Apr 16

No cause to replay Sunday’s ninth inning

A debate about Sunday’s triple play has been launched by this Dave Cameron column at Fangraphs. You can read the comments there to see it unfold.

Cameron argues that Major League Baseball should step in and order the game to be replayed from the moment umpire Dale Scott appeared to signal a foul ball on Jesus Guzman’s ill-fated bunt. His two main points: The call was different from the typical blown umpire’s call, and its effect on the outcome of the game could have affect this year’s playoff races.

I’m a friend and fan of Cameron’s, but we don’t see eye-to-eye on this at all — and I’d feel the same way if the call had gone the opposite way. (Longtime readers will be familiar with my live-and-let-live approach to on umpire rulings.) It was at best a confusing play, at worst an incorrect one, but in the end, one of those things that we live with every day in baseball.

Here’s my longest statement in the comments:

Even if Scott had been perfect on the play, did you see how fast Ellis picks up the ball and fires to third? The Dodgers certainly get two outs on the play (third and first) if not the out at second as well. Dale Scott did not keep the Padres from having a bases-loaded situation.

That said, the result isn’t the thing that determines my opinion on this. I realize the issue is Dave’s contention that the play should be dead from the moment the arms were waved (assuming that’s even something in the rule book – I’m not sure if it is or isn’t). However, the umpires huddled, discussed the play and made a decision. At that point, it’s in the books unless it’s protested and the protest is upheld.

If the Padres protested the call, I’m not aware of it.

I think the whole pinning the fate of the playoffs on this call is part of what’s off base in this column. Because there are so many bad calls that affect wins and losses, the idea that this one in particular needs to be addressed to save the integrity of the postseason, even given the play’s unusual genesis, is melodrama defined. Dave is basically arguing that the Dodgers have a tainted win, despite the fact that there would probably have been at least two outs on the play had it been called without drama and despite the fact that the Dodgers scored in the bottom of the ninth. He’s making a pretty massive leap. Do you think there won’t be a bad call against the Dodgers this year that costs them a game?

It was an unusual play that might have hurt the Padres, but they had the rest of the game to overcome it, just like the Dodgers did in the season opener when Dee Gordon was incorrectly called out for stealing, and in Game 2 when Ethier was incorrectly called out at home.

If the umpires had decided to rule foul ball on the field, based on Scott’s arm-waving, I wouldn’t have had a problem with that at all.

But the idea that MLB should step in on this play today, after the umpires had time to discuss it and after the Padres deemed it unworthy of protest – something, with the mid-inning break, they had ample opportunity to do — just doesn’t hold water.