Big League Stew - MLB

If you were tracking Ricky Romero's no-hit bid on Tuesday night, you once again saw Chicago's A.J. Pierzynski(notes) apply his trademark approach to a high-profile game.

How you viewed the situation probably depends on your previous feelings about the man.

With no outs in the top of the eighth inning, Romero threw a ball in the dirt near the feet of the White Sox catcher. Replays showed the ball bouncing off the ground, but Pierzynski immediately responded by putting on an hyped-up hobbling act as if he had been hit.

You can watch the play here to judge for yourself and if you don't think the above image is conclusive — it was the best frame I could screen cap —  make sure to note that even White Sox homer Hawk Harrelson admits that the ball never hits Pierzynski.

Despite Pierzynski's acting performance looking like it came straight out of the WWE that he loves so much, home plate umpire Tim McClelland awarded him first base after some initial hesitation.

Alex Rios(notes) then came to the plate and blasted a homer to end Romero's quest for his first no-hitter. Rattled, much? 

(Side note: If you seem to remember hearing McClelland's name and "bad call" in the same sentence before, he was the guy responsible for this terribly-botched ruling during last year's ALCS.)

I couldn't find Pierzynski quoted on the play anywhere, but Toronto catcher John Buck(notes) told MLB.com after Toronto's 4-2 win that he couldn't blame his counterpart for trying: 

"I guess the name of the game is to get on base and produce runs," Buck said. "Maybe he felt he didn't have a chance to hit it so he just got on base any way he could.

"I think every single player has done that in a situation. Usually, it's kind of the end of the game and you're trying to get on base. I don't know if I really fault him for it. I was just surprised he got away with it ... he's so good at selling that type of stuff. He's a [heck] of an actor, I guess."

Indeed, Pierzynski will forever be tied to the "dropped third strike" play in the 2005 ALCS and maybe even this obstruction call that he sold during a game with the Rays in 2008.

And he'll always remain a polarizing figure who causes plenty of debate, because he's one of those guys that 29 teams love to hate while one team loves to begrudgingly love him.

From my viewpoint, I'm not sure how Pierzynski selling an umpire on an HBP is different from an outfielder trying to advertise a diving trap as a successful catch or a catcher pulling in an outside pitch to the edge of the plate in hopes that it'll be called a strike. Productive deception has always been a part of the game and you're never expected to call an infraction on yourself. Otherwise, we'd call this sport "golf."  

I suspect that most of you feel the same way when it involves 99.9 percent of the other players in baseball, but I'm interested to see what you have to say about this particular play.

Do you approve of Pierzynski taking first base by any means necessary last night?

Cast your vote below. 


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