3-ball walk leaves questions of ‘What happened?’
On Sunday, it took four balls before Cameron Maybin got his free
ride to first base.
A day earlier, it was a little easier, at least for him. An
umpiring mistake let the San Diego center field draw a bizarre walk
on a 2-2 pitch, prompting many in baseball to wonder: Can’t anyone
The whiff on Maybin’s shortened walk Saturday night that led to
the only run of the Padres’ 1-0 win wasn’t limited to the
scoreboard operator or home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi. No one in the
Seattle dugout or on the field complained that Maybin was trotting
down to first one pitch too soon.
Seattle manager Eric Wedge took it as far as calling a team
meeting Sunday morning in part to apologize for missing the wrong
”I’m the captain of this ship and something like that cannot
happen. That falls on me. I should have trusted my instincts with
what I felt it was, but I didn’t and that’s my fault,” Wedge said.
”That can’t happen. I preach to these guys about being accountable
and I sure as hell need to be accountable for that yesterday.”
Though such mistakes have occurred in the majors, they’re very
rare. Nationals catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who has played in over
2,500 games, said he’d never experienced anything like it
”Last time I saw that it was like the 4- and 5-year-olds
playing T-ball, or coach-pitch or something, where there’s one
umpire on the field and they might lose track. I’ve never heard of
that in a big league game,” Washington’s Adam LaRoche said. ”I’ve
seen it a lot of times where guys will run down to first on three
balls, but they always get called back. I’ve never seen it where it
slips by everybody.”
With one out in the fifth inning, Maybin fell behind 0-2 against
Seattle starter Doug Fister.
Maybin then fouled off a pitch before Fister missed to make the
count 1-2. Maybin fouled off another before Fister missed with a
curveball in the dirt. The count both in the stadium and on the
television broadcast showed 3-2 and the next pitch missed high with
Maybin walking to first base and no one making an argument to
The at-bat was reviewed on video by official scorer Dan Peterson
and it was determined the high fastball should have only been ball
three. Maybin later scored the only run when Alberto Gonzalez’s
one-hopper deep in the hole glanced off the glove of shortstop
Brendan Ryan and into left field for a hit.
”I watched it after the game. I don’t even remember fouling off
one of the pitches,” Maybin said Sunday morning.
”But I guarantee you from here on out,” Maybin continued,
”somebody in the dugout will be keeping track on both sides.”
Maybin walked the first time he came to the plate Sunday.
Crew chief Tom Hallion said after Saturday’s game that Cuzzi was
using a pitch indicator and had the count at 2-2. When Maybin
headed to first with no argument and the scoreboard showing the
count already at 3-2, Cuzzi figured he just missed a pitch.
It’s customary for plate umpires to keep track of the count with
a hand-held clicker that’s part of their standard equipment. It was
clear Sunday’s home plate umpire, Bill Miller, was using one in his
Wedge believed the same, thinking he’d just missed a pitch with
his head down as Fister works very quickly on the mound.
”You have to follow the game, which I think we do as well as
anybody. But it’s just such a rarity to the point where I’ve never
seen it before. Like I said I have to trust me gut on that one.
there is human error, but that can’t happen,” Wedge said. ”I
think we’ve definitely become too dependent on the scoreboard, I’ll
say that much.”
It was the second time recently a mistake was made on ball four.
Last weekend in Texas, there was a related mistake Nelson Cruz of
the Rangers took ball four on a 3-2 pitch. But no one seemed to
realize it was ball four, so he stayed in the box and struck out on
the next pitch.
It became a moot point in the Rangers’ 14-5 loss to the New York
Mets. But Maybin’s gift was magnified because it was the lone
Above all else, the gaffe highlighted the need to stay engaged
in what’s happening during the game, even with all the distractions
that can take place.
”Not to throw umpires under the bus, but you get to a point
where they make their calls, balls and strikes, safe or out, fair
or foul, that’s their job. Let them take care of it,” Houston
manager Brad Mills said. ”Now when you start missing some calls,
now you’ve got to start doing that (keeping up with it) and I think
that’s where all the griping and complaining comes in.”
AP Sports Writers Joseph White in Washington, Kristie Rieken in
Houston and AP freelance writer Amy Jinkner-Lloyd in Atlanta
contributed to this story.