate.
As the game came to a close, the Marlins lead the Braves 2-1 in the ninth. With two out in the top of the ninth, Fred McGriff came to bat as the last chance for the Braves in game 5.
The count came to two strikes. The next pitch was above Fred McGriff's head, but Eric Gregg made the famous mistake of calling it a strike. The Marlins won Game 6 and took the series, so fans still remember Eric Gregg for his giant strike zone.
2. ALCS 1999: Chuck Knoblauch's 'Phantom Tag'
The phantom tag in the 1999 ALCS between the Yankees and the Red Sox was one of the worst calls in the MLB playoffs.
In game 4 of the ALCS, Red Sox' Jose Offerman was running in-between first base and second base. Chuck Knoblauch reached out to tag Offerman and then threw to first for the double play. The umpire called Offerman out, but it was clear that Knoblauch had missed the tag.
This could have started a potential rally for Boston, but it didn't because thanks to the bad call. The Yankees ended up winning the game and the series.
1. 1985 World Series: Don Denkinger Blows Call and World Series In 'The Call'
This is considered by some to be the most controversial call in MLB playoff history. By game six of the 1985 World Series, the St. Louis Cardinals lead the Kansas City Royals three games to two.
In the sixth game, the bottom bottom of the ninth came with the St. Louis leading the Royals by one run. The first batter, Jorge Orta, came up to bat. He hit a ground ball to Cardinals first baseman Jack Clark.
Clark threw to pitcher Todd Worrell, who was covering first. Worrell beat Orta to the base, but the runner was called safe.
Replays show that Orta was actually out, that he was in the air when Todd Worrell stepped on the bag, but the umpires didn't see the replay.
Unfortunately for the umpire who called Orta safe, the Royals scored the runner and ended up winning Game 7 to take their first and only World Series title, and the umpire has been known ever since for his bad call.