As I write this, no MLB umpire has made an atrocious call tonight – so far.
The same could not be said last night or the night before.
MLB has suspended veteran umpire Fieldin Culbreth for two games allowing Houston Astros manager Bo Porter to make an illegal pitching change in Thursday night’s game against the Los Angeles Angels. Culbreth and his crew were also fined an undisclosed sum.
When Angels manager Mike Scioscia brought in Luis Jimenez to pinch hit for J.B. Schuck in the 7th inning, Porter brought in reliever Wesley Wright. Scioscia countered by sending up Scott Cousins to pinch hit for Jimenez. This is done all the time. But then Porter came out to remove Wright in favor of Hector Ambriz. When a pitcher is brought into the game, he must face at least one hitter. Wright did not throw a single pitch. A veteran manager like Scioscia pointed out that Porter was breaking the rules but his appeals fell on deaf ears. Scioscia protested the game.
But, as it turned out, the Angels came back and won the game 6-5. Ambriz was the losing pitcher surrendering a two run double to Mark Trumbo. Still, the umpires broke the rules and have been appropriately disciplined.
Yet what occurred on Wednesday night is arguably worse where it concerns the integrity of the game. During a game between the Oakland A’s and the Cleveland Indians, it appeared that A’s infielder Adam Rosales hit a game tying home run in the 9th inning. However, umpire Angel Hernandez ruled it was a double. At the request of A’s manager Bob Melvin, the umpires reviewed the play. The instant replay clearly showed that Rosales had hit a home run. But, after reviewing the play, Hernandez and his crew inexplicably ruled it was a double. Melvin got livid and was ejected from the game by Hernandez. The A’s lost the game 4-3.
MLB Executive Vice-President Joe Torre admitted that Hernandez made an “improper call” but could not reverse the decision.
If Oakland misses the post-season because of this call then the fit will really hit the shan.
Hall of Fame baseball writer Peter Gammons believes that Hernandez intentionally made the wrong call as a protest against instant replay. I would love to have been a fly on the wall in the video room where Hernandez and his crew made their deliberation. It is quite possible that Doug Eddings, John Tumpane and Paul Nauert said the call should be overturned. But as crew chief, Hernandez had veto power and let the call stand.
In any case, I think MLB should investigate Gammons’ claims and interview Hernandez, Eddings, Tumpane and Nauert. If Hernandez knowingly let a call stand that should have not stood then MLB should fire him or at the very minimum suspend him for the rest of the season.
Hernandez has long been one of MLB’s worst umpires. If his integrity is compromised, Hernandez should not be umpiring games.
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