MLB issue statement on Meals flap
By SPORTS NETWORK
|Julio Lugo of the Atlanta Braves scores the game-winning run in the 19th inning against Michael McKenry #55 of the Pittsburgh Pirates at Turner Field on July 26, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images/AFP)
Major League Baseball issued a statement Wednesday regarding the role of home plate umpire Jerry Meals in the conclusion of Tuesday's controversial 4-3 Pittsburgh Pirates loss to the Atlanta Braves in 19 innings.
"Unfortunately, it appears that the call was missed, as Jerry Meals acknowledged after the game," said MLB executive vice president for baseball operations Joe Torre. "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.
"Having been the beneficiary of calls like this and having been on the other end in my experience as a player and as a manager, I have felt that this has always been a part of our game. As a member of the Commissioner's Special Committee for On-Field Matters, I have heard many discussions on umpiring and technology over the past two years, including both the pros and cons of expanding replay. However, most in the game recognize that the human element will always be a 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. We expect the best from our umpires, and an umpire would tell you he expects the best of himself. We have to continue to strive for accuracy, consistency and professionalism day in and day out."
The play in question involved Braves infielder Julio Lugo trying to score from third in the bottom of the deciding frame on Scott Proctor's ground ball to third base. Pedro Alvarez's throw to the plate clearly beat the runner, and McKenry appeared to swipe Lugo's leg with the tag.
Meals saw things differently, however.
Lugo, after assuming he was out, celebrated the safe call by stepping on the plate -- possibly for the first time -- ending the bizarre six-hour, 39-minute marathon, the longest game in either club's history.
"I saw the tag, but he looked like he [missed] him and I called him safe for that," explained Meals after the contest. "I looked at the replays and it appeared he might have got him on the shin area. I'm guessing he might have got him, but when I was out there when it happened I didn't see a tag.
"I just saw the glove sweep up. I didn't see the glove hit his leg."
Meals was scheduled to be the third-base umpire for Wednesday's continuation of a four-game series.