Monday, April 23, 2012

Umpire Odds & Ends: Rangers Squeeze Bunt or Foul Ball?

The Texas Rangers defeated the Detroit Tigers in 11 innings on Sunday, thanks in part to a crafty 11th inning bunt from second baseman Alberto Gonzalez that scored baserunner Nelson Cruz to break a 2-2 tie and put Texas in front for good.

HP Umpire Tim Welke (#3) confers with his crew
With no Tiger covering first, Detroit stood in awe as the Rangers celebrated a go-ahead score. Meanwhile, Tigers manager Jim Leyland exited Detroit's third base dugout and headed straight for home plate umpire Tim Welke, claiming that Gonzalez's bunt had hit the batter's right thigh and should have been ruled a foul ball.

After umpire consultation, Welke and his crew of Paul Schrieber and Mikes Estabrook and Everitt determined the ball did not strike the batter and the play stood as an RBI, infield single. After the game, Welke explained his call: "We did not see the ball hit anybody on the field. You can decide whatever you want and deduce from that. We called what we saw and we didn't see him get hit."

While this type of play and call is sure to get proponents of expanded instant replay review riled up, Leyland remains firmly in the umpires' corner, even if the call did ultimately hurt his squad: "I've always liked the fact that we don't have replay."

Leyland has been adamently opposed to the expansion of replay, even after Armando Galarraga lost his perfect game on June 2, 2010, after the Indians' 27th batter—Jason Donald—was ruled safe on an infield single by first base umpire Jim Joyce. After the game, Joyce admitted he had blown the call, kicking off a series of tremendous sportsmanship by the Galarraga, the Tigers and Joyce, culminating in the book Nobody's Perfect, penned by Galarraga and Joyce and released in 2011.

Wrap: Tigers at Rangers 4/22/12
Video: Squeeze play scores eventual winning run, turns into base hit for Texas' Gonzalez


Anonymous said...

Not like that one call cost them the game, but like the Runge and Scott plays, this is a no win for Welke, especially with Ron Washington on the record saying that if Welke called it foul, he would have gone crazy.

Matt said...

Baseball Tonight accused Welke of not conferring with the other umpires. I'm still baffled as to why the media goes out of its way to make the umpires look bad. Do they not realize that it only reflects poorly on the sport when they do this?

UmpsRule said...

This was clearly a blown call when you look at the replay, provided that you know where to look. In fact, the Tigers radio broadcasters didn't even catch this the first time they saw the replay. I'm a die-hard Tigers fan, but I can understand why this was missed. I can also understand that if Welke was unable to see, it would be unfair to expect any of the others umps to see it. This is a case where the lack of replay is not only unfair to the Tigers, it is also unfair to Welke. Besides, it is not Welke's fault that Thad Weber loaded the bases with no outs.

A quote from, "As for the victims of the missed call, the Tigers, their leader is characteristically taking the high and stoic road: "I'm not going to get all over the umpires about it," said manager Jim Leyland. "It's too bad. But that's the way it goes. And like I said, we didn't swing the bats. To put this all on the umpires would be totally wrong. I don't buy that."
That's nice, but was Leyland taking the high and stoic road when he was hollering at the umps from the dugout after the play was over? I think not. But of course, the national media doesn't care to mention that part, do they?

As for Washington, I believe that he meant he would have gone crazy had Welke overturned the call, not had he initially ruled it foul. So I guess it's a shame the call stood because otherwise there would have been an ejection.

Jay said...

All four umpires blew the call, sure, though give credit to Leyland here for pointing out that his team didn't play well and that's why they were in a position to lose this game. It's too bad one call has been made out to be the end-all of the game, but the fact of the matter is it was a missed call, it was not correct and this was one argument Leyland was right about.

Jimmy Jack said...

As Rex "wonder dog" Hudler would say, the Rangers are "going good" and when you're "going good," umpire calls start "going good" for you, too.

Jon Terry said...

A bunch of crap. How many people looking at that video in real time actually saw the ball strike the player? Certainly none of the defenders saw it. Maybe Leyland saw it, maybe he was just fishing. Seems to me that if he was really sure, he'd have gotten himself dumped.

Bottom line, no one saw it. That happens sometimes, in every single sport. Did they blow it? Hell no. They just didn't see it. Without slow-mo replay from the correct angle, neither did you.

UmpsRule said...

@ Jon Terry: I think Leyland very easily could have gotten dumped, except that Welke does not have a very quick hook.

Jared said...

@Matt, Baseball Tonight seems to always have to make a story - remember, ESPN is selling a product and thrives on controversy to bring them hits and views. The fact that Berthume once again has lied is not a surprise to me at all: Some people on that network strike me as brown-nosers that don't deserve their job. I like Olney and Kurkjian's analysis for the most part, Ravech isn't that bad, but I'd throw the rest out with the bathwater. Reynolds and co. went to MLB Network and that's what I watch these days. Sorry ESPN, you pander to the big Boston/New York markets and stir up all sorts of crap where there isn't any. Used to be balanced, but it's now all about ratings.

At least UEFL gives us straightforward factual analysis. I wish the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League had its own show, even a YouTube series that ran weekly, but I know that'd be a heck of a lot of work for guys with their own jobs. Still, I learned more from that "UEFL Draft Special" than I ever did from the entirety of Baseball Tonight from 2008 to 2011.

Anonymous said...

If I'm an observer here, I have to mark it down as an incorrect call, but I won't mark a crew down for missing this call per se.

Dan said...

I saw in the Yahoo Sports story where Tim Welke also said after the game that he saw the replay, and acknowledged that the ball did hit the batter's knee, but that they called what they saw on the field.

I respect him for being a stand up guy about it, and at least talking to the media after the game. Not every umpire would do that. They called it as they saw it in live action, and that's all you can expect.

Anonymous said...

This is not about umpiring, but more for the ejections twitter feed. Yetserday in the NBA, Demar DeRozan was ejected by Marc Davis for throwing the ball in the stands.

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