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  • Umpire’s Error Jeopardizes Minnesota Twins' Chance at Sweep in Los Angeles

    After a drama-filled game on Tuesday evening in which the Minnesota Twins rallied to beat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 10 innings, the teams were back at it Wednesday afternoon with the Twins having a rare opportunity to sweep a road series. The game was an old-fashioned pitcher’s duel, but it was a blown call by an umpire that ultimately stole the show in the Twins’ 1-0 defeat.



    The Twins had runners on first and second base with Justin Morneau at bat and nobody out. Angels’ closer Ernesto Frieri had been struggling mightily with his command and the Twins were poised to scratch across a few runs and steal another game on the road; all of that changed in the blink of an eye due to a crucial “judgment” error by the umpire. Morneau hit a soft, broken-bat pop-up that was heading towards Frieri, who had plenty of time to make what appeared to be a routine play, when he suddenly let the ball drop in front of him before throwing to first for the out.

    ~~~Originally published on RantSports.com~~~

    Now why would Frieri let the ball drop you may ask? Well, it’s pretty simple: if Frieri lets the ball drop, he can then pick it up and turn a double play because the runner at first—if he is a smart base runner—will freeze on such a slow and low-level pop-up and will head back to first. By letting the ball drop and throwing to first base, Frieri ensured he would get Morneau out and also catch the runner at first—Doug Bernier—in a run-down for the second out. You may be asking: where did the umpire make the error? The answer is that Frieri should never have had the opportunity to let the ball drop in front of him. The umpire should have ruled the play an infield fly, which would have held the Twins to one out, and the runners would have returned to their respective bases.

    Too often, fans and media members believe that an infield field fly can only be called if there is a pop-up that has occurred in the confines of the infield, to one of the four official infielders, with runners on first and second base and less than two outs; but that understanding is mistaken. According to the MLB Official Rules, by definition, “An infield fly is a fair fly ball (not including a line drive nor an attempted bunt) which can be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort, when first and second, or first, second and third bases are occupied, before two are out. The pitcher, catcher and any outfielder who stations himself in the infield on the play shall be considered infielders for the purpose of this rule.”

    In addition to considering the pitcher an infielder, the key phrase to pay attention to in the infield fly definition is “caught by an infielder with ordinary effort.” The fact that Frieri had time to see the ball in the air, decide to let it fall and be able to make a double-play should be evidence enough that something wasn’t right. With ordinary effort—or below ordinary effort for that matter—Frieri could have easily caught the low-hanging pop-up; thus, the umpire should have called an infield fly because it was a play that the infielder could have made with ordinary effort.

    This missed call may seem insignificant due to the fact that the Twins are so far out of contention, but the fact remains that this type of blunder could cost a team a decisive game down the stretch and thus, it needs to be called correctly. Of course, it needs to be correctly called in any event. Contrarians will argue that the play was a “judgment call” by the umpire. Well, it was, and his judgment that it was not an infield fly was wrong. The additional judgment by Frieri to let the ball drop should have been rendered irrelevant if the ump had made the right judgment.

    Brian Wille is a
    Minnesota Twins writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @BeeWill15 or “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

    To view more articles by Brian Wille, click here
    This article was originally published in blog: Umpire’s Error Jeopardizes Minnesota Twins' Chance at Sweep in Los Angeles started by bwille
    Comments 31 Comments
    1. Old Twins Cap's Avatar
      Old Twins Cap -
      Quote Originally Posted by SRP View Post
      I don't see the point to this. Blah, blah....90 loss season. Blah, blah, weak line up. Blah, blah, blah. I get it. It is a tough time. Why lead with such pessimism? Hey, in case anybody was not aware, the Twins have not been very good lately. The point is the team was robbed of an extra out with a person in scoring position that could have lead to a sweep instead of simply winning a series. Winning yesterday's game would not have catapulted the Twins into winning the Central but it could have been a win. All games and outs are important and there is always a chance. I refuse to get pulled into this negative mindset and I hope the Twins feel the same way. If they were to think that way then they may never escape the cellar.
      The reason to lead with such pessimism is because it is realism. The Twins do not have a Major League lineup -- with Mauer out, Willingham out, Morneau diminished -- go back and look at that lineup. They just will not score many runs with AAA players, rookies and cast-offs. It's not that hard to figure out when the Twins FO is simply punching the clock with no intention of putting a quality team on the field. Sorry if that harshes your fandom, but until the fanbase starts demanding a better roster, we will be consigned to this level of mediocrity. And yes, three years of 90 losses is pretty sad and frustrating. I want it to end even more than you do.
    1. ThejacKmp's Avatar
      ThejacKmp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Riverbrian View Post
      The Umps blew the call... No question about it... But the call was a distraction for a problem that something can be done about.

