I'd like to congratulate the Angels on sweeping the Dodgers, even if the sweep was only in spirit since the umpires felt it necessary to job the Halos out of a win today.
I hate blaming a loss on poor umpiring, it just isn't my style, so I hope you appreciate just how bad the umpiring must be when I say that bad umpiring DEFINITELY cost the Angels today's game.
Sure, Vernon Wells could've caught Tony Gwynn's "triple" in the 8th inning and Jordan Walden could've not walked the first two batters in the ninth, but those were more contributing factors than direct causes. None of that would've mattered if the umpires in today's game were aware that you are allowed to call a runner out on a close play at a base when the base is blocked.
First, Dee Gordon should've been out on his steal attempt at second. He beat the throw, but Erick Aybar's foot impeded his path and forced him to come off the base for a brief moment while the tag was still, more or less, being applied. I can give the umpire a bit of a pass on this one since it was probably hard to see from his angle and Gordon's loss of contact with the base was rather brief. You could say that Gordon was on the base "in spirit" in the same way guys turn doubleplays without actually stepping on second base sometimes. The fact remains that he was technically out, even if most umpires probably would have called him safe in the same situation.
That same line of thinking doesn't apply to the much more controversional and obviously wrong play at the plate to tie the game where Gordon, once again, should've been called out.
If you didn't see the play, take a look at the highlight now, I'll wait.
Done? Great. Total BS, right? Yeah, I know!
If Gordon gets credit for staying on second base "in spirit" then that same logic should apply here. Without a doubt, the throw to the plate beats Gordon and Mathis has the dish blocked off so well that it had to make Mike Scioscia proud. The one thing that Mathis didn't quite do is apply a "real" tag. Gordon slid into him and made no initial contact with the plate whatsoever until he reached around Mathis with his hand on a second effort. But Mathis had the ball safely in possession before that and had made plenty of body contact with Gordon. It is hard to tell in the replay, but Mathis' actual glove may have never touched Gordon, but Mathis' forearm definitely did and in my book that should've been good enough and I do think that would've been good enough for 90% of umpires. Unfortunately, Tom Hallion is one of the 10% and called Gordon safe instead of calling him out to end the game.
At least I think that is what Hallion's justification was because having watched the play over and over again, that is the only way I can see him justifying that call.
Like I said, total BS.
- Reason #8,984,456 why not having a DH is a horrible idea: The botched sac bunt turned doubleplay from Weaver. Granted, Kershaw made one hell of a play, but I fail to understand why we want to continue to let guys who have no skill for hitting or bunting come to the plate to affect the game so profoundly every nine batters.
- Alberto Callaspo is going to be seeing Kershaw in his nightmares. That was Alberto's first ever three strikeout game and he almost never strikes out at all.
- Vernon Wells is lucky he doesn't have Angel fans chasing him with pitchforks right now. If he didn't hit the go ahead (temporarily) homer in the top of the ninth, fans were going to crucify him for not making that catch on Gwynn's triple (which really should be an error since the ball was in Vernon's glove, even though it was a tough catch) and striking out in each at-bat before that.
- For once, Erick Aybar's idiocy paid off. The Angels got their first run entirely because he makes poor decision. First, he tried to turn a single into a double even though the throw beat him by a mile, but it gave him enough time to make a very wide slide and avoid the tag by mere inches. Then, not learning from that little lesson, he takes off running on a sinking liner to Matt Kemp. He got such a great jump on the play that it allowed him to score, only Kemp just missed making the diving catch and doubling off Aybar with ease. Great job, Erick. Don't ever do it again.
- I'm going to go ahead and ask everyone to back off Jordan Walden. Despite the fact that he has been pretty dominant the last month, the Angel fans on Twitter were acting like he was the lovechild of Brian Fuentes and Fernando Rodney after the game. Closers aren't perfect, folks, let it go.
We had a little chant for hockey games back when I was in college, it went like this (only with "refs" instead of "umps"):
"The umps f@#k sheep! The umps f@#k sheep! The umps f@#k sheep! The umps f@#k sheep! The umps f@#k sheep!"