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Umpire apologizes to Johnson after blown call


Umpire apologizes to Johnson after blown call

It won't change anything -- certainly not the outcome of the game -- but umpire Alan Porter did apologize to Davey Johnson and admit to blowing a crucial call at the plate during the fourth inning last night at Nationals Park.

Johnson said the apology came later during the game, with Porter admitting he should not have credited the Dodgers with a run on a play in which the third out was recorded at third base before another runner crossed the plate.

"He said, 'I'm sorry I messed it up,'" Johnson revealed this afternoon. "They're good guys. I don't have a beef with them. But when you miss one, get help. He got help, and they still didn't get it right."

On the play in question, Porter counted a run scored by Matt Kemp even though the Dodgers slugger was 10 feet short of the plate when teammate Adrian Gonzalez was tagged out near third base by Ryan Zimmerman.

Porter didn't make any call until Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly came out of the dugout to raise the question, at which point the entire umpiring crew huddled to discuss the play. Porter then signaled the run should count, bringing Johnson out of his dugout to argue.

"To err is human," Johnson said. "It can happen. I knew that he didn't see it, because if he saw it, the first move is: boom pointing down, the run counts. That's what they do. And he didn't do it, and I thought: 'That's great, because he saw it.' And then Mattingly comes out, and he said: 'OK, the run scored.' So I know he didn't see it. But when they met I thought somebody would get it right."

Crew chief Mike Winters declined to speak to a pool reporter about the call after the game, which wound up a 7-6 Dodgers win, with the mistaken run proving the margin of victory.

This was the second obviously missed call to hurt the Nationals in a span of four days. On Saturday in Atlanta, umpire Marvin Hudson ruled Adam LaRoche's foot off first base on a routine play, even though replays clearly showed LaRoche making contact with the bag. The Braves' next batter, Jason Heyward, clubbed a home run to set his team on its way to a 5-4 victory.

Neither play was reviewable by Major League Baseball's current system, nor could the Nationals file a formal protest in either case (because out-safe decisions are considered judgment calls, not a rules interpretation).

Johnson isn't a proponent of expanded replay that requires umpires to leave the field and review controversial plays on a monitor, but he would support a system that added an "eye-in-the-sky" official who could overrule umpires from the press box after seeing a mistake on TV replays.

"I'm not a big proponent of going to the video room all the time," Johnson said. "The game's long enough. Maybe somebody up top in the pressbox with you guys, looking down with all the video right there, they could just do a flash card or something. ... Instead of running off the field and then looking, have one of them representatives up there up top."

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Even after two-plus years, Hunter Strickland couldn't forget last meeting with Bryce Harper

Even after two-plus years, Hunter Strickland couldn't forget last meeting with Bryce Harper

965 days. That's the amount of time that separated the second time Bryce Harper and Hunter Strickland faced each other on an MLB diamond and the third one.

In that second matchup, which came back in Game 4 of the 2014 NLDS, Harper launched a game-tying home run in the seventh inning off of Strickland. Harper also hit a blast off Strickland in Game 1 of the same series.

Well, apparently, the Giants reliever still hasn't gotten over his last time he saw the Nationals star, because on Monday, the right-hander plunked the MVP candidate with a fastball the first chance he had since their postseason encounters almost three years ago.

Ironically enough, after San Francisco beat Washington in the NLDS, Strickland told the SF Chronicle how he would have to "have a short memory" on the mound for the rest of the playoffs and keep his composure after the home runs. Judging by this video, however, it's clear that Strickland's had some issues moving on:


When you look back at that Game 4 meeting, you'll see Harper pause at home plate and watch his moonshot after sending it into the McCovey Cove, then glare at Strickland a few times as he rounds the bases. Some will call what No. 34 did a violation of baseball's unwritten rules, but it was a huge moment on a huge stage, which contributed to Harper's emotional reaction.

The fact of the matter is that plenty of pitchers have moved on from much more egregious things in much shorter time frames, but for whatever reason, Strickland just wasn't able to.

Afterward, Harper explained why he thinks the hit by pitch should've never happened.

But Ryan Zimmerman had the best quote of all when talking about the sequence:

The veteran is right on with that statement. Harper was better than Strickland back in 2014, so Strickland felt the need to tag Harper first before Harper had a chance to tag him again on Monday. Essentially, the pitcher followed the, "If you can't beat him, bean him" strategy.

965 days is a long time to get over a grudge. For Hunter Strickland, though, 965 days still wasn't enough.


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Bryce Harper charges mound, throws punches after Hunter Strickland hits him with pitch

Bryce Harper charges mound, throws punches after Hunter Strickland hits him with pitch

In their two previous meetings, Bryce Harper took Hunter Strickland deep. Very deep, in fact.

So in their third encounter, Strickland made sure that Harper wouldn't have the chance to do it again. 


In the top of the eighth inning of Monday's Nationals-Giants game, the San Francisco reliever went after Washington's best player on the first pitch and hit him in the thigh with a 98 MPH fastball.

Harper — without hesitation — responded by charging the mound and throwing his helmet at Strickland, and the two then squared off and exchanged punches.

Here is the wild video of the whole sequence:

Harper and Strickland were, of course, ejected after initiating one of the best MLB fights in recent memory. This was the pair's first time facing each other since Harper's two home runs in the 2014 NLDS, meaning Strickland's had a long time to get over No. 34's blasts but simply couldn't do it.