In all of its glory, here is the brutal call at home plate that ended Monday’s Twins-Athletics game.
Cuddyer is safe in scoring the game-tying run, of course, but Mike Muchlinski, a Triple-A ump filling in for a vacationing major league counterpart, got himself in lousy position and blew the call.
What makes this particularly disgusting is that Muchlinski knew exactly what was materializing. He clearly took a peek towards third when Cuddyer was rounding the bag -- he knew there was going to be a play at home -- yet he still did his best Brandon Phillips imitation while loafing over to where he was in an awful position to make the game-determining call.
And the positioning is as much of a problem as the laziness. It’s ridiculous how often umpires let themselves be screened on plays at the plate. Unfortunately, the best place to make those calls from would be in fair territory, right at the top of the circle. We never see umpires there, though, and for good reason most of the time. Still, wouldn’t it make a lot more sense to set up on the first-base line except when the throw is coming in from right field? Muchlinski doesn’t blow that call if he’s three feet to the right. He probably wouldn’t have blown it if he was a couple of feet to the left, as he would have had a better view between Michael Wuertz’s legs. Delmon Young, the hitter on the wild pitch, has no formal training and was in a much better position to see the play.
Muchlinski, though, didn’t set up anywhere. He was still moving even as the tag wasn’t being made. He only stopped to make his impressively elaborate out call, complete with the arched-back load-up and powerful right hook to the ground. It was the type of punch out that’s sure to get him noticed if MLB ever again hires a full-time ump. He’ll certainly have A’s fans on his side.