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The Mattingly mound visit: MLB says the umps were wrong; umps disagree

Jul 22, 2010, 10:00 AM EDT

I’ll admit that I was rather confused about the Don Mattingly mound visit thing the other night.  After my initial post yesterday I was mostly persuaded by others that even if the umpires were following the letter of the rule regarding Mattingly making two mound visits, they weren’t following the spirit of the rule because Donnie Baseball wasn’t trying to either waste time or play games with matchups or whatever reason managers aren’t allowed to make two visits before changing the pitcher.

But it seems I wasn’t even right that the umpires were following the letter of the rule. Major League Baseball said otherwise yesterday:

Because Mattingly disobeyed the umpire’s warning, the rule calls for
Mattingly to be ejected and for Jonathan Broxton to face the next
batter, then be removed. MLB has told the umpires this interpretation
was the correct one.

Instead, the umpires ruled that Broxton had to be removed immediately.
Mattingly brought in George Sherrill, who didn’t have a chance to warm
up in the bullpen.

To be fair to the umps, it was a highly unusual situation regarding a less-than-crystal-clear rule and they had Bruce Bochy yelling at them about it all while they tried to work through it.  Even if they were ultimately wrong about it I’m willing to cut some slack under the “everyone’s human” rule.

Not that this clears anything up:

Crew chief Tim McClelland did not agree with MLB’s interpretation.

“I am not of the opinion [that's the way the rule should have been
applied],” McClelland said. “The league is of that opinion. It’s a
difference of opinion in a situation that’s not covered.”

I think it’s safe to say that if, more than a day later, the umps, the league and parties involved still can’t agree on what should have happened, we’re dealing with a rule that desperately needs an overhaul.

  1. CJ - Jul 22, 2010 at 10:13 AM

    Dumb rule. He took two steps off the mound and came back. If he walked outside the base lines and then came back, I’d agree. But that’s just plain silly to eject anyone for that. Change the rule so that a single mound visit is defined as any time a manager calls time crosses the base lines to approach the mound. The visit is officially concluded when the manager then crosses the baseline again to enter the dugout. If he then crosses back over to talk to a player, it’s considered a second visit and he gets tossed.
    It’s jsut moronic that they tossed him when he was clearly still conversing with the team, the conversation hadn’t ended, as a player had asked him a question. He took two steps of the dirt and then came back on the mound. Boom. Tossed manager and pitcher. Bad rule.

  2. bbeer - Jul 22, 2010 at 11:16 AM

    Pretty much the same thoughts I had.

  3. Kung - Jul 22, 2010 at 11:25 AM

    Totally agree – you can’t have the visit start when he crosses the baseline and end at a different point, the mound. Makes no sense.

  4. Dan - Jul 22, 2010 at 12:22 PM

    I thought the rule was there to prevent a manager bringing in a relief pitcher and then getting him out of the game before he has faced a batter. If the Cardinals bring in Jason Motte to face Werth and the Phillies send up Howard to pinch hit, I’m sure TLR would love to get Motte out and bring in Miller by visiting the mound twice.
    Still it seems strange that McClelland warned Mattingly about two visits. Did he warn him in the split second where he stepped off the dirt and back onto the mound? Did he warn him as he came out of the dugout? That really would be weird.
    If the purpose of the rule is to prevent delaying tactics by managers it sure would not have concerned what Mattingly did.

  5. brian - Jul 22, 2010 at 12:41 PM

    It isn’t a bad rule at all and in fact is quite clear….”Rule 8.06 d – A manager or coach is considered to have concluded his visit to the mound when he leaves the 18-foot circle surrounding the pitcher’s rubber.” Seems to me that is a very clear definition and no need to be amended to be “crossing the foul line”. So when Mattingly left the mound circle he should have known coming back onto the mound would be a second visit.
    Just as clear is what is required of the umpires….also in Rule 8.06 – “In a case where a manager has made his first trip to the mound and then returns the second time to the mound in the same inning with the same pitcher in the game and the same batter at bat, after being warned by the umpire that he cannot return to the mound, the manager shall be removed from the game and the pitcher required to pitch to the batter until he is retired or gets on base. After the batter is retired, or becomes a base runner, then this pitcher must be removed from the game. The manager should be notified that his pitcher will be removed from the game after he pitches to one hitter, so he can have a substitute pitcher warmed up.” Now you can argue the umpires never warned Mattingly but you can see from the video they never had the chance. It doesnt negate the rule. And McClelland saying he interprets it differently is just being contrary…the rule is clear that the pitcher finishes the at bat.

  6. ryanbyrne19 - Jul 22, 2010 at 1:34 PM

    I think LA should have protested the game!

  7. The Rabbit - Jul 22, 2010 at 1:59 PM

    The rule and its rationale are fairly clear. It’s also clear that Mattingly wasn’t attempting to violate the spirit for which the rule was intended.
    That said, I’d like to focus on Tim McClelland’s comments.
    I’m tired of umpires’ “opinions”. They create their own rules (See:Jeter, Derek, 2009, Stupid attempted steal of third), take wild ass guesses as to whether a runner is safe or out (more often wrong, these days), have the incredible moving strike zone which allows them to eject anyone who stares or motions in disbelief (See: Victorino, Shane), have a union president who engages in shameless self-promotion (an activity reserved for professional bloggers), and create confrontations with impunity.
    IMO, They should be prohibited from ejecting players who do not verbally abuse them and that goes for strike and ball calls, too. OK, I’ll add that you can’t flash the bird at an umpire as a matter of decorum. They should be held accountable for their actions on the field. We really don’t watch baseball to see them.
    I’d also like to see MLB take a stand; however, with cajoneless Bud at the helm who as Owner Representative (Commissioner, not really!) has one mission, to enrich owners, it won’t happen.

  8. Ditto65 - Jul 22, 2010 at 2:05 PM

    When are they going to put a leash on umps? It is one thing to blow a call or misinterpret a rule. It is quite another to openly disagree with the company’s (MLB) position.
    Why have rules?

  9. HP3 - Jul 22, 2010 at 3:05 PM

    The one the umps really missed was Denny Bautista throwing at Russell Martin after the warning. If the umps throw out Bautista per the rule, Bochy goes with him, Kershaw might not have thrown at Rowand and Mattingly and the umps might have been saved further embarrassment.

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