Instant replay costs the Tigers a run. Sort of.

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Crazy sequence of events in Cleveland yesterday afternoon. Instant replay cost the Tigers a run, though it was ad-hoc instant replay, nothing official.  The upshot:

  • Alex Avila missed third base while scoring the Tigers fifth run in he fifth inning, but the Indians apparently didn’t notice immediately.
  • During a pitching change right after the run scored, someone in the Indians’ clubhouse watched it on replay. They told the Indians’ dugout about it, which soon became animated, with players telling Manny Acta that he needed to appeal the play. Tony Sipp continued warming up.
  • Tigers third base coach Gene Lamont heard the ruckus and knew what was happening. Cognizant that, per the rules, an appeal has to be made before the next pitch or play, told Quintin Berry — who was on second base — to take off, trying to get him picked off. That would have ended the  inning, but it would have preserved the run.
  • Berry took off, trying to get thrown out, but play had not officially resumed yet. Start over.
  • Berry took off again, but Sipp threw to third — not to get Berry — but to put out Avila, who had missed the base, as is done in such appeals.  The ump called Avila out. Run off the board, inning over.

Very heads up play by the Indinas. And really, quite the attempted heads up play by Lamont and Berry too.

Still: the whole appeal process is kind of antiquated and, frankly, whack. The need to actually throw over to the base after the guy who missed it left the field of play. The fact that the umps stay silent, even if they know the base had been missed, and await an appeal.  The fact that a play that was clearly messed up cannot be reviewed if a throw is made.  And above all else, the fact that we can have no official replay of such plays, but that the teams can utilize replay, more or less, from the clubhouse.  If we had an ump in the booth and some common sense, that whole play is straightened out in five seconds, not all of that time it took.

You know what to do, people:  write letters — actual letters in the mail — to the Commish.

Major League Baseball needs to make an example out of José Ureña

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We’re about an hour and a half separated from the first pitch of Wednesday night’s Marlins/Braves game that featured Marlins starter José Ureña hitting Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña on the elbow with a first-pitch, 97.5 MPH fastball. The benches emptied, Ureña was ejected, and the game went on. Acuña left the game not long after to tend to his injured elbow.

After the game, when the Marlins speak to the media, they will almost certainly deny any ill intent towards Acuña, who had hit leadoff home runs in three consecutive games against them. When they do so, they will be lying. Watch how catcher J.T. Realmuto sets up on the first pitch.

ESPN Stats & Info notes that Ureña’s 97.5 MPH fastball was in the 99th percentile in terms of velocity of the 2,125 pitches he has thrown this season. It was also the fastest pitch Ureña has ever thrown to begin a game. Ureña put a little extra mustard on this pitch, for some reason.

Ureña has a 6.8 percent walk rate, which ranks 37th out of 95 starters with at least 100 innings of work this season. The major league average is eight percent. Control isn’t typically something with which he struggles.

Furthermore, Acuña isn’t the only player who has drawn Ureña’s ire:

Ureña wanted nothing to do with Hoskins — even though Hoskins has yet to get a hit off of him — in his August 4 start at home against the Phillies, walking him twice which included a few up-and-in pitches.

Ureña will almost certainly be fined and suspended for his actions on Wednesday night against Acuña. But will his punishment be enough to deter him and others from wielding a baseball as a weapon? Probably not. On June 19, when Marlins starter Dan Straily intentionally threw at Buster Posey, he received a five-game suspension and manager Don Mattingly was suspended one game. If you look at Straily’s game logs, you can’t even tell he was suspended. He started six days later on June 25 against the Diamondbacks and again on July 1 and 6. Because starters only pitch once every five days, it was like he wasn’t even suspended at all.

Major League Baseball needs to levy harsher punishments on players who attempt to injure other players. A 15-game suspension, for example, would force Ureña to miss at least two starts and it would inconvenience the Marlins enough to more seriously weigh the pros and cons of exacting revenge. The Marlins couldn’t work around it the way they did Straily by pushing back his scheduled start one day.

Major League Baseball also needs to make a legitimate effort to do away with this culture of revenge against players who are just a little bit too happy. Batters get thrown at when they flip their bats, when they yell at themselves in frustration, and even when they’re just hitting well. Baseball’s stagnating audience is very old, very white, and very male. It is not going to bring in fans from diverse backgrounds by keeping this antiquated culture that prevents baseball players from showing their personalities and being emotive. In the event Acuña needs to go on the disabled list for a couple weeks, that’s two weeks that Acuña isn’t on SportsCenter’s top-10, isn’t on the front page of MLB.com, and isn’t in articles like this. The culture of revenge is actively harming MLB’s ability to market its bright, young stars. If ending this culture of revenge doesn’t hit MLB from a moral angle, it should absolutely hit home from a business angle.