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David Brown

Ball 3, take your base! Dodgers' Paul walks via umpire's mistake

David Brown
Big League Stew

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There's an old joke that goes, "What do you do with an elephant who has three balls?"

Answer: "You walk him and pitch to the rhino."

Actually, this knee-slapper has several variations, including a brand-new one that has nothing to do with elephants, rhinos, giraffes or zebras (oh, my!).

"What do you do when Xavier Paul(notes) has three balls?"

Answer: "You mistakenly send him to first base — if you're umpire Bruce Dreckman."

Paul, an outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers, took a walk on ball three in the second inning Saturday night after the umpire lost track of the count.

Behold! The Amazing Appearing Ball Four!

Another funny thing: Nobody on either side seemed to notice.

"I had no clue," Paul said. "I guess I was in the zone."

Said Dodgers manager Joe Torre: "I thought it got to three balls awfully quick, but I believed the scoreboard. So did the umpire."

The home team scoreboard at Chase Field was helping out the road team? Well, that makes sense.

Kirk Gibson, managing his second game for the Arizona Diamondbacks, did not complain. Neither did any of his players. Gibby, it's true, had enough on his mind with the Deebax's six errors and eight unearned runs during a 14-1 Dodgers romp.

Dreckman might have been thrown off after Paul fouled a 1-2 pitch off the ump's right foot (ow!). Or he just lost track. It happens, though in this, the Year of the Bad Call it's just more ammo for the Robot Umpire Overlord movement.

Though it loaded the bases, the call probably did not affect the game's outcome much. But try explaining that to Rodrigo Lopez's(notes) forever messed-up pitch count.

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