This could turn out to be a 2008 World Series debate topic: Which team did the umpires hurt more?

Early yesterday morning, Citizens Bank Park erupted in fury over an umpiring call in Game 3 that cost the Phillies a couple of runs. By last night, the fury had turned. The place was cheering another missed call that helped the home team to a quick lead. Tampa Bay's dugout was irate.

Bottom line: This won't go down as the World Series umpiring clinic.

But here's a second bottom line: No game was ultimately determined by a call.

"I can't point at one umpiring call and blame the entire event on that," Rays manager Joe Maddon said after the 10-2 Game 4 loss.

Last night's first-inning call that had Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria throwing a furious fist in the air was a no-excuses miss. Jimmy Rollins, caught in a rundown off third, scrambled back to the base. Longoria slapped a tag on his rear end, right in front of crew chief Tim Welke. The umpire signaled safe. Rollins then scored on a bases-loaded walk.

The Phillies might argue that only evened things up for the series. Jamie Moyer's glove flip, caught by Ryan Howard's bare hand, may have been the signature moment of Moyer's Game 3 pitching gem - except first-base umpire Tom Hallion missed the call, ruling Carl Crawford safe, which ultimately led to two Tampa runs.

If the Phillies had dropped Game 3, Hallion no doubt would have been the villain. The ump admitted later that he'd missed the call. The problem: As Hallion scrambled into position, Moyer's toss went to the inside of the base. Howard's body blocked Hallion's sight line and there was no sound of ball hitting glove.

"As an umpire you never want to be involved in the outcome of the game," Hallion said after Game 3. "We don't like being involved in something like that. We like to get every play right. We're human beings and sometimes we get them wrong."

"I think the umpiring has gone OK, so far," said Mike Port, Major League Baseball's vice president of umpiring, before last night's game. "This game has been played for 150 years, and there will always be things that come up that you've never seen before. Nobody is better qualified to handle them than these guys. Admittedly, they may miss a call, but those situations are minimal."

It wasn't the first World Series umpiring call that had the Phillies upset. Charlie Manuel believed Rollins had been hit by a ninth-inning pitch from David Price in Game 2 - it looked like the front of his jersey had been grazed - but there was no hit-by-pitch call.

Maddon also got upset in Game 1, looking for a balk on Cole Hamels that wasn't called when the Phillies ace picked off Carlos Pena.

The weirdest play came during Game 2, when home plate umpire Kerwin Danley appeared to signal a strike on a Brett Myers pitch to Rocco Baldelli before continuing the motion and pointing to first base, indicating a walk.

"The clear action was that the umpire, Kerwin Danley, audibly said, 'Ball,' " MLB vice president of baseball operations Jimmie Lee Solomon told MLB.com. "There was also a checked swing. In his effort to point down to first base and the first-base umpire, he made a confusing mechanical gesture with his arm. He admits that the mechanic he used was a little bit confusing."

Manuel didn't hear the voice call.

"I thought he called the guy out," Manuel said after Game 2. "But he said he was pointing like that, he pointed to go to first base. But to me - when he brought his hand up, I thought he called the guy out. And when I went out there, he said he was pointing for the guy to go to first base."

Selection of postseason umpires is based on merit, though there are provisions in the umpires' collective-bargaining agreement that prevents an umpire from working World Series in consecutive years, or back-to-back postseason series. In other words, an umpire cannot work a league championship series and a World Series in the same year.

The postseason begins with 24 umpires assigned to four division series. The six umpires assigned to this World Series all worked in the division series.

Those 24 umpires are selected by Major League Baseball, based on regular-season performance.

"We have a two-day meeting of all our supervisors and department personnel," Port said. "We evaluate every one of our 68 full-time umpires. We look at how plays were handled, how situations were handled, strike-zone management, positioning, durability - any performance element we can come up with it."

Teams are not part of the selection process, though Port acknowledged that their input during the season is considered.

"Part of our equation is what we've heard over the course of the season," Port said. "If I hear 30 clubs say, 'This guy did a hell of a job,' that's worth something. Conversely, if I hear from a number of clubs that a particular umpire didn't do a good job, that is taken into account."

Jerry Crawford, a veteran MLB umpire who is not working this World Series, strongly defended Hallion yesterday, saying he was moving to get into the right position. "He was trying to get to another position. In trying to do his job, he ends up missing the play. Those things happen," said Crawford, a longtime Havertown resident now living in Florida. "When he has to adjust to something that the player is doing, that's when plays get missed. It happens when we try to get in a better position."

Port, a former general manager of the California Angels, recalled how former Angels [and Phillies] manager Gene Mauch used to tell his players not to get consumed by umpiring calls.

"Gene used to tell his players, 'I'll handle the arguing, you guys get the runs,' " Port said. "I remember Gene telling me that the nature of the game is you're supposed to be able to overcome mistakes, whether it's your third baseman making an error that results in two runs, an outfielder dropping a ball or an umpire missing a call. You have to overcome adversity in this game. As Gene used to say, 'There's no rule against scoring 15 runs.' "