"The only thing I'm down on myself is, I should have sold it either way," Eddings told multiple news sources Thursday afternoon in an impromptu conference at John Wayne International Airport. "I should have either said, 'No catch,' or, if I did have a catch, that he was out. Which I never said: 'He's out,'"
Lack of a definitive call by Eddings on Kelvim Escobar's strikeout of A.J. Pierzynski with two outs in the ninth led to confusion, and then to Chicago's 2-1 victory over the Angels at U.S. Cellular Field.
Pierzynski swung and missed the low pitch, but ran to first base as catcher Josh Paul arose and rolled the ball back to the mound. Eddings' ruling, that Paul had trapped the pitch rather than catch it before it hit the ground, awarded first base to Pierzynski. His pinch-runner, Pablo Ozuna, scored three pitches later on Joe Crede's double to even the ALCS at one game apiece.
Eddings shared his flight from Chicago with reporters from several publications, including the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, New York Post, and Sports Illustrated. He talked with them while the group awaited its luggage.
"I should have gave a safe sign," the umpire said. "Early in the game, if you go back to the replays, I had one in the first and I sold it. That's why I felt bad. But that doesn't excuse what happened. A.J. knew it was in the dirt."
Eddings was scheduled to work the right-field line in the six-umpire postseason alignment for Friday night's Game 3 in Angel Stadium.
He probably realized that he would receive a rough greeting from Angels fans, but remained resolute in having made the right call.
"I still feel that way," he said. "I want everything to go smoothly; that's why they pay me to do this job. In tough situations you're going to have to step above and handle it."
As the umpiring crew walked out onto the field a few minutes prior to the game, the red-clad fans stood as one to deliver a lengthy standing boo.
As the pregame meeting at home plate to go over the ground rules with the managers broke up and the umpires trotted into their positions, Eddings remained longer on the outer lip of the infield. He chatted with second base umpire Ed Rapuano as fans along the first-base line and in the right-field stands picked up a new wave of booing, followed by the chorused chant of a vulgarity.
Stadium security personnel had earlier indicated that security, which had already been beefed up to postseason levels for the Division Series games against the Yankees, would not be further beefed up.
However, a stadium representative told MLB.com that while the overall number of security personnel had not changed, more of them have been assigned to the right-field area where Eddings worked.
Furthermore, a little-known and seldom enforced law could be used if there was a need to control crowd behavior. City ordinances forbid using obscene language in Angel Stadium, according to security personnel.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.