Attention Dale Scott: Hands Up Means Foul Ball

Yesterday, the Dodgers and Padres played for the seventh time on the season. Just like they had done in five of the first six match-ups, the Dodgers ended up victorious. However, unlike the previous games, they got some significant assistance in coming out on top. Here’s the Win Expectancy graph of yesterday’s SD/LA match-up:


Source: FanGraphs

You’ll immediately notice a giant spike in the Dodgers’ Win Expectancy in the ninth inning, as they went from having just a 30.1% chance of winning to a 62.2% chance of winning on one play. This is how that play is described in the play log:

Jesus Guzman hit into a triple play to catcher (Grounder). Yonder Alonso out at third. Chase Headley out at second.

And this is what that play actually looked like:

Jesus Guzman tried to bunt, but the pitch from Javy Guerra was way up and in. If it hadn’t hit Guzman’s bat, it would have nailed him in the chest, but the ball did manage to hit the bat as Guzman tried to spin out of the way. The ball then went nearly straight down, landed in foul territory, and eventually rolled out in front of the plate into fair territory. A.J. Ellis wisely picked up the ball, threw to third base, and the Dodgers went around the horn for an inning-ending triple play.

But, it’s a triple play that never should have happened, as Dale Scott clearly gave the universal signal for foul ball. If it’s not clear enough in real time, let’s try some still images.

Here, the ball is in foul territory, rolling towards fair territory, and Scott has his arms raised. That’s the signal umpires make on a foul ball or when time has been given, and is generally understood to mean that a play is dead. However, Ellis can’t see him, since he’s in front of Scott, so he rightfully plays on. Yonder Alonso, standing at second base, clearly can see Scott though, and doesn’t take off for third base. Perhaps he should have started running just to be sure, but just in case there was any doubt about whether Scott was calling the ball fair or foul, Scott then did this:

Scott not only held up his arms to the side, but he waves them again in a manner that couldn’t really be interpreted any other way besides “foul ball”. There’s just no way that Alonso and Headley could have reasonably expected the call to then be changed once Ellis picked up the ball and threw it to third, which is essentially what happened. Scott didn’t call the ball fair until after it was too late for San Diego’s runners to react, and the play ended the top of the ninth inning, allowing the Dodgers to escape with the score still tied.

This play should have been overturned on the spot. This was essentially baseball’s equivalent to the NFL’s inadvertent whistle rule, where a play is considered to be dead even though the referee shouldn’t have called the play dead and essentially admits to making a mistake. The players have no choice but to respond to the whistle as a signal of a dead ball, and anything that happens after the whistle is compromised by the fact that the player’s actions were changed as a result of it being blown. In this instance, there is no doubt that the Padres actions were changed as a result of Scott raising his hands and making a foul ball signal. Twice!

Maybe the Dodgers would have gotten out of the jam anyway. Maybe they would have rallied and mounted a furious comeback in the bottom of the ninth inning even if San Diego had taken the lead. Maybe that one game won’t end up mattering in the grand scheme of things. But, with the new playoff system in place, it’s more likely than ever that the outcome of one game could have a dramatic impact on playoff match-ups, and Major League Baseball owes it to the teams and the fans to make sure that games aren’t decided on incidences such as this.

I’d imagine MLB will take a “what’s done is done” approach to the situation, but I think something this egregious calls for more significant action – the ninth inning, starting from Guzman’s at-bat, should be replayed. The schedule even works out perfectly to fix this.

The Dodgers and Padres both get four days off for the All-Star break this year, and don’t resume playing until July 13th in Los Angeles. The teams could simply replay the ninth inning of yesterday’s game before that game begins, and they wouldn’t have to worry about pitcher rest or fairness in travel. Both teams would have just come off their longest break of the season and would not be put in an unfair position by having to play an extra couple of innings to start the second half of the year.

Yes, they’ll have to admit that one of their umpires made a mistake and potentially altered the outcome of a completed game, but that should be fairly obvious to anyone who watches the replay. By taking this kind of step, MLB can avoid an awful situation should the Dodgers be in a spot where one game would change the playoff standings. It was bad enough when Jim Joyce’s blown call cost Armando Gallaraga a perfect game, but at least that one didn’t affect the outcome of the game. In this instance, a mistake by Dale Scott could have repercussions on the standings, and MLB should do what they can to rectify the situation.

