The most mind-boggling call of the 2021 season happened Wednesday afternoon in the second inning of the Marlins-Brewers game in Milwaukee, and umpire Marty Foster has some explaining to do.
With one out and Marlins on second and third, second baseman Isan Diaz hit a tapper down the first-base line. Brewers pitcher Zack Godley ran over and fielded the ball in the grass, then flipped it underhanded to first baseman Daniel Vogelbach. Simple, well-defended play. Easy out. Godley’s toss beat Diaz to the base by a wide margin. Corey Dickerson, who was on third base, trotted home with a run that put the Marlins ahead 1-0.
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And then …
“Hang on a minute,” Brewers play-by-play man Brian Anderson said. “They’re going to call him safe at first.”
Foster pointed to Diaz twice, then raised his hands to signal the play was dead and Diaz was safe.
“I have no idea,” said Anderson, echoing the exact sentiments of anyone watching the play live or on Twitter in the minutes and hours later, “why he would be called safe in a situation like this.”
Watch for yourself.
Diaz was called safe, apparently, because Foster ruled that Godley had interfered with his path to first base. This decision was made despite that Godley never left the grass or stepped on the dirt of the baseline.
And it was made despite that Godley’s throw was out of his right hand while Diaz was still three steps away from the pitcher and the ball was safely in Vogelbach’s glove four steps before Diaz reached the base.
Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell came out to argue, but was rebuffed. A couple of innings later — after everyone in the dugout saw the replays and confirmed what an awful call it was — Brewers first-base coach Pat Murphy was ejected by Foster and had to be restrained by Counsell.
Diaz should have been the second out. Instead, there was only one out. Godley struck out Chad Wallach for what should have been the final out of the inning. It wasn’t, and the runner on third base scored the second run of the game on a passed ball while pitcher Sandy Alcantara was at the plate.
So bad. Just an awful call. Inexcusable.
UPDATE: Foster didn’t back down on his awful call, which officially was obstruction, after the game.
“A player without a ball, without making a play on the ball, is standing in the base path of the runner, impeding and hindering him. And (Diaz) actually makes a jog to the right to get out of his way, to get out of Godley’s way. That’s clear-cut obstruction,” Foster told a pool reporter.
Foster discounted Diaz being inside the baseline (“The footlane has nothing to do with this play,” he said) and that Vogelbach was stepping on the bag with the ball (“It was maybe around the same time.”)
A full exchange, via Adam McCalvy of MLB.com:
Here’s much more from the pool report with umpire Marty Foster explaining his obstruction call in the Marlins-Brewers game today: pic.twitter.com/u3jZ6t4Nm2
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) April 28, 2021