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Ump catches flak for trap call

Crisp snares the ball, but doesn't get credit

Coco Crisp's glove touched the ground, but the ball never did as he caught Derek Jeter's liner. Still, umpire Wally Bell ruled that Crisp trapped the ball. Coco Crisp's glove touched the ground, but the ball never did as he caught Derek Jeter's liner. Still, umpire Wally Bell ruled that Crisp trapped the ball. (Julie Jacobson/Associated Press)
Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / July 5, 2008

NEW YORK - As David Ortiz walked out of Yankee Stadium just after the Red Sox had completed a 6-4 win over the Yankees yesterday, the slugger called down the hallway: "Get some [expletive] glasses for the umpire." Note to Wally Bell.

Moments before, Bell, the third base umpire, ruled that Coco Crisp had not made a diving, wrist-twisting, ESPN-worthy catch in center field that would have ended the game. In fact, Crisp made the catch, which was what made the situation so confusing.

"I don't even know who made the call," Crisp said. "All I see [is] I catch the ball, get up, then [Alex Cora is] telling me to throw it in."

On the mound, Jonathan Papelbon threw his arms up in celebration. Then he threw his arms up in bewilderment. He didn't know what to think. Like the rest of the Red Sox players on the field, Papelbon was sure Crisp had made the catch. Everyone except Bell. So while replays showed the Sox were correct, it wasn't reflected in the box score.

Instead, it went as a run-scoring double for Derek Jeter.

Fortunately for the Sox, Bobby Abreu's long fly to center was much simpler, much more straightforward. Crisp said he knew Abreu's ball would stay in the park, knew it wasn't much trouble, but it's not usually a good idea to give the Yankees 28 outs.

"It's unfortunate for Papelbon because he doesn't give up that run right there," Crisp said. "That's big, I guess, not so much your whole career, but they add on eventually. It was a tough play to make, a tough play to call."

Without being prompted, Crisp and Papelbon brought up the possibility of using instant replay, though neither had particularly harsh words for Bell. The players shot replay down almost as quickly as they brought it up, but the point remained. The call was wrong.

"I said a while back, I said I like the umpires not having the instant replays with home runs and all that other stuff, and I still feel the same way, I really do," Papelbon said. "We won the game and they blew a call. Whoop-de-doo. Can't cry over spilled milk. What am I going to do?"

Not much, apparently. Papelbon said he didn't let the blown call affect him, instead focusing on Abreu, who represented the tying run. Still, he wasn't quite sure what was going on, his expression making that clear.

Citing his angle on the play as being better than that of Bell's, Papelbon said he was convinced Crisp had come up with the ball. He wasn't alone in that opinion.

"I thought it was a catch," Mike Lowell said. "It was a tough call. I wouldn't bet my kids' life on whether he caught it."

That's probably good news for Lowell's kids.

The play turned out to be just a blip of a controversy in what has otherwise been a placid start to the Sox' four days in New York. Papelbon seemed to move on. Crisp, too.

"It was a tough play to see," Crisp said. "I mean, I clearly caught it, but still, very tough to see. They did their best, they just got this one wrong. They're a good crew [of umpires] out there, so you expect them to get that right."

Amalie Benjamin can be reached at abenjamin@globe.com.

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