Close game-ending play in 19th inning of Braves/Pirates baseball game. Did the umpire get it right? You decide.

Normally when I mention Major League Baseball umpires on my blog, it's to rant about a bad call (like here and here). This time, however, the ump got one right. And this call was big, because it was the 19th inning (for those not familiar with baseball, games usally go for 9 innings unless there's a tie, and games can't end on a tie) and this play ended the game.

It's funny how, even when things are black and white, people still see all sorts of colors. It's pretty clear (based on the replay in the clip above starting at 2:08) that the tag was never applied (simple contact between players doesn't matter - the catcher has to touch the player with his glove or the ball directly). It's just about as close as a play can get, but umpire Jerry Meals made the right call because that contact wasn't made, yet he's getting tons of flak for it. I just don't understand how people don't see that the runner wasn't tagged.

Here's the clip from the Braves' broadcast, if you want to see it from some slightly different angles.

What do you think? Do you see what I see?

The problem with MLB Umpires

Less than two weeks ago, I ranted about a blatantly terrible call made by the left field line umpire in the Yankees/Twins Division Series game where a fair ball (that bounced out of play and would have been ruled a ground rule double) was called foul. I ranted, but didn't present a solution.

Last night, Charles Gibson of ABC posted an overview of bad umpiring calls in recent weeks, pointing out three terrible calls during game 4 of the Championship Series between the Angels and Yankees. His solution is to bring instant replays to umpires like in all other major sports.

But I don't think adding instant replays is necessarily the best solution. I think the solution is as simple as hiring younger umpires. If you really think about it, it's rare to see an MLB umpire under the age of 60. It's not that they don't have vast experience calling games - I just don't think their vision and perception is in its best state. The human body is well past its prime for many of these guys.

Let's face it, 90% of these controversial calls happen within 20 feet of these umpires, and the problem really seems to be them not being able to clearly see what is going on directly in front of them. I don't have a problem with older gentlemen calling these games, but there vision and perception has to be top notch. If you were to put my grandpa and me in the same room, I'm going to see a whole lot more than he is - that's just the nature of life. Unfortunately, neither vision nor perception seem to be working too well for the umpires that have been involved in calling these post-season games.

I hope MLB comes up with a solution to prevent these elementarily wrong calls, without resorting to instant replay.

Here's what some of my friends had to say on Facebook, mostly about the most outrageous call where umpire Tim McClelland only called one Yankee out at 3rd base when both were tagged out and neither were touching the bag:

Emily Barrett Fuentes: i think both teams can these umps!

Christopher Jae Gaines: Terrible calls. I feel bad for Angel fans.

Sara Hughes: well...apparently you don't have to be on the base to be safe if you are a can just stand there like an idiot a foot off the base with your hands in your pocket and be safe. RIDICULOUS.

Brianna Villines: can i be an ump?

Jill Morrow Capote: Wondering how much the Yankees had to pay the umps to make those ridiculous calls!!! Unbelievable.

Kelsey Weisenberger: Haha I love that I'm not even watching the game and I know that the umps are being jerks hahaha

Heather Dilley: The umps are on the Yankee payroll.

Emily Barrett Fuentes: yeah!!!!!!!!!!!! home run....oh wait the umps will prob disagree

-------: That was bull****!! Bull ****ing ****!!!

MLB Umpires get worse and worse every year (with an example from last night's Yankees game)

The umpires in Major League Baseball seem to get worse and worse every year. I have never seen more plays called incorrectly than this year. Quite possibly the worst so calls so far came last night, one in the Yankees/Twins game in the 11th inning. Right field umpire (during the playoffs, they have six umps) Umpire Phil Cuzzi called a ground rule double a foul ball, when it was fair by a good 8 inches. I think the thing that upsets me the most is that they specifically bring in two extra umps in the postseason simply to get calls like this right. Phil Cuzzi failed, and probably cost the Twins the game. Full story here.

Update: I couldn't have said it better than WSUcougars did on Digg: "Boy am I glad they added two extra officials for the playoffs, who's ONLY purpose is to make that exact call. Good work."