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Umpire apologizes to Johnson after blown call


Umpire apologizes to Johnson after blown call

It won't change anything -- certainly not the outcome of the game -- but umpire Alan Porter did apologize to Davey Johnson and admit to blowing a crucial call at the plate during the fourth inning last night at Nationals Park.

Johnson said the apology came later during the game, with Porter admitting he should not have credited the Dodgers with a run on a play in which the third out was recorded at third base before another runner crossed the plate.

"He said, 'I'm sorry I messed it up,'" Johnson revealed this afternoon. "They're good guys. I don't have a beef with them. But when you miss one, get help. He got help, and they still didn't get it right."

On the play in question, Porter counted a run scored by Matt Kemp even though the Dodgers slugger was 10 feet short of the plate when teammate Adrian Gonzalez was tagged out near third base by Ryan Zimmerman.

Porter didn't make any call until Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly came out of the dugout to raise the question, at which point the entire umpiring crew huddled to discuss the play. Porter then signaled the run should count, bringing Johnson out of his dugout to argue.

"To err is human," Johnson said. "It can happen. I knew that he didn't see it, because if he saw it, the first move is: boom pointing down, the run counts. That's what they do. And he didn't do it, and I thought: 'That's great, because he saw it.' And then Mattingly comes out, and he said: 'OK, the run scored.' So I know he didn't see it. But when they met I thought somebody would get it right."

Crew chief Mike Winters declined to speak to a pool reporter about the call after the game, which wound up a 7-6 Dodgers win, with the mistaken run proving the margin of victory.

This was the second obviously missed call to hurt the Nationals in a span of four days. On Saturday in Atlanta, umpire Marvin Hudson ruled Adam LaRoche's foot off first base on a routine play, even though replays clearly showed LaRoche making contact with the bag. The Braves' next batter, Jason Heyward, clubbed a home run to set his team on its way to a 5-4 victory.

Neither play was reviewable by Major League Baseball's current system, nor could the Nationals file a formal protest in either case (because out-safe decisions are considered judgment calls, not a rules interpretation).

Johnson isn't a proponent of expanded replay that requires umpires to leave the field and review controversial plays on a monitor, but he would support a system that added an "eye-in-the-sky" official who could overrule umpires from the press box after seeing a mistake on TV replays.

"I'm not a big proponent of going to the video room all the time," Johnson said. "The game's long enough. Maybe somebody up top in the pressbox with you guys, looking down with all the video right there, they could just do a flash card or something. ... Instead of running off the field and then looking, have one of them representatives up there up top."

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Whoa. Dusty Baker not returning as Nationals' manager. What comes next?


Whoa. Dusty Baker not returning as Nationals' manager. What comes next?

The Washington Nationals announced Friday Dusty Baker will not return as manager of the club in 2018. 

Baker led the team to the first back-to-back division titles in franchise history, and the Nationals were 192-132 under Baker, but they failed to make it to an NLCS.

Baker is 14th in MLB history with 1,863 career wins.

The next Nationals' manager will be their seventh since they arrived in DC.

Only the Marlins have had as many.

"I'm surprised and disappointed," Baker told USA TODAY Sports. "They told me they would get back to me and I told them I was leaving town yesterday and they waited 10 days to tell me."

"I really thought this was my best year. We won at least 95 games each year and won the division back to back years but they said they wanted to go a different direction. It's hard to understand." 

The team also announced the contracts for the Major League coaching staff have also expired, and the search for a new manager will begin immediately.


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Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy undergoes successful knee surgery


Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy undergoes successful knee surgery

While Nats fans were still digesting the news that Dusty Baker will not return as manager next year, the team released some more surprising news. 

Second baseman Daniel Murphy underwent knee surgery today, per an official team report. 

Washington Post reporter Chelsea Janes reported that the surgery is considered significant and the team won't put a timeline on the recovery process:

"The procedure, according to the statement released by the team, repaired articular cartilage in Murphy’s right knee. For those interested in the details, it was a debridement and microfracture surgery, and orthopedic surgeon Timothy Kremchek performed it."

"For those concerned with the implications of the procedure, those are still unclear. The statement clarified that Murphy’s rehab “will progress throughout the offseason,” as one would hope, and did not include a timetable.