Video: The worst call in baseball history?

posted at 9:45 pm on July 27, 2011 by Allahpundit

Via Sports Grid, a palate-cleansing dose of injustice after a long day of debt-blogging. I could kind of understand this call if it had come in, say, the bottom of the third. Frankly, the first time I watched it, it wasn’t clear to me either that the catcher made the tag. What makes it egregious isn’t that it was technically wrong, it’s that it was situationally wrong. What you’re watching here are the final moments of a 19-inning game, the last 16 innings of which were scoreless to this point. They were on the field for more than six and a half hours. Under the circumstances, this is — or should have been — tantamount to a “neighborhood play.” Instead, this. An ending so mind-blowingly horrible, some sportswriters were left wondering if the ump blew it intentionally because he was tired and wanted to go home. (He later acknowledged that he blew it, but not on purpose.)

But no, it’s not the worst call in baseball history. That honor belongs to a call made under similar circumstances — on the last play of the game, at a moment of utmost drama, with the runner even more clearly out than this one was. Nobody’s perfect!

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..settled. Move on.

The War Planner on July 27, 2011 at 9:47 PM

I’m a Braves fan so I can’t say that.

taney71 on July 27, 2011 at 9:48 PM

As a Pirates fan, I was livid when I saw that call. But no amount of bitching about it is going to change the W/L column. It is what it is.

ButterflyDragon on July 27, 2011 at 9:49 PM

As a Pirates fan, I was livid when I saw that call. But no amount of griping about it is going to change the W/L column. It is what it is.

ButterflyDragon on July 27, 2011 at 9:50 PM

The umpire needs to go. Or he needs new glasses. That wasn’t even close. And then he simply walks off the field. What, was he just tired and wanted to go home?

amerpundit on July 27, 2011 at 9:53 PM

You know it’s not really a sport when the issue is whether one dude touched another dude.

pedestrian on July 27, 2011 at 9:54 PM

Bad call, Ripley.

catmman on July 27, 2011 at 9:54 PM

I think the call shows that there needs to be an instant replay challenge system in baseball. Give each manage one challenge a game on non-balls and strikes issues.

taney71 on July 27, 2011 at 9:55 PM

He had him but anytime the winning run is coming down the line the catcher better make sure he lays the tag harder then that.

lowandslow on July 27, 2011 at 9:55 PM

Eric Holder the Umpire?

Electrongod on July 27, 2011 at 9:55 PM

7+ hours? That sounds as much fun as watching a soccer game in overtime.

conservative pilgrim on July 27, 2011 at 9:57 PM

The Denkinger Call

‘Nuff said

Tongueboy on July 27, 2011 at 9:57 PM

Yea, much better than soccer. In baseball you don’t actually have to beat the play. In soccer you do have to actually put the ball in the net.

Forgive me, I couldn’t resist over the bashing the U.S. World Cup team took here by some.

What’s needed here is more steriods. Play ball. Enjoy. Doesn’t bother me a bit.

Hog Wild on July 27, 2011 at 9:57 PM

He had him but anytime the winning run is coming down the line the catcher better make sure he lays the tag harder then that.

lowandslow on July 27, 2011 at 9:55 PM

Agreed. I’d go even further and say that it looks like he made the tag, but I’m not entirely sure.

What a whining pair of announcers.

Typhoon on July 27, 2011 at 9:58 PM

I haven’t watched baseball in ages, and I don’t give a damn about the outcome of this game, and…

The catcher cleanly missed the runner with his swipe!

And no, I don’t care if the umpire has been shamed into “admitting” that he was incorrect afterwards. That doesn’t prove anything other than the fact that massive peer pressure works.

Seixon on July 27, 2011 at 10:00 PM

I think the call shows that there needs to be an instant replay challenge system in baseball.
taney71 on July 27, 2011 at 9:55 PM

NO. That is needed in some other sports because key plays or penalties may be distributed in time and space across the field. In baseball, everyone in the stadium was looking at home plate right at this second.

Resolute on July 27, 2011 at 10:02 PM

Second post on this today. Don’t you guys read your own blog or is this traffic bait.

