07/28/11 12:20 AM ET
Meals admits he made wrong call
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
Meals' call gave the Braves a 4-3 win over the Pirates in a game that ended after 6 hours, 39 minutes. The ruling was immediately met with criticism from the Pirates, who believed catcher Michael McKenry had swiped Lugo on his tag, as well as from the public.
Meals, who worked third base in a 2-1 Braves win on Wednesday, would not take any questions about the call, but he did offer the following explanation:
"Pertaining to the play that ended the game as last night, as [Scott] Proctor hit the ground ball to [Pedro] Alvarez ... as he fielded the ball and threw home, I got into position to make the call. McKenry caught the ball, made a swipe tag attempt at Lugo sliding. I did not see any tag. After that, I ruled him safe.
"After coming in to the locker room, I reviewed the incident through our videos that we have in here, and after seeing a few of them, on one particular replay, I was able to see that Lugo's pant leg moved ever so slightly when the swipe tag was attempted by McKenry. That's telling me that I was incorrect in my decision, and that he should have been ruled out and not safe."
Meals' admission came just a little more than an hour after Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said that he hoped to hear an apology from the 14-year veteran. While Meals did not specifically seek out Hurdle prior to the game, the two did exchange words when Hurdle went out to deliver Wednesday's lineup card.
After shaking hands, Hurdle thanked Meals for owning up to his mistake, comparing the situation to umpire Jim Joyce, who admitted he made a mistake when his call prevented the Tigers' Armando Galarraga from securing the final out of a perfect game last June.
"I said, 'We're the caretakers of the game,'" Hurdle said. "I thought that Jim Joyce set the perfect example last year. We live in a society that is very forgiving. I told him I was proud of him, job well done."
Hurdle then patted Meals on the back before returning to the dugout.
"I've been told since I was 6 that when you make a mistake, you admit it, you do the best you can to move forward," Hurdle said. "I just think for our industry, for our fans and the players involved, that would be appropriate. That would be professional. That would be respectful.
"I think that brings closure to it."
There reportedly have been other repercussions for Meals, though. An ESPN.com story noted that Meals' family has been harassed since the game ended early Wednesday morning.
Meals did not comment on that subject, and an MLB representative at Turner Field said the threats are being handled internally.
"It's a security issue," the representative said, "and Major League Baseball always has those things under control."
The rest of the four-man umpiring crew stood alongside Meals as he offered his explanation. Crew chief Dale Scott followed Meals' short statement with one of his own.
"Obviously, we all walk out every day and try to get the calls right," Scott said. "We're usually very successful with it, but sometimes that doesn't happen. I know Jerry and myself and the crew welcome the support that we've been getting from baseball, and we just hope that fans of the Pirates, and fans in general, understand that sometimes things happen. It certainly wasn't intentional."
Statements had already been issued by both Pirates president Frank Coonelly and Joe Torre, MLB executive vice president for baseball operations, earlier in the afternoon. The Pirates filed a formal complaint to the Commissioner's Office at about 2:30 a.m. ET.
Meals will remain with the crew for the final game of the four-game series.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.