August 12, 2018

A Charitable Theory About Some Dismal Umpiring: Hunter Wendelstedt Went Temporarily Blind At The End Of Saturday Night's Game

Hunter Wendelstedt made several jaw-droppingly wrong calls behind the plate in last two innings of Saturday night's Red Sox/Orioles game. A kindly explanation for this fiasco would be that Wendelstedt experienced a bout of temporary blindness, rendering him unable to see any of the pitches and so he simply guessed as to their approximate location vis-à-vis the strike zone.

If I was not so charitable, I'd say that Wendelstedt is a garbage umpire who, if today's calls are indicative of his usual work behind the plate, should have retired quite a while ago (despite being only 47 years old). Or perhaps he hates Buck Showalter and wanted to screw him and his team.

Blind or incompetent? ... You make the call!

Wendelstedt's incorrect calls aborted the Orioles' eighth-inning rally against the Red Sox. He quite possibly altered the outcome of the game. Boston led 5-3 and reliever William Cuevas had walked two batters and thrown a wild pitch and Baltimore had the potential tying runs, to use that inaccurate phrase, in "scoring position".

Cuevas had a 2-1 count on Jace Peterson and he threw another pitch outside - but Wendelstedt called it a strike. Peterson stepped out of the box and stared at the umpire in disbelief. Instead of 3-1, the count was 2-2. Cuevas's next pitch was also outside (he is no idiot) but much closer to the strike zone. Naturally, Peterson had to swing at it. Wendelstedt's shitty call on the previous pitch left him no choice. He swung and missed - and the inning was over. The Orioles lost the game 6-4.

How shitty was Wendelstedt's call of Pitch #4 as a strike? Here is Gameday:
And here is Brooks:
Wendelstedt was also out of his mind when the Orioles batted in the ninth. Craig Kimbrel got a called strike on Jonathan Villar and then delivered another pitch well within the strike zone. Wendelstedt called it a ball (#2). After two fouls, Wendelstedt called Villar out on a pitch that was outside (#5).
Was Pitch #2 to Villar a gift to the Orioles for messing up Pitch #4 to Peterson? Or was Pitch #5 to Villar a make-up to Kimbrel for blowing Pitch #2 earlier in the at-bat?

I have no clue, but you know what would be nice? If the umpire could call the goddamn pitches correctly in the first fucking place.

For the entire game, when a left-handed batter was at the plate, Wendelstedt did not know his ass from an oboe.
These calls were not the judgment of a nervous rookie ump summoned from AA ball.

It's the work of a 20-year veteran. And if Wendelstedt is representative of the level of competence necessary for major league umpires, then the entire system is a joke. MLB must restore some semblance of sanity to the officiating process and start using some form of electronic strike zone.

Bring on the robots!

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