When I was a poor college student I would spend my summers roaming Northern Virginia as an umpire for local 16-18 year olds. I like to think I did a pretty solid job. My father actually graduated from Harry Wendesltedt’s professional umpire school after he finished college, and considered making it his career. While those two facts to not make my opinions any more valid than anyone else’s, I hope that they will help you believe me when I say that I have more sympathy for the work umpires do than most baseball fans.
What I saw early this afternoon, however, was just plain awful. As of this writing the Nats are losing 4-0 after the previously un-scored-on Ross Detwiler allowed a first inning grand slam. Unfortunately, none of those runs should have ever scored, as today’s umpire crew made not one, but two dreadful calls that very clearly should have resulted in out number three.
The first was this ground ball to Ian Desmond which, as you can see by the image shared by Chris Mottram below, clearly should have resulted in the third out of the inning.
The next batter, Jay Bruce, walked on this 3-2 pitch. Clearly, this should have been strike, and out number three.
Ludwick hit the Reds’ grand slam the next at bat.
I am one of the stronger advocates against the use of instant replay in baseball that you will ever meet. Umpires, in general, do an incredible job on thousands of plays. But when not one, but two major blown calls like this result in a four run deficit for the Nationals, it gets harder and harder to defend.
Bad calls are, of course, a part of the game. The Nats will need to try and dig out of this hole and earn the win today. But it’s a damn shame if a five game winning streak comes to an end as a result of two horrendously blown calls.