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Joe West’s maverick replay review: a wrong that was ultimately right

Sep 5, 2011, 8:30 AM EDT

Fan Interference.bmp

By now you’ve probably heard about the big Joe West/replay/fan interference call that took place in the sixth inning of the Phillies-Marlins game yesterday. This was a wonderful set of occurrences because it marries at least three of my personal hobby horses: Joe West bashing, instant replay and Phillies fans. If steroids were involved somehow I probably would have had to have been hospitalized yesterday.

So here’s the video of the play. Probably worth watching it first so we can all agree — and I think we can all agree — that yes, that was a case of fan interference.* But the fan interference itself was not really the critical thing here. Joe West’s use of instant replay to overturn the original call of a double is what really turned this into an argle bargle/foofaraw.

The replay rules say that home runs or potential home runs are reviewable. As the play went down, no one — and here I mean the announcers and the people watching the game live and tweeting about it — thought this was a potential home run call being reviewed. Nor did Charlie Manuel. They all thought this was a defensive play (i.e. a double or a fan interference call) being reviewed, which would seem not to be a reviewable call. So, Joe West reviews it, calls Hunter Pence out and everyone freaks about Joe West cowboying his way into a call that should not have been.

Except after the game West told reporters that this was, in fact, a potential home run call being reviewed. He said that home plate umpire Chad Fairchild thought that the fan interference could have prevented the ball from being a home run, thus rendering the review appropriate. Manuel contends that no one was talking about it being a potential home run when everyone was arguing about it on the field, suggesting that the potential home run contention was a post-facto thing by the umps in order to validate their call. The Phillies have protested, of course. But given that an umpire will be on the record in his report saying that the review was of a potential home run, I’m pretty sure that the protest will fail.

But the protest is not terribly interesting to me. It’s not going to change the fact that the Phillies will win the division. And even if it succeeded, it may be a bad thing for Philly given that they’re already playing 26 games in the next 24 days. Sure, everyone would love to get Roy Halladay another win if possible, but when are they supposed to replay this one if the protest is upheld?

No, what really jazzes me about this is how clearly it illustrates the lame artificiality of the current instant replay rule.  About how the umpires are technically allowed to look at a play if X, but are not allowed to look at and review the very same damn play if Y.

From what I can determine, the validity of this call is based on whether Joe West thought he was reviewing a defensive play or a potential home run. But on what planet is a sane replay system governed by what happens to be in Joe West’s head the moment before he looks at the video monitor?  Why should a call that was ultimately correct even be considered improper based on the premise of the review? Right is right, right?  This rule is akin to one that says a police officer assigned to traffic duty can’t do anything about it if he sees a robbery happen on the corner 20 feet away.

Baseball can’t continue on with this kind of silliness. The calls should be correct, and if a video review can help the umpiring crew make the correct call — even if it’s not a home run call — that’s all that should matter.  And if it takes Cowboy Joe West being Cowboy Joe West for someone in a position of authority to finally own up to this and expand replay, I’m just fine with that, thank you very much.  Only Nixon could go to China, and only an umpire of Joe West’s particular charms can show the ridiculous inherent in the system.

 

*Interference by a Phillies fan, it’s probably worth noting. And I note it because some folks who were sending me tweets about this yesterday were saying stuff like “fan interference on the road screws the Phillies!”  No, my friends, if the Phillies were screwed here it was not by some Marlins fan. It was because of an event that was kicked off by a Phillies fan who couldn’t resist messing with a ball in play.

  1. halladaysbiceps - Sep 5, 2011 at 8:43 AM

    Let’s put everything aside (instant replay, Joe West) for a minute and consider this. Years ago (before replay), when umpires didn’t weigh 300 pounds, when a ball was hit to the outfield like that, it was the responsiblity of the 1st or 3rd base umpire (depending on where the ball was hit) to run towards the outfield to get a good look at the ball as it approached the wall. This is how interference was always judged. These umpires are so out of shape today they can’t even do that.

    Now, let skip to today, where replay is a part of the game. According to baseball rules, they cannot use it for fan interference. Period. So, Cowgirl Joe West decided to go against baseball rules and rule on something that he couldn’t do via replay. What BS. He took the matter into his own hands and lied about it after the game.

    • The Common Man - Sep 5, 2011 at 9:54 AM

      You’re such a god-damned predictable mound of awfulness, Bicepts, right up to the needless sexist comment. Some percentage of umpires have always been fat (living on the road and in restaurants can do that to you), and right calls are better than wrong calls on the basis of their being right. Just because we used to ride around on horses, doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t drive cars today. Replay is available; it should be a part of the game.

      Get a new act, preferably a competent one. This one is stale.

