It was a game I honestly didn’t want to end.
Nearing 2 a.m. on a Tuesday/Wednesday morning, I had to be up in a mere 5 hours to be at work at 8:30. Still, nothing was going to let me fall asleep.
Nine innings turned into 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14. Before we knew it 18 and a half innings passed and the Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves were still ready to play on until the wee hours of the night.
Home plate umpire Jerry Meals was not.
Looming directly over the plate, Meals called Julio Lugo safe on a play that more than likely would have sent the game to the remarkable 20th inning. Now, it was just the second out, but batter Scott Proctor fell running towards first and catcher Mike McKenry would have gotten him out with an easy throw over.
It was the call that sparked a revelation . A revelation not only experienced by those involved on the field, but the loyal fans of both teams. Twitter was a sight to behold last night with hundreds upon hundreds of people weighing in on the hottest of the hot button issues to occur in baseball, this season.
From @SBerthiaumeESPN: WOW….WOW. I know Jerry Meals worked all 19 innings behind plate, but I’ve never seen a key call missed by THAT much!
From @PeytonsHead: OMG….I’ve not watched the end of a MLB game all year, and when I do, a team gets robbed. Sorry PIT fans, ATL stole that one.
From: @JamesSantelli: I’m literally shaking. I can’t believe that a great game like that ended with possibly the worst call at home plate I’ve ever seen.
From: @ajcbraves: That may be the worst call I’ve ever seen. No, it is. Worst call I’ve ever seen. Unbelievably bad. Braves win on horrendous safe call.
The shocked tweets turned into groundbreaking hashtags. #jerrymealssaysitssafe has turned into a worldwide trending topic with Pirates fans, Braves fans and total non-baseball fans chiming in to express their outrage.
That one single play will forever be etched in the minds of Pirate fans for quite some time, that’s for sure. But for the loyalists to just remember this travesty will never be enough to make a difference. Manager Clint Hurdle made his case, McKenry surely did, too. But this moment needs to be taken to the forefront of Commissioner Bud Selig’s office.
Sadly, it may be too late.
Meals already released his statement on the issue. “”I saw the tag,” he said after the game. “I looked at the replays and it appeared he might have got him on the shin area,” he continues. “I’m guessing he might have got him.”
He doesn’t admit defeat, though.
“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.”
This is what bugs me the most. As evident in the above picture, Meals is in a perfect position to make the right call. jabs at umpires have long been spewed about across the league, and a major fuel backing that up is that umps just are simply out of their element and not situated in the right place to make the fairest call.
Meals was, but still acted upon anything but fair intentions.
Also, the second culprit of “blow call-gate,” Julio Lugo, isn’t off the hook, either. His actions and mannerisms at the time of the tag were just as disheveled as any player would following a being out by a mile. It wasn’t until he saw Meals outstretched arms that he celebrated.
Lugo was just as stunned as everyone watching.
His post game comments suggest otherwise, but no player would cave in to the opponent after a marathon game like that.
Like Jim Joyce before him, Jerry Meals is not going to be fading away any time soon. He will forever be linked with making one of the worst calls in the history of the game and hindering the Pirates from inching just a little bit closer to their fateful season of destiny.
photo credits: sportsgrid.com, Root Sports, Yahoo.com
Quotes credits: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette