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Umpire Lance Barksdale blames catcher for blown call


There was a lot of talk about the strike zone during last night’s game, with a whole lot of calls — mostly high and on the corners — being missed by home plate umpire Lance Barksdale. Given that the game was 7-1 those missed calls really had nothing to do with the outcome, but they were pretty notable.

But not as notable as one particular missed call that, it seems anyway, was not a function of Barksdale not being able to properly ascertain the difference between a ball and a strike. Rather, it was because he apparently thought Nationals catcher Yan Gomes was showing him up.

During the sixth inning, Nats pitcher Tanner Rainey threw a pitch to Astros outfielder Michael Brantley that pretty clearly caught the bottom corner and should’ve been strike three. Gomes, as a lot of catchers do when they know their pitcher made their pitch, caught it, bounced up and headed for the dugout. Barksdale called it a ball, however.

Why? Because, Barksdale said, “you were taking off on me,” suggesting that he called it a ball because Gomes got out of his crouch assuming the strike call, which Barksdale thought was disrespectful. Gomes immediately got Barksdale’s drift and said, “oh, it’s my fault?” Which I imagine might’ve gotten him run out of the game if it wasn’t October, but here we are:

An umpire missing a call because he’s bad at telling a ball from a strike is not great, but at least it’s just a mistake. An umpire blaming a missed call on the catcher — with the implication that, perhaps, he might’ve called it differently if his feelings weren’t hurt — is another thing altogether.

Umpires are gonna be upset if and when they’re replaced with automated systems to call balls and strikes. But they’ll be at least partially to blame if it happens.

Larry Walker to wear a Rockies cap on his Hall of Fame plaque

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I guess this came out the day he was elected but I missed it somehow: Larry Walker is going to have a Rockies cap on his Fall of Fame plaque.

While it was once solely the choice of the inductee, for the past couple of decades the Hall of Fame has had final say on the caps, though the request of the inductee is noted. This is done to prevent a situation in which a cap truly misrepresents history. This issue arose around the time Wade Boggs was inducted, as he reportedly had a deal with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to pick their cap on his plaque which, to say the least, would’ve been unrepresentative.

There have been some mildly controversial picks in the past, and some guys who would seem to have a clear choice have gone with blank caps to avoid upsetting the fan base of one of his other teams, but Walker’s doesn’t seem all that controversial to me.

Walker played ten years in Colorado to six years in Montreal and two years in St. Louis. His numbers in Colorado were substantial better than in Montreal. His MVP Award, most of his Gold Gloves, most of his All-Star appearances, and all of his black ink with the exception of the NL doubles title in 1994 came with the Rockies too. Walker requested the Rockies cap, noting correctly that he “did more damage” in a Rockies uniform than anyplace else. And, of course, that damage is what got him elected to the Hall of Fame.

Still, I imagine fans of the old Expos will take at least some issue here. Those folks tend to be pretty possessive of their team’s old stars. It’s understandable, I suppose, given that they’ve not gotten any new ones in a decade or two. Add in the fact that Walker played for the 1994 Expos team onto which people love to project things both reasonable and unreasonable, and you can expect that the Expos dead-enders might feel a bit slighted.

Welp, sorry. A Rockies cap is the right choice.  And that’s Walker’s cap will feature.