The New York Yankees season came to an end when they lost the wild card game against the Boston Red Sox. But it didn’t have to be that way. First, of all this is not a condemnation of umpires because they are held to a different standard than players or managers. Second, it’s not about one team or even one win or loss. It’s simply a statement of fact. An umpire’s lousy call can dramatically change any baseball season with just one bad call.
Any ardent baseball fan watching the game for years knows that there are good umpires and those known to be pretty lousy. So many fans have wondered for years how Angel Hernandez keeps his job; he is generally considered to be the worst umpire there is. The names C.B. Bucknor and Joes West also enter into the conversation. But in this postseason, none is worse than Gabe Morales. He might have made two season-ending mistakes that might as well have sent two teams packing. What makes the mistakes beyond egregious is that the bad calls weren’t even close to correct. In this modern age of instant replay, mistakes and how bad they were being flashed around the world in an instant.
After Morales made his last season-ending mistake, New York Yankee pitcher Nestor Cortes Jr. had seen enough and expressed so on Twitter. He did it very politely, but he had to call out Morales for his ugly officiating.
The call he was referring to was Morales’s far from a correct call he made in the Los Angeles Dodgers/San Francisco Giants ALDS final game 5. In the ninth inning of that game, a horrible call sent the Giants packing with one hideous call. Wilmer Flores was called out when he failed to hold up. The problem call was uncovered on instant replay that Flores did hold up and by a mile. Unfortunately, that type of call can not be challenged, and just like that, the San Francisco Giants went down with a resounding thud.
That call sparked memories for Cortes Jr. that were very close to his heart. There is nothing exceptional about Cortes Jrs. pitching, except for the results. He is not a flame thrower, doesn’t have one particular strike-out pitch. He is an enigma. Hitters never know what is coming at them from all different arm angles, speeds, and positions. But, Cortes Jr. also has an excellent memory. He doesn’t forget. He knows who is responsible for a dramatically missed call. A call that may have been the difference between the Yankees playing the wild card game in the familiar environs of Yankee Stadium instead of having to play at Fenway Park.