Anyway to repeat. This call, for Braves fan, is simply evening the scales of justice after the blown call in Game 2 of the 1991 World Series. A call which crushed the spirit of many a fan. Brave Ron Gant hit a single to right field. As he rounded first base the throw came in and he returned to the bag. Hurriedly. The throw came to first and the much despised and hated Minnesota Twins first baseman Kent Hbrek realizing he had the height and weight advantage on Mr Gant proceeded to apply a tag just below the buttocks but on the back of thigh and then lifted Gant into the air resulting in the umpire calling him out. So here is Ron Gant legs flailing in the air and in the opinion of a long lost relative of Gen Sherman he had come off the bag of his own volition.

Rally squashed, spirit broken Braves lost the game by one run and then with enabling of the A/C engineers in Metrodome wound up losing the series.

Well at least that is the version we tell around these parts.

Just A Grunt on July 27, 2011 at 10:02 PM

This is one in a long list of reasons why baseball is the most ridiculous, boring, horrific sport imaginable.

I literally would rather watch a blank television screen that have a baseball game on, the way someone who is being subjected to dripping water torture wishes for drips to just stop.

Can we relegate this fiasco of a “sport” to second tier professional sport yet?

Nessuno on July 27, 2011 at 10:02 PM

The Denkinger Call

‘Nuff said

Tongueboy on July 27, 2011 at 9:57 PM

Word

darwin-t on July 27, 2011 at 10:04 PM

Seixon on July 27, 2011 at 10:00 PM

The catcher clearly touched his crouch, back of his leg and his buttock with his glove…before the player got to home base.
I am talking about baseball here….

Electrongod on July 27, 2011 at 10:05 PM

Nessuno on July 27, 2011 at 10:02 PM

Communist.

Typhoon on July 27, 2011 at 10:06 PM

Well at least that is the version we tell around these parts.

Just A Grunt on July 27, 2011 at 10:02 PM

Oh, boo hoo. The Braves got a decades-worth of Glavine and Maddux getting every ball within 8 inches of the plate called a strike. Besides, if they wanted to win in 91, they should have gotten a single run off of Jack Morris.

Good Solid B-Plus on July 27, 2011 at 10:07 PM

Never touched him with the glove.

Safe.

BobMbx on July 27, 2011 at 10:08 PM

This is one in a long list of reasons why baseball is the most ridiculous, boring, horrific sport imaginable.

I literally would rather watch a blank television screen that have a baseball game on, the way someone who is being subjected to dripping water torture wishes for drips to just stop.

Can we relegate this fiasco of a “sport” to second tier professional sport yet?

Nessuno on July 27, 2011 at 10:02 PM

Thanks SO much for sharing that.

Del Dolemonte on July 27, 2011 at 10:09 PM

was never tagged.

bloghooligan on July 27, 2011 at 10:10 PM

This is one in a long list of reasons why baseball is the most ridiculous, boring, horrific sport imaginable.

Obviously a liberal plant.

I say we ban him. The only people who hate baseball are liberals.

BobMbx on July 27, 2011 at 10:10 PM

Looks like j0bless claims are going to up again…

or ARE THEY?!

I’d make that guy a circuit judge asap!

amend2 on July 27, 2011 at 10:11 PM

BTW tonights’ Braves/Pirate matchup is headed to extra innings too.

Good Solid B-Plus on July 27, 2011 at 10:07 PM
And Maddux was getting those calls when he was a Cubbie too. Just admit it, the guy had amazing control to go along with his 80mph fastball.

Just A Grunt on July 27, 2011 at 10:11 PM

This is one in a long list of reasons why baseball is the most ridiculous, boring, horrific sport imaginable.
Nessuno on July 27, 2011 at 10:02 PM

The other sports like football are manufactured for adults with nothing better to do to then bet on them. Baseball is the culmination of impromptu childhood ball games codified. Arguing over the calls or the rules or even getting kicked out of the game is all explicitly part of the game.

Resolute on July 27, 2011 at 10:15 PM

The Denkinger Call

‘Nuff said

Tongueboy on July 27, 2011 at 9:57 PM

Hurts every time I think about it–and it’s been 26 years. Sigh.

