Out! Oh, wait; make that safe!
Umpires have often been the center of attention often this year, which is never a good thing. The best umpiring is that which you don’t notice. Umps are a lot like closing relief pitchers or housecleaners in that nobody pays attention to the job unless it is done poorly.
Reversed calls have become a norm in the game these days. The umps were at it again Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium, although the play in question did not figure in the scoring. With a runner at first base and one out in the fourth inning, Lyle Overbay hit a ground ball in the hole between first and second bases. Mariners second baseman Robert Andino made a nice play stopping the ball, left his feet and turned for a possible play at second and then threw to first where both first baseman Kendrys Morales and pitcher Felix Hernandez were covering.
Morales gloved the ball and tagged the bag ahead of Overbay, who had to try to make his way around Hernandez. The umpires huddled to discuss the play because the rules do not permit them to view it on videotape replay. Each manager had a point to make.
Seattle’s Eric Wedge contended that Overbay was already out by the time he made contact with Hernandez, which was true. However, the Yankees’ Joe Girardi insisted that Overbay had slowed down as he approached the bag because Hernandez was standing on it. This is known in baseball as obstruction, and that was the call the umpires eventually agreed upon. Overbay came back onto the field, and the Yankees had a rally going – until Hernandez struck out Ichiro Suzuki and Jayson Nix, that is.