When Major League Baseball expanded replay review, the idea was to get the umpire’s calls correct.
But what happens when the group in New York reviewing the call gets it wrong?
The answer is they make a call to the team wronged to explain how they got it wrong, says Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg. At least that is what happened in the Phillies' case on Sunday night after the 4-3 victory over the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park (see story).
According to Major League Baseball executive vice president of operations Joe Torre, the Phillies lost a run when the replay review misinterpreted the new rule regulating catcher collisions and blocking home plate.
“After review from other people, maybe the committee people, they thought there was no lane to home plate the whole way in,” Sandberg said.
Here’s what happened …
Though Tony Gwynn Jr. was called out at the plate when attempting to score from first base on a one-out double by Chase Utley in the sixth inning, he was not offered a clear lane to the plate by catcher Jeff Mathis. In order to curb collisions, a catcher is not allowed to block the plate unless he has the ball. Until the catcher has the ball he has to allow a path for the runner only in this case, Mathis was blocking it with his left leg.
The throw beat Gwynn, he was tagged out and the 54-second review by the officials in New York upheld the umpire’s review (see story).
Only Major League Baseball said the replay officials did not interpret the rule correctly.
“What was suggested to me last night, well after the game, was that they viewed the catcher never gave Gwynn a lane to home plate, which is the first part of the rule we're all supposed to tell the catchers and base runners,” Sandberg explained before Monday night’s game against the Braves. “The base runners will have a lane to home plate. We'll tell the catchers you have to give a lane. He took the plate away early when he was at third base. Gwynn had no lane to home plate. So they thought that was a problem.”
The ruling could have been a pivotal play in the game. Gwynn’s run would have given the Phillies a 4-3 lead with one out and a runner on third base. Ryan Howard followed the play with a fly out to left field to end the inning. However, the ball was hit deep enough that it could have scored Utley from third on a sacrifice fly and given the Phillies a two-run lead.
Afterwards, Gwynn thought he was going to be called safe based on how the rule was explained to teams during spring training.
“We’re told to slide directly into home plate, so that’s what I did, thinking we should get the call based on what was going on,” Gwynn said after the game.
Gwynn turned out to be correct, only he won’t get credit for the run. In theory, Utley and Howard lost RBIs, too.
The game remained tied at 3 until the bottom of the eighth when Utley hit a two-out homer to provide the winning run. In the end it worked out in the Phillies’ favor, though a couple of insurance runs would have been nice.