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Published:June 7th, 2010 16:29 EST
The Umpire can be the Fans and Players Worst Nightmare

The Umpire can be the Fans and Players Worst Nightmare

By Ron G Anselm


How many times have you watched a baseball game where the umpire made a bad call on a play that left you thinking, What was the ump thinking? " Or, have seen a play that the umpire made a bad call for on a play that helped your team win the game and left you thinking, Man, I am glad the ump missed that call! " Probably plenty of times.

     Umpires try to do a very tough job. Three decades ago you would see plenty of calls in a game where the ump made a close call and the opposing manager would run out on the field and yell at the ump, kick dirt on his shoes, and basically the moment would almost turn into a Friday Night bar fight.

     There have been many horrendous bad calls by umpires throughout the history of baseball, but four instances in general stick out in my mind. The first bad call happened in Game Six of the 1985 World Series between the Kansas City Royals and the St. Louis Cardinals. Jorge Orta for the Royals was batting in the bottom of the ninth inning; the Royals were down 1-0 to the Cardinals. He swung and hit a slow roller to the first baseman for the Cardinals Jack Clark. Clark scooped up the ball and tossed it to the Cardinals pitcher Todd Worrell who was running over to cover the first base bag. Worrell touched the first base bag clearly ahead of Orta who was out by over a foot according to the replay, but the first base umpire called Orta safe.  The bad call led to a two-run rally by the Royals who went on to win the game 2-1 and the series.

     The next bad call happened in Game Two of the 1991 World Series between the Atlanta Braves and the Minnesota Twin.  Ron Gant for the Braves singled to left and rounded the bag at first. The ball was quickly fired back to the infield to the First Baseman Kent Hrbrek for the Twins. Gant quickly squirmished back to the first base bag before Hrbek tagged him. Hrbek then appeared to lift Gant off the first base bag on purpose. The first base umpire called Gant out at first thinking Gant`s momentum lifted him off the first base bag as Hrbek tagged him. The replay clearly showed differently. The Twins went on to win the game and the series.

     The next bad call happened in Game Four of the 1999 ALCS between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. In the eighth inning, Jose Offerman for the Red Sox was heading to second base on a ground ball hit by John Valentin to the Yankees second baseman Chuck Knoblauch. Knoblauch fielded the ground ball and tried to tag Offerman who was running by him. The tag by Knoblauch was at least a few feet short, but the second base umpire called Offerman out anyway when the replay again clearly showed otherwise. The Yankees went on to win the game and the series over the Red Sox.

     The most recent bad call happened about two-weeks ago between the Detroit Tigers and the Cleveland Indians. Armando Galarraga was pitching for the Detroit Tigers when he was one out away from throwing a perfect game. Jason Donald for the Indians hit a ground ball between first and second base. The Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera fielded the ball and threw it to Galarraga who was covering the first base bag. Donald was clearly out by a foot when the first base umpire, Jim Joyce called him safe.

     The call cost Galarraga the perfect game which throwing a perfect game in the Major Leagues is equivalent to hitting the lottery. The one thing that I never saw before after the bad call is Joyce the first base umpire admitted he made a bad call. He was quoted as saying, "I just cost the perfect game," (Joyce, USA Today, 2010) He also said, "I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw until I saw the replay. It was the biggest call of my career." (Joyce, USA Today, 2010).

     Bad calls don`t only happen in baseball, but lots do happen in football and other sports. I have seen so many flags thrown in football where the referee will call a safety for pass interference when the safety clearly just made a great play on the receiver and got there at the same time the ball did to knock it out of the receivers hands for an incomplete pass, or to hit the safety to jar the ball loose just as the ball got there.

     In the world of sports the referees and umpires will always make bad calls, they are only human like the rest of us. It`s when the ref or ump makes a call that costs a team the game, series, championship or even a perfect game.



                                  Action News 7, ABC, ( Retrieved 2010.