      Why was Morneau with a 1-0 Count swinging at a ball? Frieri just walked and hit a guy... He started Morneau with a ball. Why is Morning swinging at an inside fastball that would have made the count 2-0?
      This is pretty strong language from someone who wouldn't get the bat off their shoulder on that pitch. You're acting like before they swing every time, MLB players know exactly where the pitch is going - like every player could post a 0% rate of swinging at balls outside the strike zone.

      Morneau was clearly looking for a fastball on the inner part of the plate, got one and took a rip. It didn't work out but that's what MLB players do. I could see your point if it was an off speed pitch in the dirt or a face-high fastball but that wasn't that bad a pitch and it was in a place where Morneau likes to pull the ball.

      I'm not going to question a guy's plate approach. Wish you would feel the same.
    1. ThejacKmp's Avatar
      ThejacKmp -
      If Morneau had yanked a single to right on it, no one would be complaining. Baseball is a sport where failing 2/3 of the time makes you a great player. Lighten up sasquatches. :-)
    1. Steve Penz's Avatar
      Steve Penz -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThejacKmp View Post
      If Morneau had yanked a single to right on it, no one would be complaining. Baseball is a sport where failing 2/3 of the time makes you a great player. Lighten up sasquatches. :-)

      Thank you. Somehow being called a Sasquatch started my day with a smile.
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThejacKmp View Post
      This is pretty strong language from someone who wouldn't get the bat off their shoulder on that pitch. You're acting like before they swing every time, MLB players know exactly where the pitch is going - like every player could post a 0% rate of swinging at balls outside the strike zone.

      Morneau was clearly looking for a fastball on the inner part of the plate, got one and took a rip. It didn't work out but that's what MLB players do. I could see your point if it was an off speed pitch in the dirt or a face-high fastball but that wasn't that bad a pitch and it was in a place where Morneau likes to pull the ball.

      I'm not going to question a guy's plate approach. Wish you would feel the same.
      Good post... Apart from the last sentence... Which I deleted because sentences like those are how things go off the tracks.

      Now... I agree with everything you said. I've been a huge Justin Morneau fan his entire career.

      But... I will stick to my post... If Justin can't be criticized for that at bat... in that situation...

      He is bullet proof!
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      Quote Originally Posted by SRP View Post
      Thank you. Somehow being called a Sasquatch started my day with a smile.
      Me too... I haven't been called Sasquatch since May.
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      Taken outside RB's home.


    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      Quote Originally Posted by snepp View Post
      Taken outside RB's home.


      Do you realize how muchbureaucratic red tape I had to deal with to get my own sign. Let's just say it wasn't easy.

      i'm not sure how you got this photo... And I'm also surprised and excited by the new rocky hillside outside my window. I hope my neighbor is Ok because the hillside seems to be right where his house was!
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Quote Originally Posted by snepp View Post
      Taken outside RB's home.



      That looks like the side of a hill, there is no way that is Grand Forks......unless of course RB lives next to the garbage dump.
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsnorth49 View Post
      That looks like the side of a hill, there is no way that is Grand Forks......unless of course RB lives next to the garbage dump.
      I'm rushing home to see it... That hill is going to be the talk of the town... My home value may even go up.
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThejacKmp View Post
      This is pretty strong language from someone who wouldn't get the bat off their shoulder on that pitch. You're acting like before they swing every time, MLB players know exactly where the pitch is going - like every player could post a 0% rate of swinging at balls outside the strike zone.

      Morneau was clearly looking for a fastball on the inner part of the plate, got one and took a rip. It didn't work out but that's what MLB players do. I could see your point if it was an off speed pitch in the dirt or a face-high fastball but that wasn't that bad a pitch and it was in a place where Morneau likes to pull the ball.

      I'm not going to question a guy's plate approach. Wish you would feel the same.
      I don't think RB was comparing himself to Morneau, so the first sentence is pretty unnecessary as well. The point is during that particular at bat a guy like Morneau should know he should probably be more selective, as previously stated the guy had barely thrown a strike since he entered the game and was already down 1-0 to Morneau. Make the guy prove he can throw a strike, I don't think the pitch Morneau swung at was that bad but it was the wrong time to do it, it was borderline at best and if it's called a ball it's 2-0 and then he knows he's getting a fastball.

      His approach at that time was questionable, not his approach in general.
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