We have a new worst call ever
July, 27, 2011
By David Schoenfield | ESPN.com
Did I stay up until 2 a.m. watching the Pirates-Braves game that ended on the most controversial call since Jim Joyce ruined Armando Galarraga's perfect game?
Yes, I did.
And it was something.
Twitter exploded immediately, with sympathy coming from across the country for America's team. A Pirates fan who has lived in Italy for 19 years was watching the game and tweeted me in horror. Other Pirates fans called it the worst Pirates loss since the "Sid Bream Game" in 1992. Page 2 writer and Pirates fan DJ Gallo wondered just exactly where home plate umpire Jerry Meals had to go at 2 a.m. Joe Sheehan wrote that baseball is a wonderful game that deserves better than its umpires.
I simply said the call made me sad.
You can watch the video of the play in the bottom of the 19th inning that gave the Braves the 4-3 win. You can see a photo here. And a better one here. People tweeted that they saw a replay that was 100 percent conclusive that catcher Michael McKenry tagged out Julio Lugo (yes, Julio Lugo is still in the majors). Others tweeted that the replay they saw was 100 percent conclusive that the tag was missed.
Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage (at least, it appeared to be him) tweeted back at me, saying, "Deal with it," meaning, I assume, that the team will have to move and not let it affect them. A Pirates beat writer said he'd never seen the Pirates clubhouse so fired up. Sheehan followed up with a great point: Pirates manager Clint Hurdle shouldn't be let off the hook.
Why? He didn't get All-Star closer Joel Hanrahan into the game, instead letting an obviously fatigued Daniel McCutchen throw his 92nd pitch of the game (previous season high: 52). Hanrahan had pitched two days in a row -- but had thrown only 25 pitches. And he hadn't pitched in five days before that. Hurdle, of course, was waiting for the save opportunity that never came. Even if Meals had called Lugo out, McCutchen still needed another out to escape the inning anyway.
Like the Joyce call a year ago, the day will be spent arguing about the need for instant replay, instead of admiring a remarkable baseball game that had seen both bullpens combine for 26 scoreless innings, including six from Braves reliever Cristhian Martinez. The debate is necessary, if not fun. You can also debate that baseball should have a rule that rotates the home-plate ump after 12 innings or 500 pitches or whatever. Maybe a fresher set of eyes would have gotten the right call.
Fresh eyes. Mine are tired right now. But I'll be back Wednesday night, watching more baseball, hoping for something remarkable to happen again in this sport we love.
I just hope it has a happier ending.
Follow David Schoenfield on Twitter @dschoenfield.