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MLB: Triple play umpire used “improper mechanics”

Apr 16, 2012, 5:00 PM EDT

Jesus Guzman, Bud Black, Dale Scott

In ATH this morning we mentioned that in yesterday’s Padres-Dodgers game home plate umpire Dale Scott held his hands up suggesting “dead ball” on the play that resulted in that 2-5-6-3 double play. The runners all froze at the hand signals, assuming the play was dead.

The play was reviewed by Major League Baseball, and here’s the official statement from senior vice president of baseball operations, Peter Woodfork:

“After review and discussion with the umpire, we have determined that the call itself of a fair ball was correct. However, while making the call, there was an incorrect mechanic, which appeared to confuse San Diego’s base runners. At no time did the umpire verbally kill the play on the field. After reviewing the entire situation following the game, the umpire realizes his hands were in an exaggerated upward appearance similar to a call that would indicate a dead ball. While we all agree that it was a fair ball that did not hit the batter, the umpire recognizes that the proper mechanic was not executed as he tried to avoid the catcher.”

Hurm. Given the likelihood that verbal rulings might not be heard by baserunners in a loud stadium, one would think that the hand signals should trump what the ump says (or in this case doesn’t say, which is “foul ball”).

But I would assume ruling in such a fashion would have required a replay of the ninth inning of yesterday’s game, yes? And that baseball wouldn’t really want to do that.

  1. skerney - Apr 16, 2012 at 5:06 PM

    Bud Black handled that better than I would have. I would’ve gone all Billy Martin on Dale Scott.

  2. nagrommit - Apr 16, 2012 at 5:10 PM

    Somewhere Jim Joyce shudders and is thankful it wasn’t him.

  3. cur68 - Apr 16, 2012 at 5:12 PM

    Personally I think they got hosed on that call.

  4. thomas2727 - Apr 16, 2012 at 5:41 PM

    The only thing this play was missing was A.J. Pierzynski.

    And possibly Doug Eddings and his moronic “Strike mechanic”

  5. davidpom50 - Apr 16, 2012 at 6:02 PM

    Dale Scott was definitely a bonehead on this play, but the arm movement was not real emphatic, and the runners weren’t moving even before he put his hands out. BEST case scenario for the Padres if Scott hadn’t flailed about like he did would’ve been double play, leaving a man on second with 2 outs.

    Again though… Dale Scott = bonehead. Cody Ross made a good point about a lack of accountability for umpires. They need to do something about that.

    • nflfollower - Apr 16, 2012 at 6:28 PM

      True, looks like it would’ve been at least a double play. Much ado about one game that won’t decide the ultimate fate of either team’s season in all likelihood—-and hopefully the ump won’t do that again.

  6. fearlessleader - Apr 16, 2012 at 6:58 PM

    >> one would think that the hand signals should trump what the ump says

    Yep. I work as a conductor (of music, not trains), and I used to work as a dog trainer. If there’s one thing that everyone in both professions knows, it’s that when WHAT YOU SAY and WHAT YOU SHOW contradict each other, pretty much the whole world—human or canine—is going to go with WHAT YOU SHOW.

    Dale Scott blew this. It was an honest screw-up, but I’d have had a great deal more respect for him and the rest of the crew if they’d made an equally honest effort to fix it.

  7. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 16, 2012 at 6:59 PM

    Whew. For a minute there I thought people were going to say an MLB umpire made a mistake, which we all know does NOT ever happen, no matter what. Glad to hear we can blame his mechanic and just move on from here. Thank goodness THAT’s over.

  8. billymc75 - Apr 16, 2012 at 7:09 PM

    He held his hands in away to back away from the play it wasn’t a signal it was a reaction to stand back it surprised him to he was staying back as not to interfere

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 16, 2012 at 11:25 PM

      Sometimes a batter accidentally makes contact with the ball on a check swing. It does not really matter what his intention was at that point, he did the deed, and it counts. If the umpire ‘accidentally’ called a foul ball, he still called a foul ball. His intention is somewhat besides the point.

