The New York Yankees took down the Minnesota Twins to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the ALDS on Friday night. The Yankees won in dramatic fashion with a walk off homerun in the 11th by 2009 acquisition, Mark Teixiera. The dramatic winning effort was overshadowed, though by an absolutely horrible call that took place in the top of the 11th.
Joe Mauer was leading off the top of the eleventh with Damaso Marte (how did this guy make the postseason roster?) on the hill. Joe hit a flair down the left field line that, off the bat, looked as if it would be well foul. Melky Cabera gave chase and nearly caught up to it in the left field corner. The leftfielder got a piece of it, it hit the ground, and bounced into the seats by the foul pole.
Phil Cuzzi was literally 20 feet from the spot of this soon-to-be mess. He is staring directly at the occurrence, and as the ball bounced away, Cuzzi emphatically motions that the ball was foul.
There are a few things that are just really bad here. First of all, this ball was fair by a foot. I am not even exaggerating there. The foul line is actually as fair line, and this ball was probably eight inches inside the line. So, seeing that as foul is about as bad a call as I have ever witnessed.
Second, this would have been a ground rule double or a foul ball. Either way the play is dead. So, if Cuzzi saw this as fair and just called foul by instinct, he had ample time to change his decision. Cuzzi would have gotten booed a little for this, but further review by everyone would have shown he was correct.
Third, this ball nicked off of Melky Cabrera’s glove. Melky was well in fair territory when it hit off of him, and that alone, even if Cuzzi saw the ball land foul, should merit a fair call. The only thing I can think of was that he was waiting to see chalk, and when he did not see it, Cuzzi called the ball foul.
Really the worst part about this call is that the third base umpire would have gotten it right. I do not see the need for the extra two umpires in the playoffs. Now that you have instant replay for homerun/non homerun calls, the outfield is pretty much covered.
There are very few situations that the umpire further down the line will get a better view of a catch or a boundary call. I understand it gives the base umpires a better opportunity to watch the bags, and see if runners tag up, etc, but you are asking an umpire to do something he has not done all year.
Phil Cuzzi really blew this call. He saw down for up, left for right, fair for foul. It was his one call of the night. Chuck Meriweather blew numerous calls behind the dish, but he was allowed instant redemption by the next pitch. Cuzzi got one chance, and made a mockery of Abner Doubleday and the rules of baseball.
If you want to see what fans are saying, here are a few reactions from Twitter and comment boxes from various articles (just know that I didn’t edit these people, and apparently, no one can spell):
“I really believe that Phil Cuzzi might have made the worst officiating call in history. How did he miss it?”
“Umpire Phil Cuzzi was the MVP for the Yankees last night”
“Phil Cuzzi you don’t need to make the trip to the Metrodome. Watch from home. Broadcast in HD maybe you will see the White Foul Line.”
“Umpire’s ugly mistake costly to Twins: Phil Cuzzi might want to register under a pseudonym at his hotel in Minn”
“Dear Phil Cuzzi, I’ll pay for your lasik surgery… You should feel horrible”
“Phil Cuzzi Stinks, And I Don’t like him”
Then the Ones that Think the Fix is In:
“Calling for the head of Phil Cuzzi…what a joke of a call last night…no way can someone unintentionally make that big of a mistake”
“Phil Cuzzi is paid off with Steinbrenner money.”
“come on people…this is how the mob works…they own these umpires…remember the n.b.a. ref….all the money that is on a yankees trip to the world series…MONEY TALKS”
“Lets really investigate Cuzzi. His calls to vegas? his friends? All of it. If it isnt him, Its MLB, One of the 2 is guilfy. Im so disgusted with the game now. I used to be a true fan of it.”
“Just another case of Bud Selig and MLB doing whatever they can to guarantee that the Yankees get to the World Series.”
“Get some glasses and then get a brain. That call was blown on purpose. GO buy that ump a drink. I’m sure he has plenty of them today. I hope he made enough to retire on with that call.”
“That call ruined a great game. Rigged.”
Some Said it was Karma:
“Brandon inge got hit by the ball that would have scored a run!!!! quit all your crying the twins are there too by bad calls so everbody just zipp it it done!!”
“Wee, hey twins fans…remember that blown call when inge got hit? I’m sure you do. Maybe this was super obvious, but what goes around comes around.”
Who was happiest with this call?
You may think it was the Yankees or Yankees fans or even the National Association for the Defamation of Umpires (NAfDU for short) but no, it was Joe Nathan. Nathan’s complete collapse gets pushed back a page because of an umpire’s blindness. Nathan, who was sweating like he was in withdrawal, gave up two missiles to start he ninth inning and knot up the score. Nathan said after the game, “I wasn’t the only one who blew one tonight.”
No, you weren’t Joe, but giving up a 440 ft bomb to ARod kept the game going long enough to allow Phil Cuzzi his opportunity. So don’t deflect criticism because you have gotten off extremely easy. You owe Phil Cuzzi a thank you card.
If Twins fans really think the fix is in, then I suggest you investigate your closer before you start suggesting that the mob paid a guy standing in the left field corner to blow a critical call in game two of the ALDS.