Mar 09

Mets Wrap: Good Pitching News About Wheeler, Niese And Parnell

The Mets received good news on three pitching questions this afternoon, two of them were injury related.

Despite not liking his performance, Zack Wheeler threw three scoreless innings to highlight the Mets’ 8-2 victory over Atlanta. In addition, there were positive reports regarding Jonathon Niese and closer Bobby Parnell.

It was more than just numbers for Wheeler, who said he’d like to forget about his performance, adding he was overthrowing his change-up.

“Today was really just going out there and working on some stuff, just because you’re going to face those guys at times during the season,’’ Wheeler told reporters in Port St. Lucie. “I was trying to work on my changeup. I was a little erratic, because I was sort of rotating my shoulders a little bit.

“Every time you get out there on the mound, it’s been a little problem for me. There’s a little too much adrenaline, I guess.’’

In addition:

* Niese said he would be able to make his exhibition debut Tuesday against St. Louis in Jupiter, Fla. Niese is coming a strong performance in an intrasquad game Thursday. Niese complained of a sore shoulder earlier in camp and underwent a MRI, Feb. 26.

* Parnell made his first game appearance since last July, and gave up a run in one inning.  He was pleased with how he reached another level to blow away Tyler Greene to end the game.

* Veteran relievers Kyle Farnsworth and Jose Valverde combined to throw three scoreless innings.

* Center fielder Juan Lagares threw out Andrelton Simmons attempting to advance from first to third. Lagares set a club-rookie record with 15 outfield assists last season.

 

Oct 06

Ump Holbrook Blows Call To Cost Braves; MLB Needs Replay

Chipper Jones was right, the Braves didn’t lose to the Cardinals in the wild-card play-in game because of umpire Sam Holbrook’s horrendous infield fly call. Then again, it didn’t help and this game will forever be known as the “Infield Fly Rule Game.”

Jones made a critical error and the Braves committed three overall, but they had a chance to overcome them when they loaded the bases with one out in the eighth inning. Or so, everybody but Holbrook thought.

Another historic bad call.

Andrelton Simmons lofted a pop-up to left field – measured later at 225 feet from home plate — which landed perhaps ten feet behind retreating shortstop Pete Kozma and incoming left fielder Matt Holliday. Neither could have reached the ball with an all-out dive.

Kozma veered off at the last second, as if Holliday had called him off.

The rule states an infield fly would be called if the defensive player could have made the play with “an ordinary effort,” and must be made in a timely manner to inform the runners of the out and to allow them to advance at their own risk after tagging up.

Kozma’s feet never stopped moving, and when he veered off he actually ran away from the ball. This action alone is enough to show he had no intention of deceiving the runners, who never retreated to their bases.

That Holbrook, the additional umpire down the left field line, made the call directly in front of him should tell you Kozma was so far out that it wasn’t an ordinary play. It should have been the third base umpire’s call, but these guys rarely change a call. They don’t want to show up their partners.

In addition, Holbrook made the call late, with the ball on its downward flight.

All this can be seen on replay.

Later, Holbrook saw the replay and lamely defended the call, saying: “Once that fielder established himself, he got ordinary effort. That’s when the call was made.”

Trouble is, Kozma never established himself. He never stopped moving and his last movement was away from the play.

Don’t know what Holbrook was looking at either time. Other umpires have blown calls and at least had the class to admit they missed the call. Not Holbrook.

The Braves’ appeal to MLB was denied by executive Joe Torre, as was expected. With the expanded playoffs, there’s no time to wait another day to resume play if the appeal was granted. Never mind getting it right.

Torre’s decision was based on that it was a judgment call, but this was bad judgment by Holbrook. Plain and simple, he blew the call and not one analyst said otherwise. In fact, an ESPN poll had 69 percent respond this was an even worse call than the interception at the end of the Seattle-Green Bay game.

That’s hard to believe.

I understand the concept of an umpire’s judgment, but this was bad all around. Holbrook had no sense of what was going on. The rule is designed to not deceive the runners, but both Holliday and Kozma were so far away from the ball they never had the chance. Kozma’s actions alone would dictate this not being a normal call.

The technology is so good today that instant replay should be expanded to allow blown calls not decide playoff games. I’m tired of seeing games decided by incompetence. Not when there’s a vehicle for getting it right.

Play was stopped for 19 minutes as the grounds crew cleared the field of litter thrown from the stands. There’s no excuse for such behavior. There’s also no excuse for such a bad call.