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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

First things first, let's get a little background on the Hunter Wendelstedt-Ozzie Guillen fued. Back on August 9th of last year, Hunter Wendelstedt called Carlos Lee out at second base on a stolen base attempt to end the first inning.

I just went back and watched it again, to see if it was as blatantly obvious call; it wasn't. It was a bang-bang play though, and Wendelstedt did a poor job of getting himself in position to view the ball. You can't see it on MLB.tv, they are in commercial breaks, but Ozzie comes out and argues the play, then walks back to the bullpen. As the broadcast comes back from break, Ozzie has reemerged from the dugout, and is within inches of Wendelstedt's face. -- The Cleveland announcers speculate that he saw a replay in the dugout. -- Ozzie continues to go nuts and eventually gets run, which was probably a good idea, because he didn't have to watch a horrendous outing by Felix Diaz.

That's where the fued began, and that's where it should have ended. It would have just been a normal encounter with an umpire on a call that didn't go your way. Unfortunately, it's not so simple with Ozzie at the helm.

Ozzie got a 2-game suspension, and Wendelstedt filed a report to the league office -- which I believe is required when you toss a guy. I don't know for sure though. I could be making that up -- Anyway, Ozzie Guillen got a copy of the report (again presumably league policy) and he proceed to tell anyone who would listen that it was full of lies.
"I don't blame them to suspend me or whatever it is, but the guy lied. Whatever his name is, Hunter or whatever. He lied. He lied to major league baseball, he lied to Mr. (Bob) Watson, he lied to Mr. Sandy Alderson," Guillen said. "You are not a real man when you lie, especially when you write it down."
and here
"He lied because he said I came here to see the replay and went back to the field," Guillen said. "He said [pitcher Mark] Buehrle told me the guy was safe. Mr. Buehrle didn't have to tell me, because I knew the guy was safe. He told Mr. Watson that I said he was out of position. That never came out of my mouth."
In watching the replay, Hunter was out of position, and Ozzie definitely called him a few explicatives. I was able to make out "fuck face," from the MLB.tv feed. -- Although it is Ozzie, so you never know. -- I don't know who to believe, but there was no reason to call out an umpire like that. It's only going to comeback and haunt you. -- Here's what I had to say about the whole ordeal at the time.
Even more troubling is Ozzie doesn't seem concerned how his actions are going to effect his team in the future.
"If we have trouble every time I see him ... good, I'll take the chance," Guillen said. "I don't like people when they lie. You are not a real man when you lie about something, especially when you write it down. That really bugs me."
Yep, That's really gonna help the team Oz. Thanks.
Just like a predicted, it came back to haunt the Sox in this series. Now I'm not blaming the Umps for the outcomes of the last two games. I never like to lay blame to umps or refs. They are like the weather; they're present at the game, both teams have to play with them, but they may effect one team differently than the other. You have to play through it and deal with the outcome. -- Now, onto a game recap, sort of.

* * * * *

MEATIn Tuesday's game, in the 5th inning, there was a play at the plate that didn't go the Sox way. Mark Kotsay appeared to be out, but was ruled safe. Once again, like his buddy Wendelstedt, Bruce Froemming found himself out of position. It was a judgment call, and it's the type of call that often goes the home team's way, especially when the Ump is blocked and can't see the plate. (Froemming is not in the picture at right. He's behind Widger. Widger's body is blocking Froemmings view of both the tag and the plate.)

* * * * *

In Wednesday's game, there was a play at first base where Scott Podsednik was called out on the back end of a double play. It was clear he was safe. Again some of those just don't go your way. There appeared to be a similar call on a double play later in the game that may have gone the Sox way. It seemed to be a wash.

* * * * *

Today, in the top of the ninth and 2 outs, the Sox put men on 1st and 2nd via the walk. With Joe Crede at the plate, Justin Duke-sher threw a ball inside and Crede didn't make any attempt to avoid being hit. In fact, he appeared to drop his elbow to make sure that the big breaker made contact. (You can see it by going to the MLB page and clicking on the top plays link) I know what the rulebook states,
The batter becomes a runner and is entitled to first base without liability to be put out (provided he advances to and touches first base) when He is touched by a pitched ball which he is not attempting to hit unless (1) The ball is in the strike zone when it touches the batter, or (2) The batter makes no attempt to avoid being touched by the ball; If the ball is in the strike zone when it touches the batter, it shall be called a strike, whether or not the batter tries to avoid the ball. If the ball is outside the strike zone when it touches the batter, it shall be called a ball if he makes no attempt to avoid being touched.
but that's not how it's normally called. Jurassic made no attempt to avoid being hit in the ass by Harden on Tuesday, yet he was awarded first. Rowand appeared to turn into the same Duke-sher curveball earlier in the game, and he was awarded first. It's just a play that's never called.

And this is where all the background on the Ozzie v. Wendelstedt fiasco comes into play. It's a call that doesn't get made, but if given the opportunity to turn the tide in a tie ball game, there's no doubt in my mind that Wendelstedt was looking to do so. Yes, it was the right call. Wendelstedt went by the book, but if that was an Oakland batter leaning in to one in that situation, Hunter's giving him first base.

Ozzie immediately challenged the call. He rushed the field and was given about 15 seconds before he was thrown from the game. After the game Ozzie had this to say,
"The thing is the attitude, that's the thing that bothers me," said Guillen of his argument with Wendelstedt. "If you give me the right answer, I'll walk away. All of a sudden, they try to big league me again. I guess I have to stay here for a long time to earn some respect. But I have to protect my players."
Crede popped up the next pitch to end the Sox inning, throwing his bat into the large foul area at McAfee Coliseum in disgust. Wendelstedt immediately ejected Crede for the bat flip, an offense that usually results in just a fine. Wendelstedt showed his true intentions on the bat flip. He needed to prove who the big man was. The only reason Crede got run from the game was the name of the team he had on his chest.

I bring all this up not as an excuse for the loss, but as a note for the future. We will see the Froemming & Wendelstedt crew again, and you can bet there will be similar plays that just happen to go the opponents way. You're not doing your job as an umpire if you are the news. You are not doing your job as an umpire if a team sees they have your crew working a series and they already know it's going in the L column.

* * * * *

Southside Shuffle
In the span of about 16 hours, the Sox had three different players make their major league debut at shortstop and one make his debut at third base. Those HBP's that I complained about yesterday added up. Uribe, Ozuna, and Iguchi all went down from plays that occurred during Tuesday's game.

While the Sox didn't hit any A's in retaliation for the 6 Sox that got plunked, Carl Everett was able to send a little message with a hard slide that broke up a would-be double play. As soon as I saw the line-up today, I knew they couldn't afford to get into a bean ball war. There were just too many people ailing, and we didn't need add another one. When the A's come to Chicago though, I know that I'm going to remember the M*A*S*H unit we had to put out there for a game. I'm sure the Sox will too.

* * * * *

Trying to pull some positives out of the last couple of games.
  • By all accounts the mood was light after Tuesday's debacle. They could have just packed it in and said "why us?"
  • They went out and competed with the little league line-up they were forced to play with today, and they took Oakland into the 9th tied 1-1.
  • Aaron Rowand is looking better at the plate. He seems to have better command of the strike zone. I would expect him to come out of his funk pretty soon.
  • Chris Widger looked really comfortable at the plate and was game when called on to play third base, where he made every play that came to him.
  • They're over. We don't have to go back there until July 1st.