The scattering of referees in MLB is a baseball tradition dating back a century, sometimes with good reason and sometimes not. Anxiety is a difficult, thankless job where fans expect you to be perfect at 100-mile-per-hour projectile play, a fraction of a second reaction, and a 188-page rulebook.
Still, maybe it’s time to sit down and have an important talk, because MLB seems to have a huge problem: MLB judges have forgotten how basic management works.
The latest example of the bizarre illness came on Saturday when Philadelphia outfielder Phyllis Matt Joyce hit what looked like a double ball game against the New York Mets. The short stop of Francisco Lindor, who was moved, hit the ball, missed the banner̵
The judges responded by calling one man: McCatton.
Incredibly, McCutchen was called by second base judge Jose Navas, according to the rule that a runner is out if he deviates from the main path (defined as a straight line to the base) when a tag attempt occurs. From the moment Lindor received the ball to the moment he abandoned the marker, McCutchen ran in a straight line.
The call on the field was reviewed, but only to determine if Joyce was absent from first base as he was. The SNY cab radiates best:
“So the man who was safe, they shouted, and the man who was outside called the safe. I mean, just a disastrous sequence for this discouraged crew.”
Making the whole situation even more embarrassing for MLB was almost the exact opposite of what happened earlier this week when the Milwaukee Brewers played Miami Marlins.
With corner runners and two outs, brewers’ steel Zack Godley challenged a light field on the front line, dropped the ball and threw it in the first place to take Isan Diaz. An easy way out … until first base judge Marty Foster ruled that Godley had interfered with Diaz’s main aisle and called Diaz safe.
You can judge for yourself, but it seems pretty clear that Godley didn’t even touch the dirt.
This seems wrong, but for sure, let’s conclude that even the grass on the first baseline is the runner’s territory. Hey, wait a minute, this concept sounds familiar …
Okay, okay, so we have no idea where the runner’s path begins and ends at the first baseline. How about a home dish?
We can certainly trust the referees to say if the runner did something as simple as touching a home plate, right?
Complaining to referees is one of the longest traditions of baseball, but 2021 so far seems to be meeting even more mind-boggling calls than usual. Strike zones also seem to be a problem, with areas expanding to confusing moments. Making it all the more frustrating is that some of these calls are blown away with the advantage of replaying. Some calls are not reviewed, but this game by Alec Bohm above was, as well as a number of plays this year, which had to be canceled.
It’s hard to see what MLB can do to fix this other than to tell its arbitrators to be better and perhaps expand the boundaries of what can be reviewed, but even this last option can open up Pandora’s box.
In the meantime, we can at least relax with the knowledge that the referees will not do anything really galling, like, say, giving the team a winning win because the striker stuck his elbow in the hit zone, right? Right?
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