When the umpires become the big story of a game, something is very wrong. But that is what happened in tonight’s Phillies – Nationals game starting immediately in the first inning of an eventual 4-3 Phils loss.
With the Nats 19-year old newbie at the plate in the 1st, the home plate ump gave him a walk on a check swing that was not a check swing. Even without replay, you could see that Bryce Harper’s bat did cross the plate.
Understandably, Charlie Manuel was upset. Because not only was the strike obvious, but there was NO umpire at third to call it due to Joe West being ill. As a result, the remaining 3 umpires were on the defensive right away. Manuel had barely yelled a few words from the dugout when the home plate umpire tossed him from the game without hesitation.
So the Phillies lost their manager in the 1st inning and the umpire disgrace rolled further downhill after that. With Shane Victorino on 2nd base in the 7th, Carlos Ruiz smashed a ball right over the 3rd base bag that should have been an RBI double. But again, with NO umpire at third, it was ruled a foul ball. Seconds later, Victorino stole 3rd base and was called out even though he was never tagged. Remember, there was NO umpire to see this so I guess they just tossed a coin.
Ruiz singled right after that, but no run scored because Victorino had been called out erroneously. Essentially, the umpires robbed the Phillies of the same run twice!
With 3 huge blown calls, the manager ejected and an RBI taken away from the Phillies, the umpires were not done yet. Because during the next 1/2 inning, the idiot who called Victorino out was seen vehemently defending himself to Victorino as he ran out to center field. He actually appeared to be yelling at Victorino as he waved his hands around for emphasis. Seriously? YOU blow a bunch of calls and have the nerve to yell at the player? Disgusting.
Calls started going against the Nationals too, although not game-changing. With the exact same situation as the 1st inning and Harper at bat again, he was called out on a check swing in the 7th. This time, he actually did not swing.
My question is this: WHY can MLB not afford an extra umpire for when this happens again? If someone gets sick, you have a replacement. If not, he can sit in the booth and HELP by watching replays on close calls. Give the umpires earpieces or radios and have the 5th ump call down with the correct call.
Because isn’t the most important thing to get the call right? Or does MLB think catering to umpire egos is more important? And if they don’t like the 5th umpire idea, then you HAVE to allow replay. Blown calls should NOT be affecting the outcome of a game in the modern era. Was no one paying attention when Jim Joyce cost a kid a perfect game with a blown call?
I hope these idiot umpires go back and watch film of this game and see everything they screwed up. But I guarantee you this; none of them will feel anywhere near as badly as Joyce did after his blown call. That man at least had the class and humanity to admit his mistake. But aside from Joyce, when no one is held accountable for their actions, this will never change.
Granted, you cannot put all the blame for this loss on the umpires. The Phillies offense squandered chances. But they should have had a 4-3 lead going into the 8th inning. Instead, they took a 3-3 ballgame 11 innings, blew out their bullpen and lost the game once reliever Michael Schwimer had gone 3 innings and his arm was ready to fall off.
There is always tomorrow, of course. But that does not make this one suck any less.
Game 2 – Saturday, 1:05pm.
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography