Umpires, like any other category of human being, make mistakes. But the error that umpire Mike DiMuro made in Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night defies any explanation.
DiMuro incorrectly credited New York Yankees outfielder Dewayne Wise with a catch in the seventh inning after he tumbled into the front row of seats, Derek Jeter-style, on a foul ball hit by Jack Hannahan of the Cleveland Indians. With the benefit of video replay, it's easy to see the ball fall out of Wise's glove and roll down the row to a fan in a red shirt, who picked it up and held it aloft as DiMuro came over to investigate.
Some investigation it was, too. DiMuro didn't even ask for Wise to show him the ball. He simply assumed he caught it and signaled as such. Wise, not about to argue his team out of an out, instead kept his glove closed, collected himself and ran off the field — canary in mouth, if not ball in glove. After the game, won 6-4 by the Yankees, Wise copped to the drop. And DiMuro admitted he made a terrible mistake. Via the Twitter of WFAN reporter Sweeny Murti:
Mike DiMuro: "Now that I see the tape it's obvious that the ball fell out...In hindsight I should have asked him to show me the ball..."
— Sweeny Murti (@YankeesWFAN) June 27, 2012
Ya' think? Perhaps it was too much to ask DiMuro to notice Wise drop the ball on sight, though Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Paul Hoynes said DiMuro was "late" to the play. But to not ask the player to show the ball — any casual fan knows that's Umpiring 101 — it's inexcusable. Perhaps DiMuro just trusted that Wise, known for another gravity and logic-defying play in a much bigger moment, can catch absolutely anything.
But, as the video above and screencap below show, he cannot.
Adding more injury to injury, DiMuro ejected Hannahan for arguing about it in the next half-inning. Hannahan, though understandably upset, said he didn't even swear at DiMuro. He should have been allowed a curse word or two. The Yankees were leading by four runs at the time, but DiMuro's call changing the outcome of the game isn't even the issue. How do you not ask to see the ball? Major League Baseball better be asking DiMuro that question, over and over, in the coming days.
There's Jim Joyce kicking away Armando Galarraga's perfect game, and there's Don Denkinger missing Todd Worrell's foot touching the bag in the 1985 World Series. There's Jerry Meals knocking the Pittsburgh Pirates out for the Atlanta Braves, and there's Phil Cuzzi being Phil Cuzzi. Their eyes were deceived. It happens.
But this? Just ask for the ball. If the guy in the red shirt hands it to you, then Wise didn't catch it.