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Extra Out Propels White Sox To Disputed Victory

The White Sox's A.J. Pierzynski swings at a pitch from Los Angeles Angels pitcher Kelvim Escobar as catcher Jose Molina reaches to the ground for the ball during the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 2 of the ALCS at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2005. Umpire Doug Eddings looks on from the plate.
(Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press)
(Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press)

The Chicago White Sox, who haven't won the World Series since 1917, could be on the way to getting an old monkey (1919's "Black" Sox scandal) off their backs - much like the Boston Red Sox did last year. Changing nearly 90 years of unspectacular history sometimes requires a bit of luck.

Tonight the 2005 edition of the White Sox were the beneficiary of a dubious call that one day be mentioned along side umpire Don Denkinger's blown call at first in game 6 of the 1985 World Series between the Kansas City Royals and the St. Louis Cardinals. This AP article does a pretty good job of summarizing the bizarre sequence.

CHICAGO (AP) - The ninth inning was over.

And then it wasn't.

And then Joe Crede gave the White Sox what is sure to go down as one of the most disputed victories in playoff history.

Given a second chance when plate umpire Doug Eddings called strike three - but not the third out - Chicago beat the Los Angeles Angels 2-1 Wednesday night to even the best-of-seven AL championship series at a game apiece.

In a sequence as bizarre as any imaginable on a baseball field, A.J. Pierzynski struck out swinging against Angels reliever Kelvim Escobar, appearing to end the bottom of the ninth inning with the score tied at 1.

Escobar's low pitch was gloved by backup catcher Josh Paul - he appeared to grab it just before the ball would have hit the dirt. And behind him, Eddings clearly raised his right arm and closed his first, signaling strike three.

Pierzynski hustled and took off for first base anyway, just in case. Sure the inning was over, Paul rolled the ball out to the mound with the Angels already coming off the field, so Pierzynski was easily safe.

Then everybody stopped, including the umpires. When they let Pierzynski stay at first, Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia came out of the dugout to argue.

"When he rings him up with a fist, he's out," Scioscia said.

The umpires huddled and upheld the call after a delay of about four minutes.

Pinch-runner Pablo Ozuna quickly stole second, and Crede lined an 0-2 pitch into the left-field corner for a game-winning double.

Somewhere in heaven Buck Weaver is smiling...

Editors Note: White Sox historical information corrected.


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Comments (37)

I hate to get nitpicky, Kev... (Below threshold)
Indy Voter:

I hate to get nitpicky, Kevin, but the White Sox have been in the postseason a number of times since 1917 - they just haven't won a World Series since then.

1919 - AL Champs (the "Black Sox" team)
1959 - AL Champs
1983 - AL West Champs
1993 - AL West Champs
2000 - AL Central Champs

I'm glad you mentioned Denkinger. That was the worst call I've ever seen in baseball's postseason.

Very poorly written article... (Below threshold)

Very poorly written article:

"Given a second chance when plate umpire Doug Eddings called strike three..."

"Eddings clearly raised his right arm and closed his first, signaling strike three."

""When he rings him up with a fist, he's out," Scioscia said."

So he's out? Apparently not.

"The umpires huddled and upheld the call after a delay of about four minutes.

But WHAT call?

Pinch-runner Pablo Ozuna quickly stole second..."

So the umps agree that the batter was out until he wasn't.

All the umps were sleeping.... (Below threshold)
Rod Stanton:

All the umps were sleeping. A very good reason to add instant replay. The umps were too tired to make the right call and gave the game away with a very bad call.
Or maybe the umps should only work 4 innings and then be relieved by a new, fresh crew, this would at least eliminate the I was too tired to do my job excuse.

Advantage A.J. What a grea... (Below threshold)

Advantage A.J. What a great baseball play for him to dash off to first. In an era where million dollar players often seem to play at a Little League level, Pierzynski is my hero. 'Paul rolled the ball out to the mound...' What a stupe! Be sure, tag the man, throw to first - be sure! Heads up play by the Sox. Well deserved loss by the Halos.

