Forget instant replay, tireless debate, and robot umpires. This play would have been better off with no umpires at all.
Julio Lugo hops out of the slide, ready to head back to the dugout, one out closer to the 20th inning. Michael McKenry turns away to be sure none of the other runners are on the move. The announcers submit to the continuation of the game. The crowd groans.
Had the players been governing themselves, they would have gotten the call right.* They already had.
Then Jerry Meals stepped in.
Like flipping a switch of incompetence, the home plate ump decided last night/this morning’s 19-inning affair in Atlanta was over when he said it was, claiming McKenry “ole’d” the tag. He said later that he was probably out.
Sometimes, we have plays that are too close to call, based on the benefit of the doubt, or have former umpires in comment sections, firing back at detractors and claiming how hard the job really is.
This time, Jerry Meals has made that a little difficult.
*Obviously not saying umpiring should be removed from the game, just saying this particular case was so blatantly bad that everyone on every side of the play was aware of the correct outcome.