NebCon on July 27, 2011 at 10:17 PM

Infuriating.

nickj116 on July 27, 2011 at 10:18 PM

This is one in a long list of reasons why baseball is the most ridiculous, boring, horrific sport imaginable.

I literally would rather watch a blank television screen that have a baseball game on, the way someone who is being subjected to dripping water torture wishes for drips to just stop.

Can we relegate this fiasco of a “sport” to second tier professional sport yet?

Nessuno on July 27, 2011 at 10:02 PM

Translation: I’m the guy who was always picked last in gradeschool.

Cry more.

You-Eh-Vee on July 27, 2011 at 10:22 PM

I haven’t watched baseball in ages, and I don’t give a damn about the outcome of this game, and…

The catcher cleanly missed the runner with his swipe!

Seixon on July 27, 2011 at 10:00 PM

Yeah…your first sentence pretty much confirms the problem here.

You-Eh-Vee on July 27, 2011 at 10:23 PM

He made the tag. ‘Twas obvious. Worst call of the season in baseball, and possibly the worst judgement in sports since the Kampmann/Sanchez decision in the UFC.

Sgt Steve on July 27, 2011 at 10:27 PM

yes the throw beat him home, but I do not see any tag. I must be the only person who thinks the call was correct.

exceller on July 27, 2011 at 10:39 PM

The Denkinger Call

‘Nuff said

Tongueboy on July 27, 2011 at 9:57 PM

+ Eleventy-eleven!!

Khun Joe on July 27, 2011 at 10:42 PM

I watched until the 15th. The home plate umpire made a series of bad ball/strike calls (unfavorable to Atlanta) that led to an explosion from Nate McClouth. Both McClouth and the Braves manager ended up getting ejected.

Then he botched the final call at home plate.

Tonight he was working 3rd base, so not much action, but he still clearly botched another call. Check swing appeal and he rang the Pirate up for a swing. Slow-mo confirmed my 1st impression that is was not a swing.

forest on July 27, 2011 at 10:44 PM

I think the ump got it right…the catcher blew the tag and Ole’d the runner.

MechEng5by5 on July 27, 2011 at 10:52 PM

People still watch Baseball??

the_ancient on July 27, 2011 at 11:08 PM

This is one in a long list of reasons why baseball is the most ridiculous, boring, horrific sport imaginable.

I literally would rather watch a blank television screen that have a baseball game on, the way someone who is being subjected to dripping water torture wishes for drips to just stop.

Can we relegate this fiasco of a “sport” to second tier professional sport yet?

Nessuno on July 27, 2011 at 10:02 PM

Agreed. While it would make for the ultimate interrogation enhancer in the intelligence community arsenal, there are just some things no human being should be forced to endure.

whatcat on July 27, 2011 at 11:11 PM

I saw men running and balls being pushed towards them. Let Barney Frank decide the outcome.

Rambotito on July 27, 2011 at 11:14 PM

People still watch Baseball??

the_ancient on July 27, 2011 at 11:08 PM

Some of us even drive all the way to Omaha (14 hrs.) to watch it live. I prefer college to MLB, but I love the sport. The more I learn about it, the better I like it, too. I keep the book for my husband who coaches our son’s little league team, and that has helped me learn some of the strategy…

Baseball is a great game that requires a lot of skill. I prefer that to brute force, though I love football, too. Anyway…

Go, ‘Dores!!

pannw on July 27, 2011 at 11:32 PM

The Denkinger Call

‘Nuff said

Tongueboy on July 27, 2011 at 9:57 PM

Cost me $200 in an office pool. And two hundred bucks was real money back then.

SlimyBill on July 27, 2011 at 11:34 PM

He was safe…!

Seven Percent Solution on July 27, 2011 at 11:37 PM

He was out…!

