October 23, 2011
ARLINGTON, Texas — Though Joe Torre rankled some of us by suggesting a league-wide beer ban and continuing to remain stubborn on the topic of instant replay, he did use his Sunday presser to admirably stand up for one of his men.
As Major League Baseball's vice president of operations, part of Torre's job description is to oversee the umpires. He was also in the umpire's room at Rangers Ballpark after Saturday's Game 3 when a pool reporter asked the crew questions about the controversial "safe" call on Matt Holliday(notes) in the fourth inning of the Cardinals' 16-7 win. First base umpire Ron Kulpa owned up to the error, but Torre felt the reporter crossed the line when he started to ask about Kulpa being from St. Louis.
Crew chief Jerry Layne quickly stepped in after Kulpa said his hometown had nothing to do with it, but the suggestion that Kulpa compromised his integrity by making a call for the Cardinals was still bothering Torre a day later.
"Are they going to miss plays? Sure, they're going to miss plays," Torre said. "Are they going to miss pitches? Sure, they're going to miss pitches. But last night that question hinted of questioning somebody's integrity. That was so far over the line.
"Whether it's Ron Kulpa or Jerry Layne or Joe West or Angel Hernández or Andy Fletcher, everybody is out there trying to do the best job they can ... If you have any integrity questions in the future, please direct them to me."
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It's worth noting that the pool reporter is a single representative elected by the media to talk with the umpire crew. So it may or may not have been the pool reporter's personal question that was asked. Regardless, there is someone out there that listened to all the delusional Texas Rangers fans and thought that was an appropriate and pertinent question to ask when it clearly was not.
As was pointed out many times when the silly suggestion first started to float, Kulpa was the second base umpire that correctly nailed the safe call on Ian Kinsler's(notes) stolen base during the Rangers' ninth-inning comeback of Game 2. That anyone could conclude there was something rotten afoot in Game 3 is just wrong and good for Joe Torre for saying so.
"[Kulpa] has his family here [at the games] and he's proud of what he does," Torre said. "But he was uncomfortable when they asked the question. Even though he didn't turn around and walk away, he answered it because he knew he had to just stand there and take whatever was dealt to him."
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