We live in an age where we have the technology and the capability to fix these kinds of mistakes. The “human element” shouldn’t dictate who wins and loses, or which teams get to play in October. We can clearly see that Scott’s hand signals altered the outcome of yesterday’s play, and as a result, the outcome of the game. Major League Baseball should step in and order that the game be picked up from where the mistake was made so that we can know for sure that the right team won yesterday’s game.

Update: As pointed out in the comments at The Book Blog, rule 7.06a seems relevant here, and it states the following:

“When a play is being made on an obstructed runner, the umpire shall signal obstruction in the same manner that he calls “Time,” with both hands overhead. The ball is immediately dead when this signal is given.”

That signal was given (regardless of whether or not Scott said anything), so according to the rule book, the play was over at that point. This isn’t asking for a bad call to be reversed – this is just asking for the call that was actually made to stand.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

208 Responses to “Attention Dale Scott: Hands Up Means Foul Ball”

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  1. Jason says:

    Fangraphs should do their part by removing all data from that play on. Petition Baseball Reference and others to do the same.

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  2. Josh says:

    Can MLB order that a game, or a portion thereof, be replayed? I’ve never heard of that before.

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    • Randy says:

      Yes. The George Brett pine tar game comes immediately to mind. After the Royals won their appeal, the game was picked up several weeks later, beginning at the point at which Brett hit his home run.

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    • chuckb says:

      There is a mechanism for protesting an umpire’s decision. The protest cannot be for a judgment call (which this isn’t) but MLB can uphold a protest if there has been a misinterpretation of a rule by the umpire. The Padres should absolutely protest and MLB should absolutely uphold the protest, thus resuming the game from the foul ball that wasn’t.

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    • Anon says:

      Did SD appeal? If so, how does this not get overturned?

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      • TFINY says:

        I don’t know if this was appealed; I do know that it had to be appealed during the game. And it might not be overturned because the commissioner is Bud Selig.

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  3. Jon Weisman says:

    Why, with the thousands of incorrect calls in baseball, does this game get singled out for being replayed? This isn’t even the first questionable call in Dodgers-Padres games this year.

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    • Ivdown says:

      In the first series of the year, I believe it was Ethier who was “thrown out” at home plate when he was safe, so you’re right, it’s definitely not like calls haven’t gone against the Dodgers so far. It’s a tough break for the Padres, but the call was a correct call (as it was a fair ball), it wouldn’t have hurt the runners at all just to run it out. Hell, the runner at first kept his foot on the bag during the around the horn.

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      • Darklighter says:

        When Ethier was called out, the umpire hadn’t already called him safe. That’s the problem here: Not a bad call, but a changed call.

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      • chuckb says:

        This isn’t a judgment call, as those were. He gave the foul sign for a fair ball. Had he just (wrongly) stuck with foul, it would have been a mistake in judgment but wouldn’t have had the impact on the game that it did. Similarly, if he had gone with fair all the way when he should have called it foul, the Padres would have no recourse since they didn’t run out the ball when it was (wrongly) called fair. Here, he told the Padres it was foul but then called the play as though he signaled it fair.

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      • Bill says:

        The point is that this signal changed subsequent events within the play. Had he not signaled foul, the runners would have run and the triple play would not have been turned. It would be like a football ref signalling a play dead, but then giving a touchdown to the idiot who picked up the ball and ran into the end zone while everyone else was getting ready for the next play. Such a call would never stand in the NFL, it shouldn’t in baseball.
        Although, this does happen a fair amount with ball four calls when a runner is stealing. On more than one occasion I’ve seen catchers throw the ball away trying to catch a runner stealing simply because the umpire wanted to take his time calling ball four. In this instance, a non-call changed subsequent results within the play.

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      • AA says:

        Not only was Ethier safe, but Dee Gordon was safe on his only CS of the year.

        Anyway, this wasn’t a “changed call,” it was the umpire making hand movements before seeing the ball go fair.

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      • MjM says:

        And if this had happened in the reverse I bet you would be screaming bloody murder that the Dodgers were cheated by a bad call. Don’t let your team loyalty cloud your judgement. It was a horrible hand signal. If this had been Game 7 of the World Series between the Yankees and Mets, they would have to escort the umpire off with riot police.

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    • Xeifrank says:

      Because the play was ruled dead. Different than missing a fair/foul or a out/safe or trap/catch call. If the Padres didn’t protest the game then it is probably moot.

