ACT puts faith in besieged Cavalry umpire
Canberra Cavalry pitcher Steve Kent, whose father Greg Kent has been accused of favouring the Cavalry when umpiring. Photo: Gary Schafer
ACT Baseball Association commissioner Theo Vassalakis says he's disappointed Sydney has questioned the integrity of umpire Greg Kent after the Blue Sox insinuated the fact his son is a Canberra Cavalry player may have affected a game-winning decision.
With scores locked at 3-3 at Narrabundah on Sunday, the Blue Sox exchanged heated words with officials after Kent ruled Canberra player Ryan Stovall safe at home plate in the 12th inning, which secured a vital win for the hosts.
The Blue Sox issued a press release saying ''after a few seconds of personal contemplation, the home plate umpire, father of Cavalry pitcher Steve Kent, called Stovall, safe, setting off a wild celebration by the Cavalry''.
The release was later amended to omit any reference to Greg and Steve's family ties, with the writer issuing an unreserved apology on his Twitter account.
The result meant the Cavalry holds the tie-breaker over the Blue Sox having won one more game in their meetings this season, giving it the inside running to secure top place and a home championship series with one round remaining.
''We can understand about [Sydney] being emotional about a tight call at home plate, but I'm disappointed they're bringing up the integrity of the guy,'' Vassalakis told The Canberra Times on Monday.
''It's got nothing to do with whether he made the right call or not, he's completely impartial.
''I don't know if they should be sanctioned, but they should at least be spoken to [by Australian Baseball League officials] about it.
''I've known Greg for a long time, and if anything he probably errs on being harder on us than the other way around, to be perfectly honest.
''We've actually viewed footage of the play, and it shows he was correct in his decision.''
Kent was diplomatic when asked about the incident, but was disheartened Steve had been dragged into the saga. ''The only comment I'll make is it's disappointing my son's been brought into this because of a decision that's been made by me,'' he said. ''I understand everyone's entitled to their opinion, I respect people's right to make public comment and if they changed that [release] like I've been told, good on them for doing that.
''I did understand the gravity of that situation. It was a crucial call and it's probably why in my own mind I took a couple more seconds than normal to get it clear in my head I was 100 per cent sure.''
ABL general manager Ben Foster said he had no concerns about appointing Kent to officiate at Cavalry games.
''If there was an issue there, we would have had an issue all season,'' he said. ''Greg's been there all season and we stand by him as one of the top umpires in Canberra, and that's the reason why he was appointed to the panel in the first place.
''As far as I'm concerned it's one of many judgment calls umpires make through the course of game, we have no issue with it and moving forward, we'll just appoint the best people available.
''Up until this point it's certainly not been an issue, and not one we're concerned about from our point of view.
Due to financial constraints, ABL matches are generally officiated by local umpires, but Foster indicated that may change for the play-offs.
Blue Sox general manager David Balfour said the club had moved on and had no issue with Kent, adding the post-play reaction was one of frustration and disappointment.
''As far as I was concerned the decision wasn't right, but the decision was made, we just walk away and forget it and worry about next week,'' Balfour said.
''[There was] a few heated words at the end, yeah, it's a bit of controversy, but it's just one of those things, perception can be different.
''There's no animosity toward him, it's just frustration. There's no point dwelling in the past, he does the best job he believes possible which is the important thing, and he's got our support.
''If there was anything said that affects Greg I apologise … It's forgotten as far as I'm concerned.''