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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. mpetersen059 - Sep 5, 2011 at 4:43 PM

    I guess that, as a Yankees fan, I didn’t need a reminder that Fillies Fans are, like, ass magnets, but thanks for the reminders, anyway!

  2. macjacmccoy - Sep 5, 2011 at 10:28 PM

    It was a bad call. He got the call right their was interference but you cant challenge that. We all know what he was doing when her asked for a review. He was asking for them to review if the Marlins player was interfered with. No body would ask a umpire to review a play to try to give the opposing team a 2 run HR instead of a base hit. I dont even know if a manger is even allowed to ask for that. It was a blatant disregard of the rules for replay. I know your allowed to rule fan interference on a HR play if you see that while its being reviewed. But your not allowed to review a play because you expect interference on a double just because it occurred near the wall. Which is what he did. Everyone knew it wasnt a HR even West, so it should have ended right then. If you want to expand replay fine Im all for it, plays like this are the reason why it should be expanded. But until then you the use system the way it was meant to be used.

    Anyway besides all that the game was in Florida. How are you going to punish an away team by calling fan interference. It is the Marlins organizations responsibility to keep control in their stadium. The away team shouldnt be punished bc of their lack of discipline. It sets a bad presidents. It opens the door for home fans to intentionally try to interfere with their own players on every positive play by the away team. Its a can of worms they dont need to open.

    For those reasons and more, restarting the game from Hunter’s Double should be a no brainer. But it probably wont because of the lack of said brains in the commissioner and his Dodger stealing flunkies.

  3. phillysoulfan - Sep 5, 2011 at 10:42 PM

    C’mon dude, you’re supposed to be a lawyer. What is this shit?

    “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”

    Except the video clearly shows otherwise when the play ends and before Jack McKeon comes out the argue all 4 umpires resume their usual position and West also said the Charlie Manual asked for the replay, which he obviously did not.

    “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”

    When a person joins the military and blood is taken from them for DNA. It is put into a database. The purpose of this DB is to identify unidentifiable bodies. It is only to be used in this instance. Now, if I go by your rationale, right being right. If someone who was in the military kills or rapes someone and leaves DNA behind and they are identified by this database, it should be allowed? I mean, right is right, no?

    • clydeserra - Sep 5, 2011 at 11:31 PM

      Maybe McKeon is smarter than you.

      You are right that you cannot review an interference call. It was obvious that it was an interference call. NOw if McKeon comes out and says , hey that might have been a home run, you should review it, the umpire are, under then rules obligated to run the replay.

      After review seeing that it wasn’t a HR and in fact the play was interference, then the umpires are stuck with a choice of letting the play stand, the incorrect call, or calling the batter out, the correct call. McKeon is in a no lose situation if he asks for a home run review.

      Maybe the the umpires figured this out on their own and implemented it.

      What good Lawyer does is find ways in the law that get good results for their clients. This looks like a good result for the Marlins. And Baseball frankly.

      Now you can go call your congress critter and have the loophole closed if you enjoy seeing the wrong result on the field.

      • Kevin S. - Sep 6, 2011 at 7:38 AM

        First of all, umpires are not obligated to honor a review request. Secondly, nobody in their right mind would actually believe Jack McKeon was asking the umpires to see if Hunter Pence deserved the last two bases.

      • bleedgreen - Sep 6, 2011 at 8:15 AM

        Review is for calling a ball a HOME RUN or NOT A HOME RUN. If its NOT a home run, the original call stands. I’ve said this on page 1, but if they call Pence out, its because they thought the outfielder was going to catch the ball if not for the interference. Well, if thats what they think, then it COULD NOT HAVE BEEN A HOME RUN. Therefore, its NOT a reviewable play. The rule doesn’t state You can review for fan interference’. Its that you can review for fan interference in regards to whether a ball is a home run or not. You can not review for fan interference and then say the guy would have been out if not for the interference.

      • phillysoulfan - Sep 6, 2011 at 5:55 PM

        “What good Lawyer does is find ways in the law that get good results for their clients. This looks like a good result for the Marlins. And Baseball frankly.”

        You sir are an idiot. You need to stay away from the keyboard and communicating with others. I’d even go a step further and plead with you to not procreate. Lawyers do not break the law for good results. It’s really that simple.

      • clydeserra - Sep 9, 2011 at 1:43 PM

        I have let this go for a few days, but I gotta say, you didn’t understand what I said. A good lawyer will look at the written law (or rules in this case) and find what part of the language is precise and imprecise and use that precision or vagueness to win the argument for the benefit of their client.

        Its how the law in the United States works.

        As for the insults, meh, its a free internet you can say what you like. Its pretty funny since you are so wrong about how the country works and what attorneys do and you think its me that shouldn’t have kids.

  4. macjacmccoy - Sep 5, 2011 at 11:01 PM

    *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.”

    Ok yes I agree a Phillies fan did it, but it still doesnt stop the can of worms I talked about earlier from being opened. If a away team can be “screwed” by fan interference what will stop home team fans from interfering on every possible positive play by the away team? Do we make a rule saying if an away team fan interferes with the play then the hitter is out? And then do we have to replay each time to see what color shirt the guy has on? And then what stops home team fans from wearing opposing teams colors so they can still “screw” the road team.

    Its something that cant be allowed to happen. If only to protect the integrity of the game and the fans from themselves or each other. God Forbid it happens in a Giants Dodgers game. Who knows what kind of violence would transpire. Or if some drunk thinks it might help his team to do it and falls over a railing. There’s just to many negative things that could happen.

    And dont say it wouldnt happen, sports fans are messed up. Their are plenty that take it to seriously and would do anything to be apart of it. If they think grabbing their favorite players arm will help out the team they’ll do it. Add in the fact that a lot of these people are drunk and attention starved and that’s a recipe for disasters. Especially if it will get them on the jumbotron or talked about on ESPN. Even if its only because they are being called idiots it would still be great to them. And to the next drunk who saw the coverage and who’s friend are daring him to do it.

    Can of Worms people, Big fat hairy stinking drunk shirtless ones.

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