      • micker716 - Apr 16, 2012 at 11:57 PM

        …and could actually hear him

    • Alex K - Apr 17, 2012 at 8:43 AM

      So is it not a foul ball when a batter ducks under a pitch that is coming at his head and the ball hits the bat? It’s the same situation.

      • wsnydes - Apr 17, 2012 at 9:50 AM

        not if it lands and stays in fair territory.

      • Alex K - Apr 17, 2012 at 10:25 AM

        I was talking more about the “He didn’t mean to put his arms up, so it’s okay.” portion. But, you got me. Well played.

  9. vanmorrissey - Apr 16, 2012 at 7:14 PM

    A replay is exactly what Dave over at Fangraphs stated should be the case, he even laid it out as the series right after the All Star break since they play each other after most have the four days off (well, all Padres anyway) and they could just pick it up in the top of the 9th. But……it’ll never happen.

  10. stercuilus65 - Apr 16, 2012 at 7:17 PM

    So Craig are we going to replay all games when there is a blown call or confusing signals from the umpires? Regardless as the rules go the ball must be called dead arm motions aren’t enough so it’s a pointless argument in this case.

    Fact is when there is any doubt players are taught to run it out and they didn’t; they had nothing to lose by doing so but they didn’t and have only themselves to blame.

    • fearlessleader - Apr 16, 2012 at 7:58 PM

      Why would there be “any doubt” if the umpire seems to give an umambiguous foul call? Let’s remember that the Dodgers were just as fooled as the Padres on this play—they just recovered faster, and obviously they had an advantage as they had only to throw the ball once they realized the runners weren’t moving.

      • lostsok - Apr 16, 2012 at 9:37 PM

        The person not getting recognized in this is Ellis, who stayed with the play. That, in the end, may have been the difference between a win and a loss. One of those hidden things you don’t see in the boxscore or on his Strat card.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 16, 2012 at 11:26 PM

        The catcher had his back to the ump so he is the one person on the field who didn’t see the umps “call.”

      • davidpom50 - Apr 17, 2012 at 12:10 PM

        But that’s the thing… watch the video, and I would hardly refer to that as an unambiguous foul call. It was confusing as hell, starts with the arms up but pulled in towards his chest, then he sticks them straight out to the side (the “foul ball” signal), and moves straight from that into emphatically pointing fair. And once the ball was thrown and the 3rd base umpire’s arm went up, why didn’t the guy on 1st move? Why didn’t Guzman, at the plate, run to first?

        The whole thing was just a complete clusterf–k by everyone involved except AJ Ellis (and Javy Guerra, who was pointing at the ball and telling AJ to throw as he threw).

  11. lostsok - Apr 16, 2012 at 9:35 PM

    As a Dodger fan I would say three things:

    1. The ump butchered the play. He was correct in the call, but was unclear in calling it (even Vin Scully was confused). The Padres are right to be angry.

    2. It was a super-smart play by AJ Ellis to watch the ball and pick up and throw quickly the moment it rolled fair. Regardless of the bad job by the ump…it was a good job by Ellis.

    3. The Pad runners should have been moving. Until you’re sure, RUN DUMMY. First thing they teach you in little league. If the ball is foul…no harm. If it is fair…no triple play. Obviously, in the this case they were rightfully confused…but they should have been at least halfway, and when the Dodgers started throwing the ball around they should have gone “just in case.”

    The biggest culprit was the ump, more than the baserunners, but the key was still quick and correct thinking/reacting by Ellis.

    • micker716 - Apr 17, 2012 at 12:01 AM

      Again, why would the baserunners run when they see the ump signal foul/deadball? It is an irrevocable call. The catcher made the play because his position actually allowed him to hear the umpire. Everybody else was depending on hand signals.

  12. unlost1 - Apr 17, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    you always run it out just in case

  13. jkaflagg - Apr 17, 2012 at 7:56 PM

    Can’t they just say “we blew it, sorry, let’s move on” rather than insult our intelligence with silly rationalizations? Almost sounds like some of W’s staffers found jobs with MLB…….

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