Leyland rants about umpires, accountability
Jim Leyland’s postgame remarks lasted all of about five minutes, but he got in all he wanted. Actually, he didn’t want to say as much about the missed call as he wanted to talk about accountability for it.
Clearly, replay showed that Gerald Laird caught the 0-2 pitch to Mike Aviles before it bounced in the dirt, and replay strongly suggested that Aviles didn’t foul off the ball in the first place. Home-plate umpire Jeff Nelson made the ruling on the foul tip, while first-base umpire Bill Welke overruled him on whether Laird caught it.
“You guys need to write something and hold people accountable,” Leyland said. “You know what, we’re all accountable in this business. All of us are accountable. And when I say all of us, I mean everybody that’s involved in the game needs to be held accountable. That’s exactly what needs to be done.
“There should not have been a rally in that inning. Now, anybody that saw that, have the nerve to write what you saw and say it, because I’m not going to sit here and rip umpires. But you saw what you saw, clearly saw what you saw. I just saw it for the tenth time. Write it and say something.”
Umpires make mistakes. The problem Leyland and Laird seemed to suggest was that Welke made his ruling from a worse view than Nelson had, even though Nelson asked for help on the call.
Leyland: “I’m sorry. I’m the most patient man in the world with umpires, protect them more than anybody, and I understand the human element involved in the game. But you’re 120 feet away. Clearly, you have to be 110 percent sure. You can’t be guessing at that call. I mean, that’s that simple. I mean, come on. We gave up seven runs. Ok, that’s part of it. We did that. But we all need to be held accountable. Everybody involved in the game needs to be held accountable. Everybody. That’s all of us. And you can figure out who the people involved in the game are.”
Laird: “It’s a tough call. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t understand how somebody from 120 feet sees it better than someone back here, when you can clearly look at the baseball and see if there’s a dirt mark or a scuff. Because if you foul a ball in the dirt, it’s going to make a mark. And I even showed him the ball. There’s no mark.”
Leyland mentioned accountability several times, even during the minute and a half of the interview that made it to television. He did not have an answer, though, for how to hold umpires accountable, preferring to leave that up to the commissioner’s office.
“I don’t have anything to do with that,” he said.
Laird said several times that umpires have a tough job, and he has respect for the work they do. He also sounded less than enthusiastic about the idea for more replay.
“They’ve got the home runs now,” Laird said. “If you have to stop for little things like that, it’s just going to prolong this game, and you’ve already got games that last three, three and a half hours. That would’ve been quick, but then you have to stop every little thing, and that’s going to add up time. Honestly, you’ve just got to hold yourself accountable. I know they have a tough job, and I know they’re doing their best. It’s just seeing it night in and night out.”
Laird seemed more open to the idea of getting umpires together to confer on a call such as that.
But then, one of the problems was that there was a limit to how much heat they were taking on the call from the Tigers dugout. Third-base coach Gene Lamont, the first guy ejected, said third-base umpire Tim Tschida told him enough was enough, and ejected him after the next thing Lamont said.
“Somebody in our dugout was yelling at Tschida. He yelled and I said, ‘Tim, you’re going to have to take some heat when you make calls like that.’ And I said, ‘Well, you cost us three runs.’ And he pretty much told me that was enough, and I said something else, and he kicked me out.”
It was not a profanity, Lamont added.