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Umpires got one thing right - they blew it



  The reason MLB expands its umpiring crews from four to six for the postseason is to help with calls on balls hit down the lines. 
  And they still got a big one wrong Friday.
  Joe Mauer's drive leading off the 11th bounced clearly fair, maybe a foot inside the leftfield line. But umpire Phil Cuzzi called it foul, and even though Mauer went on to single, it hurt the Twins since he would have had a double and the next two hitters singled.
   “Phil Cuzzi saw the ball as foul, called what he saw,’’ crew chief Tim Tschida said. “Afterwards, like any close play, we went in and we looked at it and it’s a clear indication that an incorrect decision was rendered.’’
     Tschida claimed that the addition of the extra umpires actually contributed to Cuzzi missing the call, that umpires aren’t accustomed to working the foul lines “so getting into a position is a little bit foreign.’'
  That type of call is not suject to instand replay, but the mistake already led to questions about expanding the use of replays so that it would.
   There are no reparations or repercussions for the missed calls, though Tschida said “There’s a guy sitting over in the umpires’ dressing room right now that feels horrible. … Nobody feels worse that the umpire.’’
   Well, the Twins – who couldn’t see where the ball landed from their dugout so thus they didn’t protest – just might. “I think we all know the ball was fair by a long ways,’’ Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
    “A terrible call,’’ closer Joe Nathan said. “An awful call at the wrong time.’'

Here is the transcript of Tschida's remarks:

Q. What happened on the play with Mauer, where it appeared to be a fair ball?
UMPIRE TIM TSCHIDA: Ball down the line. The left field line umpire Phil Cuzzi saw the ball as foul, called what he saw. Rendered the foul decision. Afterwards, like any close play, we went in and we looked at it and it's a clear indication that an incorrect decision was rendered.

Q. Do you think instant replay should be expanded to include plays like that or do you think it's good the way it is now?
UMPIRE TIM TSCHIDA: That decision is going to be made by somebody at a much higher level than I. It's not the one that I really want to get into at this point.

Q. How tough is that call to get right when it's going down the line? What are the challenges in seeing that?
UMPIRE TIM TSCHIDA: The challenges in working foul line number one is we don't do it a lot. We do it in the post-season. It's a tough one to practice.
Your first movement is always to get out of the way, because we're not accustomed to having fielders come from the side as we do when the ball is hit down the lines with working on the outfield foul lines. So getting into a position is a little bit foreign. It's a little bit uncomfortable, and I don't offer that as an excuse for an incorrect decision, but it can contribute to the call becoming a little more difficult.

Q. Even though Ron Gardenhire didn't come out to argue the call, what's the proper protocol for the other umpires to get there and discuss it?
UMPIRE TIM TSCHIDA: I don't think any other umpire would have been able to assist with that because as the ball gets closer to the line like that, you have the fielder for one, the line umpire for two and anybody else that's looking down the line is looking through bodies. And the ball is the size of the ball.
Some things are correctable. Some things can be overturned. Some things are just -- you have to go with what the guy closest to the play had and you live and die with the decision.

Q. Are there any consequences that Cuzzi (Phil) will face now that it's obvious you guys admitted the call was mistake?
UMPIRE TIM TSCHIDA: Consequences in the form of?

Q. Any repercussions or anything?
UMPIRE TIM TSCHIDA: Other than we just feel horribly when that happens to us, you know? There's a guy sitting over in the umpire's dressing room right now that feels horrible. I've been there. Some of you have been through that with me at a time or two when you render a decision and it could have a negative impact on the outcome of the game. Nobody feels it worse than the umpire. And whether there's anything comes further from that, I don't think it would serve the purpose.

[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:51am]


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