Whoever said aging has its perks might have been a baseball player. In the top of the first inning tonight, Vladimir Guerrero was batting with a runner at first and one out. On a one-two pitch, Guerrero tried to check his swing, an attempt that was an apparent failure to everyone in the ballpark, except the umpires. After a moment of hesitation, the plate umpire appealed to the base umpire for help. What happened next can only be described as comical. The base umpire took a long pause, made a quick motion as if he was going to call him out on the swing, then smiled coyly and made the safe signal. The subsequent chuckles in our dugout and the smiles on the faces of Guerrero and both coaching staffs all seemed to say “the young California League umpires couldn’t find it them to punch out a Major Leaguer.”
Sure, everyone wanted to see Guerrero take another swing, but it was still pretty obvious he swung. The only defense for the umpires arose from the deficient two-umpire system (in place until the triple-A level), which makes any check swing appeals with any runners on base a tossup as far as correctness goes (due to the base umpire’s placement behind the pitcher’s mound). Two pitches later, Guerrero dribbled a single through the right side, and we went on to score two runs in the first inning. This is just another story to add to the growing list of conversational material to be used at future cocktail parties.