Ryan Howard Tossed: Why the MLB Needs to Rein in Its Umpires

August 25, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

With two outs in the 9th inning, the Phillies’ Jimmy Rollins homered to tie Houston at 2-2.

With two outs in the 16th inning, and two men on, Ryan Howard should have been in a position to win the game 5-4.

But Howard had long hit the showers.


He was tossed from the game several innings earlier by third base umpire Scott Barry, a minor league replacement ump.

See the worst calls in sports history

Howard’s crime?

Disagreeing with two appealed check swing calls in the same at bat, the latter resulting in Howard striking out (and going 0-7 on the night).

The first check swing, Howard put his hands on his hips, which Barry mocked right back.

“Unprofessional,” is how Phillies color analyst Larry Anderson described it on the radio.

The second check swing, which was a TERRIBLE call if you’ve seen the replay, garnered almost an immediate ejection after Howard’s reaction.

Howard charged Barry and had to be restrained.

The Big Guy was HOT, pointing at the home plate umpire saying, “Don’t you try to stop me.”

This is the same ump that tossed the Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman after throwing his bat to the ground on a swinging strike three (foul tip). The same Ryan Zimmerman that had NEVER been ejected from a game.

The Nats’ Rob Dibble was apoplectic.

“I shouldn’t know these guys’ names,” he fumed, referring to the umpires.

So instead of Howard standing in with a chance to redeem himself for an 0-7 night, Roy Oswalt got pressed into duty. As a left-fielder no less.

This marked the second night in a row that the the Phillies were on the wrong side of an umpire “judgment call.” 

First base umpire Greg Gibson ruled Monday night that Michael Bourne did not run out of the basebath after a bunt attempt, nor did Ryan Howard apply the tag. 

Replays showed both calls were suspect.

Houston would push what proved to be the winning run across the plate with two outs in the inning. A run that would not have had a chance to score had Bourne been ruled out at first.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel would eventually be tossed. According to the Phillies radio broadcast, it wasn’t the first time this particular ump had ejected Manuel.

He then cited MLB regulations saying he wouldn’t talk about the call. (Funny how Jim Joyce was able to)

So, two consecutive games. Two consecutive controversial losses.

Perhaps it’s karmic retrobution for the Phillies extra innings win over the Florida Marlins on August 6, when earlier in the game third base umpire Bob Davidson called Gaby Sanchez’s line drive down the third base “foul.”

Replays showed the ball was clearly inside the third base bag, yet Davidson was defiant afterwards, saying he called the play correctly.

There are two problems here.

First, the drumbeat for instant replay is growing louder.

Purists can claim “human element” all they want. I consider myself a baseball purist, and the game needs replay.

More time is wasted with managers arguing the call instead of just looking at the play and making a determination.

The Little League World Series is using replay, and a close play at first base between Chinese Taipei and Saudi Arabia was reviewed and overturned this past weekend.

It was quick. It was decisive.

It was correct.

The second issue is the attitude problems some of these umpires have. 

Maybe Barry was looking to make a name for himself. He is a replacement, afterall.

Davidson could have asked for help from the home plate umpire on the Bourne play.

He did not.

Nor could the other umps intervene.

Gibson had to ask for help.

He chose not to.

NFL refs huddle when another sees a play differently. They discuss it. And try to get the call right.

And replay is there for the occasions when they get it wrong.

MLB needs to get handle on those that handle the rules.

Because these moments will get replayed-on SportsCenter and other highlight shows.

Over and over and over again.

The game would be better served if those highlights showed its officials getting the call right.

One way or another.




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