Thursday, October 30, 2008

Am I Picking on Kerwin Danley?

No way. I think he is a fine umpire and have the utmost respect for the guy.

What I want to rant about concerns the game 2 strike-no strike call he made on Tampa Bay's Rocco Baldelli. Major League Baseball called it a "confusing gesture." It looked like a brain fart. We all have them. I sympathize with Mr. Danley.

But here's the thing:

Danley threw up his right hand. The whole world understood that motion as "strike three." MLB says he announced "ball." So now there's a problem. Danley pointed at first base umpire Fieldin Culbreth who indicated no swing. So all hell breaks loose. The announcers have to talk about it for several innings and the ESPN radio guys babble about the second rate umpiring crew for days.

Here's what should have happened:

Danley throws up his right hand. He may have said ball, but the hand is up. The check swing is close. The appeal is made and Mr. Culbreth, who is paying attention, tells Tampa Bay's Rocco Baldelli to be sure to get a drink of water before he takes his place on the pine.

So why didn't Culbreth have Danley's back? In every level I have worked, there is a strong sense of loyalty and protection amongst the umpires. There are rules, like leaving the field area together and backing up your partner. Certainly if Baldelli didn't swing he didn't swing, but the replay I saw was close - close enough to cover your partner. Culbreth rings up Baldelli and nobody says a word about Danley's "confusing gesture."

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