Royals awarded a gift home run when umps whiff on the ground rules

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The disputed Billy Butler home run in the Yankees-Royals game is going to be used by instant replay opponents to say that even a replay system isn’t perfect, but in this case replay wasn’t the problem. It was human error. As in, the umpires apparently didn’t know the ground rules of the ballpark in which they were calling the game.

Short version: Billy Butler’s third inning blast hit the top of the padding below the chain link portion of the fence in the pic to the right.  While the ground rules for Kauffman Stadium — the Universal Ground Rules, not some park-specific ground rules, as Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger notes — do not specify what constitutes a homer, it has always been the case that the top padding, above the chain link portion, was the home run boundary.

So, the blast doesn’t go that high, the umps review it and … still say it’s a homer.

Basically, the umps are either completely blind and couldn’t see what is abundantly clear in the replay, or else the umps simply did not know what the ground rules were for Kauffman Stadium. Except, as Carig reports, Yankees coach Mick Kelleher said that before the series, he was told by the umps that the top portion of the fence was the home run boundary, so the latter explanation doesn’t make sense.

A computer is only a good as its programming. A replay system is only as good as the people reviewing it.  In this case, the people screwed up, allowing a solo home run that shouldn’t have been in a game that was ultimately decided by one run.

The bummer part here: Girardi, for some reason, did not protest the game, as is a manager’s right when the rules are misapplied. If he had, baseball could theoretically replay the game a la the famous pine tar game, which also involved the Yankees and the Royals.  But even if that can’t happen now, someone — someone in blue — needs to be disciplined over this.

The Phillies are considering making a play for Jake Arrieta

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Jon Heyman reports that the Phillies are considering free agent starter Jake Arrieta.

That may seem kind of weird on the surface given that the Phillies, as Heyman notes, are considered to be at least a year from contention. Thing is, though, we really never know for sure when a team will definitely be in contention, do we? We’ve seen a handful of teams’ rebuilding efforts bear competitive fruit ahead of schedule in recent years, including the current World Series champion Houston Astros. They made the dang playoffs a year after losing 92 games, when everyone thought their true competitive window was several years away. Arrieta’s Cubs were much the same way, improving by 24 wins in 2015 to make the playoffs, in large part because of . . . acquiring Jake Arrieta.

Whether Arrieta, who is coming off of a 14-10, 3.53 ERA season, would be interested in the Phillies is unknown, but if I’m a Phillies fan, I’m happy that my club is being aggressive and is at least considering it.