Now it has been a while sin... (Below threshold)

Now it has been a while since I have played baseball, but can't the batter run to first base no matter what on the 3rd strike if they want to?

Would have to check the rules again somewhere on the internet, but I don't think there is any requirement that the ball hit the ground for the batter to make a run for it.

Come on guys, you could at least dig up the baseball rule book and see how this checks out. Doesn't matter if the ump uses a fist, a finger, or anything he wants. The rules of baseball don't dictate anything about fists, do they?

Come on, I thought research was one of the strengths of this blog...

Man, that was a bad call th... (Below threshold)

Man, that was a bad call that will be talked about for some time... particularly if the Sox win the series.

I've ref'ed youth sports for about 5 years now and the Ump committed one of the cardinal sins in the refereeing world: he speculated. One of the first rules in officiating is "You can't call what you didn't see". It seems that at least once each soccer game I ref I look up from checking my game clock to see a player crash to the ground with a defender behind him. Your gut says "It was a trip... call the foul!" It has all the markings of a "trip", but you didn't see it happen. My mind intervenes "Look, also at least once each game a kid trips on his own feet, or the ball... You didn't see it, so don't call it!" People do sometimes get a little upset when I miss an obvious trip, but I feel better about that than I would if I awarded a free kick to a kid to tripped on his own feet.

There's no way the Ump had a good look at the catch. Absent a good look at the ball hitting the dirt, you can't make that call. It appears that the Ump's decision was cemented by the batter's reaction and the jog to first. It was smart on Pierzynski's part to run to first "just in case", but it appears to have swayed the call.

What should have happened is that the plate Ump should have immediately polled the base Umps (just like a check swing call) and absent a good look from one of them it should have been ruled a clean catch. Fox's Tim McCarver pointed this out when the Ump plate only polled his associates a couple minutes after the call was made.

The replay appears to show the ball changing directions as it's caught... but the ball is too high off of the dirt for the deflection to by due to the dirt. To me, it appears to hit the edge of the cather's glove (that's touching the ground) and bounces up into the glove's pocket.

I'm pulling for the Sox in this series... but that's not the way I want to win games!

Would have to check the ... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

Would have to check the rules again somewhere on the internet, but I don't think there is any requirement that the ball hit the ground for the batter to make a run for it.

A batter can run to first base any time he likes. However, he can only be safe at first the ball hits the ground on a third strike. Any other running would just be exercise.

My very first thought when this occurred was the Denkinger incident in '85. His life was a living hell after that. He received all kind of death threats because of ne bad call in one baseball game. Fortunately for Eddings, this team is from LA, so most of their fans probably don't really care.

Relevant rule is:6... (Below threshold)

Relevant rule is:

A batter is out when_ (a) His fair or foul fly ball (other than a foul tip) is legally caught by a fielder; (b) A third strike is legally caught by the catcher; "Legally caught" means in the catcher's glove before the ball touches the ground. It is not legal if the ball lodges in his clothing or paraphernalia; or if it touches the umpire and is caught by the catcher on the rebound. If a foul tip first strikes the catcher's glove and then goes on through and is caught by both hands against his body or protector, before the ball touches the ground, it is a strike, and if third strike, batter is out. If smothered against his body or protector, it is a catch provided the ball struck the catcher's glove or hand first.

So... Absent me actually seeing the play on video, I guess the lesson, which was always pounded into us by my coach when I played ball in high school: always make sure.

One should never completely rely on the umpire/ref to make a call, one should always ensure one gets the call that one feels one is entitled to.

If they had just taken the extra measure of tagging him or throwing to first, then none of this would have happened.

