Umps Under Fire: 2013 in Major League Baseball


Referees and umpires have one of the hardest jobs in the entire sporting world. They have to make calls that could impact a game, calls that can decide the winner and/or loser of a specific match, and of course to quote Rodney Dangerfield, “They get no Respect!”

Personally, I believe that people should appreciate the officials of any sport – after all they are under a lot of pressure, too.  And this is where I’ll stop being nice. Baseball umpires have been god awful this year, and it shows.  It has been horrendous in many games, and I am not just talking balls and strikes.  Umpires, consider yourselves “called out”.

The most recent asinine call was the other day in a game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Milwaukee Brewers. The Phillies were down 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth and pinch hitter Jimmy Rollins who had just hit a single, had a pinch runner due to a leg injury.  The runner was Kyle Kendrick, the Phillies relief pitcher – it was an odd move, but it happens. Kendrick made it to second on a sac bunt by Ben Revere and was in scoring position. This is where it gets bad.  With Cesar Hernandez batting, the Brewers reliever, Francisco Rodriguez, picked off Kendrick and was called out. Seems a bit harmless, right? Wrong! The ball bounced off of the Brewers shortstop Jean Seguras’ glove, hitting off Kendrick and rolling back to Segura. Segura held up the ball like he had properly made the play, and as mentioned Kendrick was out.  On replay it was not even close.

It was a terrible call which in the end affected the outcome of the game. Moments later Hernandez hit a double to right field, which means had Kendrick not been called out Hernandez would have gotten an RBI double and tied the game. Yes the angle of the umpire suggests he might not have seen the ball roll out, but we sure as heck did and this could have been fixed if the MLB had expanded instant replay.  Alas, they have not.

Had this been an isolated incident I would probably not have bothered to write about it, but judging by the frequency of missed calls, it is certainly warranted. Earlier on this season in a game between the Cleveland Indians and the Oakland A’s, the umps made another bad call, that on a homerun could have tied the game. A’s infielder Adam Rosales had hit a ball that at first glance seemed to bounce off the wall, but upon further review it hit the part of the fence where it is considered a homerun – it was glaringly obvious it was a homer. The game officials blew it even after review, saying it was only a double. To make matters worse even Major League Baseball said it was the wrong call, but they would not do anything about it.

Funny enough, the day after the missed homerun call another screw-up happened. In a game which the new divisional rivals the Houston Astros and the LA Angels played against each other, a very confusing yet very sad mistake was made. This move did not affect the outcome of the game, but it was just a real waste of time and completely against the rules. Astros Manager Bo Porter had called lefty reliever Wesley Wright out of the bullpen to replace their pitcher Paul Clemens in the seventh inning.  The Angels countered by putting in a pinch hitter to face the lefty, but before a pitch was thrown Porter came out and changed the pitcher again for a right handed pitcher. That is against the rule 3.05(B) – Cannot pull a pitcher who has not pitched. The umpires however, decided to let the pitching change happen and this made Mike Scioscia, manager of the Angels, justifiably livid.

It is funny that Scioscia, the manager, knows the rule book while all of the umpires who should know them like the backs of their hands, mucked it up. In the end the Angels won, but that game showed how awful some officiating can be. There was a bit of justice after this game, as the crew Chief Fieldin Culbreth (what a name!) was suspended for two games, and the rest of the umpires were fined for missing the call.

Officiating in any sport can be great and it can be awful, but these were some of the worst calls out there this season. However, can they compare with some of the worst calls ever made in MLB history? Check back soon for my next article comparing these with the worst calls made in MLB history!  Enjoy.

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photo credit: Keith Allison via photopin cc


  1. I couldn’t believe it when the Umps didn’t know the rules in that Anaheim/Houston game. You are an Ump, your only job is to know the rule book.