When instant replay wrongs a right

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With the score tied at 5 in the eighth inning of Sunday’s Cardinals-Reds game, Yadier Molina dropped down a sac bunt with runners on first and second and none out. It was a bad bunt and Molina was slow getting out of the box. Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco picked up the ball and attempted to tag Molina without getting the call. No problem. Mesoraco simply threw to third for the force, and Todd Frazier was able to convert the double play by throwing to first.

That should have been the end of things. Except for one very important fact: Mesoraco did, in fact, tag Molina on the play.

The Cardinals saw the tag on replay, and Mike Matheny came out to challenge the call. Replay determined that Kerwin Danley blew it when he signaled that no tag was made. Unfortunately, at this point, Danley and crew chief Joe West decided that this meant Peter Bourjos was safe at third base, giving the Cardinals runners on second and third with one out in the frame.

That was totally the wrong outcome. Had Frazier known the tag was made on Molina and there was no force at third base, he would have been in position to make the tag on Bourjos at third base, completing the double play. It’s not 100 percent sure that he would have gotten the tag down, but it was clearly better than 50-50.

The crew is given discretion in cases like these to determine what should have happened. Being that it was a Joe West crew, it’s not much of a surprise that the decision turned out wrong. At least the Cardinals failed to capitalize, with Kolten Wong and Matt Adams popping up to end the inning and keep the game tied.

Still, if you ask me, plays like this are another reason that managers should not be involved in the replay process. I don’t want managers looking for technicalities in order to steal or revoke outs. This was basically a loophole that Matheny crawled through; the defense earned this double play, only to be stripped of it by Danley’s bad call. The very thing replay was designed to overcome was used against it here.

Astros defend barring reporter from clubhouse

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As we wrote about this morning, last night the Houston Astros, at the request of Justin Verlander, barred Detroit Free Press reporter Anthony Fenech from the clubhouse during Verlander’s media availability following the Tigers-Astros game. After Verlander was done talking to the press in the scrum setting — and after a call was placed to Major League Baseball about the matter — Fenech was allowed in.

As we noted, this was done in violation of agreements to which Major League Baseball, the Houston Astros and the Baseball Writers Association of America are parties. The agreements are meant to ensure full access to BBWAA-accredited reporters as long as they have not violated the terms of their credentials.  In no case do the clubs — and certainly not the players — have the right to bar access to BBWAA-accredited reporters. Indeed, the whole point of the BBWAA is to ensure such access and to ensure that teams cannot bar them simply because they are unhappy with their coverage or what have you.

This morning Verlander tweeted, obliquely, about “unethical behavior” on the part of Fenech that led to his request to the Astros to bar him. As we noted at the time, such an allegation — however interesting it might be — is of no consequence to the admission or barring of a reporter. If Fenech has acted unethically it’s a matter between him and his employer and, potentially, between him and the BBWAA. At the very least, if Verlander has a specific concern, it would be incumbent upon him or the Astros to take the matter up with either the Free Press or the BBWAA.

In light of all of this, it’s hard to make a case for Verlander’s request and the Astros’ honoring it. A few moments ago, however, the Astros released as statement on the matter which, basically, says, “so what?”

Which is to say, the Astros have made a decades-long agreement between the BBWAA and MLB regarding reporter access optional, because a player does not like a reporter who is covering him.  Someone without the power to alter the BBWAA-MLB relationship has just done so unilaterally. And they have done so in such a way that any player, should they decide they don’t like a reporter, will now presumably rely on it as precedent. Finally, it should be noted that in issuing this statement, the Astros have given at least some tacit credence to Verlander’s thus far unsubstantiated and unspecified allegations of unethical behavior on the part of Fenech, which seems less-than-ideal at best.

It’s your move, Major League Baseball and BBWAA. Whatcha gonna do about it?