Seixon, it's known as the "... (Below threshold)

Seixon, it's known as the "Dropped Third Strike Rule" for a reason:

The batter becomes a runner when_ (a) He hits a fair ball; (b) The third strike called by the umpire is not caught, providing (1) first base is unoccupied, or (2) first base is occupied with two out; When a batter becomes a base runner on a third strike not caught by the catcher and starts for the dugout, or his position, and then realizes his situation and attempts then to reach first base, he is not out unless he or first base is tagged before he reaches first base. ..."


Let's talk physics here kid... (Below threshold)
Dwight P:

Let's talk physics here kiddies.

A catchers mit is full of stuffing and not as maleable as a fielders mit. Based on the angle the catcher was holding his catchers mit last night there is no way that part of his his mit could have been between the ball and the ground. If you look at the close up video that Fox was showing last night you clearly see the ball heading towards the ground, then right before it goes into the mit you see it go in an UPWARD angle into the glove. A ball that is going down will not go up unless it hits something.

The ball hit the ground. Plain and simple.

As many have said, it was totally heads up of Pierzynski to run to first. And a totally boneheaded play on the part of the catcher to not throw to first to make sure.

A ball that is going dow... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

A ball that is going down will not go up unless it hits something.

Unless it's John Kerry's ball. Then it *can* go up after it went down.

Dwight P,The ball ... (Below threshold)

Dwight P,

The ball had clearly passed between the left and right side of the mit before its upward movement (it was in the glove's shadow). The firm edge of the cather's mit (as you pointed out) would be more than sufficient when placed against the ground to cause such a deflection without the ball touching the ground. Another important element is missing from the replay: the "puff" of dust that should have resulted from the ball striking the ground. The ground appears to be unmolested by a major league pitch striking it. Even brief strike with such a high velocity ball should have thrown up some dust.

But my original point also holds... even if you believe it was a "correct" call, it was made for the wrong reason. Game official shouldn't speculate. If none of the on-field officials could see that the ball was in the dirt, they shouldn't have called it a "dropped ball".

The late AL umpire Ron Luciano wrote some every funny baseball books ("The Umpire Strikes Back") in the 1970's. He also talked about some bad calls he made. Once he was assigned to a baseline when a ball was hit deep down his line. I can't recall the reason, but he didn't see where the ball went. It was his job to make the home run/foul call. He went with his "gut" feeling and made the call (I can't remember which it was). He also was a big believer in the philosophy of "When you make a call you aren't sure of, do it boldly so people are less likely to challenge you." Luciano waved his arms wildly in the direction of the call. TV footage showed that Luciano was wrong by a country mile... and there he was on TV waving the bad call like a wild man. He said that was the last time he made that mistake. If he didn't see what happened, he polled the other officials before making a call.

Back to my soccer experience... As a ref, if you don't see the ball clearly pass the goal line into the goal, then you can't call it a goal. "Thinking" it was in isn't good enough. If you don't see it, you can't apply the rule. The Ump last night couldn't have seen the ball hit the dirt in the position he, the catcher's glove, and the ball was in... unless one of the base umps got a good look, the proper thing to do would have been to not declare it a dropped ball. This point is also further buttressed by the fact that even high-speed magnified TV doesn't provide proof beyond a doubt.

Unless a ump sees a ball is in the strike zone, it's a ball. Unless they see that the runner is out, they're safe. etc., etc.

WHY DO SOME ANGELS PLAYERS ... (Below threshold)
oliver bush:



The helmets appear to be co... (Below threshold)

The helmets appear to be coated with pine tar. I assume it gets on the helmet when they use one hand, as is common, to grab the helmet by the front and place it on their heads or when adjusting the helmet at the plate. The pine tar is from their batting gloves and applied to the handle of their bats for added grip. As for "Why don't they clean the helmets?", I assume that it's some sort of "status symbol" in the club. The more you bat, the more pine tar build up your helmet acquires.

Bad calls are part of the g... (Below threshold)

Bad calls are part of the game. Jeffry Meyers v Orioles at Yankee Stadium, Denkinger in '85, etc.

I do agree with whoever said that the catcher shoulda throwed to first anyway...just to be sure.

