Still thinking about that Billy Butler homer in the Yankees-Royals game the other night. Joe Torre has admitted that the umpires misapplied the rules. And now Joe Girardi admits he should have protested it. He says he simply took the umps’ word for it that they were properly applying the rules:
“I assumed the rules were right and that’s my fault … Two umpires told me and I believed them. Maybe I don’t need to be so trustworthy anymore.”
To be fair, it’s not just dumb credulity that led Girardi to think the umpires had it right at the time. Umpires blow judgment calls all the time, but they rarely actually misapply the rules, which is what is required for a successful protest. There are only a handful of protested games in recent memory, and none have been successful since a rain-shortened game between St. Louis and Pittsburgh went down in 1986 (the umps didn’t wait long enough between delays to call the game). In fact, Retrosheet’s data shows only 14 successfully-protested and then-resumed games since 1913.
Protests usually fail either because they’re on judgment calls or because the misapplication of the rules ended up not making a difference in the outcome. This one, however, seems like it would have been a pretty cut-and-dried protest case. It was a misapplication of the rules and, given that it was on a homer in a game decided by one run, it’d be hard to argue that the call was irrelevant to the outcome.
So yeah, while I tend to look askance at protests, this is one that had to be made. Even if Girardi tended to believe the umps, you gotta throw that challenge flag, ya know? I mean, it’s not like he hasn’t done it before.
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.
Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge hit another jaw-dropping home run, victimizing Mets starter Robert Gsellman in the top of the fourth game of Wednesday night’s game at Citi Field. Left fielder Yoenis Cespedes didn’t even move. The ball traveled 457 feet and was hit 117 MPH off the bat, according to Katie Sharp of River Ave Blues.
The home run moved Judge’s AL-best total to 37, putting him two ahead of the Royals’ Mike Moustakas. Along with the prodigious dinger total, he has 80 RBI, 90 runs scored, and a .291/.421/.616 triple-slash line in 499 plate appearances. Judge is on pace for 50 dingers. If it holds, that would give him the rookie record for home runs in a season. Mark McGwire currently holds the record, having hit 49 for the Athletics in 1987.