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Big League Stew

‘SafeOut!’ Confused umpire John Hirschbeck calls it both ways on Yoenis Cespedes

Big League Stew

"Call it both ways, Blue!"

— Loudmouth at any baseball game, ever

And finally, somebody has. John Hirschbeck, one of the longest-tenured and most-respected umpires in Major League Baseball, made one of the most unintentionally hilarious calls in the history of ... calls ... Tuesday night at Angel Stadium.

In the seventh inning, slugger Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland Athletics hit a grounder to second, where Los Angeles Angels infielder Howie Kendrick stepped on the bag and fired to first, trying to turn a double play. Hirschbeck started to signal "safe" — no, he did signal "safe" — but then, continuing the same motion, changed his mind and signaled out. It was the quickest self-reversal in umpiring lore.

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Video replay showed Hirschbeck appeared to get the call right (the second/final time), which perhaps is why nobody on the A's went to argue.

First-base coach Tye Waller had a great reaction, turning to the dugout and smiling as if to say, "What was that?" And A's manager Bob Melvin stood on the top step, on the verge of saying something, but never actually committing. The A's have been in a scoring drought, so perhaps it would have behooved Melvin to raise a stink, just to see what happened next. But considering that Hirschbeck is an umpire that most of the teams seem to like and respect, he gave him he benefit of the doubt. And, oh, there was doubt to spare.

The Angels won 3-0, and they beat the A's again Wednesday afternoon 3-1. That nudges the Red Sox closer to home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. But the heck with that. What about Hirschbeck starting a new exercise craze with his isometric SafeOut stretch?

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