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Ian Desmond loses inside-the-park home run on replay

Apr 4, 2014, 4:02 PM EDT

Ian Desmond thought he had an inside-the-park homer as he raced around the bases in the fifth inning against the Braves on Friday. Justin Upton thought it was a double. After replay overturned the initial call, it was Upton who got his way.

Here’s the play:

Desmond’s grounder down the third base line and to the wall in left field stuck under the padding at Nationals Park, causing Upton to do the smart thing and throw up his hands for the double. The umpiring crew, though, never gave him the deadball sign, and third base ump Marvin Hudson showed no sign of coming out to get a better look at the ball. With no call forthcoming, Upton finally picked up the ball and threw it back to the infield, though at that point, it was too late to stop Desmond from making his way home.

The Braves challenged the call at that point, arguing that the ball was lodged under the padding in left. Whether that’s actually a reviewable call or not is unclear, but the umps did go approve the replay and then overturned their original call, putting Desmond back at second base.

The overturn certainly seemed like the right call. While the ball wasn’t truly “stuck,” as Upton showed by how easy he grabbed it, it was lodged in between the ground and the padding, which unfortunately comes to a stop about a ball’s width from the ground. Upton did the smart thing, at least until he went and eventually grabbed it and left no proof of the ball’s placement for Hudson to examine.


  1. clydeserra - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:05 PM

    Not sure I agree with you blogging work there Matthew.

    It does seem like the right thing to do for upton if desmond was already around second, but that ball is not stuck, its stopped. in play.

    • alexo0 - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:18 PM


      Replay seems to help umps get some calls right, but it’s also helping them blow others.

      • nickdesposito - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:42 PM

        Upton knew exactly where the ball was, he kept looking down at it. It was a poor overturn in my opinion.

  2. emdash01 - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:06 PM

    I don’t see how you can reverse that call – it was easy enough for him to get the ball back out once he saw that the umpires hadn’t given him the call initially.

  3. brentsalish - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:20 PM

    It’s a basic ground rule at most parks that a ball is dead – immediately – when it lodges in the padding. A dead ball cannot be made, um, undead. Umpires can revert a play back to an earlier state when they later determine that a ball became dead.

    • paperlions - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:26 PM

      Right. And the ball is only dead if the player doesn’t try to remove it, if a player grabs at it, the ball is then considered live (mostly to prevent player from jamming balls under the padding on purpose).

      Replay didn’t take away a HR, it properly gave Desmond a ground rule double.

    • emdash01 - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:29 PM

      But is under the padding ‘lodged’ if the outfielder can reach it? And if the standard of replay is that there has to be incontrovertible evidence to overturn, does the ball sitting on the ground under the padding qualify?

  4. billybawl - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:23 PM

    Watching it in real time, I think the Braves got very, very lucky there — and they just won the game, 2-1, so this could have been decisive. If Upton had got down on the ground and retrieved the ball, Desmond likely would have been on 2nd base anyway. It would have been safer to play it out. At very least, he should have acted like it was stuck when he picked it up.

    Also, how did replay reveal anything that wasn’t already obvious to the on-field umps and everyone on the field? I don’t understand why it was overturned, this wasn’t a close play. Can the replay umps overrule the on-field umps’ interpretation of the rule?

    • paperlions - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:29 PM

      As noted above, this is a typical ground rule of parks that have this type of padding. If the ball stops under the padding, it is a dead ball and a ground rule double is awarded. If the player tries to play the ball, it is considered in play, no matter how stuck it is..if a player touches the ball, he is then obligated to get it out and continue with play. Replay just showed that the ball was under the padding and not in front of it (which is tough to tell from distance at ground level).

      • jwbiii - Apr 4, 2014 at 5:08 PM

        While I agree with you in general, there’s nothing in the ground rules for Nationals Park covering this.

      • jwbiii - Apr 4, 2014 at 5:10 PM

        I then I read jjschiller’s comment below. It’s a rule and not a ground rule.

      • billybawl - Apr 4, 2014 at 5:48 PM

        Paperlions, I don’t disagree with you, but where are you getting the rule that if he touches it, play continues? Is that formal, or just how umps have applied the rule? My main point is that Upton should have made an effort because it likely would have been a double regardless. But if what you say is true, then Upton had to make a judgment call himself.

    • clydeserra - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:32 PM

      this is one of the absurdities of replay. In one week, it has become a crutch for managers and umpires.

      I am in favor of replay in general, just not as MLB does it. Eye in the sky, should buzz at all close plays under review and let stuff like ths stand.

    • 18thstreet - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:32 PM

      I didn’t watch the game, but bouncing Harper around the lineup while making Span the leadoff hitter isn’t doing this team any favors. Against righties, Harper should be batting leadoff.

  5. lessick - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:31 PM

    It seems the difference of opinions on this ball comes down to the difference between “lodged” and “stuck.” In my opinion, “lodged” has nothing to do to with how easily it is removed. In that interpretation, the overrule to a double was correct.

    • clydeserra - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:43 PM

      there is no difference between “lodged” and “stuck.” My interpretation of what I see in the video is that the ball stopped where the padding becomes inexplicably lower.

      It looks to me as if the ball is stopped, not stuck.

  6. jjschiller - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:42 PM

    The rule doesn’t say anything about “lodged,” and makes no judgments as to its retrievabilty.

    6.09 (f) Any fair ball which, either before or after touching the ground, passes through or
    under a fence, or through or under a scoreboard, or through any opening in the
    fence or scoreboard, or through or under shrubbery, or vines on the fence, or which
    sticks in a fence or scoreboard, in which case the batter and the runners shall be
    entitled to two bases.

    Sticks in a fence or scoreboard. A ball that is not stuck rolls free. That ball wasn’t softly hit and came to rest against the fence. It was hard hit, and it hit the fence and stuck there.

    All that said. Justin Upton is the left fielder, and it’s hard to triple to left field, unless someone dives or falls down. And no one was out, so he’s not likely to try it, anyway. If he just plays the ball, instead of putting fate in to the hands of the umpires, he holds him to a double anyway.

  7. kane337 - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:46 PM

    Good call blue

  8. pdowdy83 - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:55 PM

    The part I didn’t understand is what was the point of the 3 minute conference they had prior to actually reviewing it. The TV crew knew that plays involving stadium boundaries are reviewable, why didn’t the umpiring crew?

  9. chc4 - Apr 4, 2014 at 5:13 PM

    The Nats had a runner on 2nd with zero outs after the overrule. How about this… score the dang run!! Desmond then tries to steal third and gets nailed. Bad call or not, the Nats gotta score that run in a low scoring game.

  10. renaado - Apr 4, 2014 at 9:57 PM

    As long the Braves won today it’s all good, Close battle there still a nice game though. Staying up late definitely has it’s merit.

    • aresachaela - Apr 4, 2014 at 11:01 PM

      Yeah! Your merits now are Eye bugs, wrinkled face and drowsiness, Have fun with your rewards Ren :-). I just hope our adviser won’t caught you sleeping again during our class later 😀.

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