New York Daily News


In Bronx, seeing is not believing


It’s a hard-knock life, we know, to be an umpire in this day and age of slo-mo, stop-action video. There are times when an ump can appear foolish, half-blind, and there are times when a manager can understand why that is the case, maybe even sympathize with the guy. As Joe Girardi said after the Yanks beat Cleveland, 6-4, at the Stadium, “Nobody’s perfect.”

This was very easy for Girardi to say, because Mike DiMuro’s imperfecti­on worked greatly to the manager’s favor on Tuesday night. DiMuro didn’t ask to see a baseball that was not in Dewayne Wise’s glove, when any sensible a rbiter wou ld have made that simple request. DiMuro appeared a bit slow getting a decent angle on the foul pop from Jack Hannahan in the seventh inning. And when the ball glanced downward and away from Wise’s glove, DiMuro didn’t order Wise to open his mitt and produce the goods, which is why we have this big fuss today.

The play might have been very important, because Cleveland had a runner on third base at the time and lost this game by only two runs. It might not have been significan­t, however, because Hannahan could have made the third out on the next pitch, or the Yanks could have brought in Rafael Soriano earlier in the ninth if the score was closer.

Who can figure? “Sometimes you get lucky,” said Phil Hughes, the deserving winner. One thing we do know, though. These last two seasons have not been particular­ly noble ones for major league umps, and then things just got a lot worse, and more embarrassi­ng, in the Bronx.

There has been a no-hitter that wasn’t really a no-hitter and there has been a one-hitter that should have been a no-hitter. Now there is a foul ball that turns into an out, because DiMuro fails to do his rightful duty. We should never kill the ump, but it’s OK this once to shake our head at him in wonder.

“I believed the ball was in his glove when he came out of the stands,” DiMuro said afterward, to a pool reporter. “In hindsight, I should have asked him to show me the ball since he fell into the stands and out of my line of vision.”

Wise had slammed his leg into the railing and wasn’t even thinking about the location of the ball. He didn’t lie about the play, never really pretended to have made the play. He just jogged off the field next to Curtis Granderson, confessing i mmediately to his teammate that the catch was an act of unintentio­nal pantomime.

“(Dimuro) said, ‘Out,’ right away,” Wise said. “So what was I supposed to do? Run back to left field?”

Such honest y would have been considered traitorous folly. As for the baseball itself, that elusive, deceitful sphere had bounced off Wise’s glove, onto the floor. There a fan, Vinnie Pellegrino, plucked it from the cement and handed it to his West Islip buddy, Sal Azzariti. Azzariti, loyal Yankee fan, said he tried to stick the ball back into Wise’s glove before the left fielder lifted himself back onto the field. The transfer never was completed.

“I couldn’t do it,” Azzariti told the Daily News. “But when the ump called him out I just put the ball behind my back. And then I gave it to this boy beT hind me.” he boy with the ball was Ben Pikor, 7, from Denville, N.J. It is a souvenir the kid should hang onto forever, because it is clear evidence that the game of baseball is a constant surprise and equitable to no one.

Considerin­g the way things went down, Cleveland manager Manny Acta was remarkably calm and accepting — unlike Hannahan, who was ejected for his complainin­g. Hannahan, reasonably, could not figure out how it was that Dimuro didn’t bother to ask to see the ball.

What’s next at the ballpark? Will the ushers fail to ask for tickets? Will the groundskee­pers fail to acknowledg­e a downpour?

This is chaos, people. Keep your eye on the bouncing ball, because we now know the umpires don’t always bother.

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