Sale, Sox have enough problems without lousy umpiring

Alan Greenwood

No one on any ball field is less noticed than a competent home plate umpire.

No one on any ball field is more reviled than an incompetent plate umpire.

Which brings us to Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium and veteran ump Mike Estabrook, whose strike zone was a floating mystery, never lighting in any one spot for more than a blink or two.

To be clear, Estabrook is not the reason why Chris Sale could not make it through the fourth inning of a 9-2 loss in the Bronx. Sale is a mess, a victim of sloppiness unbecoming a premier pitcher, leaving too many fat, crushable sliders up in the zone.

But Estabrook helped set up Sale for dismal failure by missing what looked on awful lot like a called third strike on Gio Urshela that would have left the Yankees with a man on first with two outs. Instead Urshela singled, and the roof soon caved in on one of the worst innings Sale has had in the worst season of his career.

Alex Cora went out to talk to Sale during the Yankees’ seven-run fourth with the sole purpose of giving Estabrook an earful of nasty words. Cora was ejected quickly, Sale was ejected moments later after being yanked, and another miserable afternoon of an increasingly miserable Red Sox season unraveled.

On NESN’s postgame show, Cora said he told Estabrook, “‘Hey, you see all this traffic here?’ One pitch changed the whole game.”

Yup, Cora hit that nail on the head.

TIME TRAVEL: Aug. 4, 1949 – “(Nashua) Dodger business manager Bill Eberly is recovering very nicely from his trip to Keene on Monday night. Bill was stunned when he walked into Alumni Field and couldn’t find a seat in the ballpark. Better than 3,000 Keene fans paid $1 each to watch the Blue Jays play host to the New England League Dodgers.

“The Dodgers too were stunned and performed as they usually do before a large, in-state crowd. Then again maybe it wasn’t the crowd that bothered the Bums but the short center and right field fences. Signs posted on these barriers at comfortable intervals indicated the distance from home plate to the fence was a mere 322 feet. Our fences here in Nashua are only 335 feet at the foul lines but it is a rare ball that is pulled down the foul line while the majority are belted 350 or more to center, or thereabouts. And there, in Holman Stadium, the fence is nearly 400 feet from home plate.”

When the Nashua Pirates called Holman home, the center field fence seemed about 500 feet from home plate. Home and away, the 1986 Buccos walloped a whopping 41 home runs.

AND FINALLY: For those vacationing under a media-free rock, Tom Brady celebrated his 42nd birthday Saturday. And for those who quiver in fear that the Dick Clark of ageless quarterback might be fading away, the following comparisons were spotted on bleacherreport.com:

From 2001-2010, ages 24-33 – 261 TDs, 2,995 completions, 103interceptions, 95.2 QB rating, 34,738 yards, 63.6 completion percentage, four Super Bowls, three Super Bowl wins, 111-32 record.

From 2011-2018, ages 34-41- 256 TDs, 3,008 completions, 68 interceptions, 100.0 QB rating, 35,770 yards, 64.5 completion percentage, five Super Bowls, three Super Bowl wins, 96-28 record.

Maybe signing him to a contract extension is not the dumbest idea in the world.

Alan Greenwood can be reached at 594-1248, agreenwood@nashuatelegraph.com or

@Telegraph_ Alan.