Oakland Athletics: Where's the Accountability for Officiating?

By Greg Higgins
Bob Melvin Oakland Athletics
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

If the Oakland Athletics miss the playoffs this year, they might point to Wednesday night’s game against the Cleveland Indians as one of the reasons why, especially if they miss the playoffs by one game. Trailing in the ninth inning, Adam Rosales hit a game-tying home run. The only problem is that the four umpires didn’t quite see it that way. Originally, it was called a double. When A’s manager, Bob Melvin, asked for a review, the umpires elected to not overturn the call. Melvin was livid and was immediately ejected when he ran out to argue the call.

At first glance, it’s easy to see how the umpires thought it was in play. The problem, though, is that they had a chance to look at video review and still got it wrong. MLB officials came out and said that the wrong call was made but the ruling would stand as is. It’s good that MLB made a statement, but how does that make Oakland feel? They lost a game in which they should have had a chance to win it in the ninth or in extra innings.

At what point do the referees realize the game is not about them. Someone once said the best officiating job is one in which the fans didn’t know the officials were out there. Too many times, though, the egos get in the way. People aren’t paying big money to watch Angel Hernandez blow a call at a critical junction of a ball game.

Earlier this year, the Tampa Bay Rays lost a game to the Texas Rangers in which Ben Zobrist was called out on strikes to end the game. The pitch, however, was not even close to being a strike. The call did give Joe Nathan his 300th career save but even he couldn’t believe the pitch was called a strike. The umpire, Marty Foster, said after the game that he wouldn’t call that pitch a strike again. The strikeout ended the game, but a walk would have put the tying run in scoring position and the go-ahead run on first.

Baseball isn’t the only sport that has officiating issues. The NFL has had its share of controversial plays and calls. Of course, the most famous occurred last year when the original referees were on strike. It was Monday night game between the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers. Seattle wideout Golden Tate pushed off the Packers defensive back and then wrestled the ball away from the Packers defense. Replay showed the pass interference that was missed but also showed how the play should have been an interception for Green Bay instead of a touchdown. The NFL came out the next day and said the referee’s missed the call but it would uphold the ruling on the field.

Perhaps the most aggravating thing with the NFL referees is the idea to flag a player at different times of the game. Why is one play ruled pass-interference during the second quarter but not the third? This mindset is very prevalent in the NBA. Everyone is aware of preferential treatment given to star athletes. Lebron JamesTim DuncanKobe Bryant and Kevin Durant will get away with things O.J. MayoJason Terry and others will not. For some reason, NBA officials seem to swallow their whistle when the game gets down to crunch time. Nobody wants to be the official that calls a foul and puts someone on the free throw line with a chance to win. However, the same play is a foul in the first quarter of every game.

At some point, there has to be accountability to the league when it comes to officials. Players, coaches and owners are fined when they speak out against the officials, but nothing seems to be done when an obvious blown call is made. The league comes out and publicly announces the mistake but that doesn’t help the team and doesn’t really hurt the officials. I’m not saying they should be fired but if there was a little more accountability, we might not see the same mistakes over and over again. For now, I guess fans will have to remember the game is not about the officials — even though they try their hardest to make it that way.

Greg Higgins is a Sports contributor for Rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter: @greghiggins457, “Like” him on Facebook, and add him to your network on Google.

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