Don Denkinger worked as an MLB umpire from 1969 to 1998 and is infamous for blowing a call at first base in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series between St. Louis and Kansas City, yet even he calls the umpiring in this year’s playoffs “kind of a disaster.”
In an interview with Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record, Denkinger criticized the many blown calls we’ve seen throughout the playoffs and questioned commissioner Bud Selig’s reluctance to expand instant replay:
I’m in favor of getting all the calls correct, whatever it takes. I don’t see how he can get away with not [expanding instant replay]. It makes no sense not to. There’s nothing better than getting every call right. …
The way the game used to be played, what [the rulings were] just stood. But now there’s so much technology out there that can tell you if you’re right or wrong, why not use it? Why not have a guy in the booth who can review the play and get a ruling in 20 seconds? I don’t think anyone wants to see the game delayed any more than it is … but I think everyone wants to get the calls right. That’s the scenario every umpire thinks about.
And no one better understands the fallout from a blown call in the postseason.
Fellow second basemen Javier Baez of the Cubs and D.J. LeMahieu of the Rockies got into a disagreement in the top of the third inning of Sunday’s game at Coors Field over sign-stealing.
LeMahieu reached on a fielder’s choice ground out, then advanced to second base on Charlie Blackmon‘s single. While Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story were batting, Baez was concerned that LeMahieu was relaying the Cubs’ signs to his teammates. Baez decided to stand in front of LeMahieu to block any information he might have been giving to Arenado and Story. LeMahieu got irritated and the two jawed at each other for a bit. Umpires Vic Carapazza and Greg Gibson had to intervene to tell Baez to knock it off.
There has always been a back-and-forth with alleged sign-stealing. As long as teams aren’t using technology to steal signs, it’s fair game for players to relay information to their teammates about the opposing team’s signs. Last year, MLB determined the Red Sox went against the rules and used technology — an Apple watch in this case — to steal signs from the Yankees. Other teams in the past have been accused of using binoculars from the bullpen to steal signs. In this particular case with Baez and LeMahieu, there was no foul play going on, just Baez trying to make the Rockies cede what he perceived to be their slight competitive advantage.
The Cubs went on to beat the Rockies 9-7 on Sunday.