Jerry Meals Might Have Been Right

Julio Lugo of the Atlanta Braves scores the game-winning run in the 19th inning against Michael McKenry of the Pittsburgh Pirates at Turner Field on July 26, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Yes, the throw beat Julio Lugo and it sure looked like Michael McKenry tagged Lugo. But isn't it possible that umpire Jerry Meals saw something the rest of us didn't?

Call me a sensationalist or an iconoclast if you like, but I just gotta say something this morning ...

Jerry Meals might have been right.

I'm sorry, but I still have not seen a conclusive replay. I've read a lot of Tweets from people claiming the replays or screen-captures are conclusive, but I'm looking at the same things and I'm just not seeing it. I'm not seeing a for sure in any of them.

Yes, the throw beat Lugo by 10 feet and that's usually an automatic out. And hey, don't we get pissed off at umpires who assume outs, just because the throw's there in plenty of time? I do.

It might not be likely, but it's possible that Jerry Meals saw something, something real, that none of the cameras were able to see. If there was an eighth of an inch between Michael McKenry's mitt and Julio Lugo's pants, would the cameras have caught that gap? Not from what I've been able to tell; none of the cameras were placed in just the right place to see that gap, if there was one.


Complete Coverage: Braves Beat Pirates 4-3 in 19 Innings on Controversial Call

Yeah, I know Lugo behaved as if he were out. Players do that all the time. Sometimes they just don't know. Sometimes they assume they're out because the throw beat them by 10 feet. Usually they're right. Not always.

Meals did talk to the writers after the game -- he deserves some credit for that, by the way -- and he seemed less than supremely confident that he'd gotten it right:

“I saw the tag, but he looked like he oléd him and I called him safe for that. I looked at the replays and it appeared he might have got him on the shin area. I’m guessing he might have got him, 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.”

Yeah, he probably missed it. Probably blew it. But it's less than fair to accuse him of missing the call because he wanted to get back to his hotel. Umpires, for all their faults, are highly professional and especially when everyone's paying attention. They just don't miss 'em on purpose.

You can blame Jerry Meals for the Pirates' loss, and I suppose there's a pretty good chance he deserves it. But what about Clint Hurdle, who lost a 19-inning game and never used his best relief pitcher, instead asking another of his relief pitchers to throw more than 90 pitches? What about McKenry, who employed the swipe tag when he could have planted his glove squarely on just about any part of Lugo's person?

Hey, I wanted Lugo to be out, too. Watching last night's game with hundreds of my best (Twitter) friends was the most fun I've had all season. I wanted the game to last forever. But I can't sit idly while so many usually reasonable people just assume something that's not actually in evidence. Not according to my eyes, anyway.

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