Sports Now

Sports news from Los Angeles and beyond

« Previous Post | Sports Now Home | Next Post »

World Series umpires were at least consistent

October 29, 2008 |  8:15 pm

Tampa Bay Rays Eric Hinske stands at home plate after making the last out.

Right up until the next-to-last pitch, Major League Baseball's umpiring crew for the World Series was consistent.

Consistently bad.

On baseball's biggest stage, bad calls followed bad calls, from a strike zone that was all over the map to a tag that was made but not seen between third and home, to the phantom swing that was registered on Tampa Bay Rays pinch-hitter Eric Hinske on the pitch before his Series-ending strikeout.

Take nothing away from the Philadelphia Phillies, who proved they were the superior team, but with technology that now shows us every umpiring mistake in slow, slower and slowest motion and from seemingly every conceivable angle, baseball needs to make certain that the men it trusts with the game's marquee event are up to the task. This crew was not.

Umpires are only human, of course, and mistakes will be made from time to time. But if I were calling the shots for MLB's umpires, one thing I'd make sure registered is that a good call is not based on style or how fast it's made. Getting the call right is all that matters.

Take that called strike to Hinske, for example. It was the very definition of a check swing. He did not go around. Yet the home plate umpire quickly rang up a strike, as if it wasn't even close. And the problem with that is, the batter, unlike a catcher who can take his appeal for a strike to a baseline umpire with a better angle, a batter who has been called for a swing by the plate umpire has no recourse. A baseline umpire isn't allowed to overturn a strike called by the plate umpire.

Once called a strike, the pitch is a strike. Just like once a call is blown, it's a bad call.

-- Mike Hiserman

Photo: Tampa Bay Rays Eric Hinske stands at home plate after making the last out as the Philadelphia Phillies and their fans erupt in victory in Game 5 of the World Series. Credit: Gary W. Green / Orlando Sentinel