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.

Javier Baez, D.J. LeMahieu have disagreement about sign-stealing

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Fellow second basemen Javier Baez of the Cubs and D.J. LeMahieu of the Rockies got into a disagreement in the top of the third inning of Sunday’s game at Coors Field over sign-stealing.

LeMahieu reached on a fielder’s choice ground out, then advanced to second base on Charlie Blackmon‘s single. While Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story were batting, Baez was concerned that LeMahieu was relaying the Cubs’ signs to his teammates. Baez decided to stand in front of LeMahieu to block any information he might have been giving to Arenado and Story. LeMahieu got irritated and the two jawed at each other for a bit. Umpires Vic Carapazza and Greg Gibson had to intervene to tell Baez to knock it off.

There has always been a back-and-forth with alleged sign-stealing. As long as teams aren’t using technology to steal signs, it’s fair game for players to relay information to their teammates about the opposing team’s signs. Last year, MLB determined the Red Sox went against the rules and used technology — an Apple watch in this case — to steal signs from the Yankees. Other teams in the past have been accused of using binoculars from the bullpen to steal signs. In this particular case with Baez and LeMahieu, there was no foul play going on, just Baez trying to make the Rockies cede what he perceived to be their slight competitive advantage.

The Cubs went on to beat the Rockies 9-7 on Sunday.