Have the baseball gods forsaken the Detroit Tigers? It seems like the umpires have. The game on Saturday against the Braves ended with a bases-loaded, third-strike call against Tigers hitter Johnny Damon–even though the pitch was well outside the strike zone, as the home-plate umpire now basically admits. If the ump had called the pitch a ball rather than a strike, Damon would have walked and the tying run would have scored. Instead, the game ended with a Tigers loss. (Hat tip: the indispensable Bless You Boys.)
This comes on the heels of Armando Galarraga’s 28-out perfect game on June 2–the one that doesn’t go into the official record books as a perfect game because the first-base umpire called a runner safe even though he was clearly out. Galarraga went back to the mound and got another out, his fourth of the inning and 28th of the game. I’m kind of glad it turned out the way it did because Galarraga went on to show everybody how grown-ups are supposed to behave in difficult circumstances. But it was still a blown call against one of my Tigers, as the ump famously confessed.
The Tigers now lead the league in umpire apologies.
Last season wasn’t so hot either. The tie-breaking, add-on 163rd game against the Twins went into extra innings. With the bases loaded, Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge was hit by a pitch. The ball brushed his jersey, as a photo makes clear. If the umpire had awarded him first base, the Tigers would have taken the lead. Instead, they went on to lose. Their season was over.
When it comes to the Tigers, I’ll admit that I’m wildly partisan. Yet I’m also starting to favor the idea of video review in baseball–some version of it beyond what’s already done to have a second look at controversial homers. For me to come around completely, it will probably take only one or two more flagrant examples of the Tigers getting screwed out of wins.
With the Tigers’ luck, we’ll get video review just in time to reverse a close call that goes in their favor. And I’ll be outraged all over again.