Cameron Maybin was awarded a three-ball walk during the fifth inning of Saturday night's matchup between the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres. After fouling off a couple pitches, Maybin eventually drew a third ball, pushing the count to 3-2. Except the home plate umpire awarded Maybin first base, giving him the always-rare three-ball walk.
After the jump, crew chief Tom Hallion's explanation for the mistake, which is just a long way of saying "we screwed up."
"I don't want to say it was a long at-bat but it was a seven-pitch at-bat, he fouled off two or three pitches, there was a ball in the dirt that got away from the catcher and looking at it, we went through each pitch and you are right, it was three balls and he took off for first base. My plate umpire thought his count was wrong. The scoreboard had 3-2 and he thought he was wrong because when Maybin took off for first, no body said anything. The catcher didn't react, the dugout didn't react so he thought he had the wrong count. Do we feel bad? Absolutely. We count the pitches and it was just one of those things that gets away with you with the scoreboard having the 3-2 count up there and then nothing being said by anybody, he thought he had the wrong count."
Via Tim Booth
Why in the world is the home plate umpire using the scoreboard to keep track of balls and strikes. In every level of baseball, home plate umpires typically carry their own counters in the palm of their hand. It's a system of checks and balances, and allows the umpires to track the count for themselves without having to rely on others.
If the plate umpire thought something was fishy at the time, why not make absolutely sure? Why use the excuse that it was a long at-bat? There's absolutely no reason for this to happen.
The Mariners got screwed on Saturday night as Maybin turned that walk into a run. There's no explanation that makes this right. The crew on duty botched the play and, subsequently, the game. And there's no excuse for it.