      • halladaysbiceps - Sep 5, 2011 at 10:06 AM

        1. Sexist comment? What did I say that sexist?
        2. Years ago, the umpires had to stay in as good of shape as the players. That’s a fact.
        3. Get a new act? How about you getting off of my case and getting a life? You are the one that’s stale, not me. Go read a spreadsheet and leave me alone. I’m entitled to my opinion. What made you god of the comments section?

      • The Common Man - Sep 5, 2011 at 10:19 AM

        I’m sorry, I thought you were insulting Joe West by insinuating he was a woman. Is that not what you were doing?

        Ok, “always” may be a stretch. How about over the last 20 years or so? Nevertheless, that has nothing to do with the importance of using instant replay.

        I do like spreadsheets…that’s tempting, even on my day off. If you’re commenting, you’re inviting a response, same as any of us.

      • halladaysbiceps - Sep 5, 2011 at 10:32 AM

        Common Man, oh, boy. Because I called him Cowgirl Joe West. We call the Dallas Cowboys the Dallas Cowgirls all the time and I don’t hear anyone getting bent out of shape and shouting sexism.

        First, you get all bent out of shape because I used the word “clown” and “moron” referring to your buddy Rany which got you all bent out of shape, and now you don’t like me calling Joe West “cowgirl”. Why don’t you provide me an acceptable list of adjectives that I can use so I don’t offend you, word cop?

      • halladaysbiceps - Sep 5, 2011 at 10:54 AM

        See you later, Common Man. You ruined my conversation appetite yet again on HBT. When I return tomorrow to talk about the Atlanta-Phillies game, I hope that I don’t use anymore words that offend you. I’ll try not to be so “stale”.

      • halladayspronatorteres - Sep 5, 2011 at 10:58 AM

        Bahh hahahahaha.

      • ditto65 - Sep 5, 2011 at 11:11 AM

        Rather tame, when compared to previous ‘Bicepts meltdowns.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Sep 5, 2011 at 11:51 AM

        haddadaysprontosomethingortheother,
        You are a ton worse than him. You come on here to bait and agitate. You even go so far as to play off somebody’s else handle…like the fake Cur that was going around awhile back or Chris’s rash. Seriously, at least he tries to talk baseball. You just come on here with the sole purpose of being an ass.

      • cur68 - Sep 5, 2011 at 11:56 AM

        Y’know ‘ceps, you don’t gotta go for the day. Just stop replying to some of the comments and especially that clown ‘pronatorteres. Also, leave out the sexist “Cow Girl” stuff. I know some “Cow Girl” types. They are NOTHING like CBJW, thank Buddha. Its an insult to lovely women every where that rock the pearl snap-button plaid shirts to have the likes of CBJW placed among them. Any how, peace out man. Talk to you tomorrow.

      • halladayspronatorteres - Sep 5, 2011 at 12:40 PM

        Bah ha ha hahahahaha

      • phillysoulfan - Sep 5, 2011 at 10:45 PM

        If there was nothing wrong with what Joe West did, then why is he lying about it?

    • bigleagues - Sep 5, 2011 at 12:25 PM

      Craig,

      You misspelled phans. Please make a note of it.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Sep 5, 2011 at 12:37 PM

        Those jokers don’t get the privilege of the “ph”.

  2. drmonkeyarmy - Sep 5, 2011 at 8:45 AM

    First, the fans did indeed interfere with the ball. As Craig said, that is beyond dispute. I would like to point out that they were indeed ejected and banned from attending home Marlins games in the future. Not sure how much punishment that is, but whatever. Second, ultimately the correct call was made. I’m not sure if one can assume that the RF makes that play. 65/35 he does but it is one hell of an assumption. Although I am a tad upset that those jokers robbed us of the opportunity to see if he would. Would have been a ridiculously tremendous play. Third, what bothers me is the lying of Joe West. It was clear that it was being reviewed for fan interference. Whether that should or shouldn’t be allowed is a separate discussion irrelevant to this particular discussion. I don’t like that after the game, West can rewrite the events to fit the rule book then proceed to lie about Charlie asking for a HR review. In a discussion of who has more credibility, Charlie has it in my book. So, the question becomes why would West lie about the events if he was within his rights to review the call for a HR without prompting from the managers? The only answer is because he didn’t know the rules. Does that not trouble anybody? Also, is is not troubling that West, although significantly closer, did not see the fan interference and had to rely on the home plate ump to see it?

    • clydeserra - Sep 5, 2011 at 4:19 PM

      A major league outfielder not named Dunn has a 35% chance of dropping a ball that is 2 inches from entering the pocket of his glove?

      I’ll take those odds for $100.

