Was Braves win result of the worst call of the year?
Braves player Julio Lugo scored the game-winning and controversial run in the 19th inning.
July 27th, 2011
12:20 PM ET

Was Braves win result of the worst call of the year?

[Updated at 5:42 p.m. ET] A lot of people who love baseball sing the praises of its timelessness. No clock, game goes until somebody wins. Joe Posnanski wrote a long piece about this in Sports Illustrated just last week. And only in baseball can a game go almost seven hours - 19 innings - end at almost 2 a.m., and actually be over too soon.

That’s because what was (in the minds of many) pretty clearly a blown call by an umpire gave the Atlanta Braves a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates early Wednesday morning. It was the longest game ever played at Atlanta’s Turner Field. If the ump had gotten the call right, the game could have moved into a 20th inning. See for yourself.

The umpire, Jerry Meals, told a pool reporter after the game that after he saw the replays, it did appear to him that Pirates catcher Mike McKenry tagged the Braves' Julio Lugo on the shin on a play at the plate when Lugo tried to score on a ground ball to third base. But, Meals said, “when I was out there, when it happened, I didn’t see a tag.”

Of course to Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, it was obvious all along.

"I saw (McKenry) tag him three feet in front of the plate” he told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, “and that's the way it looked when I went back in there and looked at it again - he tagged him three feet in front."

Major League Baseball's chief of on-field operations, former big-league manager Joe Torre, said Wednesday afternoon that it appears Meals missed the call.

"Many swipe tags are not applied to the runner with solid contact, but the tag was applied and the game should have remained tied," Torre said in an e-mailed statement. "I have spoken with Jerry, who is a hard-working, respected umpire, and no one feels worse than him."

Torre's statement anticipated people calling for MLB to expand video replay reviews. MLB currently allows replay only for home run calls.

"I have heard many discussions on umpiring and technology over the past two years, including both the pros and the cons of expanding replay. However, most in the game recognize that the human element always will be part of baseball and instant replay can never replace all judgment calls by umpires," Torre said. "Obviously, a play like this is going to spark a lot of conversation, and we will continue to consider all viewpoints in our ongoing discussions regarding officiating in baseball."

The impact of the Braves-Pirates call is magnified because both teams are fighting for division leads or chances for the National League wild-card slot, so every game and every call counts. For those less invested in the outcome of the game, you can check out this top trending hashtag:  #jerrymealssaysitssafe, where people say they’ll do something dangerous - like run with scissors, or put a fork in a light socket, or tell people that nothing bad will happen if the U.S. defaults - all ending with “jerrymealssaysitssafe."

Besides being timeless, the baseball season is also sort of endless. It lasts for 162 games, so the Pirates, Braves, and Jerry Meals will all be back out there tonight for a 7 p.m. game.

SI.com gallery: Worst blown calls

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Filed under: Baseball • Sports
soundoff (109 Responses)
  1. roksnbeast

    The umpire was probably tired and wanted to get off the field.

    July 27, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Troy

      Exactly. Can't say I blame him.

      July 27, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Public

      haha. agreed. No reason to blow a call that was really obvious though. He gets paid a LOT of money so being tired is no excuse.

      July 27, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bigdawg

    The best angle for a replay was inconclusive at best. It seems a travesty, but you gotta look at the facts. Oh, and GO BRAVES

    July 27, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      You are officially blind.......

      July 27, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Los Gigantes

      You are an idiot. Even Braves fans know he was out by a mile.

      July 27, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • pfalte

      He SHOULD have been out by a mile, but I haven't see video yet that shows he actually touched to the guy with his mitt.

      July 27, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Colin in Florida

      I agree with bigdawg, I have seen this play several times from several angles, and it's inconclusive. Meals, whom I don't think is a particularly good ump, was in the best possible spot, and head said safe, and I have to take his word at it.

      If anyone is to blame, it's the catcher-he was too far i front of the plate-he should have blocked more of the plate, and not tried a swipe tag.

      July 27, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin in Atlanta

      @Los Gigantes, I have no idea what Braves' fans you're referring to. All of Atlanta saw the right call 🙂

      July 27, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. poor

    The best angle showed he was out. Hollow win.

