Roche: Ump’s Blown Call In Braves-Pirates Game Fuels Instant Replay Debate

BOSTON (CBS) – It never stops. We get a controversial call in a game and the screams for instant replay begin…again.

Tuesday night after playing baseball for 6-1/2 hours, the game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Atalanta Braves ended when home plate umpire Jerry Meals called former Red Sox shortstop Julio Lugo safe on a tag play at the plate. It was clear that Pirates catcher Michael McKenry tagged Lugo and you could tell Lugo thought he was out by the way he gave up on the play as he tagged home.

But, alas, he was called safe. Game over.

It’s a disappointing end to a game that lasted that long; a game that meant a great deal to Clint Hurdle’s Pirates, who for the first time in a long, long time are in contention this late in a season. That’s a tough, tough loss that could have lasting effects. Not good.

Video: Watch the play

And, now the call will be on again for ML baseball to expand its use of instant replay.

I understand, but I don’t think Bud Selig will go that far. And, I agree. I like the way instant replay is used now….to check home run or no home runs. Beyond that, I think it takes away the human elements and slows down the game. And, I think the calls eventually even out.

But, here’s what drives me crazy about these umpires. When you watch the replays of the call at home Tuesday, Jerry Meals looked like he called Lugo safe because he thought McKenry was “ole-ing” the tag…a la a gladiator. In other words, Jerry Meals thought McKenry was going to get the out call no matter what because the throw beat the runner and McKenry was blocking the plate. So, Meals showed some arrogance and called him safe.

I firmly believe this happens time and time again in baseball. The umpires try to be too important. They feel like becoming part of the show for the wrong reasons and thus they get calls wrong because of it. Arrogance.

I find it to be bizarre behavior, but I think it happens. And, if you ask Meals today, he knew he was wrong. Bad call. Confer with other umps, do what you need to do. You don’t need replays for that. You need to umps to simply stop thinking they are why fans come out to ballparks. They need to do their jobs, period.

And instant replay isn’t needed. Maybe, just a mirror…

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