MILWAUKEE — St. Louis first baseman Lance Berkman
thought home plate umpire Brian Gorman missed a critical check-swing call on
him in the seventh inning of the Cardinals’ 3-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers
Berkman had an even bigger problem that the umpire made the call and didn’t
appeal to the first-base umpire.
The controversy unfolded when Berkman pinch hit with one out and runners at
second and third and the Cardinals trailing 3-2 in the seventh inning. He
attempted to check his swing on a full-count pitch from Brewers starter Randy
Wolf, but Gorman ruled that Berkman went around.
The veteran argued with Gorman for several seconds but eventually walked off
the field. Once in the clubhouse, Berkman saw a replay that confirmed his opinion,
and he returned to the dugout and continued to yell.
Gorman eventually ejected Berkman, who stormed back onto the field to continue
his argument. St. Louis manager Mike Matheny was forced to hold back the
veteran first baseman, who didn’t shy away from his displeasure after the game.
“My biggest beef was, you can’t make that call,” Berkman said.
“They think they can, but he was having a hard time getting the strike
zone right, much less seeing if anybody swung the bat. My beef was, just
appeal. We have a guy standing down there (as a first-base umpire). It’s not
tough to ask. You don’t have to make that call.
“I went in (the clubhouse) to look at it, to make sure what I felt was
actually what happened and it was. I wanted to let him know that No. 1, I felt
like he missed it and No. 2, I was unhappy that he didn’t at least appeal it to
first base. “
Berkman was also unhappy with a 3-1 curveball that he thought should have been
ball four. He started to walk towards first base before having to return to the
“I felt like he (Gorman) missed that one,” Berkman said. “I felt
like he missed the 3-1 pitch. It was just a tough night for him.”
Berkman said part of the reason he ran back onto the field after he was ejected
was to ask Gorman why he didn’t just appeal the play.
“He had no answer,” Berkman said.
The 14-year veteran has never been afraid to voice his opinion on matters
pertaining to the game. One of the most honest players in baseball, Berkman has
gotten in trouble with his mouth before.
He made critical comments towards commissioner Bud Selig in spring training
that he later apologized for. Berkman made headlines last season when he said
on a Houston sports talk radio show that he didn’t sign with the Rangers
because he didn’t think they would be any good.
“I still thought when I saw the replay that I didn’t swing,” Berkman
said. “It was close, but I felt like I stopped it. I know the definition
of a swing is hazy, but in my mind, if it’s questionable on a slow-motion
replay, you can almost never get it called if there’s an appeal.
“If you slow down any check-swing, they always go a little bit further
than it seems like they do in real time. So even slowing it down, I didn’t feel
like I swung, but I know for sure if he appeals that, there’s no way the guy
says that I swung.”
The biggest issue Berkman had was that Gorman made the call himself and didn’t
ask for an appeal. The 36-year-old said he believes home plate umpires
shouldn’t be allowed to rule on check-swings when the base umpires have better
angles to see.
“I don’t think they should be allowed to make that call,” Berkman
said. “I don’t think you can be watching the strike zone and also tell if
a guy swings the bat. It happens too fast. I know these guys pride themselves
on being able to see everything, but it’s just impossible.
“They are human beings and I feel like the action happens too fast. They
need to be made to appeal that. They should take it out of the home plate
Berkman was 3-for-32 in his career against Wolf heading into the at-bat. The
Cardinals failed to score in the inning and ended up losing by the same score