Note to self- don’t go to Georgia.
First is was Big Ben’s rape allegation, then Hines Wards’ DUI, and now, the Pirates have been robbed at Turner Field.
Just when I really started to believe in the Pirates again, a botched call robbed the Buccos in a 19th inning 4-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves. The Pirates have slipped from first to third, and I’m angry.
In the replay I’ve watched several times, it shows Atlanta Braves runner Julio Lugo clearly being tagged out by Pirates catcher Mike McHenry almost two steps out from home plate. Lugo slows his run to home plate, and drops his head thinking he was tagged out.
But that’s not what home plate umpire Jerry Meals saw. He called Lugo safe before Lugo even reached the plate. Once Lugo realized what the call was, he stepped on home plate again and then began celebrating. The Braves bench cheered on the field and the Pirates, including manager Clint Hurdle, argued the call as they followed Meals off the field.
Even the Braves’ broadcasters were shocked by the call.
When I was young, I remembered the days when the Pirates were still a good team. I cheered for Bobby Bonilla, Andy Van Slyke, and Barry Bonds. I watched as the Buccos got closer and closer to a pennant, and baseball was good in Pittsburgh.
But then the dark days came. Year after year, the Pirates failed to perform. I watched as mid-season fire sales sent away any hope of resurgence. The Pirates went from plundering to being plundered by mismanagement and poor performance. Until this season, 18 year old yinzers were born in an era where the Pirates haven’t produce even one winning season. A beautiful ballpark, fireworks, and running pierogies replaced good ball playing as the draw for the team.
Somehow though, this season has turned the tide. Manager Clint Hurdle has reenergized the young team, and the Pirates have beat the critics and pundits who thought at the begining of this season that it would be business as usual. The Bucco Bandwagon overfloweth, and I have a seat up front.
I get that umpires make mistakes. I get that it was nearly 2AM and everyone was tired. While I aim my anger at Jerry Meals, I understand that he may have seen something the camera didn’t, and who knows if the Pirates could have gone on to win or lose. However, to lose that way, and to drop from first to third in the process, is just unfair- the game should be played by the players, not officiants. Even Meals admitted later that he screwed up, but that gives little solace to the Pirates, who could either turn this into a rallying cry for the rest of the season, or wallow in defeat and fall out of contention.
People are already saying this could go down as the worst call in baseball history, and I’m sure there will be new calls for instant replay in baseball- and why not? It’s 2011. We have the technology. We can build baseball to be bigger, better, faster, stronger (oh wait, steroids did that earlier this decade). Purists can argue all they want, but there have been lots of upgrades over the years thanks to technology that have changed the game; if you want, we could go back to sandlots and hand-changed scoreboards. It would be an easy fix, and would make the game more fair and still enjoyable.
I plan to take my anger out today on some pierogies, and look forward to the next game. I still believe in my Buccos- I can only hope they still believe in themselves.
- newsspigot posted this