An umpire regretted the botched call he made on Friday night, but will his public apology be enough to calm the spirited debate about the need for the expanded use of instant replay in baseball? On Saturday night, ump Jeff Nelson admitted that he’d made an incorrect call in the Texas Rangers’ Friday night victory over the Seattle Mariners.
He told a reporter before Saturday’s game that he hadn’t seen the play in his 25 years as an umpire:
“In this case, I ruled the ball was caught by the first baseman, and the ball was actually caught by the pitcher…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.”
Ump Nelson explained that he was overly focused on watching the first baseman Mitch Moreland’s foot, leading to the error he regretted. Seattle manager Eric Wedge tried to contest the call by arguing that Moreland’s foot came off the bag.
Nelson ruled that it hadn’t.
But the men were both wrong, since Moreland wasn’t the player who caught the ball in the first place — and now umpire Jeff Nelson is wearing plenty of egg on his face.
It has been a month for botched umpire calls.
The call for expanded instant replay has grown so loud as a result that one blogger even reported a rumor that one umpire may have deliberately miscalled a play as part of a protest against the use of replay.
According to Big League Stew’s Mike Oz, baseball analyst Peter Gammons speculated that umpire Angel Hernandez refused to overturn an obvious miscall earlier in May because he was protesting.
Is an expression of regret really enough to make up for the repeated ump botched calls?
[baseball photo by Africa Studio via Shutterstock]