Late Night Loss

Nice try, Jacoby (Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor and used with permission)

Okay, so here’s what happened, Dustin Pedroia flies out to Ichiro with Jacoby Ellsbury on third base. Ichiro rifles the ball back to the infield and Josh Bard tags Ellsbury out while Ellsbury practically wipes him out in the process. Bard rolls onto his back and the home plate umpire, standing directly over Bard’s body, calls Ellsbury safe because it looks like he dropped the ball. All of the Mariners practically attack the home plate umpire in protest and all the umpires get together and tell Terry Francona that, sorry, the home plate ump made the wrong call and Ellsbury is out. Tito, understandably, wigs out and gets himself tossed from the game. The Red Sox, already down 5-0 thanks to a God-awful Josh Beckett first inning, lose what turns out to be a very important run and go on to lose the game 5-4.

Watching the replay, Don and Jerry immediately take the “they made the right call when they overturned the home plate ump’s call” position (contrary to what some Mariners fans with the NESN feed were gabbing about last night) and watching the replay it is OBVIOUS the umpires ultimately got the call right.  It stinks that it hurt the Red Sox as much as it did but, really, it was the right call and except for Tito who didn’t have the benefit of instant replay in front of him before he argued with the umps, anyone who saw the replay knew it.

What I found interesting and, yes, refreshing is that after this game.  After the Red Sox mounted a comeback and failed to take over the lead and win the game, when asked about the play at the plate (after having seen the replay), Jacoby Ellsbury’s response was:

“It looked like he held onto the ball. He made the tag and then he pulled it out with his bare hand to show that he got me. From my angle, it looked like they got the call right.

Now, as painful as I suppose this could be, I bring this up for two reasons: The first being, it absolutely infuriates me when there is a call like the one last night where it seems another umpire had a better view of the play than the umpire making the call (which, as an aside, I still don’t get here.  Watch the video, umpire Mark Ripperger was standing over Josh Bard and STILL got the call wrong) the umpires more often than not DON’T get together to make sure the right call was made.  I don’t expect this on every play but for crying out loud is it so tough to do it on plays that are really significant?  (Jim Joyce totally destroying Armando Galarraga’s perfect game is one and Jerry Meals, just this July, ending a 19-inning Pirates/Braves game by calling an obviously out Julio Lugo safe at home both come springing to mind.)  Last night it happened in the fourth inning of a 5-0 game with two outs.  While the call, ultimately, hurt the Red Sox because had it stood the score would have been tied, it still didn’t determine the outcome of this game.  Joyce’s call and especially Meals’ call did just that.  Every play in baseball is important but there are times when some hold a bit more importance than others and I know this isn’t lost on the umpires so why the heck don’t they take a couple of minutes more often to make sure they get the damn call right?  I’m glad they got the call correct last night.  Bard took quite the hit and still held on to that ball…between Ichiro’s throw and Bard’s response, that was one hell of a play.  I’m just sorry what happened with the umpires last night doesn’t happen more often because, people who complain about how long baseball games are be damned, it really should.

The second reason I bring this up is Jacoby Ellsbury’s reaction to it.  “They got the right call.”  Interestingly enough, that was Julio Lugo’s reaction as well when Jerry Meals made the wrong call.  I, and many others, defended Lugo just by saying “Well, did you expect him to say it was the wrong call?” but look what Jacoby did.  Lugo watched the replays (and if you watch them, Lugo’s reaction betrays his post-game confidence) and still came out with “He made the right call” (adding, according to reporters, a smile).  So I refuse the whole “What is he going to say” argument because, really, it’s not so terrible to tell the truth in those situations is it?  The umpire admitted it was the wrong call, the League admitted it was the wrong call.  They aren’t going to take away the run or your win so why be a jackass about it?  Jacoby gives me reasons every day to like him more.  MLB umpires, not so much.

So we get a rubber game today.  In August, the Red Sox have tied a series (two wins bookended by losses against the Indians) and won two series (losing the first game of the series against the Yankees and the last game of the series against the Twins).  They are having a good August.  They’re having a good season.  I’m not about to let one late night loss ruin my weekend.  Tim Wakefield brings the knuckleball today in another attempt at his 200th win.  Have at it, fellas!

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