The St. Louis Cardinals needed no help in dominating on Sunday afternoon behind ace right-hander Adam Wainwright. He struck out 11* over seven innings in a 6-1 victory against the Chicago Cubs that helped the Cards take two of three games at Wrigley Field.
The *asterisk on Wainwright's 11 strikeouts has been added because Waino got some help (Didn't we already say it wasn't needed?) from umpire Phil Cuzzi on a check-swing call against Donnie Murphy in the seventh inning. Cubs manager Dale Sveum, who doesn't even have the benefit of a video replay or the best view in the world from his bunker, argued the call and was ejected. Later, he said:
Sveum on Murphy K: "Easily the worst check swing call I've ever seen"
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) August 18, 2013
For his part, Murphy said:
Murphy to umpire Cuzzi: "I told him I flinched, he said I swung." — Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) August 18, 2013
"Flinch" definitely would be the way to describe what Murphy did. However, there's nothing that we can do about Cuzzi's call, and there probably will be nothing we can do about it in the future.
It's the kind of call that even expanded video replay review probably won't help. It's more or less of a judgment call on the home-plate umpire's part. And until the day those umpires are Terminator-like robots with perfect laser heat vision, those calls will be left to the judgment of fallible human brains.
The umpire has to ask himself: Did the batter "go around"? Did his bat cross the plane of the front of home plate? If the umpire's not sure, he should appeal to the first-base umpire (in the case of a right-handed batter) and ask for help.
Cuzzi, based on insight nobody can define, indicated Murphy swung the bat and called him out. And he wasted little time sending Sveum on his way. Nobody likes to hear when they're wrong.
And Cuzzi was egregiously wrong. It's not the first time. It won't be the last.
The play probably didn't affect the outcome of the game; Murphy might have struck out on the next pitch. But that doesn't mean MLB just has to accept it.
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