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.
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?