Red Sox Nation isn't the only group of baseball followers offering MLB commissioner Bud Selig their thoughts on the postseason umpiring. Twins fans have their own version of C.B. Bucknor in Phil Cuzzi.
Cuzzi, the left-field umpire in Game 2 of the New York-Minnesota ALDS, botched what may end up being the biggest missed call of the 2009 playoffs Friday night at Yankee Stadium. In the top of the 11th of a 3-3 tie, Joe Mauer sliced one to left field, knicking the tip of Melky Cabrera's glove and landing roughly four inches inside the foul line before bouncing up into the seats.
By rule, it's a book rule double. According to Cuzzi, it's nothing more than a long strike.
The ump immediately called the leadoff double a foul, forcing Mauer back to the plate where he ended up getting a single. The next batter, Jason Kubel, smacked a base hit to right, sending Mauer to second rather than home, which would have been the likely scenario should Cuzzi have made the proper call.
“I wasn’t the only one who blew one tonight,” said Twins closer Joe Nathan, who coughed up the game-tying two-run homer to Alex Rodriguez in the ninth.
Mauer ended up getting stranded at third base in the top of the 11th, and the Yanks went on to win with a Mark Teixeira walk-off homer later that inning.
“Hopefully, [Cuzzi] gets better,” Nathan said. “Hopefully, that umpire realizes he has to do something to get better.
The umpires can't be blamed for the Yankees' 4-3 win. New York's timely hitting and solid pitching won Game 2 in the Bronx. However, this won't stop Twins fans — and players — from asking "what if?"
"There’s really nothing we can do about a terrible call, and that’s exactly what it was," added Nathan. "It was an awful call at the wrong time.”
Even Cuzzi's co-workers admitted the error.
"There's a guy who's sitting over in the umpire's dressing room right now that feels horrible," said crew chief Tim Tschida. "No one feels it worse than the umpire, and whether there's anything that comes further from that, I don't think it serves the purpose."