May 24 Vs Texas
If you haven’t seen the play yet, here it is.
I’ve umpired for the White Rock South Surrey Baseball Association in BC for close to six years and while that doesn’t hold a candle to the MLB or the Seattle Mariners, I look to shed a little light on what the umpire saw on this play and what his responsibilities are.
Sucre, in his first Major League at-bat, hit a ground ball to Rangers 1B Mitch Moreland who fielded the ball and threw to SS Elvis Andrus for the force at second. Meanwhile, P Justin Grimm was hustling over to 1st to cover the bag, though Moreland managed to get back first.
Andrus got the force at second and threw over to first where Moreland was covering and Grimm was standing about a foot away. The throw was slightly off-line and Moreland stretched out and appeared to have made the catch, but replay showed that it was actually snagged by Grimm trying to avoid a potential overthrow.
Sucre was called out by 1st base umpire Jeff Nelson, though he was clearly safe.
What The Umpire Saw
I didn’t watch this play live, but I saw it on replay and I had to watch it a few times before realizing what the problem was. I had never seen a play like that in my life and neither had Nelson.
When making a call on a force play at first, umpires are always told to watch the 1st baseman’s foot touch the base and listen for the ball hitting the glove.
It would take extremely heightened peripheral vision for an umpire to watch the catch and the foot at once.
This is exactly what Nelson did.
He saw the foot on the base and heard the ball hit the glove, though it was the wrong glove. It is a difficult play to judge in real time and he probably should’ve gotten help on the call from the home plate umpire, who would’ve had a better angle.
Truthfully, this is an awful call and will certainly feed the instant replay debate, but don’t blame Jeff Nelson.
He did everything he could have in that moment.
If you want to blame someone, blame Justin Grimm for getting in the way and forcing Nelson to make a terrible call.