Actions of Scott Barry and umpires in Phillies-Astros series is embarrassing baseball
I don't know what is more humiliating. Watching the "offensive powerhouse" known as the Phillies (who constantly fail to gain ANY ground on the first place Braves) score just four runs in 25 innings to the lowly Houston (Triple A) Astros, or watching baseball's ever increasing arrogance and incompetence of the men who umpire the game.
To be fair, you can't entirely blame the last two Phillies' losses on this umpiring crew. The team simply doesn't hit when Cole Hamels pitches, and Jayson Werth was caught with his head in the clouds for what seemed like the fourth time this year. Losing to a team with (at best) three proven major league starters (Carlos Lee, Michael Bourn, and poster child for ritalin Hunter Pence) is a disgrace.
Make no mistake however, the umpiring in this series has been disastrous at best. And it truly is amazing how the judgment (or lack thereof) of the men in blue can alter a game, pennant race, or the outcome of an entire season.
On Monday night, first base umpire Greg Gibson missed two calls at first base. One in which Bourn was called safe on a controversial play. Though Bourn apparently went beyond three feet of the path he established for himself while running, Ryan Howard seemed to tag Bourn out before he even made it to first base (more on Howard later).
Two months ago, Shane Victorino was called out at first for going out of the base path against the Indians. Manuel went out to argue the play and was ejected. The umpire who ejected Manuel: Gibson. Manuel stated Monday that Gibson offered a different explanation of the same play during "Base Path Gate, Part 1."
Now back to Howard.
Nevermind that he has accumulated 12 strikeouts since his return from the disabled list this past weekend. Howard's most infamous strikeout during this stretch occurred during Tuesday night's 16-inning heartbreaking loss. Minor league replacement umpire Scott Barry ejected Howard after he flung his bat in disgust after a questionable check swing strikeout in the 14th inning.
Truth be told, there wasn't one person in the Delaware Valley who didn't see this ejection coming. On a previous strike, Barry got into a staring match with Howard after he ruled that Howard committed on a check swing resulting in strike two.
Just the look in Barry's eyes as he stared down Howard had "provocation" written all over it. He was just waiting for an opportunity to throw Howard out of the game. It speaks volumes when the normally mild-mannered and extremely well-liked Howard exploded and began to pursue Barry on the field after his ejection. To top matters, Ross Gload (yes, the same Ross Gload who is on the disabled list) was ejected after Howard. Are you kidding me? That's similar to the ejection of Hamels in Toronto last year when he was getting taken out of the game.
So as a result, the inning ended, Roy Oswalt had to play left field, and Raul Ibanez went to first base because the team had used up their bench. We were laughing when Oswalt made the first putout of the inning, and when Ibanez dove headfirst to nail Bourn on a close play at first base. We weren't laughing however, when Ibanez dropped a potential double play relay which led to a Houston run in the top of the 16th inning, and Oswalt (batting in Howard's spot in the lineup) grounded out to end the game. How's THAT for karma, baseball gods?
Has it come to the point where Major League Baseball's umpires are given so much power and reek of self-righteous arrogance to where they aren't held accountable for their mistakes or actions, can't even remember the call of a similar play, or can't even ask another umpire for assistance just in case (by some strange notion) they are wrong? (As Gibson refused to do when requested by Manuel Monday night).
What really makes matters worse is that they can't even own up to their mistakes after the game. Why was Jim Joyce available immediately after he blew what should have been Armando Galarraga's perfect game, but Gibson was "not allowed" to speak in regards to Monday night's "debacle?"
Did the rules change that quickly? Probably not.
As for Barry, it's pretty obvious he is trying to make a name for himself while he gets his moment in the sun. Don't you find it ironic that Ryan Zimmerman AND Howard (who both NEVER get thrown out of games) were both tossed by Barry for similar reasons in the same week?
All of this can be solved by instant replay. However, Bud Selig (possibly THE worst commissioner in the history of baseball) will have none of it. He may have been a great owner for the Brewers, but has there EVER been a commissioner SO out of touch with the state of his sport? He makes General Motors look like Microsoft. It's time to put egos aside and see what is going to improve baseball.
All human beings make mistakes, but when umpires like Gibson and Barry justify their actions with blatant arrogance, it is ruining the character of the game. For now, we are stuck with the judgment of these umpires until their superiors take action. Whether it's corporate America or sports, no accountability means no fear of consequences. The hammer came down in 1999 when 22 umpires resigned over their collective bargaining agreement. Their time of eating humble pie has obviously come and gone. While the above mentioned actions are not reflective of every umpire, this particular crew should be disciplined or followed closely by Major League Baseball.
As for Barry, his behavior in regards to how he handled Howard should get him sent right back to the minors, where he belongs.
Contact Joe Vallee at email@example.com