Friday, May 10, 2013

The Politics of Protest

Weird moment in last night's game, huh? Let's set it up for you, in case you weren't able to see the game, or can't bear to watch 54 minutes of Tebow/Lakers talk for no good reason on SportsCenter before they get to the Astros game:

With two outs in the 7th inning and the game tied at 3-3, Bo Porter pulled Paul Clemens and called for Wesley Wright. Mike Scioscia called on Luis Jimenez (instead of J.B. Shuck) to face Wright. Wright threw a few warm-up pitches, and Porter bounced out of the dugout, talked to the umpires, got some sort of confirmation, and then called on Hector Ambriz to come into the game - all without Wright having faced a batter. The rule book says that a pitcher has to face at least one batter before he can be pulled, presumably to prevent forcing a pinch-hitting matchup that the other manager doesn't necessarily want. Which is what happened, because Scioscia then had to bring in Scott Cousins to face Ambriz.

There was weeping, gnashing of teeth, wearing of sackcloth and ashes as another Umpocalypse hit baseball. Scioscia drew a huge "P" with his hand at the official scorer (which, I tried to tell my wife, meant that Scioscia was calling Bo Porter a "penis," and that Porter would have no choice but to challenge him to a duel on Tal's Hill at dawn.)

It didn't matter, because Ambriz couldn't get anybody out in the 8th and blew the game open for the Angels, even despite Brandon Barnes' wonderful sliding catch in CF that only allowed Old Man Pujols to score from 3rd.

Let's try to sort through it, eh?

MLB Official Rulebook: Rule 3.05b

(b) If the pitcher is replaced, the substitute pitcher shall pitch to the batter then at bat,

or any substitute batter, until such batter is put out or reaches first base, or until the
offensive team is put out, unless the substitute pitcher sustains injury or illness
which, in the umpire-in-chief’s judgment, incapacitates him for further play as a

Bo Porter:
Technically, Wesley came in to face the batter that was scheduled to hit, but he pinch-hit for the batter that was scheduled to hit, which my understanding of the rule means you can now bring in another pitcher to face the pinch-hitter.

My contention was that the pitcher came in, had to face one batter. I protested, and we're happy we won.

Crew Chief Fieldin Culbreth:
The only thing I can tell you is that all matters concerning protests are handled through the league office, and that's all I can tell you.

Scioscia indicated that there was an explanation given as to why Wright was allowed to leave the game, but didn't want to go into it.

The media reaction is basically one of two arguments: (1) Typical, stupid, not transparent umpires! and (2) Bush-league Bo Porter. A few thoughts on this:

*Yeah, umpires have had a rough few days, and I do wish they'd be more open about their poor decisions, rather than hiding behind Joe Torre's trenchcoat (and then Torre hiding behind MLB) before owning up to their mistakes.
*Bo Porter went out and talked to the umpires before bringing in Ambriz. Presumably they didn't talk about candlesticks making a nice gift. Porter seemingly asked for confirmation of what he was about to do, received it, and made the switch to Ambriz. Had Porter just jumped out of the dugout and called for Ambriz, I could see where the SMHing at Porter would come into play. But the umpires seemingly knew exactly what Porter was doing, and allowed it to happen.
*Wait, so you can protest, make it to where there is the possibility of having to restart the game from the point of the protest and then, if you win, say "Nevermind!" and drop it? It would be even more fun if MLB ignored that the Angels dropped their protest, and forced them to restart the game from the 7th.