HOUSTON–Baylor just got hosed by the umpires about as bad as you can get hosed. With runners on first and second and one out in the top of the third, Dustin Dickerson hit a sinking liner to left field. Rice left fielder Jeremy Rathjen dove forward for it, and it’s unclear if he caught the ball or not, but the third base umpire standing right in front of the play in shallow left very clearly held his arms out to signal safe. Rathjen threw the ball in to second base, where the Owls should have gotten a force out, leaving runners on the corners with two outs.
Instead, the home-plate umpire appeared to overturn the call, ruling that the ball was caught and the runner on second base had been doubled off, ending the inning. Even if the ball was caught–and from my vantage point it’s tough to tell–there’s no way the home-plate umpire can make that call after the third-base umpire very clearly ruled the ball had dropped. The runners must take their cue from the third-base umpire and assume the ball dropped. This is not like yesterday’s triple play, where no umpire made any clear call and all the baserunners were confused. In this case, there was no ambiguity–one umpire made a call, and the other umpire took the game into his own hands, depriving Baylor of a key scoring opportunity in a game it trailed 3-1.
UPDATE: Here’s what Bears coach Steve Smith had to say about the controversial play:
"The umpire in the field ruled no catch–I believe everybody saw that. So the baserunners react to no catch. Rice threw the ball into second base–they’re reacting to the play the way they thought the play was. The umpire in the field asked for help, after he’s made a no-catch, and the umpire at home plate reversed the call. At that point in time, getting the call right is really a moot point. You can’t have a do-over on that kind of a play, and that’s what they did."
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