For a seemingly routine early-season baseball game, Monday night's 5-4 Rangers win over the Rays had a lot of things we've never seen before.
The game ended when Joe Nathan struck out Ben Zobrist with a runner on in the ninth inning, giving Nathan the 300th save of his career and the Rangers their fifth win in seven tries so far this year. Nothing unusual about that, other than the fact that strike three certainly should have been called ball four.
That led to a fierce argument from Rays manager Joe Maddon, one he continued in what has to be the first post-game tweet by a manager continuing his argument with the man in blue well after the game came to an end. And, as you can see in this video, we also got the rare look at a pitcher expressing shock at a call that gave him the result he was looking for when he threw the pitch.
Most surprising of all was the response of umpire Marty Foster, who admitted to having blown the call after the game.
"I saw the pitch and, of course, don't have the chance to do it again,'' Foster told a pool reporter after the game. ''But had I had a chance to do it again, I wouldn't call that pitch a strike."
A few thoughts pop immediately to mind, the first of which is that Foster hopefully won't get celebrated for his honesty the way Jim Joyce did after he robbed Armando Galarraga of a perfect game by calling a player safe at first with two outs in the ninth inning when he was obviously out. While it's certainly nice to own up to your mistakes, all it does is underscore how backwards baseball is when it comes to using technology to make sure correctable errors don't happen.
This isn't a call for more replay, although baseball would benefit from it, nearly as much as it is a call for baseball to get serious about how balls and strikes are called. The strike zone is a clearly defined thing that can be drawn easily in three dimensions thanks to technological advancements. If umpires are unwilling or unable to enforce it, baseball has to be willing to avail themselves of that technology to make sure games are officiated correctly.
Beyond that, there's something about the existence of Twitter and the Internet that blows incidents like this way out of proportion. Was it a bad call? Yes. But it was also the kind of thing that happens every night and it was no more egregious just because it happened on the final pitch of the game. Maddon got off a good line by tweeting "that can't happen in a major league game" when he knows as well as anyone that it happens every single night in every single game.
If baseball isn't serious about fixing what's wrong with the game, that's their cross to bear. Until they do change things, the melodramatic managers should keep their complaints for their team owners since they are the ones who can start a push to make things better.