- Wallace Matthews, ESPNNewYork.com
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A Dewayne Wise drop turned into an epic out thanks to umpire Mike DiMuro.It might have been Derek Jeter's birthday, but the Yankees got the gifts Tuesday night, two of them from third-base umpire Mike DiMuro that might have changed the course of the game.
I say "might have'' because who's to say whether, had DiMuro called Chris Stewart's second-inning line drive off Jack Hannahan's glove a foul ball, the Yankees backup catcher would not have hit the next pitch for an RBI single anyway?
And as Joe Girardi correctly pointed out, even if DiMuro had made the correct call on the play on which Dewayne Wise tumbled into the stands but a fan came up with the baseball, who's to say Hannahan -- yes, him again -- would not have made an out anyway?
But that doesn't change the fact that Hannahan had an absolutely valid argument on both plays or that DiMuro had a very bad night that, potentially anyway, hugely benefited the Yankees or that Indians manager Manny Acta asked the most relevant question of all: "If it's such a great play, why aren't they showing it on the board for the fans?''
The answer was obvious: Because the replay showed something that whoever chooses the video clips at Yankee Stadium thought best not to show again. Sort of like the Warren Commission with the Zapruder film.
Admittedly, it was tough to tell in real time (at least from the press box) that Hannahan's foul pop had in fact glanced off Wise's glove, but that also doesn't change the fact that the umpire never asked Wise to produce the baseball, which was another lucky break for the Yankees since Wise didn't have it. He left it where it landed and, er, wisely ran off the field with his glove tightly closed.
"Normally when a guy makes a play like that, that’s the first thing they ask, to show him the ball,'' Wise said. "But I guess he was confident that I had made the catch. He made the call really quickly so I just told myself to try to get up and keep myself together and run off the field. It was a tough angle for him, but truthfully, the ball popped out.''
A couple of innings later, Wise said, he flipped a ball into the stands toward the fan who had tried to stuff the ball into his glove to make it appear he had made the catch. Why did he wait so long? "Well, they already had one,'' he said.
To his credit, DiMuro spoke to a pool reporter and owned up to his mistake. "I went out on the ball and saw the ball into his glove in the stands. He disappeared into the stands, and I believed that the ball was in his glove. Now that I see the tape, it's obvious that the ball fell out of his glove. In hindsight, I should have asked him to show me the ball,'' he said.
It was too late, of course, to help the Indians or Hannahan, who argued the call after seeing a replay in the clubhouse and got ejected. "I can live with the fact that he didn’t see him drop the ball or live with the fact that he didn’t see the fan jumping up and down two feet away, excited he got a foul ball,'' Hannahan said. "But to not ask him to see the ball is absolutely inexcusable. And it’s frustrating.''
Hannahan said the expressing of that opinion, without swearing, was what got him tossed, an account DiMuro pretty much confirmed. "He and I got into a discussion about the play,'' DiMuro said. "He told me to reference the tape replay, and that is why I ejected him.''
In any event, the game became close when Cory Wade allowed a three-run home run in the ninth to close the gap to 6-4, but to assert the blown call now looms even larger becomes absurd when you realize the player who hit the home run, Jose Lopez, would not have even been in the game if DiMuro had gotten it right; he came in to replace Hannahan after the ejection.