08/29/08 7:56 PM ET
Rays appreciate umpire's comments
Tampa Bay respects Eddings for admitting call was wrong
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
Mike Port, MLB's vice president of umpiring, told the St. Petersburg Times that the controversial obstruction call on Willy Aybar was "a missed call" and said Eddings thought he saw White Sox runner A.J. Pierzynski "impeded more than he was" by Aybar, the Rays' third baseman.
With one out in the 10th inning and Pierzynski on second, Jermaine Dye grounded to shortstop Jason Bartlett and Pierzynski got caught in a rundown. Subsequently, Pierzynski went to the ground and appeared to be tagged out for the second out of the inning. But second-base umpire Eddings called interference on Aybar for making contact with Pierzynski, who was awarded third base and went on to score the winning run.
"Looking back at that occurrence, for the first and last time, it was a missed call," Port told the newspaper. "And it was not because Doug Eddings, an umpire with 10 years experience, and 10 before that in the Minor Leagues, didn't know the application of the rule. But just that in the moment in applying the rule, he saw something he thought was more than it turned out to be."
Port also told the newspaper that after watching replays, Eddings was "the first to admit" he was wrong and said so to MLB officials who regularly review controversial plays.
Although the Rays will receive no compensation, prior to Friday's game the team was happy to put the issue -- which garnered national attention -- to rest.
"When a guy comes up and admits that he made a mistake in that situation, to me, the respect that I have for him increases 100 times," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "[Umpires] are not going to be perfect, they are going to make mistakes. We accept that. But when they came out and said that they did, I think 'My god, he's one of the best umpires in the game at that particular juncture.'"
Maddon said he was not contacted by Eddings or MLB directly but was pleased to read the comments nonetheless.
"For [Eddings] to say that meant a lot," Maddon said. "And it moves you on in a very tasteful way. And it gives you even more confidence in what they are doing, that's how I see it."
Catcher Shawn Riggans was also eager to put Sunday's situation behind the team, and said it was easy for others not involved in the moment to point fingers.
"Somebody could critique me every time that I strike out in a big situation or throw the ball away," Riggans said. "Everybody else says they would have done the right thing. ... The [media] made a huge deal with this umpire, and to tell you the truth, Doug Eddings is one of the best umpires in the big leagues.
"I've caught with him behind the plate before, and he always does a great job. And he's not, no umpire's out there to [mess up] another team, and I think [the media] really blew it out of proportion."
Although the call -- and the loss -- can't be reversed, the American League East-leading Rays aren't looking to the past.
"I think we all agree that it was a bad call," Eric Hinske said. "There was definitely no obstruction and they agreed too, the umpires. So, all you can do is control the things that you can control, and that's obviously out of our control. So you have to forget about it and move on."
Brittany Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.