Bad Call Face-Off: Which Umpire Error is More Hilarious?

If the Tampa Bay Rays miss the playoffs by one game this year, do they have a legit beef with the umpiring from April 8th, 2013? Debatable. Either way, the strike three heard round the world on Monday was absolute comedy, and not in a good way.

Umpires are human, and miscues are going to happen. Oftentimes, if we’re being picky, they happen multiple times per game. But some are inexcusable (just ask Mapes–he’s still fuming over the “infield fly” in last season’s NL Wild Card game), whereas others are just plain funny.

When I saw the replay of Marty Foster’s perplexing full-count, game-ending, strike-three call on a Joe Nathan curveball that was gloved in the dirt, I couldn’t help but laugh. And I was immediately reminded of an equally embarrassing and obvious missed call last season at Coors Field that caused Rockies first baseman Todd Helton to comment: “[In the] neighborhood? It wasn’t in the same area code.”

So take a look at these two videos below, and vote in the poll: Which umpire error is more obvious…and more hilarious?

April 8th, 2013 — Rays vs. Rangers in Arlington, TX

May 2nd, 2012 — Dodgers vs. Rockies in Denver, CO 

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)


  1. Mapes' Dad

    Jeremy, Jeremy, Jeremy…

    No fair comparing these two calls. The Foster ring up of Zobrist is just horrible, and pretty consistent with his body of work. At least this time, he owned up to it:

    Welke’s call is a matter of angle. In umpire parlance, he got “straight lined”, meaning he had a confluence of events…ball arriving, runner arriving, and where he set up in the slot gave him no angle to see the foot off the bag. Getting straight lined is something you try to avoid, but as Timmy proves, it happens to the best of us. His only resort at that point is to look at the HP umpire for a quick “off the bag” signal, since HPU should have been trailing the batter to the 45 foot line. No malice, just missed. One of those things you’d have to be an umpire to understand.

    If a call comparison needed to be made, let’s not go back to almost a year (5/2/2012) to find one. The Rays had a runner passing call against them this week that looked equally as horrendous as Foster’s phantom strike three. Same team, same week, ripe for comparison.

    I assure, the first person to know he screwed to pooch is the umpire, Unless, of course, you’re Marty Foster.

    Mapes’ Dad

    • Jamblinman

      Hahaha! Great response. I understand the straight lined bit as much as a non-ump can, but I’ll be willing to bet you no other umpire in MLB ever misses that call. It was missed by a mile, but more hilarious than anything.

  2. Mapes' Dad

    Besides Timmy I can think of two more off the top of my head from last couple of seasons that were similarly ugly…Ed Rapuano and Jerry Meals. The one with Rap involved Jim Leyland, and was one of the best ejection dump videos…ROTF funny. I think Rap dumped Leyland for signalling the out with his thumb…always a fist, never with the thumb, Jimmy.

    That being said, it should be difficult to get straightline in a MLB game with full crew. But at the MiLB or high school level with a two man crew, it happens more because of coverages, distance and angle. Bryan has heard me preach “angle over distance” ad nauseum during umpire training classes. Getting a bad angle=making bad calls.

    Mapes’ Dad

    Foster…Australian for beer, American for bad umpire.


  3. Mapes' Dad

    No…feel free to claim it as your own. Foster had another turn last year when he was at 3B and dumped Showalter while Buck was arguing with Jeff Nelson at first. Wasn’t even involved in the play, and dumped Buck. It was atrocious.

    Tell KSW thanks for the retweet. 42 is not a baseball story; it is an American story. He was unwittingly the start of the civil rights movement.

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