Tampa Bay Rays: Upon Further Review No Replay Necessary
By Althea Pashman
The Tampa Bay Rays challenged the call on the field, and without a video review of the play, the call was reversed as the umpire in question admitted he blew the call.
An umpire admitting he blew a call does not happen often, but it did in the Tampa Bay Rays game Monday night against the Los Angeles Angels in the second inning when second base umpire Hunter Wendelstedt did just that.
In Nolan Fontana’s attempt to steal second, it was very clear that Ray’s second baseman Michael Martinez had put the tag on his arm before he reached the base. However, in the eyes of Wendelstedt, he immediately spread his arms out making the safe call.
Martinez as quickly as Wendelstedt made the call, pointed to the Rays dugout gesturing to Ray’s manager Kevin Cash to challenge the call. Cash did just that and Wendelstedt along with crew chief Joe West huddled before they started their walk to towards the area near the Angels dugout to put on the headsets to correspond with the replay crew in New York.
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However, they stopped midway, huddled in discussion again, and without a replay, reversed the call, calling Fontana out at second base. Wendelstedt who made the initial call of safe, made the reversal call of out.
Maybe it was because the replays shown on the video screen at Tropicana Field, which clearly showed Martinez out was the reason for not going to the headsets. On the other hand, maybe the umpire’s are human after all as in the case of Wendelstedt, who admitted to West during their huddle that he blew the call.
After the game, pool reporter Martin Fennelly of the Tampa Bay Times, via the Rays post-game notes transcribed the explanation from West and Wendelstedt as to why a review was not needed.
"“Well, it was an unorthodox challenge. The umpire at second base, Hunter Wendelstedt, believed he erred in making the call. So when they went to challenge, he stopped me and said I want to change it myself,” said West."
"“When you’re an umpire you have to be honest with yourself. I committed one of the two errors that normally result in missing a play. You have good positioning, which I had, and good timing. Most of the time you’re going to get them most of the time right. I had really bad timing. And as soon as my hands went out (indicating the runner was safe), I knew that I’d missed it,” said Wendelstedt."
West also went on by stating, “After consultation, and it doesn’t have to be with all four umpires, we can correct what we deem as an error. And we did.” Additionally, West said the umpires can huddle and change a call without going to replay.