Seven Percent Solution on July 27, 2011 at 11:38 PM

no, that IS thee worst call i have ever seen. that ump should be fired immediately for either incompetence or just wanting to end the game because it was 7 hours long. he was looking right at it, 2 feet away. and watch the runner, he knew he was out. and then he was shocked. just pathetic

sidewinder22 on July 27, 2011 at 11:43 PM

all you have to see to know it was a pathetic call is to watch the runner. if the tag was missed he would have gotten up and either celebrated or jumped up and down telling the ump he missed me. didnt happen. he just stood on home plate because he knew for sure he was out. he knew he was tagged way before he reached the plate. thats the sign of a guy who knew he was out by a mile. and then he was shocked and started jumping up and down after he knew he got a gift.

sidewinder22 on July 27, 2011 at 11:48 PM

AND there tons of other angles shown on replays all over the place that clearly show the guy was tagged out. this ump will be reprimanded and mabey suspended for being so incompetent

sidewinder22 on July 27, 2011 at 11:49 PM

The umpire was in the proper position, if he says he did not see the glove make contact, then it does not matter that the ball beat the runner or what slo mo replays show, he has to call the runner safe. That’s his job and that’s the game. Only if there is a pattern of not being in the right place or getting low gradings on his reviewed calls (and they are reviewed) is there a reason to call for him to be fired.

KW64 on July 28, 2011 at 12:19 AM

You know it’s not really a sport when the issue is whether one dude touched another dude.

pedestrian on July 27, 2011 at 9:54 PM

Heh, lol. It’s a sport when the dude regains consciousness and asks which guy knocked him out.

whatcat on July 28, 2011 at 12:26 AM

I must be the only person who thinks the call was correct.

Even Lugo thought he was out, until the ump called safe, then he got all excited and even tough the plate again.

Next time though, the catcher needs to knock his helmet off with the tag or something.

reaganaut on July 28, 2011 at 12:48 AM

even tough

touched.

reaganaut on July 28, 2011 at 12:49 AM

Soccer has it right. If you can’t win in the time given to you, you don’t deserve to win. Overtime only works for tournaments and playoffs.

kvader on July 28, 2011 at 1:01 AM

Oh, boo hoo. The Braves got a decades-worth of Glavine and Maddux getting every ball within 8 inches of the plate called a strike. Besides, if they wanted to win in 91, they should have gotten a single run off of Jack Morris.

Good Solid B-Plus on July 27, 2011 at 10:07 PM

Bah. Maddux got the squeeze put on him in the ’97 playoffs against the Marlins. Badly.

Besides, if they wanted to win in 91, they should have gotten a single run off of Jack Morris.

How could they with the Twins’ first baseman wrestling them off the bag? ;)

ddrintn on July 28, 2011 at 1:31 AM

Uecker says “he made the tag, he made the tag”…

Gohawgs on July 28, 2011 at 1:33 AM

Bah. Maddux got the squeeze put on him in the ’97 playoffs against the Marlins. Badly.

Yeah, Livan got a crazy zone in 97. Doesn’t mean that Glavine and Maddux didn’t get great strike zones.

And to the guy earlier, yes, I acknowledge that Maddux got the same calls with Cubs, even with the Dodgers and Padres. I’m not saying the league had a conspiracy to give the Braves more wins. I’m saying Maddux was a great control pitcher who got a lot of calls other pitchers would never get, even when the ball was clearly off the plate.

Good Solid B-Plus on July 28, 2011 at 2:14 AM

Have done a good bit of umpiring in my time.

I do not see a tag.

Not saying there possibly wasn’t a mere brush – but if the announcers had the same camera angles as we did, they don’t really have the ammo to totally light up the ump as they are doing in their play-by-play.

Now, if the announcers were close enough to the field to personally see the impact of the tag, i.e. deformation of the glove, movement of clothing, etc., then they have the basis to go apesh-t.

But I’ll tell you that you would be surprised how many times a play looks just like that and the plate ump actually was correct because he was standing right there.

Alllll that said, though, the baserunner’s reaction may be a giveaway to a blown call.

* Did I just vote “present?” *

cane_loader on July 28, 2011 at 2:23 AM

The catcher forgot to uh, TAG him. I used to play catcher for 10+ year. Good call by the ump.

wordwarp on July 28, 2011 at 2:23 AM

Allahp – being a beta male, you probably never actually played – sorry.

wordwarp on July 28, 2011 at 2:24 AM

wordwarp, are you the catcher who would get pissy at one of my close strike calls and then call for a facemask-high fastball and then *clumsily* forget to catch it?

cane_loader on July 28, 2011 at 2:29 AM

Oh, boo hoo. The Braves got a decades-worth of Glavine and Maddux getting every ball within 8 inches of the plate called a strike.

