Sunday, October 18, 2009

The 2009 Postseason: Where The Correct Calls Are Controversial Too!

One of the most questionable plays in last night's game (the most questionable according to Joe Buck) came in the 10th inning when Melky Cabrera was bearing down on second base after Jorge Posada chopped one to the right side. It appeared to be a tailor-made double play ball and Eric Aybar turned what looked to be the Yankees' 4th twin killing of the night. Except Jerry Layne called Melky safe.

The throw was clearly there in time, but upon further review, it appeared that Aybar had not touched the bag. As 'Duk at Big League Stew pointed out, the "neighborhood play" is commonly accepted in lieu of actually tagging the bag. His take:
From my viewpoint, I can see where Aybar and manager Mike Scioscia were coming from. That's an awfully gutsy call to make in that position. How can umpires look the other way nearly every other time, but enforce it the one time it actually matters? Considering the cold and wet conditions at Yankee Stadium, why couldn't Aybar get a free pass that's never debated in any other circumstance?
To say that this was "the one time" it actually mattered is a little misleading. At one point on the FOX Broadcast, Tim McCarver said they reviewed each of the three previous double plays the Yanks hit into and Aybar had touched the bag every time. They'd been consistent throughout the night.

Lane probably thought this was a particularly egregious offense of the unwritten rule. He could have very easily turned a blind eye to the play because even if replays showed that Aybar never touched the bag, he wouldn't have taken any real heat since people accept that the infielder doesn't have to actually make contact with the bag. But they do have to come close and make some sort of a effort or phantom tag.

Melky slid in hard, running into Aybar and doing his best to best to break up the DP. If Aybar actually stepped on the bag, Melky would have got there sooner and possibly broken up the play all together. That split second mattered.

Joe Buck brought up the play at least 75 more times in the broadcast, saying at one point that it was a good thing that no runs scored in the inning before it would have been terrible for baseball fans to see a call like that factor into the outcome of the game. A technically correct call. How awful!

In a postseason of blown calls, during a came with several wrong calls by the first base umpire, this should be a non-issue. But the fact that it was the 10th inning brings it under intense scrutiny. Props to Jerry Layne for having the balls to make the right call.


  1. I must humbly disagree. It looked like most other double plays I've seen. This Yankee fan thought the play was pretty cut-and-dried and was shocked at the call.

  2. I certainly thought it was a double play at first glance. The replay pretty conclusively showed that Aybar never touched the bag, and according to FOX the bag was touched on all the others over the course of the night,

    I can't dispute that the neighborhood play seems to be let go all the time, but in the context of Game Two at least, it seems the umpiring was consistent. And as Jay said, after all the heat the umpires have taken over the course of this post-season, I can't really blame them on this one. In the end, it didn't affect the outcome of the game.

  3. Delta Suite takes my $$$10/19/09, 11:49 AM

    Our infield better touch each and every bag going forward. Umps love to "get one back" when they make a questionable call. This one helped the Yanks, let's hope we don't see the other side.