illustration by Samara Pearlstein
You’ve pushed me to this, MLB umpires. I tried to give you only moderate weight and attention. I tried to treat your attacks against the Tigers as isolated incidents, rather than the signs of a larger coordinated war effort. Last night, in Chicago, was the last straw. I mean, the last straw probably should have been The (Non)Perfect Game, but whatever, it was last night.
WELCOME TO THE CAT-EGORIES, UMPIRES.
Missed last night’s umpire-related lunacy? I can’t even fully recap it without getting angry again, so here’s the short version: bottom of the 8th, game tied, two groundballs in a row went to Jhonny Peralta, who was playing in first game back from paternity leave, as his wife just gave birth to twins.
The first ball he attempted to throw to second for a force play. It was a little high, and Ramon Santiago had to jump to catch it. Because Ramon is the stretchiest scrappy utility infielder extraordinaire, he managed to keep a toe on the base as he caught the ball for the out.
BUT NO, because the umpires ruled that he was off the bag. Everyone safe. TV replay vindicated Ramon, by the way.
The second ball Jhonny threw to first. It was a little wide, and Prince Fielder had to go sprawling in the dirt to catch it. Because Prince is the hustlingest big man in baseball, he managed to keep a foot on the base as he caught the ball for the out.
BUT NO!!!!! BECAUSE THE UMPIRES AGAIN RULED THAT HE WAS OFF THE BAG. Everyone safe, and this one scored the winning run. Again, in the real world of things that happened in actuality instead of in Umpire Parallel Reality, TV replays showed that Prince had in fact made the play.
Neither was a clean play. Both throws were off-target. Poor Jhonny must have felt terrible, all exhausted from brand new babies and trying to play baseball in Wrigley Field. But, friends, his teammates picked him up both times. They were given difficult plays, and they made those plays. The only reason those plays went for errors instead of outs is the ire of the umpires.
It is war. I mean, it has been a war for some time already…
…but every time I think peace is possible, the umpires go and escalate hostilities. The players and manager are getting more and more vocal in their acknowledgment of this onslaught. We are only a few short steps away from open derision of the officials, and then we’ve become the NHL. The umpires will only have themselves to blame.
What will it be tonight? A strikezone the size of a dehydrated pea for FredFred? Miguel Cabrera randomly called out on doubles hit to the outfield? Jim Leyland ejected before he can even get the first carbon-dioxide-laden molecule of the word “horsesh!t” past his mustache? Can’t wait!