Leyland goes off on umpires for missed strikeout call

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Leyland goes off on umpires for missed strikeout call

One call in the second inning may have changed the whole game for the Detroit Tigers Monday and manager Jim Leyland wasn't about to let it go.

With two outs and a runner on second, Mike Aviles had two strikes on him when he swung and missed at a pitch that Detroit catcher Gerald Laird appeared to have caught for a third strike.

Instead, home plate umpire Jeff Nelson ruled that the ball had struck the ground first, making it a foul ball. On appeal, first base umpire Bill Welke agreed.

The inning continued and the Sox added three runs while Leyland and third base coach Gene Lamont were ejected for arguing the call.

Welke later acknowledged that the umpires had made a mistake.

"What looks crystal clear (on video)," said Welke, "didn't look crystal clear from the first base line."

That didn't mollify Leyland.

"There shouldn't have been a second-inning rally," Leyland said. "I mean, there should not have been a second-inning rally. There's three outs. I've been in the game a long time; when a catcher catches the ball and it's strike three you call the guy out. It's that simple, isn't it?"

When Leyland was asked what explanation he received from the umpires, he launched into a rant.

"He said the ball hit the ground," said Leyland. "I'm sorry. I'm the most patient man in the world with umpires; protect them more than anybody. And I understand there's the human element involved in the game. But you're 120 feet away? I mean, you gotta be 110 percent sure. You can't be guessing at that call. That's that simple. I mean, come on."

And the more Leyland spoke, the angrier he became, turning his frustration toward the media.

"Was that a ridiculous call? Then write it that it was a expletive ridiculous call," he said, his voice rising. "Write that it was a expletive ridiculous call; not just a bad call, a maybe call, a expletive ridiculous call. Write the expletive thing. That's all. I protect them more than anybody; I'm not mad at the expletive umpires, but expletive it's a ridiculous expletive call, you saw it, you think it's a ridiculous call, write it, expletive I don't have to say it.

"I'm not a expletive writer, I'm a expletive manager."

Market for Encarnacion is shrinking, yet Red Sox still don't seem interested

Market for Encarnacion is shrinking, yet Red Sox still don't seem interested

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- As the annual winter meetings get underway today, the market for arguably the best free-agent hitter may be -- against all logic -- lessening.

Edwin Encarnacion, who has averaged 39 homers a year over the last five seasons, should be a player in demand.

But in quick succession, the Houston Astros and New York Yankees, two teams thought to be in the market for Encarnacion, opted to go with older hitters who required shorter deals -- Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday.

Further, the Toronto Blue Jays' signing of Steve Pearce to a two-year deal Monday, coupled with their earlier acquisition of Kendrys Morales, closes the door on a potential return to Toronto for Encarnacion.

Seemingly, all of that would position the Red Sox, in search of a DH to replace the retired David Ortiz, to swoop in and land Encarnacion for far less than they could have imagined only weeks ago.

And yet, it appears as though things would have to change considerably for the Red Sox to reach agreement with Encarnacion.

While the first baseman-DH is known to be Ortiz's first choice as his replacement, for now, the economics don't work for the Sox -- even as Enacarnacion's leverage drops.

Encarnacion is expecting a deal of at least four years, with an average annual value around $20 million.

The Red Sox, industry sources indicate, are very much mindful of the luxury tax threshold. The Sox have, however modestly, gone over the threshold in each of the last two seasons, and even with a bump due to last week's new CBA, the Sox are dangerously close to the 2018 limit of $195 million.

Should the Sox go over for a third straight year, their tax would similarly ratchet up.

That, and the fact that Encarnacion would cost the Sox their first-round pick next June -- for this offseason, compensation for players given a qualifying offer comes under the old CBA rules -- represents two huge disincentives.

It's far more likely that the Sox will seek a cheaper option at DH from among a group that includes Pedro Alvarez and Mike Napoli. Neither is in Encarnacion's class, but then again, neither would cost a draft pick in return, or the long-term investment that Encarnacion is said to be seeking.

Boomer Esiason witnessed Pete Rose hire people to sign autographs

Boomer Esiason witnessed Pete Rose hire people to sign autographs

Boomer Esiason tells Toucher & Rich a story from his early days in Cincinnati when he witnessed Pete Rose overseeing five guys he paid to sign a stack of photographs for fans.