HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my dear friend, Bobbi Garron, on 12/17. Bobbi, have a wonderful birthday. I luv ya.
Story of the Week
MLB’S MOST REMEMBERED UMPIRING BLUNDERS
Since the infamous play in Game 2 of the ALCS on October 12, I subsequently decided to do a piece on the subject of major league baseball’s most remembered (by me) umpiring errors. Without rating these blunders, the following is my list in chronological sequence:
Umpire Don Denkinger called the Royals’ Jorge Orta safe at first base in the ninth inning of Game 6 of the 1985 World Series against the Cardinals. TV replays show that St. Louis pitcher Todd Worrell had clearly beaten Orta to the bag by about 20 minutes. Denkinger’s call set the stage for a two-run Royals rally and a 2-1 win. KC went on to win Game 7 and the Series.
The Yankees beat the Orioles 5-4 in Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS when a 12-year-old fan, Jeffrey Maier, reached over the fence and caught Derek Jeter’s fly ball to right before Baltimore right fielder, Tony Tarasco, could make the play. Umpire Rich Garcia failed to call fan interference, and ruled the ball a game-tying home run. The Yankees went on to win the game in extra innings.
Umpire Eric Gregg calls Fred McGriff out to end Game 5 of the 1997 NLCS on a pitch from Livan Hernandez that was obviously outside. Not just outside; Hernandez resembled “Meat” in Bull Durham. The Marlins beat the Braves, and went on to win the World Series.
Yankees second baseman Chuck Knoblauch’s phantom tag on Jose Offerman in the 1999 ALCS. It resulted in an inning-ending double play, and catapulted the Yankees to the victory over the Red Sox. Umpire Tim Tschida clearly missed the call, just as Knoblauch clearly missed tagging Offerman.
And for the latest, Game 2 of the 2005 ALCS. Umpire Doug Eddings clearly signaled a strike that would have and should have retired Chicago’s A. J. Pierzynski in the bottom of the ninth. It would have been three outs, and the game would have gone into extra innings. But after Eddings rang up Pierzynski with a gesture that indicated the batter was out, he ruled that Angels catcher Josh Paul did not catch the ball cleanly. The Sox scored the winning run that inning. Give credit to Pierzynski for running to first base while the Angels headed for the dugout; it influenced Eddings’ error in judgment. I also blame the other umpires who saw the play and did nothing to at least discuss Eddings’ confusing call with him before it became law. Such a discussion might have reversed the error, especially since Eddings, standing behind Paul, could not see the play. Eddings’ colleagues should have seen it, and known that Paul didn’t bother tagging Pierzynski and didn’t bother throwing to first base because Josh Paul knew he caught the ball cleanly.
Closing note: Errors by officials can and do determine the outcome of games. I was against instant replay in the NFL; I am now in favor of it. MLB would do well to incorporate instant replay, also. Instant replay overcomes the element of human error; the latter is apparent in sports all too often.
Last Week’s Trivia
The four ABA teams that joined the NBA in 1977 were the Denver Nuggets, the Indiana Pacers, the San Antonio Spurs, and the New Jersey Nets. (The Nets actually were the New Jersey Americans in 1967, then the New York Nets, and then the New Jersey Nets when they joined the NBA. I received an e-mail from one Joe Levy, who wrote that he had season tickets when the Americans played at the Teaneck Armory in the ‘67-’68 season. The place had all of 5,000 seats, and was rarely filled.)
Trivia Question of the Week
Who is the heaviest wrestler of all time? How much did he weigh? You won’t believe the answer. See next week’s Sports Junkie for that answer. (Yes, wrestling is a sport IF it isn’t scripted. If it's scripted, it's an exhibition. I believe pro wrestling is scripted 100%, but I couldn't resist this question, and you'll see why next week.)