  3. Chris Fiorentino - Sep 5, 2011 at 8:53 AM

    Craig, I’m sorry. But just because one of the guys was wearing a phillies jersey does not take away from the fact that the road team was penalized for fan interference. Something that almost never happens. The precedent is now set. Anytime your home outfielder comes close to catching a ball, might as well interfere because as Joe West showed, it doesn’t matter where the game is played, your team will get the benefit of the call.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Sep 5, 2011 at 8:56 AM

      Imagine such a scenario happening in game 5 of the WS in Boston….JD Drew going back in the general vicinity and a fan sticks there hand out. West rules the batter out. First, imagine the uproar in Philly a controversial play with Drew and West…heads would explode. This is a rule and scenario that needs immediate clarification from MLB.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Sep 5, 2011 at 8:56 AM

      That’s silly. Any home fan whose own outfielder is stationed under a ball that he has a chance to catch is going to — unless he has major brain lock like Steve Bartman — allow his player to try to catch it.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Sep 5, 2011 at 9:00 AM

        No, no not stationed under the ball. On the run making some jumping ridiculous catch…like jumping head first into the wall with an outstretched glove. That is the only way it becomes controversial.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Sep 5, 2011 at 9:05 AM

        Is thy what Peterson was…stationed under the ball? Like I said…bad precedent set here. I can wear a yankees jersey to game 7 of the world series and interfere with a Phillie trying to catch a home run and the Yankee will be ruled out because joe west said it is ok? That’s just wrong.

        The guys were idiots, but what everyone seems to forget is that had Joe West not made up a new rule, what they did should have hurt their home team. Which is normally how it happens.

      • trigzter - Sep 5, 2011 at 11:42 AM

        to craig. I don’t know how you can say that. Not every fan that’s at a stadium knows proper baseball etiquette. You actually have to pay attention to baseball to know not to try and reach for it. I’d say any given night 25% of a crowd is their for enjoyment (not baseball fanatics). They want a souvenir.

    • pkers - Sep 5, 2011 at 9:08 AM

      Huh? Do you have proof that the home team doesn’t get these calls called against them as often as the road team does? I know there was a study that the umps are more lenient with the strike zone for the home team pitchers, but I haven’t seen anything where interference or boundary calls (two different things, I know) are called disproportionately for the home team.

    • deathmonkey41 - Sep 5, 2011 at 10:42 AM

      That’s crazy. If you didn’t call a player out for fan interference, you’d be encouraging fans of opposing teams to intefer with balls to help their team out.

  4. mattjg - Sep 5, 2011 at 8:55 AM

    I agree that replay should be expanded, but that doesn’t excuse Joe West from stepping outside the rules as they are currently written. I know it may come as a shock to Cowboy Joe, but his job is to follow the rules, no matter how he feels about them, rather than go by what he thinks the rules should be.

    Simply ignoring the rules is classic Joe West. The game got even more Joe Westy when Manuel came out to argue. West tossed Manuel almost immediately, refused to explain his decision, and then appeared to yell at Manuel a couple times when it appeared Charlie had turned to go the dugout because West can’t stand not having the last word. Then to top it off, West apparently lied after the game by claiming Charlie asked him to review the call.

    Yes, the call highlights the problems with replay rules as they are currently constituted, but even more it highlights why Joe West is one of baseball’s biggest problems who should have been fired a decade ago

    • pkers - Sep 5, 2011 at 9:05 AM

      Can someone relay the sequence of events for me, since I didn’t watch the game and the replay on MLB doesn’t make it clear what happened when? I assume no ump gave the “homerun” finger twirl during the hit, so no HR was called. Did the umps then start to confer about the interference, or did it take Jack Mckeon running on the field for them to start a conference? Did Manuel then come on the field, or did the umps go straight from McKeon to the review stage? Did Manuel only come out to argue after the review and the “inteference” call?

      • drmonkeyarmy - Sep 5, 2011 at 9:09 AM

        No HR was called. Mckeon came out to argue interference. Charlie was standing on the 3rd base line seeing what was going on. They reviewed the play. After the ruling, Charlie came out and was ejected pretty quickly. He didn’t appear to be raving mad. In fact, here is what Charlie has to say about it:
        http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/phillies_zone/Charlie-explains-his-anger.html

      • Chris Fiorentino - Sep 5, 2011 at 9:14 AM

        Basically they reviewed a double at the request of the team who thought it was interference. The word home run was never uttered by anybody. It was disgraceful. Then AFTER THE FACT Joe West lied and said Uncle Cholly asked for Home Run to be checked. Now it’s an umpire asked if home run to be checked.

        Joe West needs to go.

      • clydeserra - Sep 5, 2011 at 4:17 PM

        the fan in stands did the home run twirl.

