‘It Gets By Buckn[o]r!’

Kendrick6thB 
[Edit: Above photo screen-grabbed by Alan Wood of Joy of Sox and posted to SOSH.] 

The Red Sox lost by five runs last night, so this isn't a way to push the blame for the loss itself on someone else other than the team who could not score any runs against a John Lackey who gave them some chances.

That said, Major League Baseball should be embarrassed by the execrable performance of its umpires, both last night and throughout the season. C.B. Bucknor, as was pointed out in last night's game thread, has twice been voted in Sports Illustrated player polling as the worst umpire in baseball by a large margin. Greg Gibson is better known as the umpire who threw out then-Sox hitting coach Ron Jackson out of a game because he "read his lips," after which Terry Francona got himself tossed because "I can't stand to watch you [expletive] umpire anymore."

As a result of Joe West's inconsistent strike zone and Bucknor's horrendous performance last night, Lester was required to throw an extra inning. Might it have made a difference? Maybe, maybe not. Again, the Sox lost by five, so that's not really the point. But, frankly, it's a credit to Lester that those three terrible calls did not lead to more damage.

This is, as Curt Schilling stated, a postseason umpiring crew filled with men widely regarded to be among the worst in the league at their jobs. What was Major League Baseball thinking?

26 comments… add one
  • Well, i wish I had seen this thread before I posted the following at the end of last night’s gamer…anyway, here’s my take:
    Well, yeah, Schilling was 100% right (and FWIW, although I think he’s an intolerable blowhard, he is an intelligent guy who often makes some very good points).
    Joe West represents everything wrong with MLB umpires – the ego, the grandstanding, the overbearing need to decide the outcome of the game. If the pinnacle of officiating is to be “invisible,” and most sports enthusiasts would agree that it is, than Joe West is the worst.
    And Bucknor is an absolutely terrible ump. Just wait and see what happens when/if he gets behind the plate in this series. I am hoping he does (I think he would be game 4, right?), because it might become the rallying-cry around the game to have machines call balls and strikes, AS I HAVE BEEN PRAYING FOR.
    All that said, reason #1 why the Sox lost last night was because they couldn’t do anything against Lackey.

    Mark-YF October 9, 2009, 10:15 am
  • Did I miss something, how did his 2 bad calls cause an extra inning for Lester? The strike zone sucked on both sides as far as I could tell….

    sam-YF October 9, 2009, 10:18 am
  • Thank you Paul, for expanding on my thoughts! :)

    dw (sf) October 9, 2009, 10:18 am
  • Sam – Hunter was clearly out on a missed called third strike. Youk had the runner tagged, and had the bag before the runner. CB really caused two thirds of an inning, West caused the other. While it didn’t *direcly* lead to runs scored, it definately altered the course of the game.

    dw (sf) October 9, 2009, 10:28 am
  • hmmm, post was erased, so much for “preview”
    Her’s a normalized plot of the stikezone last night: http://tinyurl.com/yhvbyh2 Lester clearly squeezed, Lacky not so much.

    dw (sf) October 9, 2009, 10:33 am
  • I guess so dw, but there was a bad call at 3b that went for the sox and a few questionable balls and strikes against the angels too. While the balance of favor certainly tilted towards the Angels, I really dont think it had that much of an effect on the outcome of this game. Walking Abreu 3 times was much more damaging than the bad calls at 1st as was grooving an 0-1 pitch to Torii Hunter.

    sam-YF October 9, 2009, 10:36 am
  • Sam, I think you are being needlessly contrarian. Bucknor explicitly cost Lester 2/3 of an inning. But it’s not about the Sox, really.
    The gist and of this post is not that Bucknor cost the Sox the game (Paul disregards this pretty clearly), but that Bucknor is almost universally regarded as an awful umpire and as such – why is he given the honor and responsibility of refereeing a playoff game?

    SF October 9, 2009, 10:42 am
  • I think Hunter came off the bag and Lowell kept the tag on it appeared. If that didn’t happen, yeah, it was a bad call.
    Overall the umps stunk, the sox also stunk.

    dw (sf) October 9, 2009, 10:43 am
  • the bad calls probably evened out in the end…for example hunter was safe at 3rd…by the time he came off the bag, it appeared that lowell had given up on the tag…that call cost the angels another run…as for the strike-zone, i gave up years ago trying to figure out how that’s determined…as near as i can tell, it’s not static, rather it floats around home plate based on umpire preference, and somewhat less on pitcher/hitter reputation…i thought lester pitched great under the circumstances…lack of offense lost this game…

    dc October 9, 2009, 10:45 am
  • The two horrible Bucknor calls didn’t directly affect the outcome of the game, but they did make Lester throw two extra outs, or about 12 extra pitches. It’s also pretty devastating to a team’s mentality when you get fucked over so horribly twice in a row.
    Still, Lackey really shut us down. Let’s hope Beckett can do the same tonight.

    Atheose October 9, 2009, 10:45 am
  • I think the forest is being missed through the trees here, which is in Paul’s last question – why are these guys the chosen, select few refereering these tense, major contests?
    And if this kind of slop continues, will we reach a tipping point for the institution of replay as a mechanism, or at least some sort of limited challenge ability for each team, a la professional tennis? I think this is a far more interesting discussion than wondering the significance of the blown calls on the game last night.

