|Coach Bob Miller's teaching moment after "the call"|
One of the worst calls I've ever seen in a game. Ever. After clawing back against ace Knights closer Brandon Choate - something that hasn't been done since the first game of the season - the game was taken out of the player's hands by first base ump Fabian Poulin. Chris Lewis legged out an infield single that was thrown wide of first by shortstop Michael Lucarelli. The throw pulled 1B Kevin Kline's foot off the bag - well off the bag, as Alex Real crossed the plate with the tying run. And then Poulin's arm went up. Lewis was out. No. Freakin. Way.
The rest of the crew stood stone still, home plate ump Joseph Penna seemed stunned at the call and unsure what to do next, except walk off the field. The Corvalis players stood behind the railing of the dugout waiting for an overturned call, or an appeal, then realizing one wasn't coming, they sheepishly came out of the dugout to congratulate Choate. As what was left of the 1000+ fan base realized what had happened, to a person they voiced their displeasure with colourful language and finger gestures.
But it was over.
As a HarbourCat fan, the call was a travesty of justice. Watching the home squad come back in the 9th, against seemingly insurmountable pitching. Watching the team have a pre-inning huddle led by coach Bob Miller that made a difference - a huge difference in the focus and determination of the team. Seeing the Alex & Alex show fight off tough pitches to mussel singles into the outfield to keep the rally alive. All that snuffed out by a bad call.
As a baseball fan - while you have to understand that bang-bang plays happen in the field and nobody is perfect - you expect so much more. With the game on the line and a close play at first, you expect the umpire to be in the right position, not blocking himself out by standing still. You expect that calls that horrific never get called at any time, let alone when the game is on the line.
As a fan of baseball in Victoria, you realize that what you just saw lowers the product on the field. What the Cats try so hard to market as a top-quality league full of rising talent is tainted, if only for a moment. And at the worst possible moment, leaving a bad taste in everyone's mouth.
I'll save the rest for a future post. The Cats need to get a better handle on pitcher management. Middle relief has been non existent the entire season, with starters going well into the late innings. Now that arms are getting tired and the summer is dragging on, there's a hole that needs to be filled with nobody to plug it.
But that's for another day. Right now, I feel the need to brush my teeth...