Yesterday afternoon, the Phillies found themselves trailing the Reds 6-3 with Marlon Byrd on first base and two outs. Domonic Brown ripped the first pitch from Alfredo Simon into the gap in right-center field. Speedy center fielder Billy Hamilton corralled the ball and fired a perfect relay throw to second baseman Brandon Phillips, who then made a perfect one-hop throw to catcher Devin Mesoraco with Byrd still several feet from home plate. Byrd and Mesoraco collided, and Byrd was ruled out.
Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg had the umpires review the play, suggesting that Mesoraco had not provided an adequate lane to home plate for Byrd. However, the umpires upheld the ruling and Byrd was out. Sandberg strongly disagreed, so he came back out to make his case to home plate umpire Tom Hallion. He was immediately ejected. The Phillies went on to lose by one run, 6-5. Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, an MLB spokesman said the play was upheld because replay officials felt that Byrd did indeed have a sufficient lane to the plate. You can watch the play here and decide for yourself.
Sandberg was still unhappy with it after the game and says the interpretations of the rules have been inconsistent. Via Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer:
“He put his shin guard down and blocked the plate without the ball,” Sandberg said. “I think that’s gone against us three times on different interpretations on different scenarios. Everyone just wants to know what the rule is. What is it? It can’t be just whoever is there [in New York] has their opinion, because we’re teaching the catchers one thing. We’re telling baserunners another thing.
“They want to eliminate a collision with the catcher, well, the catcher instigated the collision by blocking home plate without the ball.”
Even Mesoraco said he isn’t sure if he broke the rules:
“It’s such a hard rule to decipher, and it’s such a tough thing to really – it’s not black and white,” Mesoraco said. “My first goal is to catch the ball and tag the guy from there. If they want to call him out, they’ll call him out.”
This will certainly not be the first nor the last time that the murky rules surrounding home plate collisions leads to a misunderstanding.
In a show of good sportsmanship, the Cleveland Cavaliers have moved their championship ring ceremony start time back to 7 PM EDT to avoid conflicting with the start of the World Series opener on Tuesday. The Indians are set to host Game 1 at Progressive Field on October 25, while the Cavs will open the 2016-17 NBA season against the New York Knicks at the nearby Quicken Loans Arena, preceded by a ceremony recognizing their first franchise title.
In the event that the Indians clinch a World Series title, it’ll be the first time Cleveland has seen two championships in the same calendar year since 1948, when the Indians’ last Series title came on the back of the Cleveland Browns’ All-American Football Conference championship against the Buffalo Bills. The same was true for the Dodgers in 1988, when their World Series win against the Athletics coincided with the Los Angeles Lakers’ 11th championship, while Chicago has yet to see a multi-title year among their NBA, NHL, NFL, and MLB franchises.
Regardless of the Series’ outcome, Cleveland fans will get the chance to revel in one long-awaited championship win on Tuesday before watching the beginning of a nail-biting conclusion to another long-awaited playoff run. The Cavaliers are scheduled for 7 PM EDT on October 25, while the Indians will take the field at 8 PM EDT.
If any team can turn a six-day rest period into an advantage, it’s the Indians. The club polished off their pennant race with another injured starter and an overtaxed bullpen, as Trevor Bauer exited in Game 3 of the ALCS with a laceration on his right pinky finger, leaving the bullpen to shoulder 16 innings through the last three games of the series. On Friday, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reported that injured starter Danny Salazar could rejoin the rotation in the World Series, though he’ll need at least one more simulated game before Terry Francona determines whether or not he’s fit to return for the team’s last postseason push.
Bauer, who has been under the close watch of hand specialist Dr. Thomas Graham, told the press that he feels confident that he’ll be ready for a World Series start when the final showdown commences on Tuesday. Keeping the wound bandaged is not an option during games, and Bauer said that Dr. Graham decided against additional stitches to keep the laceration from re-opening. Instead, they’re banking on extra days of rest to heal the cut naturally. Should Francona pencil the right-hander into the lineup for Game 3 or 4, he’ll have had 10-11 days to rest his finger between starts — just a hair under the seven games Bauer said he was prepared to pitch.
Salazar, too, has been preparing for a World Series showdown. He’s scheduled to pitch three innings of a simulated game this weekend, and if it goes well, it could land him a spot in the starting rotation alongside Bauer, Corey Kluber, Josh Tomlin, and newcomer Ryan Merritt. Salazar has been sidelined since September 9 with a right forearm strain, and even after undergoing a rigorous throwing program over the last several weeks, any kind of comeback is expected to be curbed by a strict innings limit. Francona has been understandably tight-lipped about his World Series roster, but he hasn’t yet nixed the idea of utilizing Salazar out of the rotation, provided the right-hander remains healthy for another week or so.
The Indians have had to remain flexible throughout their seven-game playoff run after weathering injuries to Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer, pushing their rotation through several games on short rest and relying heavily on Andrew Miller and Cody Allen‘s one-two punch in the ‘pen to clinch more than a few postseason victories. While history doesn’t always favor the first team to secure their league’s pennant race, an extra week of rest should only benefit Cleveland’s beleaguered pitching staff.