Now I'd love to see a player turn to an umpire and ask, "Are you sure?" after a close call. He'd pobably get tossed though ...

THANKS, GIZMO.--<b... (Below threshold)
oliver bush:



As a SF Giants fan, all I c... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

As a SF Giants fan, all I can do is muster up my best Nelson Muntz and say "A-ha!"

Couldn't happen to a nicer team!

Giz -On the Red So... (Below threshold)

Giz -

On the Red Sox supposedly not cleaning your batting helmet and wearing the same dirty hat all season makes you a 'Dirt Dog' as opposed to a millionaire prima donna.

And Dwight - you can watch ... (Below threshold)

And Dwight - you can watch that replay a million times and the ball never hits the dirt.

The outcome of this play la... (Below threshold)

The outcome of this play lay entirely in Josh Paul's lap. There are several examples throughout the game in which Eddings makes the exact same gesture on a swinging third strike. Witness an earlier strikeout by Molina that hits the dirt: same gesture, ball appears to hit the dirt, Pierzynksi tags Molina. Paul gaffed. His nonsense after the game about the umpire being required to say "no catch" is absolute nonsense.

1. The ball was caught in t... (Below threshold)

1. The ball was caught in the webbing, very clearly.

2. Ump called out. Once ump calls out, it having been the third out of the last half of the 9th inning (4.10(a) A regulation game consists of nine innings, unless extended because of a tie score, or shortened ), play is over. (9.02(a) Any umpire's decision which involves judgment, such as, but not limited to, whether a batted ball is fair or foul, whether a pitch is a strike or a ball, or whether a runner is safe or out, is final. )

3. Can you imagine Manny Ramirez running to first on that play?

wavemakerBut Eddin... (Below threshold)


But Eddings didn't call "out," he called a third strike. Eddings maintains that is all he did and Josh Paul confirms this by saying he heard no verbal signal either way (as evidenced by Paul expecting a "no catch" verbal signal if the umpire saw it hit the dirt). Pierzynksi expected to be tagged and when he was not, he ran to first.

I'm not sure what replay you saw, but the replay I've seen several times is inconclusive. On the one hand, the ball does not noticeably kick up any dirt; on the other, the ball is nearly to the ground before it hits the glove, but somehow manages to rest a few inches above that when it's in Paul's glove. Again, I'm not saying that it definitely was in the dirt--only that a replay neither confirms nor denies it.

No, I cannot imagine Ramirez running to first on that play. I expect he would have taken it for ball four, which is what Pierzynksi should have done in the first place.

I maintain that Josh Paul's gaffe cost the Angels the game, not Eddings'.

After the inning was extend... (Below threshold)
craig mclaughlin:

After the inning was extended by the controversial call, Joe Crede smoked one off the left field wall-- on an 0-2 count. That's my favorite part of the story...

I haven't seen the replay, ... (Below threshold)

I haven't seen the replay, so I won't speculate on the judgment call, but all of this crap about gestures and calling out and so forth is just a bunch of nonsense. Umpires make as few gestures and verbal calls as possible, such as a close play at the plate when they wait to see if the catcher has the ball in his glove. And he would never say "no catch." At least, he shouldn't.

The confusion is compounded by the fact that the gesture for "strike" and "out" are identical (theoretically, at least). In a dropped third strike situation, the umpire would still call the third strike (which it was), but not the out (which it wasn't, and I'm not talking about this particular situation here). If the umpire actually said "You're out!" or something similar, then the catcher is correct that he made the call, the batter is out and it's now the top of the 10th.

But, speaking in terms of best practices, the catcher erred by not tagging the running batter/runner or throwing to first for the tag. Sometimes in sports bad things happen to you for the wrong reason, but they should still happen to you because you're being stupid.

I'm looking forward to this evening's sports report to see it for myself.

Giz and OHB,Nope, ... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

Giz and OHB,

Nope, pine tar on the helmet is not about status. There's a more simple explanation: Supersitition! Here's an example of baseball player logic: I got 4 hits yesterday with this helmet. I will wear it again because it brings me luck." Dumb, but true.

