Lazy Ump Dooms Nats

Lousy offense didn't help either

When you're as bad as the Nats, sometimes it seems like even the cameras are working against you.

Yesterday's 5-2 loss to the Mets turned on one play -- a disputed three-run bomb off the bat of Gary Sheffield.

The teams were tied 1-1 in the sixth inning, thanks to Lannan's ability do induce a bazillion double-play grounders.  He was far from sharp, but he was effective.  But up stepped Sheffield with two on.

The Chef launched a high drive to deep left that looked for sure like it was going to go 15 rows deep.  But either the wind took it, or he got under it a bit, and it died.

The Citi Field wall in LF is quite high, and as the ball came down near the top, a fan reached out, and snared the ball, knocking it back onto the field.  Homer or RBI double?

The third base ump had lazily run only a part of the way down the line.  He ruled it a homer, although he wasn't really in much of a position to make a call either way.

Manny Acta protested, and the umps conferred.  Rather than overrule their half-jogging colleague, they took it to the videotape.

After a far-too-long six-minute delay, the umps came back after watching the replays and let the call on the field stand.  The three-run bomb made it 4-1.  Game over, man.

The umpires got the call half right.

It all started with the initial call, which was in all likelihood wrong.  The fan in the stands had leaned over the railing as far as he could, knocking the ball down before it could hit the wall.  It seemed likely (and that's the key word) that it would not have gone over the wall.  The third base ump should have seen that.

But once it went to replay, that "likely" looms large.   The only available angle was from straight on, where there's little sense of perspective.  If there were a side angle, you could see how far the fan leaned over.

Without that angle, there wasn't really clear evidence to overturn the initial call, even if it certainly seemed like it was the wrong call.

So right on the replay ruling, bad on the initial call.

It was just another bad break in NatsTown.

Chris Needham used to write Capitol Punishment.  He wonders what substance Manny Acta is made from.

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