The worst call in baseball history?

A marathon Atlanta Braves–Pittsburgh Pirates game ended controversially after 19 innings of play — and an umpire's seriously questionable call

Julio Lugo (left) of the Atlanta Braves scores the controversial game-winning run in the 19th inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates Tuesday night.
(Image credit: Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

The video: The Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves were playing a grueling six-and-a-half hour, 19-inning baseball game Tuesday night, when, at 1:50 a.m., what's being called a blown call by homeplate umpire Jerry Meals brought the contest to an unceremonious end. With the game tied at 3-3, Braves pitcher Scott Proctor hit a ground ball to third base, causing his teammate Julio Lugo to take off for home. It appeared that Lugo had been thrown out before reaching home plate, even to Lugo himself, who slumped his shoulders dejectedly. (View the clip below.) But Meals called him safe, saying it looked like the tag by the Pirates' catcher "oléd him." Meals later backtracked after looking at replays, saying, "I'm guessing he might have got him." Last year, umpire Jim Joyce made headlines for robbing Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga of a perfect game with his own bad call. Does Tuesday night's gaffe top even that?

The reaction: It's "the worst call by an official in the history of professional sports," says Jeff Schultz at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Indeed, with so much riding on the outcome of the game — both teams are vying for playoff spots — "the call made me sad," said David Schoenfield at ESPN. What a way to end a "wonderful" marathon of a baseball game. Actually, the call wasn't as "obvious" as Jim Joyce's mistake last year, says Ryan Fagan at Sporting News. If that egregious umpiring mistake wasn't enough to get commissioner Bud Selig to institute an instant-replay rule in the MLB, "this one isn't going to do the trick, either." See it for yourself:

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