Baseball fans know the Red Sox and Yankees maintain one of the fiercest rivalries in sports. Indeed, things always seem to get sticky when the two teams meet each other.
Saturday’s long game was no exception. Read Rich Marazzi’s report here to read more about the bizarre play:
by Rich Marazzi
Red Sox manager John Farrell protested the Red Sox 16-inning, 4-1 loss to the Yankees on Saturday, July 15, 2017, at Fenway Park. Here is what happened.
In the top of the 11th inning, the Yankees had Matt Holliday at first base and no outs when Jacoby Ellsbury chopped a ball to first baseman Mitch Moreland, who threw to shortstop Xander Bogaerts for a force at second base. Holliday stopped between first and second and broke back toward first base, sliding feet-first into the bag as Boston attempted to complete a double play.
Bogaerts’ throw clipped Ellsbury in the left leg as he crossed the base. Because of Holliday’s location, Moreland appeared to be screened from catching the ball. Ellsbury was ruled safe by first base umpire Gabe Morales, which prompted Farrell to ask crew chief Gary Cederstrom if there had been interference. The subsequent reviews and explanations took four minutes and 59 seconds before the ruling that the play would stand.
Farrell argued that Holliday had interfered with the play and that a double play should have been called.
Cederstrom told a reporter that he did not think there had been interference.
In explaining, why he returned to first, Holliday said he thought Moreland tagged the base to retire Ellsbury before throwing to second and the force was removed.
“I didn’t get an explanation from the umpires,” said Farrell following the game. “My view was there was interference regardless whether it was intentional or not. It’s why I protested the game. After repeated conversations with New York, it was brought back to me that they weren’t going to change the play and the play stood with no explanation.” Asked if the play was reviewable, Farrell added, “They (umpires) went to review to determine if there was actually interference and if there was a rules interpretation which to me there was.”
The Command Center supported the umpires’ no call.
Conditions for a Protest to be Upheld
For a protest to be upheld by MLB the following conditions must exist:
- No protest shall be permitted on judgment decisions.
- The decision by the umpires must be in conflict with the rule meaning there must be a misinterpretation of a rule.
- The rule violation must adversely affect the protesting team’s chances of winning the game.
Regarding the protest, the rule in question is 6.01 (a) (5). It reads, “It is interference by a batter or a runner when any batter or runner who has just been put out, or any runner who has just scored, hinders or impedes any following play being made on a runner.” In my opinion Holliday clearly interfered with Moreland after he was put out and he violated rule 6.01 (a) (5). But interference and obstruction calls involve umpire judgment and judgment calls cannot be protested.
The Comment to the rule reads, “If the batter or runner continues to advance after he has been put out, he shall not by that act alone be considered as confusing, hindering or impeding the fielders.” Is it possible the umpires interpreted the word “advance” as going in either direction? If so, I think it would be a misinterpretation of the rule. The word “advance” is defined as “moving forward.”
But even if the rule was misinterpreted, did it affect the outcome of the game?
If Ellsbury scored during that inning and the Yankees won the game, the Red Sox would have a good argument if they were able to prove a rule misinterpretation. But the fact that Ellsbury did not subsequently score, in my opinion, fails to meet the criteria that the rule violation affected the outcome of the game.
The bottom line is the protest revolved around an interference call which is umpire judgment. Therefore, the likelihood of this protest being upheld is remote at best.
I think the only chance a protest of this type can survive would be: (1) If Ellsbury subsequently scored and (2) Umpire testimony in their report to MLB revealed a misinterpretation of the rule. For instance, if the umpires stated that they agreed Holliday interfered with the play but in their opinion the interference was not intentional, and therefore there was no call, I think the protest would have legs because intent should not be a factor and that would be a misinterpretation of the rule.
Again, the fans at the game and the TV and radio audience, got shortchanged. MLB needs to communicate these rule situations to everyone who is involved in the game, including the fans. The umpires should have the PA announcer read a statement so that everyone is kept abreast of the proceedings.