May 23rd, 2005
Know my biggest bugbear with baseball umpiring? The phantom out at second base. David Wright got called out for interference on a wide slide at second base in the game against the Braves today; on the merits it was a fair call, he was a couple of feet wide of the base making his takeout slide. Look at it more broadly, though, and pay attention to the replay – why did he have to slide that far out to try and spoil the double play? Because Furcal, who was covering second, came off the bag a good quarter second before catching the ball, and by the time the ball was in his glove, he was a foot or more off the bag. You can’t make a fair takeout slide if the fielder’s not in the same zipcode as the bag when he catches the ball. If you watch double plays closely it’s amazing how many of them aren’t proper outs at second base; yet this is almost never called. As long as the second baseman catches the ball and gets it to first cleanly it’s almost always called out; it’s as if the umpires don’t even look at the bag. As you can tell from that play today, it can cause big problems.