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Mosher made the right call - the tough call
If you listened to enough talk radio or local sports television last weekend, youd think Terry Mosher had committed one of the most villainous acts in Seattle sports history.
Mosher, the Bremertonian who serves as the official scorer for the beloved Seattle Mariners, was the guy who judged that third baseman Jeff Cirillo made an error on a ball hit by Bill Haselman of the Texas Rangers.
The ruling ended Cirillos streak of errorless games at third base, leaving him one short of a major league-record 100 consecutive games at the hot corner without a miscue. Cirillo had tied John Wehners record of 99 games the night before.
The controversy started as soon as E-5 flashed on the scoreboard.
During the ensuing debate, I heard it called a debatable error, a questionable error, a tough call, and a downright bad call.
Former Ms third baseman Mike Blowers blasted the decision on KJRs post-game radio show. Baseball commentator Bill Krueger ripped the call on Fox Sports Northwests nightly TV show. To be fair, commentators on ESPNs Baseball Tonight, felt it was an error all the way.
I havent really looked at it yet, Cirillo said after the game. I know theres a lot of pressure on (the official scorer) to get it right. It would have been nice to hold (the record) as my own.
It was a long streak. It was bound to end sooner or later. It was a tough play.
But not that tough. Hasleman hit a two-bouncer to Cirillos right. Instead of moving to get in front of the ball, which he probably had time to do, he took a step back and tried to backhand the ball, which hit off his glove and continued into left field.
Mosher made the right call, and I dont say that because hes a former colleague and a friend of mine. Ive been in the press box on nights when I didnt agree with Moshs decision, but this time, he got it right.
I called Mosher on Monday, two days after the fateful night.
Hello, this is Jeff Cirillo. I just wanted to know how well you slept Saturday night.
My Cirillo imitation didnt fool Mosher.
I slept fine, Mosher said. Jeff, it was an error.
He was as sure of it as he had been 36 hours earlier, when he punched the information into his computer that would transmit the statistics of the game to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Its an error, Mosher said. You cant give a guy a free pass to Cooperstown. Youve got to do what youve got to do. I thought it was an error all the way.
After the game he said, I usually make that play. I agree. He usually makes that play.
Mosher can understand where Blowers and Krueger were coming from.
Theyre going to stick up for the players, he said.
The critics, and even manager Lou Piniella, intimated that this was a special situation that called for special judgement.
What hes been striving for for 99 games is pretty impressive, and thats a tough error to make, Piniella said. I usually dont say much about the official scoring, but I think you give a good fielder the benefit of the doubt, especially in a game like this.
Sorry, Lou. An errors an error, regardless of the situation. Give Mosher credit for not caving into the pressure, for making the gutsy call.
Its just another play, Mosher said. I cant help it happened to be the one that broke the record. Im not trying to be hard about it. Thats the way it is. I didnt think it was that tough of a call. I thought it was an easy call.
Tough calls, however, are part of being the official scorer. Hes been handling the position for five years, which is about when he left The Sun, where he covered the Mariners for more than 20 years. Silverdales Harland Beery, another former Sun writer, served as the Ms official scorer before Mosher.
Mosher said he looks at the game differently now than when he was covering the team as a writer.
When youre a writer, youre looking for an angle to a story, he said. Youre not really paying attention to what everybodys doing on the field. Youre worried about your lead for a story. Keeping score, youre looking at every pitch, every play. Youve got to anticipate plays. You consider how fast players are. Theres a lot that goes into some decisions.
Mosher said he averages one tough call per game.
Some games you dont get any. Some games you get two or three, he said. Sometimes theres no right answer.
Mosher has instant replay available to him. He also has the option to reverse his call, if he does it within a 24-hour period.
Sometimes Ive mulled them over and changed calls, he said.
It used to be common for players or managers to pick up a phone in the dugout or clubhouse and call the official scorer to complain about a decision, but baseballs put a stop to that practice.
That doesnt stop members of the PR staff or beat writers from questioning decisions. I was sitting next to Mosher durding a day game a year ago when a member of the San Diego PR staff argued vehemently about an infield hit Mosher awarded to Ichiro Sukuzi. The PR man thought the Padres second baseman botched on the play. The PR guy raised such a stink that he was later reprimanded by baseballs commissioners office.
If they think Im wrong, sometimes theyll say look at it. I dont have to change it, he said. Im just trying to be fair. Thats all I care about. If I can live with myself, thats all I care about it.
As for the media criticism, Mosher shrugs it off.
The radio/TV people have to do their thing to create controversy so they have something to talk about, Mosher said. They create controversy where there is none. Its not a personal thing.
Mosher did the right thing.
Cirillo screwed it up, he said. Not me.