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    • Alan says:

      Hey, look, it’s a Dodger fan!

      Perhaps because it’s NOT a judgement call. The umpire directly affected the play by basically telling the Padres not to run.

      Then, when he had a chance to be honest and admit his mistake, he didn’t.

      This isn’t a bad call at second base with no replay. It’s an umpire calling a play dead then letting it go.

      If you really can’t see the difference, you need to take off the blue-colored glasses.

      But they aren’t going to replay it. So it doesn’t matter.

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  4. Baltar says:

    You are absolutely correct about what should happen: replaying the game from that point with a foul ball having been called.
    But this is MLB, so the right thing will not be done.

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    • What a terrible precedent this would set. There are not enough days in the year to replay games because of umpire blunders. Whatever the solution is, it is certainly not what you suggest.

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      • BillTPA says:

        I think Dave is right, though, that this is a unique situation. It’s not just a bad call, it’s a call (that the ball was foul — right or wrong) that the umpire unilaterally reversed, after the players had already reacted to it, and their reaction to it decided the play. I don’t remember that ever happening before, and if it has, it’s certainly not frequent enough to be worth worrying about setting a precedent.

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      • Ivdown says:

        Absolutely right, if this gets replayed why not any little missed call? It would open the flood gates.

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      • @BillTPA

        The situation is unique in that regard (though I have seen it about a 1/2 dozen times, usually when a ump on the foul line gets turned around by a ball that whizzes by him, and he accidentally points the wrong way).

        What I fail to see is why this aspect (the fact that a call was changed) is relevant to the issue of whether games should be replayed from the point of missed calls. Why should this issue determine when games should be replayed? Especially when (as in this case) it is not clear whether the ump making the correct call in the first instance would have changed the outcome of the play (i.e. the triple play may have still happened). It seems like there can be extremely innocuous changed calls and extremely influential missed calls. Why replay the changed ones, but not the missed ones?

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      • Noah says:

        This is different from a game picking up from the point of a botched call. Dave’s final sentence summed up the difference between this call and most other botched calls:

        “This isn’t asking for a bad call to be reversed – this is just asking for the call that was actually made to stand.”

        The upmire’s call changed the way that the players played. That’s what sets this play apart.

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      • I get that by the rulebook, there may be grounds to replay this (assuming a protest was filed) while those grounds don’t exist for mere missed calls. I am more curious why we are okay with a rulebook that allows only certain umpire mistakes to be fit. Why should the rulebook save the Padres in this situation (thus screwing the Dodgers who would have had at least 2 outs on the play if the correct call were made initially), but not save a team who is hurt by an egregious blown call?

        The distinction in the rulebook between these two types of calls is illogical. They both can have minimal effects. They both can have monumental effects. They both can change how players react (different baserunner/out scenario leads to different strategies).

        If the MLB wants to have a consistent, logical set of rules, these situations should not be treated in different ways. Either they all should be subject to league review, or none should.

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      • Brian Cartwright says:

        Fair or foul, safe or out are judgement calls and cannot be protested. This was not a judgement call, it was a rule interpretation. The umpire called the ball foul, thus making play dead, and then allowed play to continue.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        He didn’t call the ball foul. At worst, he signaled the ball foul. Are you also going to start making umps stick to fair/foul calls where they accidentally point the wrong way at first and then quickly change the call?

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  5. Daniel says:

    poor padres and padres fans…dale scott, what a failure. its interesting that none of the broadcasters noticed what scott did, even though on the video its pretty clear that he signaled foul ball and even the runners are pointing at the umpire. For the runners on base it looks like they’re just pointing and saying its foul, like i’m sure the broadcasters thought, but they’re just saying “foul ball, he said so” At 0:22 Guzman clearly puts his hands up and is obviously telling scott about how he had done the motion. Poor padres.

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    • Wendy Thurm says:

      Vin Scully talked about it immediately. Said it was a foul ball and that play would be stopped. And then had to jump back in when the Dodgers through the ball around the horn and the Padres were called out. He was incredulous.

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      • MikeS says:

        And Scully has seen a game or two I think.

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      • Fletch says:

        Yeah I did remember Vinny’s incredulous reaction. I totally agree with him, and Dave as well. I’m a diehard Dodgers fan, but I think this game should absolutely be replayed. I feel really bad for the Padres players and their fans. Anyone see Chase Headley stay on the ground after diving for Gordon’s winning hit?

