Apparently sick and tired of being sick and tired, Jim Leyland appealed to the media Monday to speak up when an umpire messes up a call. And no matter the outcome, at least we got another epic Leyland rant out of it.
The Detroit Tigers suffered, and the Boston Red Sox took advantage with a big inning at Fenway Park, after umps failed to call out Mike Aviles on strike three in the second inning. Aviles hit a foul tip, but first base umpire Bill Welke ruled that Tigers catcher Gerald Laird didn't catch the ball cleanly before it hit the ground, extending the inning long enough for Boston to score three runs in what became a 7-4 victory.
Leyland questioned the call at the time but didn't erupt until later on when he and coach Gene Lamont were ejected for continuing to argue about it. Leyland's postgame press conference also started quietly, but he was just getting ready to boil over. Leyland didn't even have to bait anyone this time:
As the video and his quotes in the Detroit News show, Leyland seemed to be saying that if Major League Baseball won't hold umpires accountable, then at least the media should:
"It's that simple, isn't it? I mean you guys need to write something and hold people accountable. You know what, we're all accountable in this business, and when I say, 'all of us,' I mean everyone who's involved in the game needs to be held accountable.
"There should not have been a rally in that inning. Have the nerve to write what you saw and say it — because I'm not going to sit here and rip the umpires. Write it and say something once in a while. Have the nerve to say something. Next question."
But first, check out the play in question:
It's funny. How many times have fans or broadcasters complained about umpires not asking for the assistance of other umpires on the field? Well, that's not a panacea, either. Home plate ump Jeff Nelson either asked for, or just got, Welke's help on the ball in the dirt. Despite Welke being quick and decisive, Nelson got bad advice. Welke defended himself afterward but also admitted he made the wrong call:
"From the baseline, as his glove went down, it appeared he didn't get it clean. The tilt on the glove is the difference between a ball that is caught cleanly and one that is not. I have to make a determination in a split second if he caught it clean, and it appeared he did not. But the replays showed he did."
Will some sort of discipline from the league make Welke get the call right next time? In this case, it probably would only serve to punish him. Umpires need to be held accountable, sure, but the best way to help them get the call right would be to have an eye in the sky watching video replay. The call could have been fixed in much less time than it took to argue on the field and rant about it later.
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