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replacement umps affecting play


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Personal observations:


On Friday night, the Mudcats? Kevin Randel hit a ball down the right field line. I couldn?t see where the ball landed, exactly, but I?ve watched almost 100 games from that vantage point since I moved to Carolina in 1998, and from the trajectory of the ball there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that it would land foul. It did, as I confirmed later with someone downstairs who had a good view of the play - but the umpire at first base initially made no call, and then half-heartedly signaled fair. Randel steamed into second with a double. Gary Jones was livid, and was tossed. Carolina went on to score six runs in the inning, overcoming a 4-1 deficit.


One inning and a 1:22 rain delay later, with the score now tied at 7 all after some shoddy fielding by the Mudcats led to three Baybear runs, Carolina?s Edgar Gonzalez took a pitch for a called strike. Mudcat manager Luis Dorante protested the call (briefly), along the lines of ?that pitch hasn?t been a strike all night? - an accurate assessment. Nothing especially untoward was said - and by this point in the game, you could hear virtually everything that was being said on the field, given that the time was approaching midnight and most of the fans had left. Order was restored, but only briefly. Within, say, 30 seconds after retaking his position behind the plate, the home plate umpire turned to the 3B dugout and ejected Mudcat pitching coach Rich Gale. Gale came blazing out of the dugout, screaming ?For what? For what?? and it took about another five minutes to restore order.


On Saturday night, the plate umpire?s zone was ludicrously small AND inconsistent, and both starting pitchers (Ben Julianel and Roger Deago) struggled to find something, anything, that would be called a strike. Both pitchers had nearly a 1-1 ratio of strikes to balls (the norm is somewhere around 2-1 in favor of strikes) and rang up big pitch counts that led to both pitchers being pulled after five innings despite pitching effectively. The umpiring was bad enough to draw a comment from Patrick Kinas, Carolina?s radio voice, after one pitch down the heart of the plate was called a ball.




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