Much is still being made of a triple play that occurred on Sunday, but unfortunately, the reason for the notoriety isn’t so much about the rarity of the play itself and a whole lot more to do with the strange way in which it occurred.
Picture it. Los Angeles, California. Sunday afternoon. A baseball game between the hometown Dodgers and the State rival San Diego Padres was tied at four, entering the ninth inning. Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso led off with a single to left off of Dodgers reliever Javy Guerra. Third baseman Chase Headley then drew a walk after falling down 0-2 to the right handed pitcher.
Then, Jesus Guzman stepped to the plate with two on and none out, and this happened:
As you can see, with Guzman squaring to bunt, Guerra’s pitch comes in high and tight. The batter reacts by trying to get away from the pitch, but it inadvertently hits his bat or his chest. The ball ricochets behind home plate, but then bounces forward.
Meanwhile, home plate umpire Dale Scott raises his hands and backs away as if to signify it’s a foul ball, but as A.J. Ellis, the Dodgers catcher, leaps up and throws the ball to third base, sending it around the horn for a 2-5-6-3 triple play, Scott appears to signal that the ball is actually fair.
And the top half of the ninth inning is over. The win probability added decreases by more than 32%, going from two on and none out to no longer being the Padres turn to bat in a single pitch. As you might imagine, San Diego manager Bud Black wasn’t very pleased with the call. The reputably mild mannered skipper was ejected, and then, as if to add insult to injury, the Dodgers won the game in a walk off in the bottom part of the inning.
Peter Woodfork, Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations for MLB and the overseer of umpiring, released a statement about the play:
After review and discussion with the umpire, we have determined that the call itself of a fair ball was correct. However, while making the call, there was an incorrect mechanic, which appeared to confuse San Diego’s base runners. At no time did the umpire verbally kill the play on the field. After reviewing the entire situation following the game, the umpire realizes his hands were in an exaggerated upward appearance similar to a call that would indicate a dead ball. While we all agree that it was a fair ball that did not hit the batter, the umpire recognizes that the proper mechanic was not executed as he tried to avoid the catcher.
It’s easy to criticize the umpire in this instance, but slow your roll, pilgrim. The ball went foul and then bounced back into fair territory. According to reports, he made the motion with his hands, but didn’t “verbally kill the play on the field.” I’m not sure what we expect an umpire to do in such circumstances.
The “improper mechanic” is part of an umpire’s job to be efficiently accurate. The ball appeared foul, he began to call it so, but it took a strange bounce forward into fair territory, and then adjusted his call with verbal confirmation this time. I think it’s pretty hard to have a beef with the umpire, unless you want to question whether the ball hit Guzman’s bat or chest.
And The Rest
Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander got his first win of the season last night pitching all nine innings, and even hitting 100 miles per hour in the final frame. [Walkoff Woodward]
Sticking with the Tigers, let’s take a peak at a recreation of a typical Delmon Young route to a ball. [Bless You Boys]
San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson has a “moderate sprain” of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Tommy John surgery seemed like a forgone conclusion, but it is possible that rehab alone could solve the problem. [Comcast SportsNet]
You might have heard about this already, but Madison Bumgarner signed the largest contract extension ever given to a player with one plus year of service time. [Getting Blanked]
Chris Cwik takes a stab at estimating what a Buster Posey contract extension would look like. [FanGraphs]
Ron Darling had an epic rant this weekend about teams revealing too much information to the media. [Amazin' Avenue]
A little bit of tax day humor for our American friends. [Value Over Replacement Grit]
This is some great work from R.J. Anderson, who takes a look at the effect pitchers get by changing their location on the rubber. [Baseball Prospectus]
Jon Morosi is the latest to cash in on the Ozzie Guillen/Fidel Castro controversy, asking if Miami residents are ready to forgive. [FOX Sports]
Our dear friend Sam Miller takes a look at the best pitches of the past week. [Baseball Prospectus]
A Getting Blanked favourite, Jeff Sullivan has some additional thoughts on the Miami Marlins finally hitting a home run. [Baseball Nation]
What’s the difference between Brandon Belt and David Coooper? [DJF]
Someone is trying to convince us that Derek Jeter has another 895 hits in him. [MLB.com]
In things that don’t seem interesting, but actually are: a running diary of the Oakland A’s pursuit of a new stadium anywhere in California. [Baseball Nation]
Finally, have you checked out The Getting Blanked Show yet? [Getting Blanked]