Interesting game last night, eh?
I don't blog either the Angels or the White Sox; insofar as I do blog the Washington Nationals, maybe I should naturally root against the Angels, but I don't. I've got no dog in this fight. There are a couple of SBN blogs that do, though, here and here. Check them out, as well as the long, long Baseball Primer discussion on the call.
There are probably half-a-dozen ways to analyze Doug Eddings' call, some more relevant than others. The two most important lines of inquiry are a) did the ball actually hit the dirt? and b) did Eddings actually make an out call?, but I'm not going to focus on those issues. Plenty of other people are doing that.
Instead, I'm going to review something that Tim McCarver said (paraphrased) during the game broadcast:
I am fond of McCarver's point, because it's exactly the one I was thinking at the time: what motivation does Paul have to pretend he caught the ball? Other than sheer laziness, there isn't one. There's no need to try to trick Eddings on the play, because Paul's route to accomplishing the out otherwise is so very simple---just tag A.J. Pierzynski in the first place, or else toss the ball over to first base. Common sense should have dictated to Eddings that the play was complete, for the very reason that Paul made no effort to complete a play that would have been extremely easy to complete.
Now, I know the Little League answer is for Paul to keep playing until he hears the out call. (From the snippet of Paul's locker room comments I caught after the game, he claimed Eddings didn't make a "no-catch" call, which is fine but still doesn't absolve him of failing to make a simple, fundamental "make sure" gesture.) However, the Little League answer---in this case, at least---is based on a non-sensical proposition that the catcher needs to prove to the umpire that he caught a ball, when in fact his very inaction proves he caught the ball.
Of course, a different situation occurs when the ball clearly hits the dirt (and especially where the catcher is forced to slide-and-block). In that circumstance, the catcher knows he is obligated to prove to the umpire that he has possession and to execute the actual out by making a play.
But, where a catcher makes no affirmative movements to demonstrate he needs to complete an out, and where the catcher has no real motivation to be deceitful about it other than laziness, common sense dictates that an out has in fact been successfully executed. Perhaps Doug Eddings lacks common sense; his explanations after the game indicated he lacks something.