ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

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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.

via GIPHY

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.

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3 Comments

  1. RetroRob

    By the rules, can an umpire call time while the play is still in motion? Gleyber was at least 1/3 down the line before the umpire made the time-out call. The play was in motion. At minimum, the Yankees should protest the game. Nothing ever comes from it, but it will at least generate a response.

    I was hoping that the umpire called time out earlier and we (at home) only saw it several seconds later when the umpire put up his arms. I thought maybe he was confirming his call from earlier. Doesn’t appear that way.

    • Wire Fan

      Technically, no. The play must be dead for the ump to call time, though it is the umpires’ discretion on when a play is dead. The other odd thing is that it is almost always the fielder with the ball, a fielder near the guy with the ball or the baserunner who asks for time. And it is typically the ump closest to the play that grants time (2nd base ump). Jansen shouldn’t be asking for time as he was removed from the play, and the HP umpire shouldn’t have been granting it. He should have let the ump nearest to the play decide when to call time.

      The injury complicated things, but it isn’t really much different than 2 OFs colliding and a runner circling the bases while they are down. The umps shouldn’t grant time until the baserunners have stopped for good.

      As for the protest, the notification of the intent to protest has to be done immediately. While the paperwork is filed after the game you have to notify the umpires real time during the game. That’s when the ump turns to the press box and makes the “P” gesture to signal the intent to protest. It was too late for the Yankees to protest once the next play happened.

      Had they protested it almost certainly would have been shot down as this would likely be deemed a bad umpire judgement call (the HP ump thought the play was dead) as opposed to a misapplication of the rules.

      • RetroRob

        Thanks for the response. I’m a bit surprised Boone didn’t protest, but knowing that it will assuredly be overturned, and considering the incidents the Yankees have had with umpires recently, maybe Boone simply decided he wouldn’t poke the bear again with a stick. They’ll likely get their message across by asking for a further explanation. I wonder if we’ll ever hear the response?

        It’s within the umpire’s discretion to call time, but at the same time it appears it was the wrong time to make it. The umpire can be correct in having the ability to make the call, but also wrong in doing it. I think that’s what happened here.

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