In a press conference last week, commissioner Rob Manfred said the Florida State League’s experiment allowing managers to challenge ball-strike calls has so far been a success, suggesting MLB may be close to adopting a similar rule. That would have come in handy Tuesday night in Chicago, where Doug Eddings blew an inexplicable 29 calls behind home plate, easily the most by an umpire this season.
Eddings has never been a pillar of consistency—he ranks 76th out of 92 umpires this year in accuracy. But even by his relatively low standards, Tuesday night was an utter catastrophe, with six strikeouts called the wrong way. This rap sheet of blown calls reads like the footnotes of a David Foster Wallace novel.
Now in his 25th major-league season, Eddings delivered a masterclass in how not to call a game, frustrating hitters with his generous strike zone while giving pitchers an extra few inches—and sometimes up to a foot—of leeway. According to Umpire Auditor, Eddings was right on just 86.2 percent of his calls, well below his season average (92.6).
The argument for an automated ball-strike system (ABS), which is already in use at certain levels of the minor leagues, has never been stronger with Eddings and others continuing to show their incompetence. It feels like umpires are getting more wrong than they ever have, though that’s probably just because websites and social media accounts like Umpire Auditor and Umpire Scoreboards are finally holding them accountable with improved technology showing the error of their ways.
If Eddings was in a hurry, his plan backfired spectacularly with Chicago and Toronto playing deep into the night, finally ending with Josh Harrison’s walk-off single in extras. That moved the White Sox back to .500 (33-33) for the first time since May 29th.