  5. Jack Marshall - Sep 5, 2011 at 9:07 AM

    Sorry; I like Craig’s main point, but it doesn’t apply here. It was reasonable to call it a disputed home run situation—I would have. Since the play was debatable, and since the incident could reasonably be regarded as a home run scenario, there is nothing unethical about West applying the rule that exists to an ambiguous situation, no matter what else was on his mind.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Sep 5, 2011 at 9:11 AM

      There is absolutely something unethical about reviewing the play for fan interference under the guise of doing so for a HR, then lying about it. That is the very definition of unethical in this scenario, no?

      • Craig Calcaterra - Sep 5, 2011 at 9:55 AM

        Of course not. That’s not my point at all. Indeed, I think fan intention or identity is irrelevant here. My footnote was in response to things people said to me yesterday — including a tweet from Chris — who argued that the home/road teams and identity of the fans mattered. I think they don’t, and that reading in something about what home fans can and can’t do in the future to be quite beside the point.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Sep 5, 2011 at 9:11 AM

      But Jack, the fact remains that they allowed a home team fan to interfere with the home team outfielder and essentially hurt the road team because of the actions of a hometown fan. That kind of thing almost never happens. This essentially tells fans to go ahead and interfere…especially since your team will be rewarded for your stupidity.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Sep 5, 2011 at 9:13 AM

        Chris, this was not a “home team fan.” It was a road team fan, quite clearly.

        And to address your concern about this happening again, reverse the situation and have it be some guys in Marlins jerseys doing it in CBP. You think there isn’t some deterrent to them doing that? They were able to here because there’s no home team fans in their vicinity that give a crap.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Sep 5, 2011 at 9:20 AM

        I think what Chris is saying is that in this scenario it is irrelevant who the fans were rooting for. Now, barring any change from MLB, a precedent has been set. Home team fans can reach over the fence and interfere on balls in play that are questionably catchable and have the batter ruled out, thereby helping the home team. Chris, am I right?

      • spiffy53 - Sep 5, 2011 at 9:27 AM

        Craig, so basically we now have instant replay for anything close to being a home run and we also need to determine the fan intensions by the uniform the fan is wearing? we might need to adjust the rulebook on both instant replay and put in a fashion section with a judges panel to determine. this is slippery slope territory.

  6. deathmonkey41 - Sep 5, 2011 at 9:27 AM

    Who would have ever thunk that “fan interference” would ever be a problem at a Marlins home game? This is the place where it takes an inning or two for fans to make it around to the outfield to pick up homerun balls that landed there. BTW, the East Coast has seen an earthquake, a hurricane, and now fan interference at a Marlins game- all signs of the apocalypse.

  7. phillyphreak - Sep 5, 2011 at 9:43 AM

    Aside from the interesting justification of the replay by Joe West, at least they got the call right, I guess. This game didn’t matter for the Phillies so I doubt the protest will hold up but it did bring up some interesting points. 1) If replay is going to be used for more than just HR calls, it can’t take 15 minutes to review/argue/discuss. 2) Umpires need to be help accountable. They continue to throw people out of the game really quickly and in many cases seem to provoke yelling matches. They should be graded on each game and if they repeatedly fail (like a lot of them do) then they should be suspended, fined, fired, demoted etc.

    • mattjg - Sep 5, 2011 at 10:24 AM

      The reason this play took so long to discuss is that it wasn’t clear whether the use of replay was proper. If replay was expanded, it would have taken Joe West 15 seconds to see that the fan interfered with the play. Charlie Manuel would have gotten an explanation (and probably ejected, Joe West being Joe West) and the game would have started up again within two or three minutes.

      As for your second point, I agree completely. What little punishment umpires do receive is never made public. It’s one thing to screw up the occasional call; umpires are human and everyone will do that sooner or later. What is unacceptable is when the umpires act like arrogant asses or fans notice the same umpire screwing up call after call. I’m looking at you Joe West and Bob Davidson, on both counts.

  8. awriterorsomething - Sep 5, 2011 at 9:46 AM

    this just kills me, one of the worst umps in baseball and he gets it right by being wrong. ARGGHHHHH

  9. halladaysbiceps - Sep 5, 2011 at 9:48 AM

    I just spent the last half hour looking through the official 2011 MLB Baseball rules on the MLB website in pdf format, all 130 pages. It amazes me that there is no mention whatsoever, from what I can see, with anything on instant replay, especially since it was inacted in the 2007 off-season. None. Very curious. The only info I can find is in an article on MLB.com. This crap needs to be rectified and put in the official rulebook.

    http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/downloads/y2011/Official_Baseball_Rules.pdf

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 5, 2011 at 10:05 AM

      This is more a problem with baseball in and of itself. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the “check swing rule” also not in the rulebook? The only mention is whether the umpire feels the player attempted a swing? WTF kind of rule is that?

      • kopy - Sep 5, 2011 at 4:34 PM

        Yeah, I looked in the rulebook for check swings not too long ago and found out there wasn’t anything. People talk about “going half way”, “breaking the plane”, “extending the elbows”, etc., but nothing is in the rulebook. The entire thing is umpire discretion.