And once you find a helmet that fits and feels good you don't change it out.

P.S. Dear Josh Paul: You should remember this mnemonic from your days as a Little League catcher: When in doubt, tag or throw him out.

And don't blame an ump for your dumb mistake. E-2, baby.

'I'm not sure what replay y... (Below threshold)

'I'm not sure what replay you saw, '

The one that's been on TV a million times where Perzynski strikes out, the catcher catches it and tosses the ball back towards the mound

'but the replay I've seen several times is inconclusive.'

Inconclusive of what?

'On the one hand, the ball does not noticeably kick up any dirt;'

Because it never hit the dirt

'on the other, the ball is nearly to the ground before it hits the glove, but somehow manages to rest a few inches above that when it's in Paul's glove.''

Because when he catches it he naturally receives it like any other catch. He clearly catches it in the webbing and squeezes it and pulls the ball up.

The reason he doesn't tag the runner or throw to first is because he clearly caught the ball.

yo, Peter F., I was thinkin... (Below threshold)

yo, Peter F., I was thinking the exact same thing! I just didn't think anybody would beat me to the punch...

Good to know that Attention Has Been Paid. I was at Yerba Buena Gardens for the broadcast of games 6 and consequently 7 from anahym.

Next year, peter, next year...

Jihad Jimmy

ICallYou state tha... (Below threshold)


You state that the ball was caught as if it is completely conclusive (ie that you can tell from the replay that it was caught cleanly). I think it is not. If that's where we part company, then so be it. But what the umpire ruled on the field was that the ball was not caught, regardless of what we see with the benefit of a replay. Nowhere in the rules does it state that the umpire should warn the catcher (or the batter, for that matter) that the play has not concluded. Josh Paul made an assumption. He was wrong.

JimmyJ:I would onl... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:


I would only be happier if this play had happened to the Dodgers!

Hmm, yeah, next year...when the Giants are even older than they were this year! LOL

OK, you all are gonna love ... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

OK, you all are gonna love this. Moobatery meets baseball, er, journalism.

From Scoop Jackson (who happens to be black) at ESPN.com, and his reaction to how the umps ruled (who all just happen to be white):

"Three umps, protecting each other, all sticking to the same script. Like LAPD."

Wow. If I wasn't reading it with my own eyes I wouldn't believe it.

"I'm not sure what replay y... (Below threshold)

"I'm not sure what replay you saw, but the replay I've seen several times is inconclusive. On the one hand, the ball does not noticeably kick up any dirt; on the other, the ball is nearly to the ground before it hits the glove, but somehow manages to rest a few inches above that when it's in Paul's glove. Again, I'm not saying that it definitely was in the dirt--only that a replay neither confirms nor denies it."

That was the conclusion of the MLB supervisor of umpires. He said he'd watched all of the video and called the evidence "inconclusive". However, that only confirms that the on-field call was improperly reached. Unless there's reason to believe with reasonable certainty that the ball hit the dirt, it should have been a "no call".

GizmoYou're missin... (Below threshold)


You're missing an essential point...the umpire was not conflicted about the call. He saw it as a dropped third strike. There is no such thing as a "no call" in this situation--he either determines a caught ball or a non-caught ball (for lack of better terms). The fact remains that, as the rules stipulate, the onus is on the catcher to make the proper conclusion. In this case, Josh Paul rolled the ball to the pitcher's mound instead of either tagging the runner or throwing to first base. If someone wants to change the rule and put the responsibility on the umpire to make this declaration, have at it. But as it stands, the umpire made a judgement on the field and it stood as he called it.

'Josh Paul made an assumpti... (Below threshold)

'Josh Paul made an assumption.'

He made the assumption that when you catch a third strike the batter is out.

'He was wrong.'

