To reverse or not reverse. That is the question.
The issue a few Astros had with the call that the umpires reversed Thursday in Kansas City wasn’t as much about whether the call was right or wrong as much as it was about the fact that the umpires decided to reverse it at all.
The replay showed that Geoff Blum clearly did not catch Yuniesky Betancourt’s line drive before it hit the ground, which Blum acknowledged after the game. So in the end, the umpires did get the call right. The Astros simply want to know why umpires are overturning these types of calls, when usually the call stands, even when the umpires later acknowledge they got it wrong.
“There’s just no precedent for it, to reverse a call like that,” manager Brad Mills said. “It opens up a huge can of worms.”
With Mike Aviles on second, Blum fielded Betancourt’s liner on an almost imperceptible bounce and squared to throw to first. But he heard the “out” call by second base umpire Mike Everitt and realized he had a chance to pull off the double play. So he tagged second, seemingly doubling off Aviles for the inning-ending double play.
Royals manager Ned Yost argued, and at first, it appeared that the umpires were going to let the call stand. But then they got together, talked it over, and before long, crew chief Tim McClelland was in a lengthy conversation with Mills. You could tell by Mills’ reaction — he was growing more agitated by the second — that the umpires had indeed reversed the call.
That forced the Astros to come back out of the dugout and resume their positions. The reversed call didn’t appear to faze starting pitcher Brett Myers, who quickly retired the final batter to really end the inning.
Later, Myers wondered why umpires can reverse certain calls, and yet let others stand. Inevitably, the blown call that infamously ruined Armando Galarraga’s perfect game a few weeks ago in Detroit came up.
“It’s the darndest thing I’ve ever seen,” Myers said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen it in baseball. If that’s the case, and they can overturn calls like that, I think they should overturn Galarraga’s no-hitter. They should overturn it right there, his perfect game. If that’s what we’re starting to do and the umpire makes a mistake, then we have to live with it.”
Blum was probably the most diplomatic about the situation. As soon as reporters walked up he announced, “I didn’t catch the ball.” He then went on to explain what he was thinking when he heard the “out” call from the ump:
“I looked up and saw the runner stop, so I was thinking about going to third. But out of the corner of my eye, I saw there was no call. I looked at the second base umpire, he made the out call, I went to second base. Tried to play it off. It almost worked.”
Was it unfair to reverse the call?
“Knowing I didn’t catch the ball…there’s plenty of calls in baseball — phantom double plays, swipe tags, things like that. In defense of the umpires, they eventually made the right call. That’s what it’s about, the integrity of the game and making the right call. It’s just unfortunate we had to come back out of the dugout after going back inside. I think that’s what bugged Brett a little more than anything.”
What also irked the Astros was the assumption by the umpires that Blum’s play would have been to first. What if he had decided to go to third? When the inning resumed, the runner went back to third, with first and second empty. That was potentially a more difficult situation for the Astros to work through, which, to some, didn’t seem quite fair.
The play didn’t affect the outcome of the game, but it made for some interesting postgame conversation.