Braves-Pirates epic game deserved better ending than blown call
By Charlie Miller
Call was horrible, but not worst ever
Last night I watched the last 11 innings of the Pirates-Braves game in Atlanta. And it’s the kind of game I really enjoy. I love teams using every player on the roster. I love the do-or-die at-bats every inning. I love teams playing for one run.
Then it happened. The call. A simple ground ball to third, an easy tag play at home and the Braves’ threat in the 19th inning is all but squashed. Then to the amazement of everyone involved…SAFE! Fans were stunned. Broadcasters were stunned. The Pirates were stunned. And Julio Lugo was stunned. And Lugo was the Braves’ runner in question. No one in that stadium was more surprised at the call than Lugo. His reaction was priceless.
The reaction today from fans and the media has certainly not been surprising. Calls for replays. Accusations that the umpire Jerry Meals just wanted the six-hour marathon to be over. Worst call ever. We’ve heard all those reactions.
I believe the call was horrendous. I thought that live. I believe it even more strongly now that I’ve seen replays from multiple angles. But worst call ever?
Have to disagree there.
Some of us remember the 1985 World Series. Game 6. The Cardinals were on the verge of closing out the series when Don Denkinger called Jorge Orta safe at first base. Now there were other factors at work helping the Cardinals lose, but few people doubt the series was lost on that play. It was every bit as clear that Orta was out as we saw with Lugo, but the stakes were so much higher.
Last night’s call was atrocious, but it’s not even second in recent memory. Remember last June when Armando Galarraga was spinning a perfect game against the Cleveland Indians? Remember the ground ball to first. Jason Donald is beaten to the bag, but Jim Joyce makes a safe call. End of perfect game; end of no-hitter. I know the Pirates are battling for a division title and every game is big and this was the 19th inning, but costing a kid a perfect game is worse.
So, Jerry Meals can rest assured he didn’t make the worse call in my memory. He’s all the way down to third.
Here's video of the call: