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This Stupid Baseball Rule Probably Cost The Mariners A Game


Baseball is a game of tradition. I get it. The Yankees still wear pinstripes, the league doesn’t want to use replay, and the sport will never have two conferences with the same rules. That’s all good stuff. But when some stupid little by-law ends up costing a team a game, you start to question why baseball has such incredibly rigid rules.

Last night, the Mariners had a 7-2 lead in the 9th inning over the Red Sox, who smacked around Seattle closer Tom Wilhelmsen, scoring a run and loading the bases. That’s when temporary Mariners manager Robby Thompson, filling in for the ill Eric Wedge, made a big mistake.

As you can see if the GIF above, courtesy of Deadspin, while walking towards the mound to relieve Wilhelmsen of his duties, Thompson accidentally signaled with his left arm indicating a lefty pitcher. He quickly caught himself, but it was too late and the umpires forced him to bring in a lefty.

Oliver Perez came in, giving up two straight singles that made the score 7-6 before striking out David Ortiz for the first out. That’s when Yoervis Medina finally came in, the reliever that Thomspon had originally intended to put on the mound. Medina gave up a game-tying RBI single, walked the bases loaded, and then allowed a Daniel Nava walk-off single.

I think it’s safe to assume that with the preferred pitching match-ups and a four run lead, the Mariners probably would have pulled this one out instead of blowing it in the 9th. But that isn’t what happened. The umpires instead enforced a stupid technicality that punished Robby Thompson for raising the wrong arm for a split second before correcting himself.

This isn’t golf. Rules like this aren’t protecting the integrity of the game. All they’re doing is making baseball look like it takes itself too seriously and turning off fans. According to the Seattle Times, Red Sox manager John Farrell even said that he wouldn’t have argued if the umps let Thompson bring in Medina.

Why is this even a rule? Why can’t the manager just verbally express to the umpires what pitcher he wants to bring in? Why are they using hand signals like they’re an army squadron in battle telling a unit which side to flank the enemy on?

Get it together, baseball.


  • Anonymous

    No, it’s not safe to assume. Major league pitchers need to get anyone out, no matter how they bat. Period. Paragraph. Don’t hang this on the rule. Hang this on the troika of suck.

  • Anonymous

    This is a long standing rule and one the manager should know. Endlessly blaming the rules for what is – at the end of the inning – a bad pitching performance is just sad. And, if Perez was in against the manager’s wishes, why leave him in?

    Blaming the rules and the umpires for doing their jobs and enforcing those rules is excuse making of the worst degree.

  • Zach Berger

    They left him in to face Ortiz, who he struck out.

  • Glenn Lockwood

    Zach Berger…..you must be a Seattle Mariner fan to be bitching/complaining about that. I don’t care what arm the player uses to pitch with. His job is to come in the game and shut down the opposing team. Period! Perez failed to do his job. Period!

  • Anonymous

    Its rules like this that make it a great sport. Like the pine tar incident.

  • coach

    Nothing in the rules about hands or arms.
    3.06 The manager shall immediately notify the umpire in chief of any substitution and shall state to the umpire in chief the substitute’s place in the batting order. Players for whom substitutions have been made may remain with their team on the bench or may “warm up” pitchers. If a manager substitutes another player for himself, he may continue to direct his team from the bench or the coach’s box. Umpires should not permit players for whom substitutes have been made, and who are permitted to remain on the bench, to address any remarks to any opposing player or manager, or to the umpires.

    3.07 The umpire in chief, after having been notified, shall immediately announce, or cause to be announced, each substitution.

    3.08 (a) If no announcement of a substitution is made, the substitute shall be considered as having entered the game when_

    (1) If a pitcher, he takes his place on the pitcher’s plate;

    (2) If a batter, he takes his place in the batter’s box;

    (3) If a fielder, he reaches the position usually occupied by the fielder he has replaced, and play commences;

    (4) If a runner, he takes the place of the runner he has replaced.

    (b) Any play made by, or on, any of the above mentioned unannounced substitutes shall be legal.

  • Ncrdbl1

    STFU already. The pitcher didn’t even have to throw a single pitch. He could have walked to the mound and then be replaced by another without throwing a single pitch. The rule is there to keep a team from making the other team use a bench player making a change to counter the pitching change. No one forced the Mariners to keep him in the game till he blew the lead. A pinch hitter can be on deck and be announced then they can change pitchers and the pinch hitter can be pinched hit for. The first player never made it to the plate but he is officially in the game and cannot be used again.

  • Anonymous

    A pitcher has to face at least one batter unless he’s hurt.


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