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  6. KJOK says:

    Fair ball was the correct call, so if you replay this, then Scott’s blunder is now hurting the Dodgers as much/more than the Padres (since you’re also then taking away the subsequent Dodger run the following half inning).

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    • Dex says:

      You’re not hurting the Dodgers any more than what they escaped from, which EASILY could’ve been hit batsman, bases loaded, nobody out.

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    • Nate says:

      Are you saying it was a Fair ball because it was (at some point) called fair? or because after it hit the bat, clearly the next thing it touched is the earth outside of fair territory? I don’t understand what you’re saying. And I don’t give a rip about the Padres.

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      • Jon Weisman says:

        If it rolls fair, as it did, it doesn’t matter that it started foul. That’s why on foul balls hit down the third base line, fielders are so quick to grab them – to prevent them from rolling back fair.

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      • Matthias says:

        But the point is that it was seemingly called foul, and regardless of what happens after that, the play was dead.

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      • Everett says:

        Exactly. It doesn’t matter that the ball was actually a fair ball. Under baseball rules, the minute a ball is called foul, the play is dead, and nothing further can happen.

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      • Nate says:

        You’re right. I hadn’t seen that the ball (after landing in foul territory), then rolled fair. I’m sure that’s why it was then picked up and thrown to Third.

        Dave’s other point is still valid though, I believe. If the ump clearly signals dead ball, then it’s a dead ball.

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    • chuckb says:

      The Dodgers were hurt, you’re right, by Scott’s initial foul ruling. He botched it. Teams are hurt by bad calls all the time.

      This is different, however. As Dave points out in his update, “This isn’t asking for a bad call to be reversed – this is just asking for the call that was actually made to stand.”

      The problem here is that Scott made 1 call and then played as though another had been made. The game needs to continue based on the call that was made, not the one that Scott should have made.

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  7. Dave Alden says:

    I agree that Dale Scott made a mistake. But there’s a problem with assuming the play never happened. Up until Scott made his mistake, it was a legitimate if fluky play that was leaning the Dodgers’ direction. If Scott hadn’t made the mistaken signal, what would have happened? Even before Scott’s mistake, neither runner had begun moving. having seemingly failed to recognize that the ball was still live. Perhaps the runner on first could have safely reached second if he had begun running when he saw the fair sign, but the runner on second had no chance at third. And the batter was standing around. If Scott hadn’t made any sign until he signaled the ball fair, the Dodgers would have probably had a 2-5-3 doubleplay and perhaps even the full triple play.

    Scott completely mucked it up. Letting it stand is unfair to the Padres. Pretending it never happened would be unfair to the Dodgers. There is no perfect solution.

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  8. Tyler says:

    While I agree Dale Scott is awful in this instance, there is no way this can be replayed. Umpires make mistakes, some just as egregious, as this one seemingly every day. This would be a terrible precedent to set.

    The real solution is more replay.

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    • Dave says:

      Replay doesn’t really help in this situation. It WAS a fair ball.

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      • creanium says:

        Regardless of if it was a fair ball or not, Dale Scott signaled foul not once, but twice. The baserunners saw that and took it to mean the play was dead, but the umpire reversed his own call after the call. By this point the baserunners were already handicapped by the umpire and had now chance of beating out the triple play.

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      • Tyler says:

        Thats why I said “more” replay.

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    • Matthias says:

      This is not a crazy precedent. Bad calls are made everyday, sure, but in this case a call was made that stopped the game. Regardless of good call or bad call, it was made, and the players reacted. This does not happen every game, every week, or every month in situations like the one in the Padres-Dodgers game. This isn’t like just another blown call. And it won’t happen very often.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        I’m not understanding the point of changing the call though. If the point is to get the call right (as everyone always says is the point of replay) then the right call was made. If the issue is that Scott signaled foul when the ball was fair, then shouldn’t a replay advocate at least want some sort of solution that took into account what the most likely outcome of the play was without Scott’s incorrect foul signal? I’m just not sure I see a coherent position for going back to fix missed calls that somehow ends up in a correct call being changed to a clearly incorrect one.

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  9. Mojotronica says:

    The risk is that the game will not be resolved in an inning or two, but with fresh arms, drag on for many, many innings. And then the teams have to play the scheduled one, putting a lot of wear and tear on their bullpens.

