Today was the most unacceptable umpiring performance of the Yankees 2019 season. The Yankees and Dodgers, at the very least, should have played a bottom of the ninth tied at 2. The game never made that point largely because home plate umpire, Gabe Morales, made an egregious decision to call time out despite a player clearly being in motion. There is a groundswell of criticism being lobbed at the umpires this season. The main focus has been on the atrocious strike zones every team is up against almost every night. This is one of the few instances where bad umpiring influenced the outcome of a game.
For those that missed the play, the Yankees had first and second with one out. Gio Urshela hit a soft ground ball to third. Justin Turner fielded the grounder and threw to second base. Gardner hustled down the line and slid hard into Max Muncy who took the throw from Turner. Muncy fell to the ground and appeared to be hurt. Aware that Muncy wasn’t in position to make a play, Gleyber Torres broke for home and scored. The play led to a lot of confusion.
Aaron Boone challenged the call at second base. The decision on the field was overturned and Gardner was ruled safe. Curiously, Gleyber Torres was sent back to third base despite clearly scoring on the play. Aaron Boone asked the home plate umpire why Gleyber was on third base and Morales told the manager he called time out. Here is when Morales called time on the play:
There is absolutely no reason for Morales to grant Jansen time here. A play is dead when an umpire gives the signal. It isn’t dependent upon the player asking for time. This isn’t basketball. Gleyber is clearly in motion when Morales makes the call. What makes this more ridiculous is Morales waves his hands as if he called time moments prior to the actual signal. It is incredibly casual. And if you pay close attention, you’ll notice Morales doesn’t grant time until AFTER he sees Gleyber running down the line. AND when he does call time Kenley Jansen doesn’t have his hands up! How incompetent can you possibly be in this situation? The third base umpire never confirms the timeout call. It’s almost as if Morales made an awful decision.
Yes, it is true the Yankees had opportunities to tie or push ahead later in the inning. Mike Tauchman and Gary Sanchez had two terrible at bats with the bases loaded. Those two at bats had no bearing on Morales being horrendous in the biggest play of the game. The players and coaches are expected to perform at the highest level on every pitch. In many ways, those expectations are unfair. When they make the slightest mistake, they are criticized to no end. Umpires are expected to be merely competent, and when they aren’t, there are no repercussions or accountability. Morales was terrible all day. His strike zone was trash and his performance in the most important moment of the game was atrocious. Morales had a direct impact on the outcome of a baseball game. That should never happen with an umpire.
Here are Gleyber’s thoughts on the umpire’s decision:
You know something is wrong when a player openly questions an umpire.
What makes this even more frustrating is Morales won’t have to face the music. The umpires are able to hide behind the complete sham of the pool report with the media. It is a complete cop-out and allows poor performances from the umpires to go without reprimand. I’m sick and tired of it. The Yankees are clearly sick and tired of it too because it feels like one player or coach gets kicked out of a game once a week.
MLB has a significant umpiring issue. There are complaints about the juiced ball, tanking, etc., but the incompetent umpiring impacts these games on a nightly basis. This should be addressed in the offseason. I don’t believe in robot umps, but I do believe in competent performance, accountability and standards. I play rec softball where the umpires take one class, get certified and start calling games. Morales performance in the ninth inning was akin to one of the umpires I have during my softball games.
Again, I fully acknowledge the Yankees had multiple chances to win the game. They were not good with RISP. They were once again bad on the base paths. All of this is true. It is also true that they did enough to at least tie the game and an independent authority put it in his hands to disrupt it. In the immortal words of Lebron James, BE BETTER.
P.S. I apologize for the grammatical mistakes. This is a full blown emotional rant. I’ll probably regret it later, but such is life.