How umpire Angel Hernandez affected the AL side of the post-season

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At ESPN Sweet Spot, David Schoenfield reminds us of a controversial, and wrong, call made by umpire Angel Hernandez that we now know has had a tangible impact on the AL side of the post-season.

On May 8, the Indians played host to the Athletics at Progressive Field. They led 4-3 with two outs in the top of the ninth and closer Chris Perez was ready to nail down another save. Shortstop Adam Rosales hit a fly ball to deep left-center and it appeared to hit off of a metal railing above the yellow line atop the fence, but Hernandez ruled it a double. The umpires conferred, left the field to review the tape, and did not overturn their incorrect call. The Athletics couldn’t get Rosales home and the Indians won 4-3.

We now know the Indians earned top billing in the AL Wild Card game with a 5-1 victory this afternoon. Acknowledging the butterfly effect, all other things being equal, the Indians would have entered today’s action tied with the Rays and Rangers for the two Wild Card spots rather than having control of the first spot by one game. Their victory today, along with those by the Rays and Rangers, would have sent the three teams into two extra games to decide the winners rather than one, and the Indians might not have been hosting at home.

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.