No actually he's right.

the wolf,By "no ca... (Below threshold)

the wolf,

By "no call" I mean that unless the official sees clear evidence that the conditions of a rule have been met, the rule should not be envoked. In this case, there no way (based on the position of the Ump, the catcher, the glove, and the ball) that the Ump was in a position to see the ball hit where he "thinks" it hit. I have no doubt that Eddings is sincere in his belief that the ball touched the ground. (My guess is that he "thinks" he saw something and it was solidified in his mind when the batter took off for first because "Gee, he must have thought he saw it too!") But it appears to be a belief based on personal speculation... and that's not the way officials are supposed to do their jobs. Back to my Luciano example, he "thought" he made the right call on the foul/fair ball.

Let me use a hypothetical from my soccer ref'ing. The "law" in soccer concerning scoring goals states that if a ball crosses completely over the goal line between the goal posts and under the crossbar, then a goal has been scored. Say the ball is very close to the goal line and still moving towards the goal. For a second a player passes between me and the goal. When the player is past me, I see the ball is still has not crossed the line, but it is in a different location as the Goal Keeper has touched it. At that instant the attacking team starts to celebrate as if they've scored a goal, but the defending proclaims otherwise and continues the play. I may personally "think" that while I was shielded the ball crossed the line and was batted back over it by the keeper... but in good conscience I can't call it a goal because I didn't personally see it happen. Maybe it went in, maybe it didn't. I would then poll my assistants to see if they saw it go in. If they didn't clearly see it across the line either... then it'd be a "no call" and play would continue.

That's how game officials are supposed to operate. You're supposed to honestly say "I couldn't see the situation" instead of calling what I "think" happened and then find out from a parent's video that I made the wrong call based on speculation.

GizmoI understand ... (Below threshold)


I understand what you are saying and it makes perfect sense. The problem is that you are operating under the misapprehension that Eddings was unsure about the call. He says he was not:

"The umpire who made the controversial dropped third strike call in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series said yesterday he 'absolutely' made the right call, but admitted he was wrong in the manner in which he called it."

"I think I've got to change my mechanic a little," Doug Eddings said upon arriving at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, Calif. Eddings' raised, clenched fist for a strike call is similar to a traditional out call. "That's why I feel bad. I should have given a safe sign."

With Paul's back to the ump, though, I don't see how this would have made a difference and it still would have played out the same way.

the wolf,I underst... (Below threshold)

the wolf,

I understand perfectly that Eddings is saying that he was "sure" about the call. But the logistics of the situation don't jive with that pronouncement after the fact. He was shielded by the glove. He called something he could not have reasonably seen. Just like in my example above I could not have reasonably claimed that I saw the "goal".

I also understand his feelings that he should have been explicit when he made the "no catch" decision and signalling... but that's secondary to the determination of the "call".

The physical gesture for a ... (Below threshold)

The physical gesture for a strike and an out are not the same. When the ball is caught by Paul, Eddings points to one side, which is a strike call. It's proper for the ump to do this, even if the runner is still eligible to run because the ball was dropped (which I am convinced it was not.) He then gives the closed fist pump, which every baseball fan knows is the out call. It's done on the bases all the time. I defy you to find an ump who uses the fist pump to signal a strike. Eddings is just covering his ass. Ideally, Paul should have tagged the runner, but when you've caught the ball cleanly and the ump has signalled out, it's reasonable to assume he's out. You don't see the catcher tag the runner every time he catches a third strike. I don't see how it's Paul's fault that the ump not only missed the play, but compounded it by making the wrong call.

The old notion about playing to the whistle applies more to not assuming a call on an infraction. In other words, if you think you were fouled, or that a ball went out of bounds, don't stop playing because you assume the ump or ref will call it the same way.

The good part of all this is that Sciosia handled himself with total class. The bad part is that the story of the game should have been Joe Crede getting the biggest hit of his career. That's been totally lost.

And I don't have a dog in this hunt. My Red Sox are done, and I'd be happy with either team in the World Series.






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