Good Solid B-Plus on July 27, 2011 at 10:07 PM

Must be a whiny Mets fan. Both did use the same strategy of nibbling the corners early for strikes. Once established, it makes it harder for the ump to call a pitch in almost the same exact spot a ball, but the difference was a fraction of an inch.

The real effect was on the hitter deciding what pitches he needed to swing at. Maddux and Glavine both could outsmart the hitters.

Adjoran on July 28, 2011 at 2:35 AM

7+ hours? That sounds as much fun as watching a soccer game in overtime.

conservative pilgrim on July 27, 2011 at 9:57 PM

At least they’ll probably have a shoot-out.

Baseball’s a great sport-but I just can’t sit there and watch it on TV.

Dr. ZhivBlago on July 28, 2011 at 2:51 AM

I say we ban him. The only people who hate baseball are liberals.

BobMbx on July 27, 2011 at 10:10 PM

How does Fenway Park sell out for every home game then?

And this is just further proof that Julio Lugo wreaks havoc upon baseball wherever he goes. It was such a glorious day when he was told to turn in his Red Sox uniform that the mayor declared a holiday and sent all city workers home. Not that anyone noticed their absence, mind you.

turfmann on July 28, 2011 at 3:53 AM

Must be a whiny Mets fan. Both did use the same strategy of nibbling the corners early for strikes. Once established, it makes it harder for the ump to call a pitch in almost the same exact spot a ball, but the difference was a fraction of an inch.

The real effect was on the hitter deciding what pitches he needed to swing at. Maddux and Glavine both could outsmart the hitters.

Adjoran on July 28, 2011 at 2:35 AM

Yeah, Paul Byrd and Steve Trachsel and Jamie Moyer nibble too. Most control guys do. They don’t all get the strike zones that prime Maddux (roughly 91-99) got.

Outsmarting a hitter is a lot easier when you get a strike zone the size of a truck.

Good Solid B-Plus on July 28, 2011 at 4:16 AM

CANE_LOADER: No, I was a all-star, and hit a homerun that was measured at 470feet. I knew the game, still do. The catcher didn’t tag him. Good call by the ump. Wuss.

wordwarp on July 28, 2011 at 5:52 AM

follow the play with your eye: the catcher literally goes through the motion of tagging the runner out… without the pesky detail of making physical contact with his glove and the player. The announcers should be demoted to AA ball. Pathetic. Great call at the plate.

wordwarp on July 28, 2011 at 5:58 AM

Lugo was out. He knew it. His body language showed that he thought he was tagged. The umpire admitted that he “might have missed the call” after watching replays…

Gohawgs on July 28, 2011 at 5:59 AM

People still watch baseball?

Why?

Three plus hours for a total of eight or nine minutes of actuall game play.

No wonder they sell beer.

Jim708 on July 28, 2011 at 7:06 AM

I gotta admit, after talking about this at work (and not seeing it until now) on the tape at least, it looks like he made the swipe but never hit him with it. It doesnt look like his arm stops, even for half a second..what you would expect if it made contact and slowed down just a bit. Noe of the angles are good. Actually the umpire had the best vantage. Most likely he just barely touched him with the glove, the runner felt it and expected to be out. From the anouncers, though, you would have thought that this call was a complete travesty….even on 5 angles and replays…..it looks like he MIGHT have missed.

lostinjrz on July 28, 2011 at 7:09 AM

He missed the tag. Runner is safe. Good call.

Go Tigers!

txhsdad on July 28, 2011 at 8:14 AM

Catcher did make the tag (on the leg), but he shouldn’t do a swipe tag at home plate. For one thing, he risks losing the ball in the swipe. Always block the plate, son. Make the runner crash into you and the ball.

Y-not on July 28, 2011 at 9:26 AM

In Reggie Jackson’s biography, he tells the story of once sliding into second base on a steal attempt. It was a close call, but the ump yelled safe, but motioned out. Reggie stood up and said, “well, which is it”.

