Video Shows Umpires have been Wrong for Decades

Umpires, umpires, umpires. We cannot get through a playoff game anymore without having to deal with at least one questionable call. I wrote about it last year, and even mentioned it again last week. As I’ve said many times before, these things are not new.

While looking up video about the Loma Prieta/World Series earthquake this afternoon, I found the video posted below. If the embed doesn’t work properly, fast-forward the video to 4:16, to the start of Dave Parker’s at-bat:

The video only lasts twenty seconds before the earthquake hits and it cuts out. There’s enough there to see something interesting, though.

(Click “Read More” to continue reading.)

In the video, Dave Parker takes a 1-0 pitch from Rick Reuschel deep off the rightfield wall, barely missing a home run. San Francisco rightfielder Candy Maldonaldo fields the ball off the wall, double-clutches, and throws it in to shortstop Jose Uribe. Uribe catches the throw cleanly and applies the tag to a diving Parker. The umpire calls Parker safe, Jose Canseco scores, and Uribe meekly argues with the second-base umpire Dutch Rennert.

But watch the video again. Uribe applies that tag with Parker about 25 feet away from the bag. There’s just no way he was safe.

If that call was made like that today, blogs and radio shows and Twitter and tabloids and just about the whole world would be calling for Rennert’s head. Instead, in 1989, we had Tim McCarver talking about how important the double from Parker was (okay, maybe things don’t change all that much).

Parker’s double came with no outs and Canseco on first. Even if he had been properly called out, Canseco’s run still would have counted and the A’s still would have won the game by a sizable margin. But that’s no excuse for the poor call.

I feel like a broken record whenever I say that today’s umpiring is no worse than yesterday’s (and is, perhaps, better), but I can’t help myself. It’s just that, with today’s media and today’s technology, you can’t get away from your mistakes. They will be pored over, analyzed, and debated thousands of times before the inning is even over, let alone the Series. I personally believe that there’s no reason for baseball not to implement some form of instant replay (e.g., a fifth umpire in the booth). If done right, it would be a major boon to the sport. But even if you can’t agree with me on that, I hope that you can agree that, as proved by this highlight of Dave Parker somehow stretching a single into a double, umpiring is no worse today than it was in year’s past. I could find plenty more examples, I’m sure. And if we can recognize that, then maybe all this complaining we’ve been hearing these last couple of years will quiet down.

I’m not keeping my hopes up, though.

Larry Granillo

About Larry Granillo

Larry Granillo has been writing Wezen Ball since 2008 and has dealt with such touchy topics as Charlie Brown's baseball stats and Ferris Bueller's day off. In 2010, he got the bright idea to time every home run trot in baseball; he has been missing ever since.