Umpire makes up rule

July, 6, 2009
7/06/09
7:32
PM ET
Uh oh. Methinks an investigation should be conducted of this affair:
    When Derek Jeter was called out attempting to steal third base with no one out, he asked third base umpire Marty Foster for a reason.

    Jeter thought he was safe. The ball had beaten him there, but he moved his left hand around Scott Rolen's glove and replays showed he touched the bag before Rolen's tag.

    "He didn't tag me," Jeter told Foster.

    "He didn't have to," Foster said, according to Jeter. "The ball beat you."

    --snip--

    Jeter, who rarely argues any call, couldn't believe what he was told.

    "I was baffled by the explanation," Jeter said. "I was told I was out because the ball beat me and he didn't have to tag me. I was unaware of that change in the rules."

    Foster was not made available to reporters after the game. Crew chief John Hirschbeck said Jeter may have been in the right, but couldn't say for sure. He had not spoken to Foster about his exchange with Jeter.

    "It would make (Jeter's) actions seem appropriate if that's what he was told," Hirschbeck told reporters. "It used to be if the ball beat you, you were out, but it isn't that way anymore. It's not a reason to call someone out. You have to make a good tag."

    Girardi said Jeter's decision to try and steal third with none out in the first inning is the right move -- only if he makes it safely to third.

    "The idea to be aggressive, I don't have a problem with," Girardi said. "But you have to make sure that you're right. And he got called out."

    It's the old baseball adage: When the throw beats the runner, the call is already made. Jeter said it only bothers him when he is the victim of such a play. Plenty of times before, he said, that call has benefitted him.

I was watching the game, and the replays were clear: Jeter should have been safe. The umpires missed several other calls in this game. But that's going to happen. What's not supposed to happen is missing calls and then admitting that you don't really care if you missed them -- can't be bothered to get them right.

In fact, I would argue that if Foster really told Jeter that a tag is not necessary, he should be disciplined and perhaps fired. Every time I write something like this, the D.o.U. -- Defenders of Umpires -- jump all over me. The defenders claim umpires have a hard job and should be allowed to make mistakes. How can I possibly criticize these poor guys who make $300,000 for six or seven months of work? Well, maybe I'm too rough on the arbiters.

I'll tell you this, though: I have a newfound admiration for Jeter. Because if I made a foolish decision and then, thanks to a bit of luck and a great deal of skill, turned my mistake into success only to have an umpire decide to make his own rule, I'd want to punch him in his big fat mouth.

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