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Home » May 2012 Game CommentsMay 2012 » Officious Officials

Officious Officials

Jim Leyland and Doc Rivers should start a support group for managers and coaches aggrieved by incompetence by game officials. Mark Cuban would be president, Bill Simmons vice president, and Dennis Eckersley sergeant-at-arms.

Leyland watched with growing anger as his team slipped further below .500, a defining loss that could be attributed to a blown call by the officials in the second inning. Home plate umpire Jeff Nelson maintained that Mike Aviles swung and missed Doug Fister’s 0-2 pitch and that Gerald Laird caught the ball for the final strike and therefore the final out of the frame. Nelson was overruled by first base umpire Bill Welke, however, who thought that Aviles fouled off the pitch and Laird didn’t catch it.

After the call it seemed like each batted ball was fueled by Leyland’s rage. Aviles proceeded to line a single to center to plate the go-ahead run. Daniel Nava doubled over Quintin Berry’s head to the base of the wall in center field, deep enough to score Aviles from first. Dustin Pedroia scorched a grounder to Prince Fielder that the rotund first baseman couldn’t glove, allowing Nava to score and Pedroia to reach second.

All told the Red Sox scored three runs as a result of Welke’s gaffe, which was the exact differential that Detroit lost by. If the Tigers miss the playoffs by one game, they will be the victims of yet another historic blunder by an umpire.

Would it be worse to miss the postseason due to umpires or to be in the playoffs and fall prey to the whims of erratic referees? I would ask Coach Rivers but he would be fined by the NBA a.k.a. the Association’s office party fund established by Mark Cuban.

In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals the referees were handing out technical fouls to Celtics like beads on Mardi Gras. Danny Crawford teed up Ray Allen when the shooting guard protested a call he didn’t agree with by saying, “No.” A few minutes later Kevin Garnett batted the ball after a basket and Crawford called a technical foul for delay of game. Rivers was the recipient of the third call when he urged Ed Malloy to call a foul against a Heat player when one fouled Rajon Rondo, a call the coach called “the worst [he’s] ever had.” Rondo also had a technical foul after he pushed Shane Battier, but that was completely justifiable because Battier went to Duke.

The officiating wasn’t the sole reason for the Celtics’ defeat. They were 11-21 from the foul line, Rondo didn’t come anywhere near a triple-double, and Paul Pierce didn’t score as much as he could have.

It was wonderful to see Trot Nixon back at Fenway. He was just a touch too late to spell Adrian Gonzalez in right as Ryan Sweeney made his return in this very game. Before the game the former right fielder and one of The Twenty-Five received a number 7 from the scoreboard and a pine tar-smeared helmet after a highlight package set to “Outlaws Like Us.” He tossed the first pitch to David Ortiz and made the requisite visit to the booth. Since he retired from baseball he has been heavily involved with his kids’ sports activities, and he talked to Don and Jerry like a person starved for adult conversation.

Game 48: May 28, 2012
Detroit Tigers
L: Doug Fister (0-3)
2B: Prince Fielder (11)
HR: Delmon Young (3), Gerald Laird (2), Jhonny Peralta (3)
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Felix Doubront (5-2)
2B: David Ortiz (16), Ryan Sweeney (15), Daniel Nava (5), Mike Aviles (14)
HR: Jarrod Saltalamacchia (9)

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