C.B. Bucknor's blown call at first during the ALDS Red Sox v Angels
Game 1 ALDS was one of two in the game, and the beginning of a
series of umpire errors in the Divison Series
Major League Baseball just can’t seem to catch a break. If it isn’t PEDs overshadowing the game, it’s the weather (Game 3 of the NLDS between the Phillies and Rockies was postponed due to snow, and finally played on Sunday).
Or, it’s the umpires.
Granted, ratings are up for the postseason showing the having big market, well-entrenched brands like the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Cardinals, and Phillies is a good thing for viewers. Too bad they’re seeing some horrendous calls.
Here are three calls that have overshadowed what has otherwise been a great postseason, five days into it.
C.B. Bucknor’s Blown Calls At First Base - Game 1 ALDS – Red Sox v Angels
To say C.B. Bucknor had a bad first night of the ALDS between the Red Sox and Angels would be an understatement. The umpire voted in 2006 by the players as the worst umpire in MLB had not one, but two bad calls.
The first blown call came in the fourth inning when SS Alex Gonzalez had a throw to first base that pulled Kevin Youkilis off the bag. The move caused to Youkilis to make a swipe tag on the Angels’ Howie Kendrick. Bucknor called Kendrick safe, but replays clearly showed that Youkilis tagged him before the reached first.
Kendrick was involved in yet another bad call by Bucknor, this time in the sixth. A wide throw from Mike Lowell to Youkillis who, yet again, was pulled off the bag, this time hustling back to get his foot on the bag ahead of Kendrick, but once again, Bucknor called him safe.
Bucknor’s miscues weren’t game changing, but the beginning of a bad trend
When a Touched Ball Lands In-Bounds and Called Foul – Phil Cuzzi’s Gaffe - Game 2 ALDS – Twins v Yankees
Arguably the worst call of the postseason thus far was in the 11th inning of Game 2 between the Twins and Yankees. We reported on this one already, but Maurer laced a ball far down the third baseline where a where a running Melky Cabrera reached out and had the ball go off the tip of his glove. Both the ball hitting Cabrera’s glove and where it landed afterwards were in fair territory. And yet, in clear view of umpire Phil Cuzzi, it was called foul, robbing Mauer of at least a single, and most likely, a double. Mauer eventually got a single, and the Twins loaded the bases, only to have the Yankees get out of the jam. The next half inning, Mark Teixeira belted a walk-off homer to give the Yankees a 4-3 win, and more importantly a 2-0 lead in Division Series play.
Cuzzi’s gaff wasn’t a miss by inches. It was clearly seen as a blown call at the outset and amplified to mind numbing proportions in replays by TBS.
Utley’s Check Swing Hits Leg, Called Single – Homeplate umpire Jerry Meals, first base umpire Ron Kulpa – Game 3 NLDS – Phillies v Rockies
The blunders have continued in crucial moments during this year’s LDS, and Sunday night’s Phillies v. Rockies game at Coors Field was no exception, providing two blown calls by two umps in one sequence. In the ninth inning, with 1 out and a man on third, Chase Utley checked his swing, making contact with a Huston Street pitch. As seen in the picture provided, the ball glanced off his leg, hitting the dirt in foul territory. Homeplate umpire Jerry Meals called the ball in play, where Street barely got the ball to an outstretched Todd Helton. At that point, first base umpire Ron Kulpa called Helton’s foot off the bag. As the images provided show (courtesy of SportsByBrooks), Helton’s foot was on the bag, and had control of the ball – a double-gaffe, one by Meals and the other by Kulpa).
Granted, both were tough calls to make – the play at first was a bang-bang, and Meals would have been blocked from seeing the ball glance off Utley – but, the calls placed an exclamation point on the other blown calls by Bucknor and Cuzzi.
Will There Be Umpire Changes for the LCS?
The Rockies and Phillies are still playing for that final National League Championship berth, but when the games end in the NLDS, the umpires for the LCS will be under heavy scrutiny. Bucknor has never been a player favorite, and Cuzzi is not exactly popular either. Let’s hope the play on the field is the focus rather than the horrible work by the umpires early on in the 2009 MLB postseason.
Images: (FanIQ, The Biz of Baseball, SPORTSbyBROOKS, Big League Stew)
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