The Miami Marlins probably would have lost anyway, but that doesn’t mean MLB doesn’t owe them a protest…and an immediate revision of protest rules.
That’s as direct as I can be while still keeping things within the confines of polite discussion about the travesty of umpiring that brought about the end of Thursday’s Marlins-Mets game. If you think that’s just fan bias talking, consider the fact that ESPN’s Buster Olney- perhaps the nicest guy in baseball- proclaimed the call to be “a complete joke.” From Buster, that’s about as strong as the take Marlins pitcher Sandy Alcantara shared on Twitter.
It was, shall we say, succinct.
Speaking of succinct, that’s exactly the kind of judgement MLB needs to make on the outcome of this game. Right now. Not just because it would be doing right by the Marlins, but for the good of the game.
In case you did, in fact, miss this sad display, here’s the situation. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth and one out, in a two strike count, Marlins “closer” Anthony Bass threw strike three. Except, on the way to the catcher’s glove, Mets outfielder Michael Conforto intentionally stuck his elbow into the path of the ball. After calling strike three, the home plate umpire thought about it for a second, and then awarded Conforto first base for being struck. Mets win 3-2.
What does making things right look like? Well, personally, I want to wake up tomorrow morning and find out that MLB has decided that Thursday’s Mets-Marlins game will be resuming Friday afternoon in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded and two outs. Ideally, I want to also hear that Marlins closer Anthony Bass is unavailable due to a case of acute overratedness, but that’s probably getting greedy.
That last part is obviously fantastical. The first part- that should be completely within the power of MLB to bring about.
Yet, somehow, it would seem that it is not. Despite the fact this call was so egregiously bad that the Mets broadcasters were actually upset about it. Despite the fact that instant replay exists in MLB. Despite the fact according to section 7.04 of the MLB handbook, managers can protest when they think an umpire’s decision was against the rules. Despite the fact that section 6.01 of the same handbook makes it really clear that this is exactly what happened.
Unfortunately, conveniently enough, section 8.02 of those same MLB rules stipulate that “judgement calls” can’t be questioned.
If all of that sounds manifestly stupid and purposely obtuse, you’d be much closer to being right than umpire Ron Kulpa was today. Who, by the way, admitted shortly after the game that he screwed up. It’s always a good look for MLB when you have an umpire who puts the ulpa in mea culpa.
Technically, for a protest to even be considered, the team has to make one. To my mind, the league has to call the Marlins in the morning, ask them to file one, and then immediately honor it. Friday is an off-day for both teams. This can easily be squeezed in…particularly since the odds are good it will take five minutes. The bases were loaded, after all.
Again though, I appreciate how unlikely that is. The larger problem is that the rules allow this situation to even be possible.
MLB needs to fix the rules, ASAP, to make sure this situation never happens again. Replay needs to be allowed to play a role in judgement calls like this, at least on a challenge basis. Even being contingent on New York making the decision to review would be an improvement over the current situation.
Because as Michael “Whatever It Takes” Conforto was quick to note today, a “win is a win.” Who’s to say another MLB player isn’t going to file the lesson of today away?
I’d love for the league to make things right for this Miami Marlins team this weekend. However, I’ll settle for them making things right for the next Miami Marlins.