      • caputop - Sep 5, 2011 at 5:59 PM

        I really enjoyed the summers that I umped little league. I asked what to do if the home plate ump asked me if the guy swung and I was told that it was a swing if I saw the top of the bat pointing at me, which is an ok rule if there are 4 umps but when you are the only ump on the bases that means the runners on base determine what a check swing is.

  10. mojosmagic - Sep 5, 2011 at 9:48 AM

    Joe West should be gone. He was fired once and sued to get back in. He has always sucked now he is a liar who sucks. Baseball should use this call as a way to get rid of West once and for all. And He is a lousy singer to boot!!!

  11. flpunx - Sep 5, 2011 at 10:14 AM

    Let me preface this posting by saying that I truly feel that Joe West is probably the worst, most inconsistent umpire (and terrible crew chief) calling games in MLB today. The fan interference call was actually probably right, but Im not so sure a replay was warranted. Watching the highlights form this game in real time, even I could tell that those fans basically reached into his glove. The thing that pisses me off is that his ATROCIOUS strike zone that he called eventually led to the game being over. Over the past several years, I have seen Mr. West change his strike zone when it seems he does not want a game to go on any longer, and for that reason alone, he should not be allowed to umpire games anymore. When EVERY single player, manager, and fan collectively groans when it is announced that he is on the crew for a game, maybe MLB needs to address the situation and stop these notoriously horrible umpires from playing God as they see fit.

  12. The Common Man - Sep 5, 2011 at 10:22 AM

    You know, given that the fans were arguing that the ball was a homer, technically this could be considered a home run call.

    • ditto65 - Sep 5, 2011 at 10:27 AM

      But can Phans ask for a replay?

  13. aclassyguyfromaclassytown - Sep 5, 2011 at 10:34 AM

    So let me get this straight. Not only can we now use replay when the call isn’t to argue a home run, because it was clearly not a home run call, but also what teams fan that interfere’s with the ball is the pivitol fact when deciding what should happen to the player? The guy who touched the ball was wearing a green shirt and was surrounded by Phillies fans. You’re obviously generalizing him as a Phillies fan for that alone. You should know better than that law man. Trying to sell the certainty of the guy who touched the ball’s fan hood when nothing other than those who are around him would lead you to believe that’s the team he is a fan of. If I’m walking down the street and I’m in a crowd of people, and someone in that crowd shouts out something racist, should I be judged as a racist also? Secondly, now that this has been corrected, I guess anytime an opposing team comes near hitting a home run at CBP, Phillies fans should bat the thing down and the guy on the other team should be called out, right? Especially if they’re wearing the other teams colors and appearel, cause they’d obviously be fans of the other team. This is a lot less cut and dry than you make it out to be, and your Philly bias hurts your credibility with petty little comments that you throw in at the end of your post. I read your post the other day on where do all the Philly fans come from, in talking about those who comment on your blog. It’s simple, there are a lot of us because the Phillies have a great fan base. We don’t really flock here, it’s just that there are so many of us that when a small percentage of us show up, it still seems like many. Without us, your site would be half as popular as it is, so how about showing some respect and humility when talking about a team that happens to be beating your team in the division, and is a division rival? Your lack of credibility pushes me away day by day, until eventually no one will care about your blog and they’ll find someone else to do what you do. Someone who’s not biased.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Sep 5, 2011 at 10:39 AM

      Your comment is based on so many inaccuracies and misstatements of what I’ve said and written and what actually happened on that play that it’s not worthy of a response.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Sep 5, 2011 at 11:02 AM

        This is the million dollar question Craig. Forget about what that guy just wrote. If those fans were wearing Marlins jerseys we both know they would not have called Pence out. True?

      • Craig Calcaterra - Sep 5, 2011 at 11:06 AM

        I really don’t see how their identity mattered one bit. The only reason I even mentioned it yesterday is because some people were trying to make an issue out of it.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Sep 5, 2011 at 11:14 AM

        But Craig..it is definitely germane to the issue isn’t it? If they were in Marlins shirts then wouldn’t it patently unfair to call Pence out? Reward the home team for their own idiot fans interference? I think in this instance they would have given Pence a double if they were wearing Marlins jerseys. Am I wrong about that?

      • Craig Calcaterra - Sep 5, 2011 at 11:17 AM

        No, because intent has nothing to do with it. The rule for fan interference is whether, in fact, a fan’s act prevented the fielder from making a play on the ball. It doesn’t matter if the fan was trying to do X or Y or if he was just impulsively grabbing or whatever. Umpires do not get any further into intent of why a fan did something to a ball than they do in trying to determine if a ball hit a foul pole. It either did or it didn’t.

