Two umpires in the Mexican Baseball League were suspended on Wednesday after working together on a call that will go down as one of the worst in the history of professional baseball.
During Tuesday’s battle between the Diablos Rojos and the visiting Algodoneros de Unión Laguna in Mexico City, umpire Ulises Domínguez inexplicably called a ball after hitter Jonathan Jones swing through a pitch from Reinier Roibal. Baffled, Roibal asked the home-plate ump to check with his colleague at first base. Domínguez dutifully pointed down the first-base line, where Rodolfo Pastrana also signaled that the pitch was a ball.
Check out the video above. You can tell the camera, and the announcing crew, are initially handling the situation like any old baseball play. It takes them a minute to realize what they’ve just seen.
Both ampayers have been suspended for the remainder of the season, and the other two members of the four-man crew received a warning. It’s the first time in recent memory that the Mexican Baseball League has suspended an umpire for, well, bad umpiring. (Two umps were suspended in 2017 for allegedly showing up to work drunk.)
After the clip went viral, wags on social media argued that the fix was in. But that doesn’t even make sense: The pitch in question wouldn’t have been strike three, and wasn’t ball four. Not to mention that, if this was a fix, it was far too obvious to escape the scrutiny of the Liga Mexican de Beisbol. (The LMB is considered on par with AAA baseball, although its teams aren’t affiliated with major-league franchises. Toronto Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna, for one, got his start pitching for the Diablos Rojos.)
A less interesting theory: Sometimes you zone out during a baseball game. Sometimes players zone out during baseball games. And surely, sometimes umpires zone out. That both umpires failed to watch this particular pitch seems to almost defy belief—but ultimately, it’s the most likely explanation.
Previously in baseball superlatives:
“I Think Maybe This Is the Best Play I’ve Ever Seen in a Baseball Game.”
”I Think Maybe This Is the Worst Play I’ve Ever Seen in a Baseball Game.”