You Can’t Count on Anything

Iambic pentameter: No one loses the count

Something new always happens in baseball. I (Evander) don’t know if this is a first, but I cannot remember it happening. (I do remember this oddity: One of former lifetime home-run champion Hank Aaron’s round-trippers [cricket fans: baseballspeak for “home run”] being nullified because the home-plate umpire ruled that Aaron had set himself outside the batters’ box before stroking the pitch; I would say ca. 1964.) The San Diego Padres defeated the Seattle Mariners by the slimmest margin, 1-0, in the penultimate interleague contest of the season (July 2). Not exactly news you say? How it happened is.

One-nothing games are rare enough in our steroids/high-bouncing ball/small-stadium era. But this one was all due to a mistake on the part of the home-plate umpire, as well as stadium officials, as well as Seattle Mariners manager (and former Indians manager) Eric Wedge and his pitching coach, as well as many if not all of the players on the field and in the Seattle dugout. And probably a number of fans, at least the ones that do not keep score by charting pitches (although clearly not at fault), were likely oblivious to the umpire’s inexcusable call.

The scoreboard showed the count three balls and two strikes when ball four was called. Except this was not ball four. The real count preceding this pitch outside the strike zone, contra the scoreboard, was two balls and two strikes. The batter, Cameron Maybin, thus walked (was assigned first base) on three balls not four. He ultimately came around to score the lone run of this controversial game. Umpire Phil Cuzzi reports that he had the count correct on his hand-held pocket counter. But when he checked it against the scoreboard, he thought his internal-counting device was incorrect.

Technology run amok? Human error? Sorry to say, there are no “do-overs” in Major League Baseball (or on any but the most amateurish levels), and it is unlikely the commissioner will involve himself.  In Seattle however, the manager’s boss ought to have plenty to say. It might even become a wedge issue.

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About rightoffthebatbook

Co-author of the book, "Right Off the Bat: Baseball, Cricket, Literature, and Life"
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