      • ditto65 - Sep 5, 2011 at 11:19 AM

        Damn lawyers, with their logic and reasoning.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Sep 5, 2011 at 11:23 AM

        Ok then my entire premise is just wrong then. For some reason I have this idea buried deep in my brain, inception-like, that the road team isn’t punished by fan interference as much as the home team. Guess I was wrong. ;)

        Joe West still must go!!!!!!!!

      • bcopus - Sep 5, 2011 at 1:40 PM

        It doesn’t matter at all who the fan was rooting for. Attempting to add this into the conversation is taking away from the point of the matter. It is fan interference, not “rival fan” interference. As for all the talk about dressing up in opposite uniforms and intentionally doing the same to other teams. Yes- it could be done, at your own peril. The rule doesn’t need to be changed…what would you change it to? Make it OK for certain fans to interfere in certain situations, because of who they root for? That would be the opposite, and you’d have the opposite problem.

        The rule should stand as is. In this particular situation, it doesn’t matter who the fan was or wasn’t rooting for. He interfered. The assumption is that a home team fan would not interfere with a play by his own fielder, unless he does so unintentionally or impulsively.

        If they rewarded Pence with a double in this situation, they would be saying that the interference kept Pence from reaching second base, and had the play gone on without said interference, Pence would have had a double. But that isn’t the case- there was a good chance the right fielder would have caught the ball without the interference, and because we’ll never know, he gets the benefit of the doubt on the call. The rule governs itself by the scenario. If that same fan would have reached over and knocked a ball down that was possibly a homerun, whether or not he was a Phillies fan or a Marlins fan, the rule would have called Pence’s hit a homerun. At least that is how I read into it. I may be wrong.

    • mattjg - Sep 5, 2011 at 11:02 AM

      Line breaks would make your incoherent rambling appear more coherent at first glance.

    • aclassyguyfromaclassytown - Sep 5, 2011 at 12:06 PM

      Looks like Craig took the bait this time. Woo Hoo!

  14. deathmonkey41 - Sep 5, 2011 at 10:44 AM

    BTW, can anyone account for the whereabouts of Old Gator while all this was happening? Although, in all fairness, I’d think he’d probably have a lot more to say than “Get over it”….a lot more.

  15. Old Gator - Sep 5, 2011 at 11:05 AM

    I don’t sit in the cheap seats.

    • Old Gator - Sep 5, 2011 at 11:11 AM

      Incidentally, I need to point out here, in response to Craig’s italicized coda at the end of his original blog, that if you put three or four hundred fans into Joeprodolsharklife Stadium on a wet, wretched Sunday afternoon, you’re going to have such an inordinately high percentage of Feelies fans amongst them that, given the normative distribution of Feesh fans throughout that protocosmic void of a feeshbowl on any given day, the likelihood of a Feelies fan interfering with the play is commensurately much higher than the likelihood that it would be a Feesh fan anyway.

      Got that?

      And just so I don’t rile up my Feelies fran fiends any more than they already are, I came to this conclusion via a sophisticated process of stateestical analysis, not through some exercise of faddish sociopoleetical reckoning.

      • ditto65 - Sep 5, 2011 at 11:17 AM

        Go read your spreadsheets, OG. ;-)

      • Old Gator - Sep 5, 2011 at 11:39 AM

        I don’t use spreadsheets. I consult haruspices who have advanced to digital calculators. Meat has gotten too expensive.

      • ditto65 - Sep 5, 2011 at 12:13 PM

        Probably more reliable than stat-heads, as well.

  16. mattjg - Sep 5, 2011 at 11:06 AM

    Not that the fans’ allegiances make any difference as to whether or not they interfered with the right fielder, but a commenter on a popular formerly defunct Phillies blog linked to the fans’ Facebook pages. One of them is a fan of all teams Atlanta, including the Braves.

    Again, I’m a Phillies fan, but I agree that the call of fan interference was ultimately the correct call no matter what team the fans who interfered root for.

  17. caputop - Sep 5, 2011 at 11:14 AM

    Where are people coming up with this idea that road teams can’t be punished for fan interference? It happens. I’ve never seen fan interference become an out (ever) before but I’ve certainly seen a road team runner get sent back to third base after a home fan grabbed a double down the line when he would have clearly scored from first if it wasn’t called a ground rule double.

    It’s pretty obvious that Craig’s little footnote is a shot at phillies fans, and not something that went into the other decision.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Sep 5, 2011 at 11:32 AM

      Craig was mostly responding to one Phillies fan…me. I had this crazy idea that road teams don’t get punished as much as home teams for fan interference. I blame it on Leo.

  18. mikedi33 - Sep 5, 2011 at 11:22 AM

    It also is not just a lost win for Halliday, with the Cy Young race being so close that also could be the difference. Also Jack McKeon after the game agreed with Manuel saying they got the call right but went about it the wrong way. Plus West says the home plate ump says it might have been interference, are not the base umps alot closer?

