Friday, June 21, 2013

My Flashbacks are a Reminder of How It Should Be

Last night in AT&T a batter for the Florida/Miami Marlins made no attempt to get out of the way of a pitch. The kind of pitch that was a little off of the plate and yet because the batter had a chance to become a runner he just stood there and "took one for the team."

Just then I went into flashback mode. Remember May 31, 1968 when Don Drysdale had a consecutive scoreless innings streak going and he was facing the (San Francisco)Giants' Dick Dietz with the bases drunk? He plunked ole #2 and Dietz dropped his bat and began trotting to first only to hear some loud mouth in blue tell him something along the lines of "Not so fast."

Henry Wendlestedt, who had been umpiring since 1966, told Dietz that since he made no attempt to get out of the way he would not be awarded first base. It was within his rights as the home plate umpire. Only, if my memory serves me well, I recall Dietz contorting his body back away from the ball. Only the ball missed the plate by too much for Dietz' attempt to look anything but futile. Unfortunately, for Dietz, he was standing in the strike zone as there was no chance of that ball missing him, no matter what he did.

Wendlestedt saw the opportunity as a chance to put his name in the baseball annals forever. It was at the expense of one game and at the time a record. But some people will do whatever they can to serve themselves if it has a chance of reaching historic proportions. And if you think about it, even the novice baseball fan during the 60's and 70s knew who the hell Harry Wendlestedt was, especially those followers of the orange and black.

Back to Thursday's game. June 20 2013. Why didn't the home plate umpire make the same call? I mean the batter (Dietrich) did absolutely nothing to get out of the way of a pitch just off the plate. In fact, according to play-by-play man Jon Miller, he leaned into the pitch. C'mon man, if you "lean into a pitch" you damn sure should not be rewarded by being awarded first base!

That umpire, Lax Diaz, should be reprimanded. Fined. Whatever means of paying the price for such a lack of attention to detail. (Note: The umpire's name was changed from Laz due to the effort he exhibited on the Dietrich "taking one for the team" at-bat).

(thanks to a book on Dodger Stadium by Mark Langill for the easy access to Wendlestedt's claim to fame. The pictures in this book fall in line with the Rod Stewart lyrics, "Every Picture Tells a Story.")

Kevin J. Marquez