MLB blows it 

Josh Paul definitely caught that last strike cleanly, and Doug Eddings clearly punched him out(right hand moving horizontally) and rang him up for a strike (clenched fist held out in front). I have no idea why he habitually makes the two motions in the wrong order, but whatever. You can watch the replay on ESPN.com, and it's exactly the same motion as when Jermaine Dye strikes out swinging to end the bottom of the 5th. This is what Kelvim Escobar saw, and if he thought differently, he would have scrambled to pick up the ball and throw ouy Pierzynski at first.

If I were an Angels fan, the thing that would infuriate me the most would be the fact that the umpires are being completely unrepentant about it -- the post-game press conference was pretty awful. Eddings is completely unpersuasive (in addition to being wrong) about claiming that he never rang up the strikeout, and all the officials are lying through their teeth if they claim that the ball hit the dirt. They could just say that the ump blew the call and that he's in the outfield or benched for the next couple games to prevent things from going crazy in Anaheim, and a lot of people would be placated, I think.

Now why exactly isn't there instant replay for these sorts of calls? (Not ball-and-strike calls, but check-swing and dropped third strike calls, as well as fan-interference and a few other assorted items.) Isn't it much better to spend 5 minutes reviewing the tape and getting the call right than to spend 5 minutes listening to the opposing manager ream out the umpire? Is anybody against this?

EDIT: Via Tacitus, here's a stop-action montage of the third strike. Ok, I'll grant that this sequence of photos makes the call look inconclusive. I'd need a side-view shot to tell if the ball bounces off the dirt or off the bottom of the glove. In the fourth shot, you can see the ball bouncing around in the glove. Between the third and fourth shots, it's not completely clear if the ball hits the dirt, but my guess is that it didn't.

EDIT: Yes, the umpire never actually said "you're out". But neither did he say "no catch." The official baseball rules don't really say much about how an umpire's decisions are to be communicated, but distinct calls are supposed to be communicated in ways that are as clearly distinct as possible, and that didn't happen.

Would it really kill MLB to establish a universal set of signals for these calls?


Eddings claimed he never called the batter out, and the batter said he never heard an out call, which makes it an error on the part of the catcher. Most catchers in that situation (strike but no out call) would have touched the batter or at least thrown it to first base. As far as the call goes it could be a blown call or it could have been a good one. That is extremely hard catch to make (note the fact that he didn't try to get his glove under the ball but tried to go straight down on top of a diving ball), also if you watch closely during the replay when the ball enters the glove there is a distinct change of direction from the bottom right corner jumping up and left into the center of the glove this impact could have been from either the ground or the thumb portion of the glove. If it did go off the ground it fits the call the umpire made saying he thought the catcher trapped the ball.

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