“The game is over, and a Curly W is in the books!” Charlie Slowes said on the Nats radio broadcast late Tuesday night. “Kelley strikes out d’Arnaud to end the game, and strand the bases loaded!”
At the same moment, Bob Carpenter was running through a similar routine on MASN.
“All he has to do is step on home plate and the force-out ends the game,” Carpenter said of catcher Matt Wieters. “Not tonight, Braves. They’ve been coming from behind, a lot of fun they’ve had on this home stand, but now the road trip’s off to a good start for the Nats. They beat the Braves, 3-1.”
Carpenter threw it to a commercial. Slowes was ready to do the same. Nats fans were ready for bedtime. Except then the umpires started conferring, and then they decided that the game-ending strike three was actually a foul tip, and then everyone had to go back to their positions — with the bases loaded, and the tying run on second base — and then the Nats broadcasters went off.
Because if you happened to watch a replay, you would see Chase d’Arnaud waving helplessly at strike three, and missing it by the width of a Waffle House. And after what was already a spotty umpiring performance behind home plate, this was too much for the broadcasters to take.
“Oh. My. Goodness,” Slowes said.
“He missed that by a foot and a half!” his partner Dave Jageler agreed. “I mean, I just saw a replay. He missed it by a foot and a half, it was not even close! Was not even close!”
“This is unbelievable,” Slowes said. “Unbelievable.”
“I mean, he was nowhere near it,” Jageler said. “If this goes the Braves’ way here and the Braves get a hit here and tie this game or win it, this is disgusting.”
“It was not even close,” Slowes said.
“Not even close,” Jageler said. “That’s embarrassing. This is embarrassing.”
“That’s a horrible job by the umpires,” Slowes said.
The MASN crew was sounding the same note.
“That’s not even close to a foul ball,” F.P. Santangelo said. “I just don’t know how this happens. … I don’t even think [home plate umpire CB Bucknor] knows what town he’s in right now.”
Kelley got his strikeout on the next pitch, ending the game for real this time. And as the broadcasts then launched into their normal game-ending routines for a second time, they also had some words for the umpiring crew.
“What a joke,” Jageler said. “An absolute joke. … That’s embarrassing. It’s embarrassing. … CB Bucknor, that’s embarrassing. Embarrassing.”
“Got to be honest folks, haven’t seen a home plate umpire have a nightmare behind the plate like this in a long, long time,” Carpenter said on MASN.
“Jayson Werth wants a piece of CB Bucknor and I don’t blame him,” Santangelo said. “The league has to do something about this. That’s just pure incompetence. It really is.”
“It’s almost as if the ninth inning was a doubleheader and they won twice,” Carpenter said. “UN-believable. … I have been doing this a long time, have never seen anything like that.”
Then came MASN’s postgame show, and boy, they weren’t exactly thrilled with Bucknor, either.
Ray Knight had some thoughts about CB Bucknor after the game pic.twitter.com/KFYz2ZcDjb
— Danny (@recordsANDradio) April 19, 2017
“That’s ridiculous,” Ray Knight said. “That’s ridiculous. I mean, you’re supposed to be a major league umpire, which means you’re the best of the best. This guy’s struggled forever. I’m just gonna be candid with you, he has never been a good umpire. And I hate to cut people down, but gosh darn, how long are they going to go with this guy? Honestly, Johnny, that was the worst game I’ve seen called, except the last game I saw him call behind the plate. He is brutal back there.”
Team broadcast crews often gripe about officiating. But this was a reaction that went beyond normal disagreements about balls and strikes.
That's absolutely unacceptable at this level. This is the MAJOR LEAGUES! Unbelievable
— F.P. Santangelo (@FightinHydrant) April 19, 2017
That was insane. Ruled a foul tip when it wasn't close. Werth screaming at Bucknor. And Kelley still locks it down. Nats win this one twice.
— Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) April 19, 2017
I don't blame Werth for being livid. That was nuts. A game could've been lost because of that, not to mention the ridiculous strike zone
— Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) April 19, 2017
In all seriousness, tonight was a travesty of umpiring by C.B. Bucknor.
— David O'Brien (@DOBrienAJC) April 19, 2017
"I've seen CB Bucknor call a lot of games but that was rock bottom." –@Jim_Powell nailed it
— Jonathan Howard (@jondhoward) April 19, 2017
Jayson Werth yelling CB Bucknor off the field after the worst umpiring performance I have ever seen is my new favorite thing. pic.twitter.com/JpVP82aKVV
— Matt Burnell (@mdburnell) April 19, 2017
— Kevin Frandsen (@KevinFrandsen) April 19, 2017