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Home » Around Baseball & OpinionsOctober 2005 » It Ain’t Quaint

It Ain’t Quaint

Much of the appeal derived from baseball is its rich and celebrated history. We can imagine, when attending a modern game, that it was much like the sport our predecessors watched.

And yet, it is much different. Fielders used to perform their duties without gloves, and by the 1870s they wore gloves designed only to relieve the impact to their hands of balls they rapped down to eventually throw back into the infield. Gloves gradually evolved into the fundamental defensive tools they are today. Players did not wear numbers on their uniforms until 1929, when the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees began the practice so that fans could identify their favorites from afar. Numbers used to indicate a player’s position in the batting order. Now we honor players for their achievements by retiring their numbers, signifying their everlasting impact on the game.

So things change, often for the better.

Last night, Game 2 of the ALCS was determined in part by a questionable signal given by home plate umpire Doug Eddings. The scored was tied 1-1 in the bottom of the ninth. A.J. Pierzynski was at the plate with 2 outs and the count full. He swung and missed at Kelvim Escobar’s sixth pitch that backup Angels catcher Josh Paul caught cleanly. Eddings first signaled with his right arm that Pierzynski swung and then pumped his fist, seemingly indicating the last out of the inning. However, he did not verbally announce Pierzynski was out, so the White Sox catcher bolted for first base. Meanwhile, Paul rolled the ball to the infield and the rest of the Angels defense ran towards their dugout because they thought Eddings called the final out when he was actually indicating the third strike.

Pablo Ozuna pinch ran for Pierzynski and stole second base on the 0-2 count. Of course, Ozuna scored the winning run on a double to left field by Joe Crede to grant the Chicago AL club a series split before flying to the West Coast for the next three games.

It is time for further standardization in baseball. Football referees have a system to indicate every type of score, foul, and down. Baseball umpires are in desperate need of such a system, especially because play can continue based on their judgment. There is no clock to stop nor replay system to which an appeal can be made.

To be sure, the Angels made an incorrect presumption that cost them the game. They also would have likely played differently had they known Eddings was calling strike three rather than the third out. Umpires are like air: essential, but it’s better when you don’t realize they are there.

And don’t even get me started on the capricious personal strike zones of individual umpires....


To be sure, the Angels made an incorrect presumption that cost them the game.

I don't think I agree with this. On just the previous batter, the fist pump didn't happen until after Paul put the tag on Rowand. Meaning the fist pump was not his strike three call, but rather his out call. The Angels made no incorrect presumptions... except for maybe that the umpire would be self-consistent over the course of a game (or even an inning).

I believe Scioscia was right: the ump changed his mind when AJ started running. Anyway, I agree with you: starting next year, we will see all umps with the exact same hand (and verbal) signals. Actually, sort of weird that this is happening for the first time now.

Earl, that's a good point on what Eddings used that signal for previously; I didn't see Rowand's at bat.

I'm anxious to see how the league reacts. Hopefully they won't be complacent as they were with the performance-enhancing drug issue.

Funny thing about that call is that the Red Sox had a weird role in that. You see, in 2004, when Pierzynski was catching for the Giants, Bronson Arroyo was up to bat. he had struck out on a bunt attempt but Pierzynski never caught the ball. He only boxed it and forgot to tag out Arroyo. As Arroyo was about to head for the dugout, Tito told him to go to first, because he wasn't tagged out. Pierzynski said on Jim Rome that this play made that I've mentioned came into his mind as he swung and missed. He swears he thought Josh Paul didn't catch it so he bolted to first. I just find it funny how people can remember little things like that and make they pay off.

Piney would find some way to mention Arroyo. ;) Pierzynski was probably singing in his head "What would Bronson Arroyo do?" as he ran to first base. Anyway, do you recall how the umpire gestured in that situation?

I wonder if former A's get flashbacks to their 2003 ALDS miscues? I bet Eric Brynes never, ever forgets to touch home these days and Miguel Tejada doesn't argue calls in the middle of a play.

It's only coincidental that Arroyo was the batter and I remembered that :P for the most part I mean. I don't recall how the umpire gestured in that situation...how funny would it be if Eddings was the ump in that situation in 04 too. Haha.

I'm sure the 03 A's have probably learned from their mistakes...for the most part. I think Byrnes also knows better than to not push the catcher too. Miguel Tejada probably wakes up in the middle of the night going "DEREK LOWE IS GOING TO PAY!!!"

I was inspired to look up that inning. The game was on June 20, 2004 at Pac Bell. The umpiring crew was Randy Marsh, Larry Vanover, Sam Holbrook, and Paul Nauert.

RED SOX 6TH: Youkilis doubled to left; Arroyo struck out but advanced to first on a passed ball; Damon flied to left; Bellhorn forced Arroyo (first to shortstop) [Youkilis to third, Bellhorn to first]; Ortiz grounded out (first to pitcher); 0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 2 LOB. Red Sox 0, Giants 0.

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