Umpires admit mistake; McClendon still hot

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NEW YORK -- Umpiring cost the Pirates a victory Wednesday.

So said the umpires' crew chief yesterday, in a rare admission for Major League Baseball.

Ed Montague, a 30-year veteran, acknowledged that first-base umpire Tony Randazzo incorrectly called the New York Yankees' Gary Sheffield safe on what would have been a game-ending double play in the ninth inning. The Yankees went on to tie the score that inning, then win, 7-5, in the 10th on Jason Giambi's home run.

"You can stop the action like they did on ESPN and put those little circles on the screen. But when it's bang-bang and we don't have that benefit of instant replay ... you know, nobody feels worse than Tony," Montague said. "This is my 30th year in the league and, still, when something like that happens, it just tears your guts out. It's just like being a ballplayer making an error. And I think we feel worse, probably, if it costs someone the game or something like that."

Montague described Randazzo as being so distraught by the missed call that he "didn't say a word for the whole ride back" to the umpires' hotel.

Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon still seemed irritated in his pregame news conference, but most of his ire was focused on what he described as unprofessional behavior by Randazzo after the call. McClendon accused Randazzo of glaring into the Pirates' dugout at him after Giambi's home run.

"Isn't it amazing that the game's over with and that umpire's looking at me?" McClendon said. "Think about that. You tell me: Why is he looking in the dugout at me? Why would he be looking at me in the dugout when the game is over and the only thing he has to do is make sure that runner touches first, then head off the field to the umpires' room? Now, explain that one to me."

McClendon, who never left the dugout to dispute the call, said the only time he addressed Randazzo was when he was glaring at him.

"I asked him what the hell he's looking at."

McClendon said Randazzo also made a shooing motion with his hand, as if to suggest he go to the clubhouse.

Montague confirmed the shooing motion, but he dismissed the rest of McClendon's version of the story.

"What I saw coming off the field -- and I was hoping Tony didn't see him -- was Lloyd standing at the top of the dugout, throwing his arms up and stuff like that," Montague said. "I guess he caught Tony by surprise and Tony did the [shooing motion]. That was it. No big deal."

McClendon also charged that Randazzo looked into the Pirates' dugout immediately after the missed call.

"When he made the call, he looked at me and shook his head. If you made the call and know you made the right call, why are you looking in my dugout? I didn't jump up and scream at him. I certainly didn't come out there to argue the call, did I?"

That changed midway through the seventh inning last night, when McClendon came on to the field twice to argue with Randazzo, who was working behind home plate. It came shortly after Randazzo rung up Jose Castillo looking at a third strike.

As McClendon was returning to the dugout after their second encounter, Randazzo, standing about 20 feet behind home plate, made a safe sign with his arms in the Pirates' direction.

McClendon said he did not see that, and he declined to divulge the nature of their arguments.

Randazzo, 40, has six-plus years of major-league service and has been selected to work a playoff series once.

McClendon expressed a view that he has been targeted by umpires since June 26, 2001, when he drew the national notoriety by uprooting first base and carrying it off the field at PNC Park to protest a close call. He has been ejected 13 times since then, including twice this year.

"I think it's been pretty well documented," he said. "You'd have to be somewhere asleep not to know that I've been watched closely."

He said that is the reason he seldom has left the dugout to dispute calls.

"I just keep my mouth shut and go about my business. Fact is, I've learned that going out and jumping and arguing and raising hell is not going to change the call. That's why I didn't go out on this call."

Asked if Bob Watson, MLB's vice president in charge of discipline, had addressed such a matter with him, McClendon replied: "You mean on top of my fines? No."

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