The Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves played a marathon 19 inning game on Tuesday only to have it end in controversy. The game was tied 3-3 when pitcher Scott Proctor grounded out to third base. The throw was made to home plate to get Julio Lugo out and the play was made only to have home plate umpire Jerry Meals deem Lugo safe giving the Braves a 4-3 victory. Replays have Pirates catcher Michael McKenry tagging out Lugo. Pirates president Frank Coonelly issued a statement on Wednesday:
“The Pittsburgh Pirates organization is extremely disappointed by the way its 19-inning game against the Atlanta Braves ended earlier this morning. The game of baseball and this game in particular, filled with superlative performances by players on both clubs, deserved much better.”
“While we cannot begin to understand how umpire Jerry Meals did not see the tag made by Michael McKenry three feet in front of home plate, we do not question the integrity of Mr. Meals. Instead, we know that Mr. Meals’ intention was to get the call right. Jerry Meals has been umpiring Major League games for 14 years and has always done so with integrity and professionalism. He got this one wrong.”
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was very irate with Meals after the call was made and the team has filed a formal complaint against him. Also, Meals’ family has since been harrassed via the phone and also threats have been made. The Pirates are experiencing one of their best seasons in nearly two decades and are in the thick of a divisional race with three other teams in the National League central that could come down to the final game of the year. Should it come to that, it might come back and haunt the Pirates.
With every bad call comes the subject of expanding instant replay in Major League Baseball. Time and time again the sport has been slow to change much to the delight or disgust of fans, take your pick. Replay exists for questionable home runs, but not for plays at the plate. Personally, I feel like plays at the plate in either the ninth inning or beyond should be reviewed. How many times have we seen this happen and how many times has baseball done nothing about it? What is it going to take to get some consideration for replay?
I understand the game is long enough and that replay could potentially slow it down more,but isn’t getting the call right more importsnt than how long the game is? I would think so. In the NFL they have had replay since 1999 and I think for the most part the replay system works. Coaches get two challenges and in the last two minutes of each half, the booth calls for replays. I think for baseball you can have the manager walk out of the dugout and ask the head umpire for a replay. Life the NFL, you can give him two. It is as simple as that.
I hope that MLB does give this some consideration, though it is doubtful that they will. It’s only a matter of time before this happens again and the same cries for replay once again break out.