Toronto Blue Jays broadcaster Buck Martinez said he had never seen anything like it before. It’s entirely reasonable to think that whoever was in the booth for the Oakland Athletics was thinking and saying the same thing — or anyone in O.co Coliseum for that matter. Vic Carapazza is an MLB umpire, but after his botched call in Thursday’s game, it’s a wonder how.
Carapazza was manning first base on Thursday night in Oakland. He has been working at the big league level since 2010, so he has some considerable experience under his belt. The 34-year-old seemed to lack anything close to 20/20 vision in the game, not to mention he forgot some of the more basic rules in baseball. In the top of the second inning, Carapazza made one of the more brutal calls thus far in the 2014 season.
With the bases loaded and one out, Blue Jays CF Anthony Gose hit a ground ball to first base. Athletics first baseman Nate Freiman placed a tag on Munenori Kawasaki running to second base and then threw to home plate. The only thing is, Carapazza signaled Kawasaki safe even though the tag could not have been more obvious. What’s worse is that even if Freiman was unable to place a tag on Kawasaki, Kawasaki at one point was standing on the grass of the infield, meaning he broke the base bath. That means he should have been called out regardless of the tag.
Due to Carapazza’s atrocious judgement, Edwin Encarnacion crossed home plate and a run that should have initially counted didn’t, because it was ruled a force out and there was no need for the catcher to tag Encarnacion at home. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons challenged, the review overturned the initial call and Oakland was down 1-0 after Encarnacion was ruled safe. So the A’s and manager Bob Melvin played the remainder of the game in protest. Nothing felt right in the end, though, and there would have been even more administrative clean up after the game if the Athletics ended up losing by a margin of that single run.
It’s one thing for the panel in New York City to get a call wrong after instant replay has been called upon — and that’s happened on multiple occasions already, mind you — but for them to actually get a call right and the outcome to seem wrong doesn’t make much sense. Instant replay in baseball is still in its infancy, so there will be much to criticize. This entirely bizarre scenario could have simply been avoided if Carapazza did his job and was attentive — or knew the rules that apply to the game he has dedicated his livelihood to.
If the future of instant replay and umpiring in MLB is as bleak as was exhibited Thursday evening in Oakland, baseball will have issues being marketable. There are not only the criticisms that come along with getting a call wrong or right and how it affects the outcome of a game, but few fans want to wait repetitively through 25-minute delays to get a call right that anyone in the nosebleed section could tell you was the wrong call in the first place.
Carapazza should be ashamed of his terrible judgement. Yes he is a human, and human beings make mistakes. But if a truck driver uses poor, reckless judgment on a freeway and causes an accident that results in losses, they will lose their job. Carapazza might get a slap on the wrist or a perhaps a small fine. Maybe he should be sent back to the academy where he can learn the rules of baseball once more in order to not become complacent. Because hey, if he gets it wrong on the field, New York will clean up his mess. That’s not the way things should work. That is not the approach umpires should take. Carapazza is a professional, so he needs to be held accountable. His young career already has given him a reputation around the game that appears to be one of ambivalence. Thursday night in Oakland proved the same.
On a side note, Carapazza celebrates his 35th birthday on July 6. Maybe an annual eye exam and some new eyeglasses or contact lenses should be at the top of his wish list.