While Mets SS Francisco Lindor hit a triple against the Diamondbacks, umpire Lance Barksdale never called him safe at third. Jun 10, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Third base umpire Lance Barksdale (23) returns to his position after a replay review during the fourth inning between the New York Mets and the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

For MLB umpires, third base is one of the easier nights in the rotation. There aren’t many calls at third base in a game and since most hitters are right-handed, most of the appeals on check swings will go to first base. But while it’s a relatively easy night in the rotation, it’s not a night off. When there is a play at third base, the third base umpire has to make the call.

Lance Barksdale seemed to forget that during Thursday’s game between the New York Mets and Arizona Diamondbacks.

With one out in the top of the third inning, New York’s Francisco Lindor hit a ball into the left-center field gap. Lindor, who tripled in his first at-bat, decided to go for his second three-bagger of the night. While the throw into third baseman Emmanuel Rivera was somewhat offline, Rivera caught the ball and swiped at Lindor’s feet. It appeared as though Lindor avoided Rivera’s tag but it wasn’t obvious. So, naturally, everyone looked to Barksdale to make a call. Only, he never did.

Lindor eventually called for time, which Barksdale granted, seemingly acknowledging that Lindor was safe by doing so. But Barksdale never actually made a call on the play.

This wouldn’t have been such a big deal if Lindor was clearly safe. But there was enough of a play here that the umpire needed to make a call.

Baseball fans were understandably miffed.

Anyone who’s seen 1988’s The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!, no doubt remembers the baseball scene. Leslie Nielsen’s Frank Drebin went undercover as a Major League umpire. Drebin is remembered for his exuberant calls behind the plate but on the first pitch of the game, he didn’t know what to do. Everyone was looking at him to call the pitch and he froze.

We’d like to say that Barksdale was simply channeling his inner Frank Drebin here, but there’s one critical difference. Eventually, Drebin realized his mistake and called the pitch a strike, to the delight of the home fans.

Barksdale never got around to that.

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