If you needed another reason to see why Major League Baseball will test robot umpires by 2024, what happened to Astros pitcher Luis Garcia against the Athletics (+1.5) on Friday night was an excellent example.
At the top of the third inning, with Houston already down a run, Garcia was caught in a bases-loaded, two-out jam with Oakland’s Chad Pinder at the plate. After Garcia delivered what he thought was a second-strike pitch, an umpire overruled the initial call with … a balk?
With the bases loaded, the quirky balk call on Garcia meant the Athletics automatically scored another run to take a 2-0 lead. Because Garcia’s typical wind-up is quite long (but usually consistent!) anyway, he was understandably furious.
The pitcher argued with several members of the umpire crew, and even manager Dusty Baker came in to dispute the ruling:
The umpires call a bases loaded balk on Luis Garcia's unique motion and he doesn't agree with it pic.twitter.com/chfGuWJMh1
— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) August 13, 2022
I mean, I get it. You’re trying to protect the runners. But this feels specious. Like a subjective call that an umpire is itching to make given the tense situation, instead of it being correct. Though, perhaps given Garcia’s usual wind-up, he might have been due for a balk.
MLB fans had many thoughts about the quirky bases-loaded balk called on Garcia
Finally they start calling this crap. Balk is anything that deceives the runner. These guys get away with this so much. https://t.co/BhWPHm6OWE
— austyn shelton (@austynshelton) August 13, 2022
Its finally called https://t.co/NyahjInV8I
— record setting team (@thatsastrike) August 13, 2022
It’s not that difficult to just not wind up with runners on base. https://t.co/wIAc83lAmt
— BMinus (@iamBMinus) August 13, 2022
I hate balks https://t.co/wMn53GZlDb
— ™️ (@Mike_Anderson23) August 13, 2022
It's clearly a balk. https://t.co/QyZ9zrODCM
— Colin Lundstrom 🇸🇪 (@ColinLundstrom) August 13, 2022
Balks are called on the basis of an ump judging how much an individual pitcher deviates from their own unique wind up. There’s no way they can accurately call a balk.
How many more reasons do we need to fix umping?
— Ice Verdict (@iceverdict) August 13, 2022
I said this when I went to see the Yankees a couple weeks ago he did it a few times and didn’t get called about time
— Mark Hernandez (@Mark_TMo2020) August 13, 2022
Dudes windup is mad long and complicated for no reason
— Paul (@paulrod57) August 13, 2022
Looks like one succinct motion to me. I don’t get it.
— Nicholas M. (@ntmcmillan) August 13, 2022
Oh nooo, you HATE to see it… anyway…
— Michael Kasper (@KasperStats) August 13, 2022