4/29/13: A Lousy Night for the Umpires in Atlanta
Okay, I’m a Washington Nationals fan, and I’m a seamhead, and the umpires in Atlanta for tonight’s Nats-Braves games missed just about every call, and the game went to the Braves when it could just as easily have gone to the Nats. If you’re not a baseball person, you’re excused.
First off, the crew was Laz Diaz behind the plate, Tim Timmons at first base, Mike Winters at second, and Mark Wegner at third. I have no gripes with Winters. Diaz seemed to have a pretty poor strike zone for Steven Strasburg, but a quick look didn’t show anything very amiss there. But here’s a list of close calls that this crew either clearly got wrong, or could just as easily called the other way:
- 1st inning: Nats’ Denard Span picked off first base by pitcher Julio Teheran. Replay shows Timmons got the call wrong. [Bryce Harper doubled later in his at bat, which would have scored Span; add one to the Nats' two runs.]
- 1st inning: Braves’ Freddie Freeman tagged out at first base, Bryce Harper to Ian Desmond to Adam LaRoche. Replay shows Timmons got the call wrong.
- 4th inning: Braves’ Freddie Freeman scored on a Gerald Laird single, Dan Uggla tagged out at third base, Denard Span to Chad Tracy. Replay shows that Uggla was tagged before Freeman touched home plate, so the run should not have counted (subtract one of the Braves’ three runs).
- 7th inning: Braves’ Jordan Schafer advanced from second to third on Andrelton Simmons’ fly out to right fielder Jayson Werth, who threw home. Relay shows that Chad Tracy may have tagged Schafer before he reached the base (this one is inconclusive).
- 9th inning: Nats’ Ian Desmond out at first, Andrelton Simmons to first baseman Freddie Freeman. Replay shows Timmons got the call wrong.
Timmons had a really bad game.
Or maybe this is just sour grapes, right? Well let’s go to the videotape.
First up, Tim Timmons’ Really Bad Night Umpiring. Item one: Denard Span picked off in the first. Span is touching the bag no later than the second frame, while Freeman applies the tag no earlier than the third frame.
Next, Freddie Freeman tagged out by Adam LaRoche in the bottom of the first. Again, clearly the tag applied after the runner’s touching the bag.
And third, Ian Desmond being called out at first on a ground ball fielded by Andrelton Simmons while on his ass. Desmond is touching the bag in the 2nd frame, while the ball’s still visible.
With this o-3 performance, perhaps Tim Timmons should be dubbed “oh-fer.” But he wasn’t alone. In the 7th, third base umpire Mark Wegner may have missed the call as Jordan Schafer advanced to third base on Jayson Werth’s ill-advised throw home. This one is closer than the others, too close for me to say the call was wrong.
Even if this call was blown, it didn’t cost the Nats anything. Unlike the call in the 4th, when Dan Uggla was tagged out before Freddie Freeman touched home plate. Both the Nats’ local broadcast and ESPN showed images indicating that Uggla was tagged out before Freeman touched home plate, and so the run should not have counted. [Note: the MASN broadcast showed the play closer than ESPN did, which means one or both of them don't actually have good time sequencing on their camera feeds. Lags introduced by transmission delays through the stadium cabling must be accounted for to have absolute confidence in the relative timing of two different feeds.]
Look, all of these were very close plays, each involving judging two events that happened within 1/8 of a second. But umpires don’t usually perform this badly. If there’s a random element that determines when an umpire misses a call, these guys should be glad they were working instead of playing games of chance.
These things will even out in the end. They usually do, anyway.