This from the AP recap of Saturday's game regarding the turning point in the third inning:
With two outs and runners on second and third, Theriot hit a grounder to shortstop Jose Reyes. Reyes fielded the ball on the infield grass, but first base umpire Marty Foster ruled Reyes' throw was late to first, allowing Jason Kendall to score. Replays showed Reyes' throw just beat Theriot, but Mets manager Willie Randolph didn't contest the call.
“Why?” said Randolph. “It doesn't make [any difference]. Would he change it? It's pretty obvious so I have nothing to say. I would have gotten thrown out of the game. What does that accomplish?”
Oh. Of course. No reason to let an umpire know he's not getting them right. They don't revoke their mistakes.
Except maybe they'll understand they might have blown one and they'll be more vigilant next time it happens to your team. Maybe you get a makeup call, baseball's two wrongs sometimes equaling a right. Maybe an umpire or an umpiring crew will be a little less likely to take advantage of your apparent disinterest in the outcome of an individual call.
Does an umpire actually think, “Randolph's not gonna give me guff, but Piniella will, so if I want to save myself some hassle, I'll give the close calls to the Cubs”? Doesn't sound likely, but who the hell knows? But if you see a wrong committed in your field (we're not talking about saving the world here, just saving a run), why wouldn't you say something?
Willie's correct in that “safe” probably to almost certainly would not have become “out”. There is such a thing as false hustle, even among managers. But squeaky wheels, sadly, get greased more often than the silent kind. Willie Randolph runs out and tells Marty Foster, “I think you blew it, ask for help,” and at worst he gets tossed. At least he's made a statement. Willie doesn't have nearly the portfolio as a manager to play the calm-and-sturdy card as much as he does.
I don't need Lou Piniella out there tearing up bases and rearranging dirt. I don't need Bobby Cox setting records for obnoxious behavior. I don't need Joe Torre acting priggishly offended that a decision would ever tilt away from his entitled charges. But I could use a little more of a proactive nature from Willie Randolph. It's silly for any of us to judge his demeanor unhelpful when we're not on the bench or in the clubhouse, but watching a call that was, yes, fairly close, but even to the naked eye close enough to obviously wrong elicit zero reaction from our manager…it's very discouraging.
Get in somebody's face, Willie. We deserve your engagement.
P.S.: Barry Bonds is giving the most gracious press conference you could imagine in the wake of him hitting No. 755 in San Diego, sending warm wishes to Alex Rodriguez, our own Tom Glavine, the Padres fans and Henry Aaron. So in that spirit (even if the charm is a bit disingenuous), congratulations to him on tying a helluva historic record. Cap tip to Rodriguez, too. Let's get another milestone taken care of tonight, shall we?