This call won’t do umpires any favors.
In the ongoing scrutinization of umpires this season, Junior Valentine’s call an 0-2 pitch in the second inning of Sunday’s Yankees game against the Boston Red Sox was a rough one.
Harrison Bader was at the plate and behind in the count when Red Sox catcher Reese McGuire called for a high fastball, but Red Sox starter Nick Pivetta missed the spot where he wanted the pitch and it went right down the middle.
However, seemingly because McGuire had come out of his crouch and had to reach down for the pitch, Valentine called it a ball.
That was despite the fact it was very clearly a strike, with Bader even realizing it and beginning to walk back to the Yankee dugout expecting to be called out. When the New York outfielder realized it had been called a ball, he turned around and walked back into the batter’s box.
The call also caught McGuire by surprise and it appeared as though he did a double take at Valentine after realizing the call.
Bader did end up striking out and prevented the instance from potentially becoming an even bigger story.
The Yankees ended up losing the game 6-5 to the Red Sox, getting swept in the three-game series in The Bronx by the club’s biggest rival.
The loss was the Yanks’ eighth consecutive and is the franchise’s longest losing streak since 1995.
Umping in baseball has become a point of contention for baseball fans and teams alike this season.
And as more and more questionable calls have arisen, the cry for “robot umpires” has grown.
The automatic ball-strike system (ABS) has been tested over the past few years in various levels of minor league baseball, and is currently in use in Triple-A.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred had said in June, according to ESPN, that the ABS would likely not be used in the big leagues in 2024.