Then there is umpiring especially from Country Joe West, who I have believed is an arrogant, obnoxious and terrible, if impressively jowled, umpire since the days of the Dome. His blown call of Altuve’s home run cost the ‘Stros at least extra innings in Game 4 and likely a victory. The slob certainly could not see the play well from his vantage point near second when he made a half-hearted call that it was interference. The replays showed that the ball was clearly over the fence, so the fans could interfere if they so desired, according to the rule book. But, the fans did not. There was no contact and Betts’s glove was closed before the ball arrived. There is no way Betts would have made the catch, though he has lied egregiously about it. Though that was the most decisive of West’s bad calls, he overturned a play in Game 2 after review, except that the play in question was allowed to be reviewed. It did not cost the ‘Stros, but it was wrong and indicative of the slovenly ump’s arrogance. He also did not move on an errant throw to second from the Red Sox catcher, stopping the ball from going to the outfield and costing a runner at third base and possible extra run. These are just the three most notable mistakes by West. He is awful, but gets to work in the Championship Series. Angel Hernandez, who is likely even worse, also worked the playoffs. Seniority over competence. Though not involving West, another egregious miscall was the missed third strike in Game 5 when Verlander threw a beautiful slider on 0-2 to slugger J.D. Martinez that was at least a couple of inches from the left side of the strike zone and an inch from the bottom of it, not a borderline pitch at all. The umpire missed it. Martinez hit the next pitch into the Crawford boxes for a 1-0 lead. This very bad call it clearly upset Ron Darling, a former pitcher calling the game, who showed it a couple of times afterwards highlighting it. Abysmal. The poor umpiring did not cost the Astros the series, but it was still very frustrating to watch.
The biggest reason for my continued disappointment is that this was the very first team I have ever rooted for – on the professional or collegiate level – that was so good that anything but a championship would be a disappointment. It is a very strange feeling for me, having grown in Houston and being a longtime Houston sports and ‘Stros fan. I was even an Astros Buddy while there were in the Dome. This series loss has been tough. I could not pick up the phone when I saw a friend from the Boston area called yesterday. I still haven’t listened to the voice mail message. Maybe later today. Or tomorrow.
Happier times, at the first playoff game against the Tribe.