    July 27, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rawlings

    Who gives a krap! FOOTBALL!

    July 27, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Public

      If you don't care then why read the story or post a comment on it???

      July 27, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Colin in Florida

      Football is barely organized brutality. Baseball has beauty unlike any other sport.

      July 27, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • moosh

      i love watching football ON TV. it's hard to appreciate everything the players do from a distance at real time without replay (i.e. live). baseball, however, is entertaining both live and on tv.

      July 27, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bemused

    Braves getting away with murder, just like they did when my Phils were in the basement in the mid '90s. Only now, our places in the pecking order are reversed. Kinda nice, when I think about it!

    July 27, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Spaz

      dumbazz, braves in 2nd not the basement... oh and they didn't buy everyone like the phools

      July 27, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • moosh

      yes, the braves got lucky breaks from umpires FOR 14 CONSECUTIVE YEARS. didn't you know the 6 cy youngs won by braves in the 90's were awarded because of one sided umpires?

      July 27, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Chris

    I think this is.... YYYYAAAAWWWNNNN! ZZZZZZZ

    July 27, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ted

    I remember watching a game when I was a kid in my home town. There was a similar play at 3rd base. Ump thought he had it right, opposing manager thought he was wrong. A huge arguement started with the ump saying "HE'S SAFE" and the opposing manager yelling "HE'S OUT" over and over and over. Until it finall ended with the ump saying this profound comment, loud enough so everyone could hear "Just answer me this then Mr Manager, how in the hell can he be out if I called him safe?" End of arguement.... lol

    July 27, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mike in SD

    Ok, so I get it – no replay, all on the umps... blah blah blah, but in all seriousness aside from winning the game, why wouldn't the Braves, even the RUNNER admit to an out? It shouldn't matter where the standings are, fact of the matter – dude was OUT. Go into the 20th inning and let the real winner walk away with a win. Way to teach young fans right from wrong!

    July 27, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shaman13

      Because Major League Baseball - and all other professional level sports - isn't about honor, or being a good sport, or anything else you are supposed to learn in little league. It's about winning and money. You win, you make money. Simple as that. I'm a die hard Braves fan from way back (Dale Murphy era here baby!) and even I thought it was BS.

      July 27, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • moosh

      because we teach our little leaguers that what the umpire calls is reality. it doesn't matter who did or didn't get tagged. what matters is what the ump says.

      July 27, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wendy

      Thank you Moosh!

      July 27, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin in Atlanta

      In Little League you're taught to have good sportsmanship (Honor) and to listen to whatever the umpire says (Respect for Authority). Those are two goods lessons.

      The prevailing wisdom in sports, however, is that some days the calls go your way, and on other days they go against you. It's part of the game, deal with it...

      July 27, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Collin

    Hey CNN,

    The video link is dead.

    July 27, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. erik

    I am a Pirates fan and that is an utter travesty!!!

    July 27, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mike

    "Video no longer available because of MLB" Hmmmm.... they don't want people to see the truth.

    July 27, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dew

      its posted on their website, mlb.com

      July 27, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dan

    Go Braves!....but yeah, that was a horrible call. Sorry Pirates. Doesn't the umpire know how to TiVo Leno ?

    July 27, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. babetoothe

    The umpiring has been horrible for a while now but the media and, obviously, MLB don't want to talk about it. I guess fans don't care since they never seem to complain about it either. For the money ball clubs are charging to see them play, I would feel cheated out of my money by constant sloppy play or umpiring.

    July 27, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Steven

    Typical Braves baseball. Luckily they will choke at the end of the season like they always do.

    Join me and other haters of the Braves on Facebook - search for "I HATE the Atlanta Braves" and join!

    July 27, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Hate all you want, Braves will keep winning. GO BRAVES!

      July 27, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      What's that choking sound I hear....coming from Sucklanta...... 🙂

      July 27, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin in Atlanta

      Steven, this article is about the Braves, not the Mets...

      July 27, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. stanton


    July 27, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
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