Baltimore Orioles: When umpires attack


Fans of the Baltimore Orioles seem to know a bad call when they see one. Heck, in this age of calling a spade a spade, identifying when the umpires or refs are out of line is part of what we do. Whether or not the Orioles have a lot of calls go against them or whether their opponents seem to get the benefit of the doubt is another story. But needless to say, there do seem to be major controversial calls in their games fairly frequently.

The Orioles’ NFL counterpart had a fairly major call go against them last night, which may or may not have affected their game. With the Baltimore Ravens trailing in the third quarter, an Arizona Cardinals’ runner appeared to be down by contact. In fact, a whistle appeared to blow – signifying the end of the play. However the Cardinal player got up and continued running inside the ten-yard line. The officials seemed a bit confused, but they went with it and allowed the play to continue.

Obviously this isn’t a football column, but humor me for a moment. At the time I was in my car listening to the game on the radio, and they actually played the call back so that fans could hear the whistle blow. Ravens radio analyst Stan White made a great point; at least one official blew his whistle (possibly two), which means that guy decided not to own up to that fact. Furthermore, the Ravens had stopped and the side judge was apparently even already coming in to spot the ball. So everyone accept the runner thought the play was over – and the refs decided to adapt to that version of the story after the fact.

Courtesy of Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Whether or not this play truly affected the outcome of the game is obviously unknown. While the Ravens did manage to rally late and had a golden opportunity to win the game at the end, they didn’t play well and unfortunately they probably deserved to lose. But teams still have a reasonable expectation of the right calls being made in these games, right?

As close as most sporting events are these days, yes it’s reasonable to expect the game officials to make the right calls. Granted that most people wouldn’t want to lose the human factor in games and have robots officiate them, however when the incorrect call is made it stands out like a sore thumb. As I said, whether the O’s are victims of perpetual bad calls is another story. But they do seem to frequently find themselves in minor controversies here and for whatever reason…

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  • …a prime example being Ubaldo Jimenez being ejected after no warning given when he hit a batter in Boston. Nobody on Boston’s side, and nobody in the ballpark or who saw that play thought Jimenez was throwing at the hitter. Nobody except umpire Jordan Baker, that is. And obviously it was only his opinion that mattered. Was that a bad call that affected the outcome of the game? In that instance I would say yes – Jimenez was pitching well to that point.

    And the fact is that every team is going to have examples of this over the course of their season. Heck in Toronto they’re still complaining about the strike zone in the 9th inning of ALCS game six – maybe justifiably so. But I suppose the worst part of this is that there’s literally no recourse for the offended team when a blatantly poor call is made like that. Baseball does allow teams to play under protest, but only in a case where an umpire might have interperated a rule incorrectly. That doesn’t apply in a case where a judgement call may or may not have been called right.

    It’s kind of a helpless feeling. Obviously at a certain point you just have to accept the fact that the guy blew the call and move on. Some people will tell you that if the game itself hinges on that one call, you probably missed other opportunities along the way to win the game. And that’s a valid way of looking at it. But in the moment it certainly doesn’t make things any easier.

    Managers and coaches of course can rate the game officials after the fact, and I’m sure that Showalter rated Jordan Baker fairly poorly that night in the wake of the Jimenez ejection. But again that’s a tough sell right at that moment. The alternative to just accepting the fact that the guy blew the call of course is something along the lines of Bobby Knight throwing a chair across the basketball court, or even Earl Weaver ripping up the rule book on the field. But at the end of the day there’s not much you can do.

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    And I’ll even take this a step further. As much as I personally have no problem calling umpires or refs out, I wouldn’t want leagues to give themselves the ability to review individual calls in games. What happened in the Ravens game was unfortunate; but how bad would it look if the NFL reviewed that right then and there with audio to see if the whistle blew. I want to get the calls right and so forth and I want the games officiated fairly; but let’s get real.

    Next: Baltimore Orioles: The going got tough

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