BOSTON —- Not to sound like sour grapes but it does seem like the baseball God and the American League Umpires might have some serious explaining to do especially to the baseball fans that follow the Detroit Tigers.
In a city that is smothered with American history and what could be more natural than to celebrating a day in which Americans say thank you to veterans that gave the ultimate sacrificed but the Tigers were ambushed by the umpiring crew of Tim Tschida especially the man that worked first base Bill Welke.
Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland wondered too loudly if Welke could see the play or was he blinded by the bright sunshine glare bouncing off of Tigers catcher Gerald Laird’s mask and Leyland got ejected from the game at the start of the third inning.
It all started in the second inning when Red Sox shortstop Mike Aviles took a mighty swing at a 1-2 pitch from Tiger’s starting pitcher Doug Fister that dipped toward the right side of the plate’s corner – he missed the ball.
Laird struggled to rise out of his crouch and almost stumbled into home plate umpire Jeff Nelson but clearly with the baseball.
Nelson trying to make the call looked toward first base for help and Welke said that the ball scuffed the ground.
Welke missed the call, he even said after the game, that he missed the call.
“From the baseline, as his glove went down it appeared he didn’t get it clean. The tilt on the glove is the difference between a ball that is caught cleanly and one that is not,” Welke said. “I have to make a determination in a split second if he caught it clean and it appeared he didn’t but replays showed he did.”
Crew chief Tschide backed up his crewmate working at first base.
“We made a judgment call based on what we saw live,” Tschide said. “He (Laird) had his glove on the ground and a little bit of dirt came up. It looked like he didn’t catch it.”
A judgment call?
A full house of baseball fans in their seats inside the historic Fenway Park had no trouble seeing that Laired caught the ball but six pairs of eyes that are paid a pretty good salary missed the play – isn’t that what an umpire is suppose to do make a judgment call.
Leyland upset with the call and Tigers third base coach Gene Lamont tried to tell Tschide with that kind of bad call that Tschide and his crew would hear a lot of chatter but Tschide told Lamont that his crew is not going to listen to it and dismissed Lamont from the game.
Leyland challenged the reporters after the game to write about what was seen because he is just a manager and not a writer.
“The umpire said the ball hit the ground. I’m sorry but I’m the most patient man in the world with the umpire. I protect them more than anybody. I understand the human element in the game,” Leyland said after the game. “I’m not mad at the umpire but you can’t be guessing at that call. I mean c’mon.”
“Was that a ridiculous call? Then write it as a ridiculous call. I do not have to say it. Write it. I am not a writer. I’m a manager. We all need to be accountable. That is all of us. You an figure out who the people involved in the game are.”
The call made by Welke is an embarrassment to his proud career and to his profession and it was a ridiculous call and it seems like that the Tigers have more than their share of these ridiculous calls.
Jim Joyce says he still can not get over his mistake costing Armando Galarraga’s perfect game.
Last week in Cleveland against the Indians, Leyland and first base coach Tom Brookins were ejected from a game pointing out to the umpire Paul Emmel that he missed an obvious balk call.
The golden rule for a player, manager or coach is simply do not embarrass or show up the umpires but what about the umpires embarrassing themselves by tilting the field of fair play into mistakes so glaring that it might make an average fan wonder about the umpires intention.
The human element is what makes baseball the game that it is – majestic!
Living with the mistakes that the umpires make are glaring and let’s give credit were credit is due for the men who have to live with the mistakes that the world sees about a million times, the umpires get more right than wrong.
Welke will have to live with his blown call, Leyland will be back on the bench guiding the Tigers and the world of baseball will continue, just as the bright sunshine bathing the emerald grass of the outfield at Fenway Park.
About the Author
Written by Mel Suiter
Graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2002 and have been working as a beat writer for The Ypsilanti Courier covering Eastern Michigan University football and men's basketball during my school career and after graduation. I like the Mid-American Conference and the rest of the mid-major conferences.