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He’s-a-Kulpa: Umpire misses call on Holliday tag, Cards strike big

This is a picture of Mike Napoli(notes) of the Texas Rangers clearly tagging St. Louis Cardinals slugger Matt Holliday(notes) in the back during a play at first base in the top of the fourth inning on Saturday night.

Well, looks were deceiving to umpire Ron Kulpa (you can see his shadow on the right of the photo), who called Holliday safe at first. The Cardinals took advantage of the break, scoring four runs in the fourth to take a 5-0 lead on the Rangers in Game 3 of the World Series. Texas came back with three runs in the bottom half.

The Cardinals went on to win 16-7, which takes some of the edge off Kulpa's mistake, but it doesn't get him off the hook. Here's what Kulpa said afterward, via the Twitter of Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

Kulpa: "I saw a replay when I walked off the field, and the tag was applied before his foot hit the bag."

When asked why he didn't seek assistance from another umpire, Wilson reported that Kulpa said he won't ask for help on that type of play. Sigh. That's the best mea culpa we're going to get, eh?

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Pitcher Matt Harrison(notes) gave a reasonable take on Kulpa's call and the aftermath:

"If he was out right there, I don't think a run would've scored that inning," Harrison said. "But you never know what would've happened. That's just the way it went."

He's right but, to be fair, Kulpa's egregious missed call wasn't the only reason things went to heck for the Rangers. Napoli made a throwing error, Harrison made some poor pitch executions, manager Ron Washington made a bad decision to walk Yadier Molina(notes) intentionally. And, as some of you have no-doubt mentioned in the comments, if the throw to first is straight, then Kulpa wasn't in position to make a bad call.

But the umpire's bad call spoiled the rest of the inning. If major league umpires can't make this call, then we need more video replay. And if we can't have more replay, why are they playing these games with millions of dollars at stake, and why are we watching?

It's the first huge, super-obvious blown call of the postseason, not counting the Infrared Alert on Adrian Beltre(notes) in Game 1.

Funny side note: Matt Sebek of Joe Sports Fan pointed out before the game that Kulpa is from St. Louis and — and, and, and — he has a Whitey Herzog haircut. Now, nobody is really saying that Kulpa is in the bag for Team Fredbird. But it was still a prescient (if tongue-in-cheek) observation.

Big BLS H/N: @Jose3030 for the screencap

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