I didn’t get a chance to weigh in on this yesterday, but the ending of that friggin’ Sox/Angees game Wednesday night really pissed me off. At this point, I think it’s fairly obvious that umpire Doug Eddings fucked up, looking like a total deer in the headlights as A.J. Pierzynski ran up the first baseline. It seems ridiculously clear that 1.) catcher Josh Paul caught the ball; it didn’t bounce, 2.) Eddings rang up Pierzynski as out, and 3.) Piersynski started toward the dugout, crossing homeplate, meaning that he should have been called out for being out of the baseline, at the very least.
Yes, that all bugs me. However, what annoys me even more is the absolute and complete refusal by Eddings and the other five umpires on the field that night (and any other umpire who comments on the situation) to admit that they fucked up in any way. The explanations for what happened after Pierzynski swung and missed have ranged from "creative yet dubious spin-doctoring" to "outright lies." An example of the former is Eddings himself, who went into full-on politician mode after the game, saying that his arm motions after the swing-and-miss indicated a third strike, but not an out. "That's my strike three mechanic, when it's a swinging strike," he said. "If you watch, that's what I do the whole entire game."
Now, I’m no umpiring guru, but Eddings made two distinct motions after the play: he stuck his right arm out, parallel to the ground, and then he did the closed-fisted, semi-punching "L for Larry" motion, which, in my admittedly limited experience with baseball, IS THE UNI-FUCKING-VERSAL SIGN FOR "YOU’RE OUT." This leads us to one of two possible conclusions: 1.) that Eddings is lying, and he called Pierzynski out and is now scrambling to cover his tracks, or 2.) he’s telling the truth, in which case someone really better tell him that his "strike" "mechanic" is alarmingly and confusingly similar to the motion that every other ump in the fucking galaxy uses to signify that a batter is out. Without the luxury of a replay of the entire game, I can’t say definitively whether it’s one or the other, but they’re both shitty options, and at this point Eddings looks, at best, like a masterfully slimy politician covering up a mistake and at worst, like a bumbling fool (because of both his total indecision while the play was happening and his ludicrously confusing "strike three mechanic").
The example of an outright lie comes from - holy crap, I can’t believe it - baseball itself, as umpire supervisor Rich Reiker claims that baseball has some kind of internal replay capability, and that whether or not Paul actually caught the pitch is "inconclusive at best" according to their replays. "We have some technology and (crew chief) Jerry Crawford saw it, also, the whole crew, and there was definitely a change of direction there," Reiker said. Well gosh, Mr. Reiker, can I just say that that is a load of bullshit? He caught the freaking ball. Also, saying it’s "inconclusive" and then saying there was "definitely" a change in direction seems somewhat counter-intuitive to me. Maybe I’m just stupid for thinking that "definite" and "inconclusive" are pretty damn close to being antonyms.
And yes, let’s get out of the way two obvious points. Yes, Paul could have rendered the whole "indecisive umpire" factor moot if he had just tagged Pierzynski (although, in his defense, he caught the ball, and he knew he caught it, and he never even considered that it might be an issue). Maybe he should have done it, but that doesn’t change the fact that Eddings is clearly Culprit #1 here. And yes, the call/non-call/reversed call didn’t technically cost the Angees the game, as they had only scored one run against Hurly Beurhle, and the game was headed to extra innings. But the point is, the Angees HAD played well enough to get to extra frames, and they were unfairly deprived of the opportunity to earn the win in extra innings. So, in the span of about ten minutes, I went from "rooting for a good series but indifferent about who I wanted to win" to "rooting for the Angees to win in five." Incompetence happens even though it shouldn’t, but the attitude of Eddings and the other umps just royally cheesed me off. Yes, I’m talking like I’m in an After School Special in the 70s now. But I’m pissed, give me a break. We’ll see how this plays out.