    • Kevin S. - Sep 5, 2011 at 12:41 PM

      Hopefully we’ve moved past the point where the vagaries of the offense have any effect on people’s perception of a pitcher’s performance. In fact, the very narrative belies it. The team could have gotten him a win. No silly claims about gow Halladay could have pitched a little better magically with less run support.

  19. schmedley69 - Sep 5, 2011 at 11:48 AM

    This didn’t bother me too much because it was clearly interference and it appeared that the ball would have been caught. The play that really bothered me but received little fanfare occurred a few years ago when the Red Sox were in Philly. In a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the 11th, Greg Dobbs of the Phillies hit a ball down the right field line which left the park above the foul pole. It appeared to be right on the line, but 1st base umpire Jim Joyce called it foul. Charlie asked for a replay, but Joyce said “we’re not gonna look at it.” It was clearly a play that should have been reviewed and it still burns me that Joyce refused to even look at it. The Red Sox went on to win the game in 13. To this day, Joyce is on my list of arrogant, bad umpires along with Joe West and Angel Hernandez. I wasn’t surprised when he flubbed Gallaraga’s perfect game last year. He only admitted that he was wrong after the game when he saw how much public sentiment was against him. The replay system is flawed because it still requires, arrogant, incompetent umpires make the final call. Let someone in the league office with good video equipment make the final call.

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/198316-aint-that-what-replays-for-phillies-fall-to-sox-in-extras

  20. cur68 - Sep 5, 2011 at 11:58 AM

    Craig, your crime analogy seems over the top to me. Its a relatively simple baseball play. But lets roll with the seriousness of a “crime in progress witnessed by helpless traffic cop” analogy for a ‘mo. Any other umpire (ok, not Hernandez, but damn near any of the rest) & I got not as much a problem with what West did. But it’s CBJW. After watching that dolt try to screw over the Jays for a series I now get to see him make up rules on the fly. Given the man’s history, his awful demeanor as an umpire, his eye-sore presence, a$$ clown interpretation of the rules, and his obvious lying about why he reviewed the call, roll it all together and if I did my job amid as much controversy as he does his I’d not only be out of a job, but likely charged with some fairly serious crime of negligence or incompetence. I’d certainly be up for ethical review.

    Since things are not that degree of important, maybe we do have to put up with CBJW, but I contend the man lessens the enjoyment of the game. I don’t watch games to see him. No one, likely even his relatives, watches games to see CBJW, you included Craig (I’ll wager I’m right about that last unless I’ve seriously misjudged you). From the standpoint of keeping fans from running on the field, interfering with the game, players doping, corking bats, spitting on balls and cheating in other ways, West is not only outside the rules, interfering with the game and affecting the outcome of the game as though he’s a players. He’s lessening the enjoyment of the game.

    Even if he does get the right call, his methods, ethics, demeanor, knowledge of the rules (!) and general behavior are outside what we expect in a game and certainly outside what we’d expect of an umpire. Getting this call right for the wrong reason within the context of a professional sport and given all the rest about him doesn’t mean fans or players should have to put up with him any further.

    • bleedgreen - Sep 5, 2011 at 2:29 PM

      Exactly. This is more like using evidence obtained without a warrant to convict someone. You can’t do it. The ‘warrant’ in this case, is whether or not it was a home run. No one thought it was a home run. CBJW busted the door down anyway and used the evidence to make his conviction. In court, that would get thrown out instantly, and the judgment overturned.

  21. addictedzone - Sep 5, 2011 at 12:30 PM

    Yesterday they got it right.

    Where was Joe when they needed him 15 years ago. If only they had made the proper call in the 1996 American League Championship Series between the New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles….

    • jtneville - Sep 5, 2011 at 12:57 PM

      The Baltimore Orioles are a big league team? ;)

      • addictedzone - Sep 5, 2011 at 1:40 PM

        Once upon a time, in a magical land, young strapping men forming a professional baseball team called the O’s appeared nighty in a cathedral of a ballpark known as Camden Yards. Fans came from far and wide to see the youngsters put on a show of artistry and skill as they roamed the immaculately manicured diamond the team called home.

        Over the years the team fell into disarray as management wrongly assumed the fans were coming for the park and not the magicians of baseball that took the field to put on the captivating show. Players faded, fans drifted, and prices continued to rise as the talent deteriorated.

        Slowly the fans disappeared and the performance of O’s greatness became a footnote in books inhabiting the historical section of the local libraries. When youngsters today at storytime are read the tale of the magical happenings of the O’s during those years, there is nearly always one small child that pipes up with something like, “Wow, I’ve never heard of those O’s. That must have been way back before they made Honey Nut O’s”.