    SF October 9, 2009, 10:52 am
  • Don’t forget the clear strike three to… Abreu? I forget who… that had Lester walking off the mound. I was thinking of that call particularly with the two Bucknor calls. Those were three outs Lester should have had. I don’t recall (though it obviously wouldn’t have registered as strongly either) Lackey having any similarly obvious complaints. The two Darren Oliver pitches that had the Angels sqwalking in the eighth were clearly balls on replay. And there was Ball 4 to Youkilis on 3-0 that was clearly outside called strike 1, which ultimately resulted in an out.
    Just a terrible night all the way around. It sucks when you’re team is sucking. It makes it all the worse when the umpires aren’t making it any easier.
    Also, I’m not sure about the play at third. At first, I thought it was a bad call, but on replay it looked like Lowell might have had his glove on the runner after he slipped off the base. At any rate, it was much closer than either of the atrocities Bucknor committed at first.

    Paul SF October 9, 2009, 10:53 am
  • SF-
    Im not trying to be contrarian. I totally agree with the overall gist of Pauls post but Ive been seeing discussion here and elsewhere in which the loss is linked a bit too much to the bad umpiring. In watching the game, I really dont think it had that much of an effect. That said, the umps should have NO effect on the game so the point that they sucked stands.
    Another terrible call that hasnt been mentioned here went against the Angels. It was the catchers interference on Ellsbury which didnt actually happen and gave the sox an extra crack at scoring while making Lackey throw more pitches. This crap tends to even out I guess…

    sam-YF October 9, 2009, 10:54 am
  • That CI call was bizarre. I for the life of me couldn’t see any contact on replay, but it’s also very hard to see that kind of contact on replay (trying to see whether a hitter was actually grazed by a pitch is similarly difficult).
    Also sucked because TBS went to commercial so it’s hard to see how much the Angels argued that call.

    Paul SF October 9, 2009, 10:57 am
  • Anyway, I think I’m needlessly turning this into a game of who got screwed the most.
    My original point stands. This is a terrible crew, with a real chance to affect the outcome of this series, and MLB apparently thinks they’re worthy of its biggest stage. Embarrassing.

    Paul SF October 9, 2009, 10:58 am
  • I believe Francona said that he and Ellsbury didnt believe it happened….regardless, I agree with you Paul the umpiring sucked something special last night.

    sam-YF October 9, 2009, 11:01 am
  • “…This crap tends to even out I guess…”
    that was my point…the notion that the real issue is inferior umpiring for the post season is right on, and can be laid at the feet of the umpires union and mlb…fix it…otherwise we’re left discussing the umps’ impact on the game and the need for replay, and not the gem pitched by lackey and the angels getting the monkey [sorry for the awful pun] off their backs…like i said, lack of offense lost this game…no red sox reached 3rd base…even if you throw out the bad calls, the angels win at least 1-0 on hunter’s hr…

    dc October 9, 2009, 11:04 am
  • Supposedly umpiring crews get reviewed every year, and the best crews are “rewarded” by being allowed to do the postseason. The system is obviously a failure, as Schilling said before the game even started.

    Atheose October 9, 2009, 11:05 am
  • Regarding the CI call, supposedly Mathis told Scoscia not to argue because the contact did occur. I sure as hell didn’t see any contact either though.

    Atheose October 9, 2009, 11:07 am
  • As much as I hate Joe West (seriously, eff that dude), Pitch FX indicates he called a pretty good strikezone last night – and the few mistakes he made appeared to balance out (seemed to be an equal number of squeezes and gift calls). Although Lester did get squeezed on strike 3 to Abreu in the first inning.

    Mark-YF October 9, 2009, 11:25 am
  • Added the screen grab up top. Makes clear just how egregious that second call was.

    Paul SF October 9, 2009, 2:03 pm
  • and I counted – 7 pitches in the zone called balls for lester, 2 for Lackey. 3 pitches out of the zone called strikes for Lackey, 2 for Lester.

    dw (sf) October 9, 2009, 2:15 pm
  • As long as we’re talking about individual calls, I got to the game late and the only controversial call I saw was Hunter at 3rd base. Like everyone I too thought it was a missed call since the throw and tag was so late but the SFs here who are saying he was indeed tagged out after he slid are absolutely right. His foot came off the bag and he was clearly tagged on the knee. Now whether the 3rd base ump made a wrong call on the slide and lucked into a correct call or whether he saw what the replay clearly showed and called him out on the late tag on the knee I don’t know. But that call was ultimately correct and shouldn’t be counted in a tally of blown calls in my view.

    IronHorse October 9, 2009, 3:49 pm
  • Now whether the 3rd base ump made a wrong call on the slide and lucked into a correct call or whether he saw what the replay clearly showed and called him out on the late tag on the knee I don’t know.
    I think he lucked into the correct call, personally. But I agree, it’s clear that he was tagged while off the base.

    Atheose October 9, 2009, 4:10 pm
  • rather be lucky than good sometimes? :)

    dw (sf) October 9, 2009, 5:08 pm
  • Any truth to the rumor that the “C.B.” in C.B. Bucknor stands for Certifiably Blind?

    SoxFan October 9, 2009, 7:47 pm

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