Pretty much everyone except six men wearing black on the field at Wrigley Wednesday night knew that Curtis Granderson had struck out on that eighth-inning pitch from Wade Davis.
But Granderson stood at the plate and complained that he’d foul-tipped it and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts asked the umpires to confer.
Which they did. And somehow, magically, umpires standing at least 90 feet away from plate umpire Jim Wolf heard that “tip” sound and said “foul ball.”
Joe Maddon, understandably, went ballistic and got himself thrown out of the game. The play didn’t hurt the Cubs, because Granderson struck out on Davis’ next pitch.
After the game, according to this ESPN.com article, Wolf admitted he was wrong:
Wolf admitted afterward that he was "dead wrong" on the call, saying, "I talked myself into the whole thing."‘
Wolf said afterward he heard "two distinct, separate sounds'' on the pitch, believing the first to be the pitch bouncing in the dirt and the second being the pop of the catcher's mitt.
Wolf admitted afterward that he was "dead wrong" on the call, saying, "I talked myself into the whole thing."
How does an umpire do that? “Talked myself into the whole thing?” All the umpires had to do was look at the video boards, which clearly showed Granderson’s bat missing the baseball. The ball did touch the ground, which meant that Willson Contreras had to tag him for the out, which he did.
Incidentally, video boards aren’t supposed to be used for controversial plays like that. But the Wrigley crowd saw everything you saw at home, and you can see it again here:
Curtis Granderson didn't make contact here...right? pic.twitter.com/KKJKn46kUH— Pitcher List (@ThePitcherList) October 19, 2017
The article goes on:
Maddon didn't buy the "two sounds'' explanation at the moment and roared at several members of the crew. He wasn't buying it afterward, either.
Maddon said after the game "the process was wrong."
"I'm not gonna sit here and bang on umpires. ... But that can't happen. The process was horrible," Maddon said. "To have that changed -- if Granderson hits the next pitch out, I might come running out of the clubhouse in my jockstrap."
Maddon is correct. That absolutely cannot happen. Plays like that are not reviewable. That’s what Wolf and crew chief Mike Winters should have told Roberts — that it was strike three, and the game was moving on.
I’ve made arguments for automated ball-and-strike calls before and I’ll make it here again. Baseball needs that. The technology exists. It wouldn’t eliminate umpiring jobs; you’d still need a plate umpire to show the crowd and TV audience the automated call, and also to maintain order and call plays at the plate.
MLB’s Competition Committee, which recommends changes to rules like this one, is going to have a busy winter.