Was Robinson Cano’s homer a case of fan interference?

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I’m going to admit up front that I’m flummoxed. I’ve gone back and forth on this thing two or three times now.

In real time, Robinson Cano’s homer to right in the second appeared to be a case of fan interference, with those awesome, awesome fans in the front row slapping Nelson Cruz’s glove. When it happened I stood up in my living room, outraged, and took Jeffrey Maier’s name in vain.

Then I saw the replays. At least the TBS replays. All of them made it seem like it wasn’t interference. It appeared — looking squarely at the wall from the infield — that Cruz reached beyond the wall. And when you do that you’re doing so at your own risk pursuat to the rules of baseball.  Yeah, part of me wishes that fans would stay away from a fielder even when he’s doing that, but I wish a lot of things that aren’t likely or, oftentimes, even reasonable. Fine, I thought. Homer.

But then I saw this picture:

Sure looks like fans smacking Cruz’s glove on the field of play to me. Wouldn’t you agree? And it’s not like it’s really incidental. That white looking stuff behind the yellow of the wall is a couple feet of concrete that, theoretically anyway, separates fans from the field of play. Regardless of where the ball would have come down — it appeared on that concrete — our friends in the front row there had to make an extra special effort to hit Cruz’s glove right there. If someone has better video or photographic evidence I would like to see it, but barring that I’m now inclined to say that the call was wrong, Cruz was interfered with and Cano’s homer shouldn’t have stood.

Of course the elephant in the room here is why this play wasn’t reviewed in the first place. Right field umpire Jim Reynolds was pretty far from this play. How could he see it clearly? Even if you think I’m wrong and this wasn’t a case of fan interference, Reynolds’ call to that effect was just a guess. Just a couple of batters later he got the call wrong on Lance Berkman’s non-homer. Thankfully replay was utilized to overturn that one.  Why was it not utilized to review Cano’s blast? Reynolds was far from the action on both occasions.

The official answer is that some calls are boundary calls and some are judgment calls and blah, blah blah. I won’t have it. There are two kinds of calls. Correct calls and blown calls. And there is no excuse for baseball not allow and encourage the umpires to utilize the technology that is easily at their disposal to get the calls right. It may not have made a difference in the outcome of last night’s game. But someday soon it will.  And when it does, all hell is going to break loose.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.