From Matt Gelb:
When Derek Jeter was called out attempting to steal third base with no one out, he asked third base umpire Marty Foster for a reason.
Jeter thought he was safe. The ball had beaten him there, but he moved his left hand around Scott Rolen’s glove and replays showed he touched the bag before Rolen’s tag.
“He didn’t tag me,” Jeter told Foster.
“He didn’t have to,” Foster said, according to Jeter. “The ball beat you.”
Jeter was incensed. He followed Foster as he walked away to argue. Third base coach Rob Thomson restrained Jeter as Yankees manager Joe Girardi ran toward third looking for an explanation. (“Jete’s not going to argue unless he’s safe,” Girardi said. “That’s the type of player that Derek Jeter is.”)
So less than a minute later, when Girardi received the same reasoning Jeter did, the manager was ejected.
“I didn’t care for the explanation,” Girardi said. “Just leave it at that. There has to be more to it.”
Jeter, who rarely argues any call, couldn’t believe what he was told.
“I was baffled by the explanation,” Jeter said. “I was told I was out because the ball beat me and he didn’t have to tag me. I was unaware of that change in the rules.”
I understand that umpires are not perfect and should not be held to an impossibly high standard. Furthermore, it is fair to expect that umpires might rely on visual cues such as the ball beating the runner to help them make a decision on a close play. However, Foster’s blithe response to Jeter suggests a laziness and willingness to be wrong that should be punished. The ball beating the runner should not result in an automatic out, and the umpire should make every effort to determine whether a tag was made. To hide behind the idea that the ball beat the runner is inexcusable. As Rob Neyer states:
I was watching the game, and the replays were clear: Jeter should have been safe. The umpires missed several other calls in this game. But that’s going to happen. What’s not supposed to happen is missing calls and then admitting that you don’t really care if you missed them — can’t be bothered to get them right.
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