Giants now know what it’s like to be on the wrong end of a blown checked-swing call

The San Francisco Giants' Wilmer Flores reacts after a called strike for a strike out.
The Giants’ Wilmer Flores, right, reacts after he was called for a strike as Dodgers catcher Will Smith celebrates the play that sealed Los Angeles’ series-clinching win Thursday night in San Francisco.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Let’s face it Dodger fans, the checked swing call on Wilmer Flores to end Game 5 of the Dodgers-Giants division series was a bad call. Flores did not swing and the game should have continued. Max Scherzer probably would have gotten him out anyway, we’ll never know. And 20 years from now, no one will care except for the Giants and some of their fans.

However, Dodgers fans will also be quick to point out a horrible check swing call earlier this season that cost the Dodgers a game against the Giants. A call, that if called correctly, would have given the Dodgers the win. Meaning the Dodgers could have won the NL West by a game and not the Giants. Meaning Game 5 would have been at Dodger Stadium, and who know what would have happened if all that played out?


On July 22, the Dodgers were up 3-2 with two out in the ninth inning. Kenley Jansen threw a full-count pitch with the bases loaded. Darin Ruf tried to hold up his swing but clearly went around. That was a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded. If it’s a swing and a miss on a Kenley Jansen throw, it’s game over and the Dodgers get a huge win as they chase the Giants in the tight NL West. First-base umpire Ed Hickox said he did not swing. Tying run walked home. The Giants eventually won the game 5-3.

On Oct. 14, The Dodgers were up 2-1 with two out in the ninth inning. Max Scherzer threw an 0-2 pitch to Wilmer Flores, he clearly checked his swing. Catcher Will Smith appealed and first-base umpire Gabe Morales said it was a swing. Game over. Dodgers move on to the NLCS, Giants go home.

Giants fans took no solace in the split calls, venting their frustration about Morales’ decision on social media.

When Morales was asked after the game what he saw on the final call, he responded, “The plate umpire appealed the check swing to me. I thought he went, so I called it a swing.”

A check swing is unlike any other call in baseball. It isn’t defined in the rule book, is often deferred from one umpire to another, and can’t be reviewed.

Oct. 15, 2021


Morales was then asked if he felt the same way after watching the replay, and he replied, “Check swings are one of the hardest calls we have. I don’t have the benefit of multiple camera angles when I’m watching it live. When it happened live, I thought he went, so that’s why I called it a swing.”

Fans lamented a dramatic playoff series was settled by an umpire’s call, suggesting in the NBA referees might not make a call late in a playoff game that would so heavily influence the outcome.

Umpire Ted Barrett said that was never a consideration.

“I get that from fans a lot whether it’s spring training and we’re in Scottsdale and March 1st and/or we’re in the seventh game of the World Series, we’re always trying to get the calls right, try to call it the same way,” Barrett said.

“And we try not to think about whether it’s a playoff game, whether it’s a regular-season game or a spring-training game. They’re all important, so we’re just trying to get our calls right.”

In the tweet embedded above, Ruf’s swing is on the left, Flores’ swing is on the right. What call do you make of it?

In perhaps the greatest chapter in the history of the Dodgers-Giants rivalry, the Dodgers prevail, winning an intense five-game playoff series.

Oct. 15, 2021