The throw may not have beat the runner home, but it would have been close. As a result, the conspiracy theories are in full bloom.
Late Monday night, the Southeast representatives from Peachtree Little League in Georgia advanced from an elimination game against the Southwest representatives from Post Oak Little League in Texas, 7-6, in extra innings. They scored the winning run on a sacrifice fly to right field, but the Post Oak outfielder who caught the deep fly had his throwing line cut off by the right field umpire, who was positioned directly in front of the fielder as he prepared for a powerful throw home.
You can see the play in question directly above.
Fans on social media were outraged, calling out the umpire’s positioning for the role it may have played in the game’s outcome.
While the reactions Monday night were genuinely borne out of frustration, the tone had changed to conspiracy by Tuesday, with some calling the incident “umpire-gate,” claiming that the official in question wanted the team from Georgia to emerge victorious.
To be fair, it was a distinct minority that even considered the umpire’s mistake potentially intentional. It certainly seems safe to assume it wasn’t.
That being said, it’s also unquestionable that the umpire got in the way of a critical play. It was a mistake, but a human one, not one borne of malice.
Umpire-gate? Nah. Just more proof of the risk of employing volunteer umps at an event for which a media network pays $7.5 million per year to televise.