The game would be a tough one for either side to lose, and of course, there's no guarantee that even if Meals got the call right that Atlanta wouldn't have won in the twentieth inning. But it is de rigueur to let the players decide the game; umps shouldn't.
A game that long has a life and story of its own. Here's some numbers and random stuff:
- Every player on both teams except for Joel Hanrahan and the starting pitchers got in the game (and Kevin Coreia was sent to the the pen for the Bucs during the wee hours); that's 41 players in all. Seven Pirates played the entire game (God bless C Mike McKenry!) as did five Braves.
- The pitchers threw 608 pitches and the batters went 28-for-133 (.211). Atlanta had 15 hits, all singles. There were 39 stranded runners and the teams were 4-for-34 with RISP. There were 31 strikeouts and 18 walks (five intentional) issued.
- Cristhian Martinez tossed six frames, as many innings as starter Tommy Hanson; Daniel McCutchen's 5-1/3 inning appearance was longer than Jeff Karstens' day (5IP).
- The game lasted six hours and thirty-nine minutes officially, the longest game ever played time-wise by either franchise.
- It was the Pirates first 19-inning game since 1980, v. the Cubs; the Braves haven't played that long since 1988, v. St. Louis.
- Martin Prado's 0-for-9 outing left him one of just 30 players in the live-ball era to go nine at-bats or more without recording a base hit. (the record is 0-for-11, set in 1920 by Charlie Pick).
- The Pirates went 17 straight innings without scoring; the Braves went 15 frames between runs.
- Julio Lugo left nine runners on base; Prado eight, and Pedro Alvarez stranded seven for Pittsburgh.
As far as the umpiring, GW still isn't in favor of replay, unless it's on a very limited basis, something like one or two manager challenges a game decided by an ump-in-the-sky. There are just too many calls made during a game to turn it over to an army of center field cameras. And there probably wouldn't be overkill with it; there really aren't that many controversial calls during the season. That's why the ones that occur stay in mind so long.
But ya know what? Maybe it wouldn't hurt to make sure the MLB umps are a little better trained - worse than Meals' call at the plate was his inconsistent strike zone, driving pitchers, hitters, and managers alike nuts - and a lot more accountable to the game they serve. Put some teeth in the rating system, and demote substandard umps down a level or two to the farm, just like they do with underachieving players. Maybe then the umps will buy into getting it right.