Nats react to controversial call: ‘He never tagged me’

By Tom Schad | Associate Reporter

Trailing 4-2 with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Pirates on Wednesday night, Wilson Ramos stood on first base. Denard Span hit a chopper to second baseman Neil Walker, and then things got interesting.

Walker lunged to tag Ramos, who appeared to shift out of the way, and then threw the ball to first base to complete the double play. Umpire Laz Diaz ruled that Walker had tagged Ramos, so the game was over. Video replays showed that Walker’s tag missed Ramos. Manager Davey Johnson went out to argue the call, but his efforts were unsuccessful.

Diaz was unavailable for comment after the game, but here’s what some of those involved had to say:

Ramos: “Not even close. He never tagged me. … I don’t know, maybe he want to go home.”

Span: “He didn’t tag him, from what I saw. Neil Walker charged the ball, tried to tag him, and when he didn’t tag him, you can even tell by the way his effort was to even throw it to first, he was just trying to get an out with me. It was not even close, and that’s too bad that Laz missed it.”

Johnson: “[Diaz] said he saw the tag. I said, ‘Were you in position to see the tag?’ He said, ‘Yeah, I saw it.’ … I asked Mike Winters, ‘How about you?’ He said, ‘I didn’t see it.’ Wasn’t in position.”

Ramos: “He told me, ‘He tagged you. I don’t hear, but I saw it.’ I said, ‘Sure, you didn’t see anything. Not even close.'”

Johnson: “It’s almost a guess play.”

Span: “It’s no secret that the ball definitely isn’t bouncing our way. That wasn’t the story of the game tonight, but anything could’ve happened if that play isn’t called there.”


Unfortunately, blown calls happen all the time because of the general incompetence of MLB Umpires and not just to the Nats alone. What continues is the Nats general inability to hit the baseball. It seems only Jason Werth seems to know what to do with a bat in his hand. Ekstein’s firing was long over due despite the howling and moaning over what a nice guy he was and how hard he worked. But the Nats inexplicably have not learned their lesson. Rick Shue is apparantly a protege of Ekstein and has the same approach and philiosophy of Ekstein. What is that old phrase that states “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” CRAZY is the result of such thinking. And as you can see the insanity continues. Where is Frank Robinson when we need him so desperately.

Harold G. Pavel

I’ve backed the umpires for years, now. I did more than my share of umpiring at a high school, college, and adult rec league level for well over a decade. It is now time to seriously address the umpiring situation in the major leagues. Those of us who actually pay attention as more than just casual fans can name 1/2 dozen umpires that need to be dumped, including Laz Diaz, Joe West, etc. Selig & MLB has been messing around with “exploring further instant replay” for years, now. Nothing has happened or will happen of any significance.

There are some realistic reasons for the problem. 1. The game play is now so fast that it is almost impossible for a human to make correct calls, on bang-bang plays. 2. There are a number of umpires whose history proves them incompetent and they absolutely need to be fired, now. 3. Some of the umpires just don’t care, in that they aren’t in shape to get in proper position to make calls and never bother with thinking about how to improve.

There are some basic solutions, all of which can be instituted, now. 1. Greater use of instant replay. 2. Expansion to a six man crew. 2a. plate & basis are two different skill sets, 2b. Have the best plate umpires rotate on a game by game basis and the other four do the same with field umpires. 2c. The extra umpires would work the foul lines & outfield calls.

Of course, all of this is never going to happen, unless someone begins to publicly embarrass the umpires, regularly and in print. The answer to that is easy. The Post, Sun, SunTimes, NYT, Boston Globe, etc. need to do a box score, each day on the umpires performance. They can use pitch trak to tally up right/wrong calls on balls & strikes. They can simply use replay to show mistakes on the bases. My bet is that, if the next day, Angel Hernandez opens the paper and sees that he had a .825 right average on balls & strikes or Laz Diaz wakes up and sees that he blew the call on the runner and gets to the ballpark knowing that all 35,000 folks in the stands are cognizant that he is incompetent, and that it has been published for all to see, maybe he’ll either bust his hump to get in the proper position to make calls or he will simply go home.

In summation, something needs to be done, but it is really up to the press to push.

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