The Chicago Cubs entered Game 4 of their NLCS matchup with the Los Angeles Dodgers with their backs against the wall, on the verge of being swept out of the postseason.
So you’ll have to forgive Joe Maddon for his getting heated over a genuinely baffling call from the umpires on hand.
With Maddon’s Cubs protecting a 3-2 lead in the top of the eighth, Curtis Granderson swung at strike three in the dirt.
But after a complaint from Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and an umpiring conference, the crew overturned the call.
Maddon had every right to be pissed.
— Larry Hawley (@HawleySports) October 19, 2017
It’d be one thing to get the call wrong at first and not fix it due to nobody’s getting a definitive look at the play. But to change a call without actual evidence is genuinely maddening.
Maddon apparently agreed, ranting to the umpires until his expulsion from the field.
☹ Joe Maddon ejected from game for disputing that umpires BAD rule ! Umpire was so wrong ! pic.twitter.com/jHxKXxXx4h
— Loony Department (@loonydepartment) October 19, 2017
Thankfully for Chicago, Granderson wound up striking out (again) anyway, and closer Wade Davis was able to slam the door on the Cubs’ first win of the series.
“That can’t happen,” Maddon said, according to the Chicago Tribune. “The process was horrible. To have that changed, and if Granderson hits the next pitch out, I might come running out of the clubhouse in my jockstrap. That was really that bad. So you can’t permit that to happen. The process was wrong.”
To the credit of home plate umpire Jim Wolf, he owned up to his mistake after the game—an act several MLB umpires are apparently allergic to.
“After talking with the crew (I was told) the ball did not necessarily bounce, but it hit the ground the same time as (it hit) the mitt,” Wolf said. “After hearing that, then I heard two distinct separate sounds. And after hearing from the crew that the ball did not bounce—it did hit the ground but it did not bounce—I basically talked myself into ‘He did foul tip it.’ … And after looking at it, I was dead wrong. I talked myself into the whole thing.”
For a profession that seems to attract the most stubborn individuals the planet has to offer, this is a refreshing reaction.
Across sports, umps and refs are going to get calls wrong. But they lose credibility when they refuse to acknowledge such mistakes. Wolf, on the other hand, is more than willing to cop to his screwup and learn from it.
There’s a reason he’s one of the league’s best.