Ump's call still rings loud in ALCS

October 14, 2005|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Two baseball regulations whose origins date to the mid-19th century, both relating to a swinging third strike and the actions of the three men closest to it, appear to have had a significant influence on the 2005 American League championship series, and could alter umpiring procedures.

The controversial, ninth-inning events that led to the Chicago White Sox's victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night wrought a day of review by Major League Baseball officials, who last night supported home plate umpire Doug Eddings' decisions and the manner in which he expressed them.

"I think Doug should sleep fine," said former umpire Steve Palermo, now a supervisor of major league umpires. "I hope people realize that if we are able to clarify this, Doug Eddings did everything he was compelled to do and required to do. And he did all of those things consistently. He did his job.

"He is in this position because he earned it. I think a lot of people are shooting the messenger here. He didn't make the rule, he's enforcing it."

Eddings, who will umpire the right field line in tonight's Game 3, incurred the ire of the Angels when, in a tie game with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, he ruled that Angels catcher Josh Paul had trapped a pitch by Kelvim Escobar that White Sox batter A.J. Pierzynski swung over for Strike 3.

Apparently believing that Eddings had raised a fist to signal Pierzynski out, Paul rolled the ball to the pitchers' mound, and his teammates followed him from the field. Pierzynski dashed to first, was declared safe on a technicality, and a pinch runner scored from second base three pitches later. The game was no longer tied, but the series was, at one game apiece.

Eddings, by the rules of baseball, had determined that Paul had not "legally caught" the pitch, and therefore would have to tag Pierzynski or throw to first base for the out.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia argued that whether Paul caught the ball on the fly or a bounce, Eddings had indicated Pierzynski was out, with a sweep of his hand and a clenched fist, leading the Angels to believe the inning was over.

After reviewing tapes of the game, Mike Port, baseball's vice president/umpiring said he could not determine if the ball was "legally caught", but was satisfied Eddings' gestures were consistent with those made in earlier Strike 3 situations.

"Procedurally, it was handled the right way," said Port, the former Angels general manager. "Summarily, Doug Eddings did nothing wrong. He gave the same signal for all swinging strikes. If the question is, `Did he call Pierzynski out on strikes?' The answer is no. He was indicating the batter swung at the pitch."

LEAGUE CHAMP. SERIES

(Best of seven; *-if necessary)

American League

Los Angeles Angels vs. Chicago White Sox

(Series tied 1-1) Game 1 -- Los Angeles 3, Chicago 2 Game 2 -- Chicago 2, Los Angeles 1 Today -- Chi. (Garland 18-10) @ Los Angeles (Lackey 14-5), 8:28 p.m. Tomorrow -- Chi. (Garcia 14-8) @ L.A., 8:15 p.m. Sunday -- Chicago@Los Angeles, 8:15 p.m. *Tuesday -- L.A.@Chicago, 8:28 p.m. *Wednesday -- L.A.@Chicago, 8:28 p.m.

National League

Houston vs. St. Louis

(Series tied 1-1) Game 1 -- St. Louis 5, Houston 3 Last night -- Houston 4, St. Louis 1 Tomorrow -- St. Louis@Houston, 4:30 p.m. Sunday -- St. Louis@Houston, 4:45 p.m. Monday -- St. Louis@Houston, 8:28 p.m. *Wednesday -- Hou.@St. Louis, 4:19 p.m. *Oct. 20 -- Houston@St. Louis, 8:28 p.m.

WORLD SERIES

(Best of seven; *-if necessary) Oct. 22 -- NL@AL, 8 p.m. Oct. 23 -- NL@AL, 8:10 p.m. Oct. 25 -- AL@NL, 8:30 p.m. Oct. 26 -- AL@NL, 8:25 p.m. *Oct. 27 -- AL@NL, 8:25 p.m. *Oct. 29 -- NL@AL, 7:55 p.m. *Oct. 30 -- NL@AL, 7:55 p.m.

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