Umpire Tim Welke misses call in Dodgers-Rockies game by a mile

Umpire Tim Welke blew a call so badly in the Dodgers-Rockies game on Wednesday that it’s almost comical to see how much he missed it.

Dodgers infielder Jerry Hairston Jr. grounded a ball to Rockies third baseman Chris Nelson who made a diving stop and threw across the diamond in the top of the 6th. His throw pulled Todd Helton a couple feet off the first base bag, yet Welke gave the Rockies the call to end the inning.

As you can see in the image on the right, Welke isn’t even in position to see the bag. It was just an awful, awful call all the way around. What’s almost worse than the missed call is that none of the other umpires overruled him.

If this isn’t a great example for the need for expanded use of instant replay, I don’t know what is. Easily the worst call since Jerry Meals last year.

Below is video of the play:

Maybe We Go too Hard After MLB Umpires

It’s America’s favorite pastime: heckling and lambasting umpires. This activity may not be the most productive, but, hey, it beats the heck out of having to read those verbose rule books. The fan Code of Conduct can easily be summed up as: The uniformed official deserves as much of your scorn as humanly possible, and then some. There is an old saying in officiating, that if half the crowd is mad and the other half ecstatic, you probably got the call right. Of course, I was never good with fractions anyway, so I’m not going to ask about the third half.

Being a professional arbiter is never an easy proposition. Having to wear uniforms that clash with everything. If you’re an NBA referee, you’re wearing that drab grey get-up. Football and hockey refs look like old-time convicts in their traditional black-and-white stripes; just replace the whistle with a ball-and-chain and pick axe to complete the look. You can’t miss the officials in soccer. They are, invariably, the fluorescent nightmare right in the middle of your picture. Baseball umpires would blend in with the scenery if not for their navy blue numbers (reminiscent of the Union army’s uniforms that were popular about a sesquicentennial ago) and their propensity to infuriate between thirty and fifty-thousand spectators on a given night.

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Umpire Jerry Meals Screws Over Pirates Because He Wanted to Go Home

If there’s one thing I know about umpires, it’s that we shouldn’t know their names. As long as they’re doing their job well there’s no reason to know anything about them.

Unfortunately Jerry Meals no longer falls into that category.

Meals made one of the worst calls of the season Tuesday night, sending the Braves home with a win over the Pirates in the bottom of the 19th inning. Check out the video to see the play:

What was Meals’ excuse after the game? This was his explanation:

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Chipper Jones Rips ‘Substandard’ Umpiring

The day after umpire Phil Cuzzi allowed Cameron Maybin to walk on three pitches (eventually leading to the only run of the game), All-Star Chipper Jones let loose on poor calls in baseball. Chipper was upset that he struck out to end the Braves-Orioles game Sunday on two poor calls by home plate umpire Mark Ripperger. He ripped the umpiring after the 5-4 loss.

“It’s always frustrating when you’re not allowed to do your job,” Jones said. “But I’ve said time and time again, the officiating in this league is substandard. For the most part.”

“If a guy’s not doing his job, I’m going to say something. If I get fined, I get fined. I don’t care. I’m a competitor. … I know they’re balls. I’ve been here 18 years. I know when a guy’s trying to pitch around me.”

Chipper’s absolutely correct. Both pitches came when he had three balls on him and both were breaking balls outside the zone. He should have walked instead of being called out, and that is a weakness of umpires.

Many home plate umpires stand over the inside shoulder of the catcher and can’t see the outside corner, so they’re influenced by catchers that frame the pitches. That’s exactly what happened here and Chipper is right on. If umpires want to avoid criticism, they should start getting the calls right. Home plate is 17 inches wide. If balls three inches off the plate were intended to be called strikes, the plate would have been made 20 inches wide.

Cameron Maybin Walks on Three Balls After Phil Cuzzi, Everyone Loses Count

Padres center fielder Cameron Maybin walked despite only having three balls called on him during a 5th inning at-bat Saturday night, and he ended up scoring the game’s only run. True story.

Here’s how Maybin’s at-bat against pitcher Doug Fister went:

– First pitch: Called strike, 0-1
– Second pitch: Swinging strike, 0-2
– Third pitch: Foul ball, 0-2
– Fourth pitch: Ball, 1-2
– Fifth pitch: Foul ball, 1-2
– Sixth pitch: Ball, 2-2 (scoreboard jumps to 3-2 here)
– Seventh pitch: Ball, 3-2 (Maybin jogs to first base and nobody says anything)

Maybin says he got lost because of the foul balls, and he just followed the scoreboard after it said the count was full. Padres manager Bud Black seemed to have noticed but said “I wasn’t about to argue.”

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MLB Needs to Handle the Joe West Problem by Firing Him

MLB met with umpire Joe West a year ago to try and harness his behavior. Now it’s time for them to pull the plug and finally fire him. West was a part of two ejections in the Red Sox-Twins series this weekend and his comportment has been completely unacceptable.

On Friday night, West (who was not the homeplate umpire) went out of his way to get in between Red Sox manager Terry Francona and umpire Angel Hernandez. Francona wanted to talk about a balk called on Tim Wakefield. He was trying to approach Hernandez for the conversation, but West decided to make their talk his business. He stepped in between Hernandez and Francona and tried to block every move Tito made as if he were an NBA player trying to beat him to the spot to take a charge. It was completely inappropriate and another example of West sticking his nose where it didn’t belong.

On Monday night, it was more of the same for West. Twins infielder Danny Valencia was leading off the 9th in a 1-1 game and had a 1-1 count. He checked his swing on a Jonathan Papelbon pitch, did not go, but homeplate umpire Joe West said he foul tipped the ball. Replays show he didn’t touch the ball, so it should have been a 2-1 count instead of 1-2. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire came out to contest the call, tried to get West to appeal to the first base umpire, but he refused. West ended up tossing Gardenhire (here’s video of the sequence).

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Umpire Joe West Getting Old and Cranky

When the Red Sox and Yankees squared off to open the 2010 MLB season, they seemed to really aggravate 32-year veteran umpire Joe West.  West, who was the chief of the crew that worked the series, had the following to say about the Sox and Yankees rate of play when they face each other:

They’re the two clubs that don’t try to pick up the pace. They’re two of the best teams in baseball. Why are they playing the slowest? It’s pathetic and embarrassing. They take too long to play.”

His point is taken, but it’s a bit of an overreaction.  The two teams do take forever when they play each other, but anyone who watches the games knows they aren’t doing it on purpose and then laughing about it afterword.  Red Sox and Yankees hitters are extremely disciplined at the plate.  Combine that with the fact that Francona and Girardi are always making pitching changes to assure the right arms are facing the right bats, and you’ve got yourself a long baseball game.  They do it because the games just mean more, regardless of what the players might say.

It would seem West isn’t only taking out his frustrations on the Red Sox and Yankees this season.  On Tuesday afternoon, he ejected Chicago White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen for arguing a balk call against Mark Buehrle in the second inning and tossed Buehrle himself in the third just for getting upset after being called for a second balk.  Check out the video of Joe West ejecting Mark Buehrle just for dropping his glove in frustration, courtesy of The Sporting Blog and TwitVid user chrislittmann:

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