  22. diehardcubbiefan4life - Sep 5, 2011 at 12:56 PM

    WAIT. Joe West got a call RIGHT? Thats news to me.

  23. jtneville - Sep 5, 2011 at 12:56 PM

    Can anyone link the full text of the replay rule?

    Personally the ball does look like a homerun and the fans are doing the circle motion so seems reasonable to review. But the point where fan interference isn’t reviewable seems to have merit but if while reviewing if it is a home run and you see fan interference isn’t that part of the homerun review? Anyways, I’d just like to read the whole rule if anyone knows where I can find it. Thanks.

    • jamie54 - Sep 5, 2011 at 2:10 PM

      Would love to see it also since on XM yesterday a retired ump (forget his name, sorry) came on and said there are three instances a replay review may be used: whether or not a home run is fair or foul, whether or not a home run is over the wall or not, and fan interference between the lines. It’s that last instance no one has really been aware of but which needs to be illuminated whether it’s true or not. Intend to try and look that up………and here it is, mentioned briefly, but it’s there, fan interference is a reviewable call. Case closed.
      http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080826&content_id=3370519&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb

      So the premise of the whole post here is false, it’s reviewable. Done.

      • bleedgreen - Sep 5, 2011 at 2:24 PM

        But its fan interference in regards to a home run. That makes it either a home run, or not, causing it to be a ground rule double. The fan interference to call a player out is when you think/know the fielder would have made the catch had it not been for the interference. Therefore, if you think/know the fielder would have made the catch, it could NOT have been a home run. Therefore, not a reviewable play. The two are mutually exclusive.

        The plain interference rule states “The ball becomes dead, and the umpire will award any bases or charge any outs that, in his judgment, would have occurred without the interference.[4]” However, if in the umpire’s judgement, the ball would have been caught, it could NOT have been a home run, and not be questioned to be a possible home run.

        So yeah, its NOT a reviewable play. No one thought it was home run. West blatantly LIED and said Cholly asked for it to be reviewed as home run. Cholly said ‘I did no such thing’. If West believes he’s in the right, and could review the play, why did he lie immediately after the game to cover his tracks?

  24. The Baseball Gods - Sep 5, 2011 at 12:59 PM

    The reason the Phillies are protesting the game is because of the use of instant replay. There was no indication by any umpire to review the play until Jack McKeon came out to argue that there was fan interference. At this point the umpires gathered around each other and decided to review the play. My question is where the heck did they get the idea to review the play to see if it was a home run by Jack McKeon coming out to argue? It’s almost like they decided it was close enough to a home run to say that they were reviewing for a home run even though they were just trying to see if there was fan interference on the play. Unless Manuel had come out and asked for them to see if it was a home run before they went to replay they should not have gone to replay because they weren’t going to go to replay until McKeon came out and argued. Obviously McKeon is not asking them to see if it was a home run. The umpires can make a decision to use instant replay without being asked to do so, but they had no intention of reviewing the play until McKeon came out to argue. It was an obvious misuse of the instant replay rule and the Phillies were completely correct in protesting the game. The actual play should never even come into question. The convo should go something like this:

    MLB: Hey Joe, what was the original call on the field?
    Joe: We called it a live ball and the player got to 2nd for a double.
    MLB: Were you going to review the play if nobody came out to argue the call?
    Joe: No.
    MLB: So why did you review the play?
    Joe: Because Jack McKeon came out to argue that the play was fan interference and after some discussion with the other umpires we decided to review it for a home run.
    MLB: Who gave you the idea to review it for a home run?
    Joe: We decided as a crew after discussing the play.
    MLB: Then why didn’t you just review it to begin with?

    • jamie54 - Sep 5, 2011 at 2:11 PM

      Sorry, look up the rule. Done.
      http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080826&content_id=3370519&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb

      • Chris Fiorentino - Sep 5, 2011 at 9:23 PM

        Jamie, I read the article and isn’t see anywhere that it read that reviewing a double was allowed. It talks about reviewing a home run call, but this wasn’t called a home run. It was called a DOUBLE. nice thought though but you are stone cold wrong.

  25. nothanksimdriving123 - Sep 5, 2011 at 1:05 PM

    Only in Bud Light’s MLB can we see a huge controversy over umpires stretching the outdated rules to use readily available technology to get the call right. That is the bottom line here, not the ump’s history or the color of the fan’s underwear or anything else. Bud’s MLB has had years to come up with a system like that of the NHL to use modern technology to help fallible umps protect the integrity of the game by getting calls as correct as possible and he has thus far epically failed to do so. It’s only 2011 Bud, not too late to join the 21st century.

    • jamie54 - Sep 5, 2011 at 2:12 PM

      Did not ‘stretch the rule’ look it up.
      http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080826&content_id=3370519&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb

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