Fredi expresses sympathy for umpire Meals

Fredi expresses sympathy for umpire Meals

Fredi expresses sympathy for umpire Meals
ATLANTA -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez was not happy with Jerry Meals when he was ejected during the ninth inning of Tuesday night's 19-inning win over the Pirates. But he sympathized with what the veteran umpire has experienced since ending the marathon affair with a controversial call at the plate.

When Meals ruled that Julio Lugo avoided catcher Michael McKenry's swipe tag, the Braves celebrated a walk-off victory, and the Pirates expressed their frustration toward Meals, who was not happy with himself after he returned to the dressing room and watched video of the play.

Meals said during the wee hours of Wednesday morning that replays gave him reason to believe he missed the call. He issued a more definitive statement to a group of reporters Wednesday afternoon.

"On one particular replay, I was able to see that Lugo's pant leg moved ever so slightly when the swipe tag was attempted by McKenry," Meals said. "That's telling me that I was incorrect in my decision and that he should have been ruled out and not safe."

Gonzalez was among those who understood the mental and physical fatigue Meals was feeling near the end of the six-hour, 39-minute game.

"If you would have asked me what my social security number was last night, I couldn't have told you, and I didn't call every single pitch," Gonzalez said. "You're just mush."

Gonzalez and Pirates manager Clint Hurdle both appeared to share a laugh with Meals as they exchanged lineup cards before Wednesday's game. It seemed to lighten the spirit of the veteran umpire, who had spent the day dealing with the consequences of the call.

"It's a shame because Jerry Meals is a [heck] of an umpire," Gonzalez said. "In this business, and this is the business we choose whether you're an umpire coach or baseball player, you've got to be put in situations where it's not a good feeling. I've been in situations where I've got to answer questions, or I've screwed up a double-switch and something happens on the field. The next thing you know, the media is talking for a week.

"Jerry Meals is going to be a Major League umpire for a long time. What's the rule of thumb, it will go away in 10 days or something like that?"