Big League Stew - MLB

When they do the next ESPYs, the goofs in charge need to make a category for "Worst Call of the Year" by an official.

Of course, umpire Jim Joyce breaking up Armando Galarraga's(notes) perfect game would be the people's consensus. And whichever soccer ref missed the goal by England in the World Cup, the one that bounced around inside the net, makes a fine runner-up.

But we have a dark horse.

Alfonso Marquez has nearly 10 seasons of major league experience, but the gentleman acted as though he'd never seen a tag before in the 10th inning of the Tampa Bay Rays exhilarating 5-4 comeback victory against the Minnesota Twins on Thursday night.

Here's what happened:

• Michael Cuddyer tagged Tampa's Kelly Shoppach(notes).
• Marquez completely ignored this fact and almost ruined a great ballgame.

"I felt like I touched his jersey," Cuddyer said on MLB.com. "On replay, it looked like I touched his jersey. So I don't know what else to tell you."

This is at least the third time this year I can say, "That's the worst call I've ever seen." And it's only July.

Even the guys in the Bob Uecker seats could see Shoppach was out.

The Rays had just gone ahead 5-4 on Willy Aybar's(notes) RBI single. For reasons unknown, the glacially slow Shoppach — the middle runner on the play — kept going to third base. Outfielder Delmon Young(notes) pivoted and threw in plenty of time (Seriously, if Young just NOW, as you read this, threw the ball, he'd still get Shoppach at third base).

About 10 feet from the bag, Cuddyer applied the tag on Shoppach's not insubstantial gut for what should have been the first out of the inning. Marquez denied it. There wasn't a rundown, there wasn't even an effort by Shoppach to evade the tag.

After Cuddyer ran by, Shoppach kept going and DID quicken his final steps to third — in true A.J. Pierzysnki fashion — to make it SEEM as though Cuddyer missed him. That helped to sell it.

Shoppach was still selling it after the game.

"He just got in a hurry and missed," Shoppach said of Cuddyer's tag. "That's really just a bad baserunning play that turned into a controversy."

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire did his due diligence and got thrown out arguing the call.

Rays manager Joe Maddon, despite wearing the league's best prescription glasses, somehow called the call "good."

"He never tagged him," Maddon said. "He wasn't tagged and he was safe."

We agree to disagree for once. The Rays had runners at second and third with no outs after the dust settled, but failed to add any insurance runs. The patron saint of wayward umpires was looking out for us all, I guess.

But the game, which was fabulous to that point, lost its sheen after the call. No doubt Marquez will come out with an apology in the wake of the call. Not accepted!

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Follow Dave on Twitter — @AnswerDave

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