Flashing back for just a second to Sunday’s 8-4 win at Anaheim, the Baltimore Orioles were victim to a blown call at second base. Mike Trout was credited with stealing second base in the last of the first inning. MASN replays clearly showed that Matt Wieters‘ throw beat Trout to second and the tag was applied at the bag before Trout could slide in there. First off, this issue is not very well magnified in this case because the O’s did EXACTLY what teams are supposed to do in these situations: the overcame the bad call and won the game. However that doesn’t change the fact that a call was blown.
When players make too many mistakes they’re sent to the minors. When coaches make too many mistakes they’re fired. I recognize that umpires are judged in a certain manner by the league, however outwardly there appears to be very little accountability on their part. Why bring that point up? Let’s say that Jason Hammel had been a pitcher with whom the Orioles were growing increasingly frustrated regarding holding runners on. Either that, or let’s say that Wieters was literally one botched throw away from being sent down. Luckily neither of those scenarios are the case, however if they were and you took that play out of the context of the fact that it was a bad call…you get my point.
More specifically, if that call is made correctly Hammel gets out of that inning unscathed. I will grant the fact that he seemed to come undone after that blown call and Anaheim ended up scoring three runs while Hammel’s pitch count became inflated. You’d be right to point to that and simply blame the umpire, and there’s no doubt that the blown call is noteworthy. However as I’ve said before, pitchers need to focus on minimizing the damage. That’s one instance in which the damage wasn’t really minimized; your best-case scenario is that the hitter flies out on the next pitch and the inning is over. That’s obviously not what happened.
However to their credit, the Orioles as a team did not let that one blown call encompass the game, and they battled back and won. Five years ago, Anaheim probably would have put five runs across in that scenario and the O’s would have lost the game to the tune of a 10-3 final score. (Furthermore I suspect that five years ago whomever would have been managing the team would have come out to argue for the mere reason of getting the team fired up, and would have ended up being ejected.)
The call being blown isn’t as well-stated because the O’s won the game. Incidentally this isn’t a rant against umpires, and I don’t feel that the second base umpire had it out for the Orioles or was trying to help Anaheim. I think the guy just blew the call, and that happens because the umps are human. Once again, I call upon MLB to help their umpires out and institute some form of instant replay on a play of that sort. They allow it on home runs, so why not also on plays as such? In no way am I suggesting that they allow replay on balls and strikes, because that’s a ludicrous idea. However I do think that fair/foul, caught/trapped, safe/out, and of course home runs should be reviewable. Is it really going to take a major market team losing a huge game due to a blown call for this to happen?
The Orioles return home tonight for a very brief three-game homestand against the Kansas City Royals. Wei-Yin Chen will get the ball for the homestanding O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Ervin Santana (who’s going for career win number 100). Kansas City has started the season off surprisingly fast, and of course Oriole-killer Billy Butler is still in their lineup. As I said yesterday, Orioles fans might not recognize their team wearing that strange color they call white given all the traveling they’ve done!