Controversy in Tampa Bay: Joe West strikes again

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As mentioned in the recaps this morning, there was some serious controversy brewing in last night’s Jays-Rays game. And wouldn’t you know it, Joe West and his crew were at the middle of it.

Watch the play that sparked it here.  The original call on the field was that Adam Lind — who was pulled off the bag by the throw from third — failed to make the tag on Sam Fuld who was running to first.  Joe West was the first base ump who called Fuld safe. And he was right on the play, it seemed.

But wait: Angel Hernandez — an umpire so bad that he could only be on Joe West’s crew — came over from second base to dispute the matter. Joe West changed his mind and called Fuld out. This brought Joe Maddon from the dugout who was promptly ejected by Joe West.

Blown calls happen because baseball has decided that instant replay is the antichrist, but the ejection was nuts.  In that situation, where the umpire who did the ejecting thought the guy was safe in the first instance and allowed himself to be overruled by a guy much farther from the play, how does he then turn around and eject Maddon for arguing? I don’t care if he used the famous magic words that rhyme with “clock ducker,” it strikes me that a little bit of humility is in order at that point.  But Joe West doesn’t do humility.

Of course after the game West admitted he was wrong on the call, saying “it appears that we may have erred, but we did everything protocol right by the book.”

Screw the protocol. Get the call right.  And even if you don’t, at least appreciate the awkwardness and ambiguity of the situation and refrain from running a guy for not respecting your auth-or-i-tah.

Travis d’Arnaud’s position in Wednesday’s box score read “3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B”

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The Mets had to scratch both Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores an hour before Wednesday’s game against the Yankees due to ribcage injuries, so Travis d'Arnaud — normally a catcher — borrowed David Wright‘s glove and played third base for the first time in his career. He had played some third base in spring training, but as far as an official professional game goes, he’s never been there.

The first two batters the Yankees sent up to the plate in the first inning were left-handed. But when the right-handed Aaron Judge came up, manager Terry Collins swapped second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera with d’Arnaud. It became a thing. The two swapped once more in the first inning, three times in the second, once in the third, five times in the fourth, once in the fifth, three times in the sixth, four times in the seventh, once in the eighth, and twice in the ninth. It worked, as d’Arnaud didn’t have an opportunity to make a play until catching Todd Frazier‘s pop-up for the first out of the ninth inning — as a second baseman. Cabrera had a handful of opportunities, including immediately after having swapped with d’Arnaud.

The Mets lost 5-3. At the plate, d’Arnaud went 0-for-3 with a sacrifice fly. Cabrera was 1-for-4.

Matt Reynolds and Gavin Cecchini are being recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas so the Mets don’t have to do the “3B-2B shenanigans,” as MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo put it, again.

John Lackey stole the first base of his career

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Cubs starter John Lackey stole the first base of his 15-year career on Wednesday against the Reds. Of course, he spent the first 11 and a half years of his career in the American League, where opportunities to bat, let alone attempt to steal a base, were rare. Lackey entered Wednesday having taken 250 plate appearances, reaching base just 31 times on 17 singles, seven doubles, and seven walks for a .134 on-base percentage. One can imagine the 38-year-old is not exactly the swiftest base runner.

Still, Lackey managed to swipe a bag in the fourth inning. He singled with two outs against Homer Bailey. Then, with an 0-1 count on Ben Zobrist, Lackey broke for second even before Bailey began his windup. Tucker Barnhart stood up to alert Bailey that Lackey was running, so Bailey wheeled around and threw to second base, but Lackey slid into the bag easily safe. It wasn’t a pretty slide, but it did the job.

Lackey, however, was picked off of second base by Barnhart later that inning. Bailey threw a 3-2 fastball wide of the strike zone, walking Zobrist. Lackey had wandered too far off of second base, so Barnhart threw behind Lackey and the tag was applied by Zack Cozart. Lackey was called safe initially. The play was reviewed and the ruling on the field was overturned, ending the fourth inning.

Base Ba’al giveth and Base Ba’al taketh away.