Bad Week, Bad Job for Major League Umpires
May 13, 2013

Which is worse? When an umpire looks at a television replay and still gets the call wrong, or when an umpire doesn't even know the rules to the game he is calling? It's a new debate among fans. New Yorkers had Willie, Mickey, and the Duke in the 1950s, and now we have Angel Hernandez and Fieldin Culbreath. Who is the bigger bonehead? The choice is easy.

We'll start with Angel Hernandez in Cleveland. The Oakland A's, down 4-3 with two outs in the ninth, have Adam Rosales at the plate. He hits a high fly ball to center field. It either hits the top of the wall and comes back into play for a double, or it hits something above the wall, which would make the play a home run and tie the game. Hernandez rules double, which is understandable considering how far he had to run to make the call. However, baseball has a replay system for possible home runs. Three of the four umpires run off the field into a little room, look at a television replay, which, after you slow it down a lot, clearly shows the ball hit a railing above the wall. I'm guessing they don't have a big screen TV in that little room, because the umpires emerge, and still rule it a double. Play continues, the A's make an out, and the ball game is over with the A's losing 4-3.

The next night in Houston, Astros Manager Bo Porter goes out to make a pitching change. The new guy is brought in, so Angels manager Mike Scioscia counters with a pinch-hitter. Then Porter, seeing Scioscia's move, goes back out, talks to the umpires, and makes another pitching change. One problem. It's in the baseball rule book that a pitcher must face at least one hitter when brought into a game. Culbreath allowed the illegal move, Scioscia played the game under protest, but the Angels came back and won the game, so the protest was not filed.

Now I have no idea what the TV in Cleveland looked like (Fox reported the umpires looked at the replay on a 19-inch monitor), but umpires are paid to know the rules. Culbreath was actually suspended for two games by Major League Baseball, and the other umpires on that crew were fined. Baseball admitted that Hernandez blew the call in Cleveland, but closed the matter at that.

For those of you who think baseball needs more replay, this should prove that it doesn't. Baseball just needs better umpires. Replay proved that Adam Rosales' hit was a home run, but it was still ruled a double. So why bother with replay? Hernandez blew it, but at least he knows the rules. At least baseball suspended Culbreath, and at least we found out about it. If umpires are held more accountable, to the public as well as the league office, maybe we'd see better calls, with announcers and fans still screaming for more replay anyway.

Other Stuff: There has not been a no-hitter this year (the over-under in Nevada for the season is 4), but there were two one-hitters this week, and another no-hit bid. Shelby Miller of the Cardinals gave up a hit to the first batter he faced, then retired 27 in a row, Adam Wainwright took a no-hitter into the eighth the next night, and Chris Sale had a complete-game shutout against the Angels Sunday. The season is running out of early, but apparently pitchers are still ahead of the hitters.

Add ESPN's Dan Shulman to the list of announcers that apparently believes in jinxes. When White Sox starter Chris Sale took a perfect game into the seventh inning last night, at no time did Shulman ever use the 'perfect'. He repeatedly said that the Angels hadn't had a baserunner, but I think the viewer who may have just had the game on in the background deserved to know that something special was going on. You may remember the Giants television crew did the same thing when Matt Cain threw his perfect game. It's a classic debate throughout the history of broadcasting. It didn't affect Sandy Koufax in 1965 when Vin Scully would give the time and date after every ninth inning pitch.

How is this possible? The Dodgers lead the National League in on-base percentage, but have scored the second fewest runs.

Sure, the Giants swept the Dodgers a couple of weekends ago, but Socalers have this to root for. The Los Angeles Kings face the San Jose Sharks in NHL second round playoff action. Go Kings Go!

My boss is a big New York Rangers fan, and told the staff at KNCO that we would receive July 5 off as a paid holiday if the Rangers beat the Washington Capitals in game seven tonight. The Rangers had never won a seventh game on the road, and feeling not to good about the chances, made the offer. Thanks, Tom. The Rangers won 5-0. Let's-Go-Ran-gers! Clap clap clap-clap-clap.

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