What they’re saying about the Jerry Meals call

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If you’re just waking up to it now, know that home plate umpire Jerry Meals made one of the worst calls you’ll ever see in a baseball game early this morning, calling Julio Lugo safe at home in the bottom of the 19th inning of the Pirates-Braves game, handing Atlanta the win.  The photo to the right is the best one I’ve seen.

Not that there’s a ton of room for analysis or debate here. It was a pure blown call. The ump admitted it himself after the game. I went back and watched the replay from the Braves telecast and even Chip Caray and Joe Simpson — two of the biggest homers you’ll ever hear in a broadcast booth — couldn’t spin it, nor did they even try. So all we’re left with is reaction.

Now, normally when we troll reaction of a big baseball event with a “what they’re saying about …” post, we go with what pundits and bloggers write.  This time it seems that the immediacy of the moment captures it better than any sober reflection will, so I’m going with the instant reactions from my Twitter feed:

  • Buster_ESPN: If there was ever an argument for five-man umpiring crews–with one in the booth, overseeing replay to correct mistakes– it was just made.
  • Pirates pitcher Jeff Karstens, via the tweet of LangoschMLB: “”For some reason, somebody didn’t want us to play anymore. So the game was ended.”
  • BizballMaury: Sun was in his eyes (I think Maury may be offering a touch of sarcasm here)
  • Maholm28: Unbelievable game. I have never seen anything like it. Thats all I got (yes, that’s Pirates pitcher Paul Maholm)
  • SeanEP1: Other 3 umpires looked like they wanted to crawl in a hole and hide.
  • edrainey: I hear Jerry Meals has missed some time this year while serving on the Casey Anthony jury. May be why he is rusty. (Ooooh, ouch)
  • dodgerthoughts: When does the Jerry Meals-Daniel McCutchen book come out?
  • nvasconcelos: I’m just glad the human element of umpiring is preserved. That’s the important thing.
  • joe_sheehan: McKenry tagged Lugo on the leg and then the arm. Maybe Meals figured they canceled each other out.
  • 4Who4What: I can name 5 bad umpires before I can even think of 1 good one. The ineptitude is amazing.
  • DaleMurphy3 (yes, that’s the real Dale Murphy): On ‘swipe’ tags you usually see guys called out when they aren’t tagged, seldom do you see a guy get tagged, and then be called safe…weird
  • allenw111:  give me robot umpires, please…instant replay for all plays, I don’t care if it makes every game 4 hours long
  • keithlaw: Holy …

Note: If you can render Keith Law mostly speechless, you know you’ve done something monumental.

Instant. Replay. Now.

Orioles sign Alcides Escobar

Alcides Escobar
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The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.

Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.

Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.