Pittsburgh Pirates: Did Jerry Meals Make the Worst Call in Recent Memory?

Evan LaFranceContributor IIIJuly 27, 2011

ATLANTA - JULY 26: Julio Lugo #28 of the Atlanta Braves scores the game-winning run in the 19th inning against Michael McKenry #55 of the Pittsburgh Pirates at Turner Field on July 26, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

It was Jim Joyce all over again.

The Pittsburgh Pirates and the Atlanta Braves were battling it out for hours on end. The game was in the bottom of the 19th inning, and nobody had scored a run since the third inning.

Even with the lack of scoring, fans were engrossed in watching. Cameras showed both Pirates and Braves fans cheering their team on at nearly two o’clock in the morning. The game was a well-fought contest, and both teams were playing with unbelievable heart.

With men in scoring position and one man out, Scott Proctor hit a weak grounder to Pedro Alvarez. Alvarez threw a bullet to Michael McKenry, and the catcher obviously tagged out a sliding Julio Lugo.

At least, that’s the way everybody else watching saw it.

Jerry Meals, an umpire who has been involved in controversial calls before, saw the play differently. Lugo was called safe, and the Braves won the longest game in Pirates’ history.

As I saw the play live, I screamed at my television. I was in disbelief that someone could make such a bad call. How could a game so memorable end like this?

Is this the worst call in recent memory?

Jim Joyce blew Armando Galarraga’s perfect game last year by six inches. Jerry Meals blew a truly memorable game with possible playoff implications by six feet.

I can understand Joyce’s mistake. It was a closer call than most people will admit to. There was absolutely no reason for Meals to miss that play. When a game like that goes on for over six hours, you let the players decide the outcome.

Clint Hurdle put the call into better perspective than anyone can.

“The game deserves better than that.”

Yes, it does, skip. Yes, it most certainly does.