October 20, 2009
Yes, you read that right. The worst call of all time. Not just this postseason. Not this entire season. Not this decade. Not this century. I challenge you to think of one that was worse.
At this point, not even Kanye West could interrupt to suggest something worse after McClelland left the entire baseball universe shaking its head at his work during the Yankees' 10-1 victory over the Angels in Game 4 of the ALCS.
To recap: With one out in the top of the fifth inning, New York's Nick Swisher(notes) hit a ground ball back to Darren Oliver(notes). The Angels pitcher immediately threw home and Jorge Posada(notes) was caught in a rundown as he tried to score from third.
As catcher Mike Napoli(notes) chased Posada, Robinson Cano(notes) did the right thing and moved from second to third on the play. But when Napoli finally neared Posada at third, he noticed that Cano was — for some unknown reason — standing flatfooted a few feet off the base. Napoli alertly tagged Cano and then turned back to tag out Posada, who was experiencing a similar lapse of judgment on the other side of the bag and foul line.
In a few dumbfounding seconds, it looked like Cano and Posada had joined Dale Berra and Bobby Meacham on the short and embarrassing list of duos to be tagged out by the same defender. But McClelland, despite standing just a few feet away and having the entire debacle right in front of him, only ruled Posada was out. Cano was welcome to third.
Why McClelland possibly decided that Cano was safe despite not touching the bag until after being tagged is beyond this galaxy's rules of logic and it sent Angel Stadium into a bloodthirsty frenzy. There are simply no words for the ruling, other to say that one of the five other umpires should've offered his assistance, McClelland shouldn't ump another game in this series and that it's time for Bud Selig to stop being stubborn and expand the use of instant replay in baseball past disputed home run calls.
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Here's what our own Steve Henson, Tim Brown and Jose Mota had to say about it.
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Simply put, this shouldn't be happening, especially only one day after it looked like the 2009 postseason had turned the corner with two superb endings in both LCS games.
Here's what McClelland had to say about the play after the game:
"On the play with Cano and Posada, I thought Cano was on the base. I was waiting for two players to be on the base, and when there was never the situation where both of them were on the base at the same time. When he tagged Cano, I thought Cano was on the base, and when Jorge touched the base and continued and tagged Posada out, I thought Posada was out ...
"(The replay) showed that Cano was off the bag when he was tagged. I did not see that for whatever reason ... I'm just out there trying to do my job and do it the best I can."
That McClelland's mistake was minimized by the subsequent out by Melky Cabrera(notes) — the Yankees scored no runs off the snafu — is irrelevant. McClelland also made a big mistake in the fourth inning when he ruled that Swisher left third base early while attempting to score on a sacrifice fly. (Replays showed that he had not.)
But at least McClelland will have second base umpire Dale Scott as a partner in commiseration tonight, because Swisher was picked off at second earlier in the inning and shouldn't have even been at third. (That call, of course, was also blown.)
Almost makes you yearn for the foul line ineptitude of Phil Cuzzi, doesn't it?
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