Perhaps mistaking Atlanta for Detroit and attempting to heed Jalen Rose’s advice that nothing’s open after 2am except hospitals and legs, umpire Jerry Meals ended last night’s Pirates/Braves, 19-inning marathon by calling Julio Lugo safe at home despite being gunned down by Pedro Alvarez by a good 10 feet. At least one observer has dubbed Meals’ failure to recognize a sweeping tag by Pittsburgh backstop Mike McKenry, “a new worst call ever”, but professional skeptic Rob Neyer of SB Nation asks, “isn’t it possible that umpire Meals saw something the rest of us didn’t?”
It might not be likely, but it’s possible that Jerry Meals (above) saw something, something real, that none of the cameras were able to see. If there was an eighth of an inch between Michael McKenry’s mitt and Julio Lugo’s pants, would the cameras have caught that gap? Not from what I’ve been able to tell; none of the cameras were placed in just the right place to see that gap, if there was one.
Yeah, I know Lugo behaved as if he were out. Players do that all the time. Sometimes they just don’t know. Sometimes they assume they’re out because the throw beat them by 10 feet. Usually they’re right. Not always.
You can blame Jerry Meals for the Pirates’ loss, and I suppose there’s a pretty good chance he deserves it. But what about Clint Hurdle, who lost a 19-inning game and never used his best relief pitcher, instead asking another of his relief pitchers to throw more than 90 pitches? What about McKenry, who employed the swipe tag when he could have planted his glove squarely on just about any part of Lugo’s person?