Though umpire Greg Gibson lacks the notoriety of his combative crew member Angel Hernandez, his recent history with the St. Louis Cardinals has not been positive. The latest chapter was written Wednesday evening.
Umpiring at first base, Gibson missed a call during the ninth inning of the Cardinals’ loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.
With one on and no out, Josh Wilson dropped down a sacrifice bunt. Pitcher Mark Rzepczynski fielded the ball and threw to the inside of first base. Albert Pujols left the bag to catch the ball, but touched it with his toe before Wilson reached first.
La Russa and Gibson have a checkered history, including three ejections in the last four years.
The umpire ran the manager on September 12, 2009 for arguing balls and strikes at Atlanta. It was La Russa’s first (and only?) ejection that year.
On July 28, 2007 as the Cards faced the Brewers at Busch Stadium, third base umpire Gibson ejected La Russa for arguing a checked swing strike call that went against Skip Schumaker. It was the manager’s first boot of that season.
In the 2005 NLCS in which the Cardinals lost to Houston, Gibson was involved in three controversial plays that all went against St. Louis in Game 2. The first was a missed tag out at third that the home plate ump Gibson ran over to cover. The second was a ball that should have been called a foul but was ruled fair and led to a Cardinals out. The third was a crucial strikeout of Jim Edmonds with two on base in a two-run game.
Six days later, in Game 6 of that same series, Gibson, then at second base, made an out call on Yadier Molina when replays showed Astros shortstop Adam Everett had missed the tag. As in the other cases, La Russa argued to no avail. It was a key play in the final game of Busch Stadium II and the end for one of La Russa’s best Cardinals teams.
Despite all of this, the reality is that Gibson did not lose Wednesday’s game. The Cardinals are 3-8 against Milwaukee this season because the Brewers have simply played better.
Yet as La Russa noted, Gibson will be in an important position in St. Louis’ must-win Thursday night contest.
“He missed the call. He didn’t think he missed it,” said La Russa. “I say very clearly that had very little with us losing the game. They would have had a two-run lead going into the ninth, and their closer (John Axford) hasn’t given up anything. So (Gibson) isn’t the reason we got beat.
“But he missed the call. Short fuse. Very undeserved ejection. Let’s see how he handles it tomorrow (when Gibson is behind the plate). Let’s see if he has a carryover and gets upset and wants to take it out on us.”