Phillies Lose in 14, Protest over Controversial Replay

Phillies Lose in 14, Protest over Controversial Replay

The Philadelphia Phillies will await a ruling from league office following their 14-inning 5-4 loss to the Florida Marlins Sunday afternoon. The game was finished under protest after a controversial video replay in the sixth inning. The league's decision has not yet been announced and a timetable for said decision seems unknown.

So, what happened?

With no outs and one on in the top of the sixth, Hunter Pence hit a ball within feet, if not inches, of the right field wall. Just as Marlin outfielder Bryan Petersen left his feet to make a play, two fans—one of whom was attired in a Phillies hat and jersey—reached over the wall to interfere with the ball. With Petersen prevented from making the catch, the ball landed safely on the warning track and bounced toward the right field corner, resulting in a double.

This is the point where things became, to borrow a Wheeler-ism, "goofy."

Following the understandable complaints of Marlins manager Jack McKeon, first base umpire Joe West left the field of play, sending the game into a 13-minute delay. Upon his return, West declared that Hunter Pence was to be ruled out as a result of the interference, and that base runner Ryan Howard, who had made it to third thanks to Pence's double, would be sent back to first.

Three batters later, Wilson Valdez grounded into an inning-ending double play, leaving the score at 2-2. From there, the Marlins would take a one-run lead in the bottom of the sixth thanks to a Jose Lopez single to right.

Continuing the chaos that started just one inning prior, Ryan Howard would retake the lead for the Phillies in the top of the seventh, scoring Shane Victorino and Michael Martinez to register his league-leading 105th and 106th RBIs of the season.

Unfortunately, Michael Scwimmer proved unable to hold the lead. Though he did work his way out of a bases loaded jam, Schwimmer nonetheless surrendered the game-tying run in the eighth.

Neither team would score in the ninth, extending the 4-4 ballgame to extra innings.

Attempting to make up for his not so enviable club-joining performance Saturday night, David Herndon pitched three straight innings of shutout ball in acid-reflux-inducingly spectacular fashion. The beleaguered reliever issued two separate intentional walks in both the 12th and 13th innings to load the bases with one out. On both occasions, he would stroll back to the Phillies dug out unscathed.

He was not so lucky in the 14th.

With the bases loaded for the third time in three innings, Herndon eventually caved, allowing, on this occasion, an UN-intentional walk to Mike Cameron to end the ballgame. Final score: 5-4 Marlins.

If you find David Herndon's performance impressive, or even just odd, consider that Herndon would record more intentional walks than innings pitched on Sunday afternoon (5 IBB in 4 IP). By himself, Herndon would cause the Marlins to strand 11 of their game total 23 runners left on base.

Yes. "Goofy."

Rules Surrounding the Phillies Protest
Following the West ruling, an incensed Charlie Manuel was quickly ejected, leaving Pete Mackanin to inform the umpiring crew that the Phillies would play the remainder of the game under protest. League rules stipulate that games played under protest can be restarted from the point of protest should the league find that an umpiring crew jeopardized the protesting team's opportunity to win the ballgame due to a violation of the rules. As Scott Franzke put it on the radio broadcast, "Well, it seems pretty clear that's exactly what we have here."
The outraged radio voice of the Phillies was referring to the fact that instant replay—in its current incarnation—may only be used to review whether or not a hit should be ruled a home run. Because Pence was originally ruled safe at second, and the play was never called a home run, the Phillies contend that West's use of instant replay was a violation of the rules, and that fan interference is not reviewable in scenarios not involving a boundary dispute.

Before we get too far into this, here's a friendly reminder from a post we did roughly two months ago regarding this same sort of of issue: "Dear Phillies Fans, Please don't reach into the field of play for any reason whatsoever. Ever." A--clowns.

Now that that's out of the way, we would provide for you a copy of the MLB instant replay rules, if we could actually find them. For whatever reason, the replay rules do not appear in the most recent copy of the MLB rulebook. That said, MLB.com has posted a video of the incident, which you can find here. If you have any more luck than we did finding the replay rules, we do encourage you to send them along.

Back to the protest, broadcasters Tom McCarthy and Chris Wheeler repeated multiple times throughout the game that "all bets are off" on the success of the appeal should West claim his intent was to review whether or not the ball left the yard. The umpire will be required to fill out a post-game report explaining his decision.

Well, what do you think? Did Joe West get the call right? Or was his decision a violation of the Major League Baseball rules governing video review?

Despite blowout loss, Sixers see potential in Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor playing together

Despite blowout loss, Sixers see potential in Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor playing together

BOX SCORE

Brett Brown was ready to do it Wednesday night. The matchup against the Kings presented an opportunity to experiment with playing Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor together. That pairing had to wait two days, though, after the Kings game was postponed

On Friday, Embiid and Okafor shared the court for just under 13 minutes in the Sixers' 105-88 loss to the Magic (see Instant Replay), who also rolled out a duo of bigs in Bismack Biyombo and Nikola Vucevic. 

“I thought we had our moments,” Embiid said. “We shared the ball, we made shots. Obviously we need to play more together and learn how to play with each other.”

Embiid and Okafor first played together for 5:29 in the second quarter. They scored all of the Sixers' 12 points during that time, including a pair of threes by Embiid. They also combined for five boards. The Sixers outscored the Magic, 12-9, with the bigs in together.

The benefits of the floor spacing was apparent. Oftentimes in the game, Okafor could be seen open at the basket with a hand up for the ball while Embiid was also getting looks from long range. 

