Fortunately, they had nothing to do with the outcome of ALCS game four, which the Yankees won 10-1. But there were three horrendous umpiring calls in consecutive innings in last night's game -- and two of them were made by Tim McClelland, who has a reputation as one of the best in baseball. The one that everyone's talking about has been termed by Kevin Kaduk ("Duk") of Yahoo sports as "The Worst Call of All Time".
I don't think I'd go that far, because as noted above, even all three calls put together had negligible impact on the game. Had 2B umpire Dale Scott made the right call when Erick Aybar had Nick Swisher picked off second base in the fourth, that inning would have been over -- but McClelland made the wrong call in saying that Swisher, later in the inning, left third base too early and thus was out instead of scoring. No harm done, right? Well, maybe. If Swisher is called out at second, the inning would have been over, and Scott Kazmir wouldn't have had to pitch to two extra hitters in that inning.
But McClelland's call in the fifth -- how can you miss that when it's right in front of you? Angels catcher Mike Napoli tagged two runners, neither of whom was standing on third base at the time. They were both out. True, again, no "harm" was done, because the Yankees failed to score after that. But Darren Oliver, as Kazmir had to do in the previous inning, had to throw to another hitter. Who knows what the pitch sequences would have been, or whether Kazmir might have been able to settle down when it was only 3-0? After the game, McClelland said:
As far as the two calls that I had at third base. The first one with Swisher leaving too soon. In my heart I thought he left too soon.
On the play with Cano and Posada, I thought Cano was on the base. I was waiting for two players to be on the base, and when there was never the situation where both of them were on the base at the same time. When he tagged Cano, I thought Cano was on the base, and when Jorge touched the base and continued and tagged Posada out, I thought Posada was out.
In his heart??? You're not supposed to make calls with your heart, Tim. You're supposed to watch the game with your eyes. And you "thought" Cano was on the base? How about checking with your eyes?
I'm being deliberately too tough on McClelland here -- he is, as I wrote above, generally respected as one of the best in the game. The real villain here is Bud Selig, because he refuses to admit that replay review of plays like this is necessary in modern baseball. Under a system that's been proposed by others and that I agree with, you could give each manager two "red flags" that he could throw for replay review. Last night, two plays went against the Angels and one against the Yankees -- you could have gotten those right under that system and everyone would be happy, I presume, that the right calls were made instead of having another postgame apology news conference from an umpire.
It's way past time, Bud. You already have review for home runs, and it's working well. Time to have review for other calls. The umpiring in the postseason has been atrociously bad. Let's fix it.
Discuss amongst yourselves.