It all started with an innocent pickoff attempt in the fourth inning as Mark Buehrle tossed the ball to first, where Wil Myers was on base. The initial ruling from the umpire at first was that Myers safely returned to the bag, but Blue Jays manager John Gibbons came out to ask for a review.
The tape was looked over and it was decided that Myers hand was not on the bag when the tag caught his ribs. And so he was out. The Blue Jays went on to win in the 10th inning off of a Jose Reyes walk-off single.
So what’s the issue? That arises with the vaguely-worded rule on when a manager has to ask for a review. The replay rules stipulate that the challenge must come before the next play begins, which is defined as “when the pitcher is on the rubber preparing to start his delivery and the batter has entered the batter’s box.” That rule contradicts itself by adding that “the final authority to determine whether a manager’s challenge is timely” belongs to the crew chief.
See for yourself:
There’s no question that the criteria for a play to begin are fully met in this instance. Yunel Escobar was in the batter’s box and took a batting stance. Buehrle was on the mound, holding the ball in his glove in a typical pitching stance. And then Gibbons walked out and interrupted the play, prompting a review that should have been disallowed at that point. Unless the crew chief thought Gibbons was timely enough, even though he wasn’t by definition of “a play” as detailed in the replay rules.
So Rays manager Joe Maddon issued a protest of the game.
“I’d be really surprised if the protest is not upheld,” Maddon said. “It was inappropriate for Bob to do what he did and permit that to happen. I’m trusting that they’re going to interpret the rule properly and get us back to that point in the game.”
It’s a mess. Does the MLB throw the crew chief under the bus and admit the replay period was already over? Do they throw Maddon under the bus even though he’s absolutely correct in his protest? Will the league re-write the rule this coming offseason so that it actually gives a clear point in time as to when a replay can’t be made anymore?
This is all so baseball. So, so baseball.