The ump replied, “Look, you both heard me yell safe, but 25,000 people saw me call you out. Which call do you think I’m going with?”

Syd B. on July 28, 2011 at 9:32 AM

It’s the Pirates. Who cares? Hopefully this sparks a 5-25 run from them and the baseball world returns to normal.

CoffeeMan on July 28, 2011 at 9:48 AM

The worst call in the history of baseball was actually in an AL playoff game in the 1990s. A fan aided a Yankees home run into the bleachers, interfering with an opposing player, and the umps let it count. It was a critical moment in a critical game. The fan reached out into the field of play, prevented an out, and gave the Yanks the game.

fleiter on July 28, 2011 at 9:57 AM

The worst call in baseball history?

Don’t make me laugh, AP. Not even close.

Don. Denkinger. Cost my Redbirds a World Series title.

CTD on July 28, 2011 at 10:20 AM

Good Solid B-Plus on July 28, 2011 at 2:14 AM

The Ump was confused. He thought it was Greg Maddux running home and the Pirates were playing the Braves in the NLCS.

There were deposits to Swiss bank accounts for the pro-Alanta calls by Ted and Jane. At least it seemed that way.

And what do you mean it is just the pirates? Aren’t they in second place? At least they ain’t the Dallas Cowboys where all hope must be abandoned. Oh wrong sport. Sorry.

IlikedAUH2O on July 28, 2011 at 10:40 AM

AP obviously hasn’t followed baseball very long.

zoyclem on July 28, 2011 at 11:47 AM

watched this again today. the only (last) angle shown is the only one where he seems to tag his leg: but from that angle, we are looking at it from directly behind, with no sense of depth. The umpire, on the other hand, is perpendicular to the leg/glove and would have seen if there were no contact. In all the previous replays prior to that, the not-touching-part is clear — you can tag someone one with the inside of the elbow of the arm at the other end of which is a glove with a ball in it. The game isn’t played that way, AA play-by-play and color analysts to the contrary.

BTW, I knew Clint Hurdle. Don’t follow the game much anymore, but he was something to see… until Sports Illustrated put his face on the cover his rookie year, proclaiming him a “phenom,” and his game completely collapsed in the next month.

wordwarp on July 28, 2011 at 10:38 PM

The magazine cover that killed a career: http://newberg.mlblogs.com/2009/11/07/the-phenomenal-clint-hurdle/

wordwarp on July 28, 2011 at 10:43 PM

There would have been an argument either way and the ump may have been able to “see space” from his angle. He may have been making some of this case in his bit of jawing with Hurdle. And to Hurdle’s credit he didn’t throw anything or kick dirt or spit on the guy (intentionally.) Ump should not have confessed to blowing it. He saw what he saw. (Probably space.) The catcher sweeping like that may have backfired. I’d prefer they just tag the guy. Put the ball on the runner. If they can hit 90 mph fastballs they can certainly find a spot to put the ball on a guy in that split second. I never liked that sweep action but it’s actually supposed to impress the ump. Didn’t work this time. It certainly impressed the half-wits in the booth.

The league may have gotten the ump to confess. The story takes on a life of its own. The announcers are REALLY annoying. “Unbelievable”?! It just happened. You saw it. Or are you saying your eyes as bad as the ump’s? “Amazing”?! Are you new to baseball? Never seen a disputed call before? No. Not to mention the other idiotic things they said. What does hard work have to do with anything?! The context the league must deal with after a bang-bang call like that isn’t helped most times by the jock-sniffers and former jock-wearers in the booth. And I’d like to know which rule the play-by-play guy hated in the start of the clip about the guy being on second? Sounds like he’s talking about a scorekeeper rule about getting credit for a stolen base but the guy still would have been on second. So that homer’s problems started before the bat was on the ball. He was tired and cranky.

Hating umps is part of baseball but the so-called experts in the booth should at least attempt to appear to put on a show of being voices of reason…such as it is in sports.

curved space on July 29, 2011 at 8:12 AM

the ump has now admitted he blew the call. so all you nitwits who are just sure it was a good call – NOT

sidewinder22 on July 29, 2011 at 4:18 PM