Hahahaha from Craig Calcaterra comes this possible explanation for Eric Gregg’s “questionable” strike zone in Game 7 of the 1997 National League Championship Series (seriously folks, if you didn’t witness the thing it was the worst job of umpiring I have seen since Leslie Nielson in the Naked Gun):
I never did understand why Eric Gregg’s strike zone was so out of whack in Livan Hernandez‘s favor back in the 1997 playoffs. I’ve considered any number of possibilities, from basic incompetence to some complicated theory in which Livan Hernandez’s acquaintances in the illicit drug business were somehow involved, but all of these theories have flaws.
I just read the best explanation I’ve ever heard. It’s by Jon Bois over at SB Nation and it involves the history of the color teal. Only part of that involves Gregg and Hernandez, but it is a key part. Bonus: for the first time ever, we have a transcript of Gregg’s conversation with Braves hitters during the game:
ERIC GREGG. Strike three!
McGRIFF. That was in the right-handed batter’s box.
GREGG. Sure was.
McGRIFF. The right-handed batter’s box is out of the strike zone.
GREGG. Evidently not, because that was a strike.
GREGG gestures to HERNANDEZ, who fires another pitch.
GREGG. Strike 2.1!
GREGG. Strike one on Klesko.
McGRIFF. He’s not even in the box yet.
GREGG. Rollover strikes.
McGRIFF. This is insane.
GREGG. Look, it’s just… I’m not really interested in seeing the Braves to the World Series again. Nobody is, really.
I just knew it.
That’s some really good stuff.
And it explains a lot.