How did Dana DeMuth miss that call?

As an umpire among baseball fans, I will hear that question today many times – How did he miss that? So here it is:

How did he miss that call?

How did he miss that call?

The simple answer, as every umpire who watched the game last night surely observed, is the DeMuth has his head locked down squarely on the base and was not watching the ball into his glove. Any umpire with any training or experience knows that you have to stay with the ball. So how is it that Dana DeMuth, a major league umpire since 1985 and a crew chief since 1999, made such a basic mistake?

There has been a lot of talk among umpires that I connect with about instant replay (and television coverage in general) and the effect that it will have on baseball traditions like the “neighborhood play”. We all know that this play is where the umpire allows the fielder to be just in the neighborhood of 2nd base when turning the double play, to avoid injury. When instant replay is instituted next year, the assumption is that this long standing tradition will be dead. I can only assume that if I’m interested in this, the MLB guys are, as well.

I (and most peers that I have spoken to), believe that DeMuth had decided that he was going to give (or not give) the neighborhood play if it came about, and let that distract him when the time came. That lack of concentration let him slip away from the tried and true “stay with the ball” and tried something new to deal with the new reality, and it bit him. Hard. I also believe he was too close to the play and didn’t see the ball on the ground until it was too late.

The fact that he immediately went to the transfer mechanic as a bail out mechanism will be the subject of a later post

by Paul Simko

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One response

  1. There should be “No Neighborhood Play” in Baseball. A trained umpire struggling to make the right call because he’s locked on base as opposed to ball. That in itself is wrong. You need to have the vision to see Out or Safe. That’s his job. And more importantly, if you pull off the base to turn the DP, the runner should be safe. Some will argue they are protecting the middle infielder. The day they take the non-sense out of the rule book that allows a runner to barrel over the catcher, you might convince me they are protecting a player. But as long as you can do that, I see no reason to give a neighborhood play.

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