A day after the bizarre phantom double play in Jesus Sucre’s first major league at-bat where Justin Grimm caught the relay throw from Elvis Andrus nowhere near the base and Mitch Moreland did not. The Mariners weren’t bitter or angry. The play didn’t cost them the game.
Admittedly, none of them knew what happened on the play either.
“Personally, I thought Moreland caught it,” said shortstop Brendan Ryan. “I didn’t even know. I heard a couple innings later about what happened. It fooled me too.”
Justin Smoak, who slid into second base on the play, didn’t see it as he looked back.
“I think if Wedgie would have known that going out there, it might have been a little different story,” he said. “Nobody really knew until the guys go down and look at the video. That’s when we knew.”
Wedge had no idea what happened. He went out to argue that Moreland pulled his foot off the bag while making the catch – that he didn’t actually make.
“Hey, no one in here saw it, including myself,” he said. “I was doing the same thing he was doing, watching the bag, listening for the pop of the ball. The only way anyone saw it was when they had access to the replay. By then, it was too late. And even then, it’s not like you look at the replay once and say, ‘Oh, there it is.” You’re like, “Did I just see what I thought I saw on replay?” Then you have to play it again. They don’t have that luxury.”
The improved technology of the broadcasts is a reason why these mistakes are being pointed out much more. Wedge doesn’t think the umpires are making more mistakes, they are just being seen and magnified.
“I think a certain part of this has always been in the game, but you can’t hide anything any more,” he said. “You have so many cameras at the ballpark, so many different angles, so much more media. And it’s all instant right now. I think to a degree that is true.”
Obviously, there have been several incidents this year. And expanded instant replay is being discussed. But to what extent?
“I don’t know,” Ryan said. “Whatever help they need that we can give them … maybe it’s something we need to explore a little more. Nobody wants to look stupid out there. That’s maybe one of those things that maybe someone is upstairs and they pick up the phone and appeal it really quick. I’m definitely not in favor of making these games 5 ½ hours long.”
Wedge isn’t sure either.
“I think we are pushing towards it,” he said. “Some of that’s going to be inevitable. It just has to be tempered. I think that’s where everybody struggles, where do you draw the line. I’ve always been a big believer in the human element of it, but I think there’s a place for the replay. I think the guys making the decisions, that’s the tough part – where do you draw the line?”
What would he do if he were Bud Selig?
“I don’t know,” he said. “I’m glad I’m not commissioner. When you started it, you opened up the box, so now you have to decide how far you’re going to take it.”
Umpire Jeff Nelson spoke to Larry Stone, who served as the pool reporter for the local media.
“When you umpire that play, your focus goes to the bag, and you watch the foot touch the bag and listen for the ball hitting the mitt. In this case, I ruled the ball was caught by the first baseman, and the ball was actually caught by the pitcher,” he said. “The pitcher kind of came out of nowhere on that play. I didn’t pick that up. Obviously, looking at the replays, I wish I had.”
So when did he finally see what actually happened?
“I saw a replay after the game,” Nelson said. “The first baseman for Texas told me a couple of innings later that the pitcher had caught the ball and not him. That’s when I had an indication maybe the pitcher had actually caught the ball.”
What his reaction when Moreland said that to him?
“I’ll kind of leave that up to everyone else to figure out,” Nelson said. “But we’re competitive and we like to get things right, and when we don’t, we’re just like anybody else. We want to get things right.”
While Nelson made the call, he could have and would have taken help from the rest of the crew. They didn’t see what transpired either.
“If they have something for me, they won’t hesitate, because I’ve worked with these guys a lot,” he said. “They won’t hesitate to give me assistance if they have something that can help me with that. At the same time, they also have other assignments during that play because of the nature of the play with multiple runners.”
Nelson didn’t take much solace in the fact that Wedge and the Mariners didn’t immediately see what happened.
“I haven’t seen a play like this in 25 years,” he said. ” Eric was very professional in how he came out. But there’s never any consolation in a thing like this, because it’s your job to get it right. We’re competitive, too, and we want to get things right. So I’d love to say it makes you feel better, but you’re angry just like everybody else that you ruled otherwise.”