Soon after Major League Baseball issued a statement acknowledging an umpire had blown a home-plate call to give the Pirates a 4-3 loss to the Braves early today, manager Clint Hurdle suggested that the umpire apologize to his team.
First, Major League Baseball Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations Joe Torre issued the following statement regarding the game-ending play in the 19th inning of the game at Turner Field:
"Unfortunately, it appears that the call was missed, as Jerry Meals acknowledged after the game. Many swipe tags are not applied to the runner with solid contact, but the tag was applied and the game should have remained tied. I have spoken with Jerry, who is a hard-working, respected umpire, and no one feels worse than him. We know that this is not a product of a lack of effort.
" ... I have heard many discussions on umpiring and technology over the past two years, including both the pros and the cons of expanding replay. However, most in the game recognize that the human element always will be part of baseball and instant replay can never replace all judgment calls by umpires. Obviously, a play like this is going to spark a lot of conversation, and we will continue to consider all viewpoints in our ongoing discussions regarding officiating in baseball."
Hurdle responded to that statement in the clubhouse before tonight's game against the Braves, suggesting that an apology, such as umpire Jim Joyce's apology for a blown call that cost Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game last season, was in order.
"I've spoken to the league office, I've spoken to Joe Torre and I do believe there is an excellent roadmap for reparation through this, a little different situation but similar incident with what Jim Joyce went through as an umpire. My hope is that there is a statement along those lines that is not veiled with cloudy words like 'might'. You can watch that tape 100 times and there is no 'might' about anything that happened and that is just being honest. There is no doubt that every umpire wants to get every call right and every manager wants to make every right decision and every player wants to make every right play," Hurdle said.
?"I've been taught since I was six that when you make a mistake you admit it, you correct it and you do the best you can to move forward. So that's my hope, because I know we are all forgiving and we are all capable of forgiving and forgetting I'm going to regardless of how Jerry goes about it. I just think for our industry, our game, for our fans and the players involved, that would be appropriate, that would be professional, it would be respectful. And then we could all move on."
Earlier in the day, Pirates president Frank Coonelly said the team has filed a formal complaint with the MLB commissioner.
Coonelly issued the following statement:
"The Pittsburgh Pirates organization is extremely disappointed by the way its 19-inning game against the Atlanta Braves ended earlier this morning. The game of baseball and this game in particular, filled with superlative performances by players on both clubs, deserved much better. We have filed a formal complaint with the Commissioner.
"While we cannot begin to understand how Umpire Jerry Meals did not see the tag made by Michael McKenry three feet in front of home plate, we do not question the integrity of Mr. Meals. Instead, we know that Mr. Meals' intention was to get the call right. Jerry Meals has been umpiring Major League games for 14 years and has always done so with integrity and professionalism. He got this one wrong.
"For Pirates fans, we may have lost a game in the standings as a result of a missed call but this game, and the gutsy performances by so many of our players, will make us stronger, more unified and more determined as we continue the battle for the National League Central Division."
Pertaining to the play that ended the game as last night, as [Scott] Proctor hit the groundball to [third baseman Pedro] Alvarez???as he fielded the ball and threw home, I got into position to make the call. [Catcher Michael] McKenry caught the ball, made a swipe tag attempt at Lugo sliding. I did not see any tag After that, I ruled him safe."
Meals told pool reporters later Wednesday that his call was wrong.
"After coming into the locker room, I reviewed the incident through our videos that we have in here and after seeing a few of them, on one particular replay, I was able to see that Lugo's pant leg moved ever so slightly when the swipe tag was attempted by McKenry. That's telling me that I was incorrect in my decision and that he should have been ruled out and not safe."