A moment that will be discussed for years to come the Wilmer Flores check swing ruled a strike by first base umpire Gabe Morales in the bottom of the ninth during the NLDS game 5 on Thu Oct 14, 2021 at Oracle Park in San Francisco for the last out against the Los Angeles Dodgers (AP News photo)
A Disputed Check Swing and Why Rule should be Changed
That’s Amaury News and Commentary
Thousands of people at Oracle Park in San Francisco and millions across the country witnessed a terrible call by first base umpire Gabe Morales, (after a request asking for help, from the home plate umpire) decided a Wilmer Flores “swing” for the third strike, thus ending Game 5 which Dodgers won 5-4 over the Giants. Dodgers advanced to the NLCS and Giants went home for the winter.
During the past several years baseball has been changing many things, mostly trying to speed up the game. Here is one rule that they should change. What we all witness happens more often than you think, probably thousands of times during games in the regular season, but what made it much more blatant was it was the last out of a very important game with a huge television audience. TBS telecast of this game delivered the biggest audience this postseason so far.
Baseball uses six (6) umpires during the postseason, the regular four (4) on the infield, plus two (2) are added, one on left field and one in right field. We know this is done for the sake of accuracy because these are much more important games than the 162-regular season affairs. This rule (see MLB rules below) should be revised and possibly changed. The rule in question is very nebulous.
For the record: Wilmer Flores, prior to the questioned at-bat and during his career, never got a hit from Max Scherzer in 17 turns at the plate with 8 strikeouts. The probability that Flores was going to get a hit against this pitcher was very low, but just like baseball is not played on paper but on the field, baseball is also not played in probability but in actual time on the field. The Giants, including their manager Gabe Kapler showed a lot of class, considering what happened during what was out number 27 and the last one of that crucial game for both teams.
As of today I have never met a robot and had a conversation with one or somebody that walked on water and never made a mistake, I believe umpire Gabe Morales also was very candid after the game when he said the following (quote) “Check swings are one of the hardest calls we have. I don’t have the benefit of multiple camera angles when I’m watching it live. When it happened live, I thought he went, so that’s why I called it a swing.” (end of quote) Check swings are interpreted many ways by different umpires, not reliable when it comes to consistency. It is like the argument “what came first the chicken or the egg”?
Major League Baseball has a lot on their agenda this winter, especially negotiating a new CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) describing the rules of employment and financial structure of the game. The most recent was finalized on November 30, 2016 and last until December 1, 2021. This is a big deal for both sides, owners, and players, and will take a very good effort from both sides.
I am sure MLB still will have time on how to correct the controversial “check swing” rule, a very confusing rule that makes umpires more vulnerable and open for mistakes based on interpretation. This is the link to the Official Baseball rules. http://mlb.mlb.com/documents/0/8/0/268272080/2018_Official_Baseball_Rules.pdf
Amaury Pi Gonzalez is the lead broadcaster for Oakland A’s Spanish radio on 1010 KIQI Le Grande San Francisco and does News and Commentary at http://www.sportsradioservice.com