“I liked our spacing, I liked the high-low stuff we were doing,” Brown said. “I think when you post Joel, that Jahlil is going to play sort of hide-and-seek on the other side of the floor, and work that low zone, and become — I hope — a potent offensive rebounder. When you post Jahlil, Joel has the ability to space to three.”

Brown turned to Embiid and Okafor again in the fourth. At that point, the Magic had a 23-point lead. Their next 7:25 together was a chance to give them a long run in live game action. They combined for another 12 points and four rebounds. All of their buckets were layups, dunks or free throws. Both teams scored 19 points with Embiid and Okafor in that segment.

Both Embiid and Okafor finished the game with double-doubles: 25 points, 10 rebounds and four assists for Embiid; 16 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks for Okafor. 

“I thought they played well together,” Vucevic said. “I thought it was tough to guard them because they’re both really good offensively.”

Okafor credited his friendship with Embiid, which dates back to high school, as a key to coexisting well on the court. Both emphasized their off-the-court relationship would help them in a game situation. 

“I think the communication piece went really well,” Okafor said. “He was talking to me, I was talking to him.”

Scoring and communication always seemed to be the easier parts of the pairing to tackle. Defense, though, was the challenge given that one of the centers would have to guard the four spot. Okafor noted their transition D as an area that needs improvement.

“We’re both used to going right to the rim,” Okafor said. “I think I had a couple easy buckets. That’s something we’ll be able to fix.” 

Brown had based his decision of when to play Embiid and Okafor together on the matchups. While the two could boast their own edge on the offensive end, Brown didn’t want to play them in a scenario in which they’d be at a huge defensive disadvantage. 

“It’s not offense to me, it’s defense. That’s the thing that is most challenging,” Brown said. “We want to play fast. We want to put points on the board. You don’t want to play in the 80s. You don’t want to do that, that’s not our sport anymore. So you want to make sure that you're capable of guarding the opposition.”

Vucevic noticed the challenge from an opposing perspective. He understands the necessary changes since playing alongside Biyombo.  

“It takes time for them to get adjusted, especially for the guy that will be playing the four defensively,” Vucevic said. “They’re not used to that because they always back down to the paint guarding the fives. It’s a different look. They have to work on it, communicate, and I think they’ll be fine.” 

On a night with few highlights in a 17-point blowout loss, Brown was able to take away a positive from this anticipated duo.

"I thought Jahlil and Joel did a really good job," he said. 

Sixers Notes: Joel Embiid unhappy with effort; Robert Covington hurt

Sixers Notes: Joel Embiid unhappy with effort; Robert Covington hurt

Joel Embiid didn’t see four quarters of basketball from the Sixers in their 105-88 loss to the Magic Friday night (see Instant Replay). Their efforts were inconsistent as they fell flat in long stretches and allowed the Magic to build up double-digit leads as high as 29 points.

The Sixers gave up a 16-0 run in the first and shot just 6 for 26 (23.1 percent) in the quarter. The Magic, who had lost a one-point game to the Grizzlies in Memphis the night before, rallied together to seize this opportunity.

“They just made a lot of shots that we didn’t,” Embiid said. “That’s the game, but we didn’t play hard all 48 minutes and we need to do a better job next time.”

The Sixers didn’t break 30 points until 4:33 to go in the second and attempted just two free throws in the first half. By the end of the third, the Magic had a 21-point lead which they held on to with in ease in the fourth. 

The Magic outshot the Sixers on all areas of the floor: 47.4 percent to 37.9 from the field and 50.0 to 28.1 from three. While the teams had nearly equal percentages from the line, the Magic shot 18 for 26 compared to only 7 for 10 from the Sixers. 

“They missed a lot of shots,” Magic forward Jeff Green said. “We got stops, were aggressive, guys just played hard and created for one another and played as a team.”

Covington injured
The Sixers are waiting to learn more news on the extent of Robert Covington’s injury. In the fourth quarter, Covington exited and did not return after suffering a left knee sprain when he collided with T.J. McConnell chasing a loose ball in front of the Sixers’ bench. If the starting small forward has to miss time, Sixers head coach Brett Brown is thinking ahead to possible lineup changes. 

“We'll try to figure out what his next week represents,” Brown said. “If we aren't with him, maybe there's a chance we can look at Dario [Saric] a little bit at the three.”

Covington is averaging 8.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.9 steals in 27.5 minutes per game. Saric has been coming off the bench at power forward behind Ersan Ilyasova. He started 10 games earlier this season at the four spot. 

Embiid honored
The Sixers honored Embiid during a timeout for being named NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month (October and November). Embiid was appreciative of the award and has his sights set on the bigger picture this season.

“All the hard work I’ve put in, it feels great,” Embiid said earlier in the day at shootaround. “Obviously, maybe the bigger picture is Rookie of the Year, that’s what matters. … I don’t have my mind set on that. But if I can get it, that would be nice.”

Brown sees this recent showing as just a glimpse into what Embiid will be able to do over his career. Embiid leads the Sixers with 18.7 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.2 blocks. 

“This in infant stages, early days for him,” Brown said. “His body of work, given his lack of playing basketball, really is jaw-dropping for what I think he can be. To jump in and get rookie of the month I think is a real, sort of, quick snapshot view of him now. I think what he’s going to be is going to be extremely special.”

Embiid also is shooting 51.4 percent from three, including 3 for 5 against the Magic. When asked if he would like to participate in the three-point contest All-Star weekend, he said "it would be nice" and noted he would have to work on the speed of his release.