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    • Mojotronica says:

      That’s beyond the risk inherent to re-playing innings that are in the books. Probably best to just accept that this one was poorly called and move on.

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  10. Jaejo says:

    Relevant info, from the MLB rules:

    “4.19 PROTESTING GAMES.
    Each league shall adopt rules governing procedure for protesting a game, when a manager claims that an umpire’s decision is in violation of these rules. No protest shall ever be permitted on judgment decisions by the umpire. In all protested games, the decision of the League President shall be final.
    Even if it is held that the protested decision violated the rules, no replay of the game will be ordered unless in the opinion of the League President the violation adversely affected the protesting team’s chances of winning the game.
    Rule 4.19 Comment: Whenever a manager protests a game because of alleged misapplication of the rules the protest will not be recognized unless the umpires are notified at the time the play under protest occurs and before the next pitch, play or attempted play. A protest arising on a game-ending play may be filed until 12 noon the following day with the league office. ”

    The Padres manager argued, of course, but did he actually declare they were going to continue play under protest? If he didn’t, it appears they missed their chance to do so.

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  11. Zobmie says:

    An impetus to institute the replay? It should be. But it won’t.

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    • Nitram Odarp says:

      Replay wouldn’t have changed the call. They wouldn’t go back and force an incorrect call to be ruled because the ump made the wrong signal. That goes against the entire argument for replay, which is that we should make sure the umps make the right calls. The only argument I could see would be for changing it from a triple play to a double play based on Scott’s incorrect signal.

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  12. Alex says:

    Watching the replay, it looks to me like the players don’t run on contact not because of Scott’s reaction, but because they probably thought the pitch had hit Guzman. Scott’s subsequent arm motions obviously didn’t help make things any clearer, but it’s not like they’re the sole reason the runners didn’t leave first or second base. You could even argue that Guzman should have been running since he knew his bat made contact with the ball–although you can’t really blame him for not, since he was probably shocked by how close he came to getting his throat crushed by the pitch.

    It’s a weird, freakish play that the Dodgers took advantage of. I think you’re wishcasting to say that replaying it is fair, logical, and wouldn’t have any adverse effect on either team. For all we know, all the players involved could end up on the DL by the time the All Star break rolls around.

    You’re also completely discounting what happened in the bottom of the ninth, when the Dodgers were able to load the bases on walks before Dee Gordon singled home the winning run. Arguing that those events should be erased because we don’t know exactly how the top of the 9th would have ended without Scott’s errant arm waving is absurd.

    At this point it should be chalked up as a weird play, umpires should receive a bit more coaching on how to make calls on bunts around the plate like that, and we should move on. I’m not a fan of the human element either, and to me deciding that THAT moment in time is worth replaying the rest of the game comes very close to being just another subjective interpretation of how the game should be played out.

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    • Jon Weisman says:

      Agree with you, Alex.

      Even if Scott had been perfect on the play, did you see how fast Ellis picks up the ball and fires to third? The Dodgers certainly get two outs on the play (third and first) if not the out at second as well. Dale Scott did not keep the Padres from having a bases-loaded situation.

      That said, the result isn’t the thing that determines my opinion on this. I realize the issue is Dave’s contention that the play should be dead from the moment the arms were waved (assuming that’s even something in the rule book – I’m not sure if it is or isn’t). However, the umpires huddled, discussed the play and made a decision. At that point, it’s in the books unless it’s protested and the protest is upheld.

      If the Padres protested the call, I’m not aware of it.

      I think the whole pinning the fate of the playoffs on this call is part of what’s off base in this column. Because there are so many bad calls that affect wins and losses, the idea that this one in particular needs to be addressed to save the integrity of the postseason, even given the play’s unusual genesis, is melodrama defined. Dave is basically arguing that the Dodgers have a tainted win, despite the fact that there would probably have been at least two outs on the play had it been called without drama and despite the fact that the Dodgers scored in the bottom of the ninth. He’s making a pretty massive leap. Do you think there won’t be a bad call against the Dodgers this year that costs them a game?

      It was an unusual play that might have hurt the Padres, but they had the rest of the game to overcome it, just like the Dodgers did in the season opener when Dee Gordon was incorrectly called out for stealing, and in Game 2 when Ethier was incorrectly called out at home.

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      • Bill says:

        I believe the rules on fan interference give the umpires the ability to predict the most likely result of a play had there not been interference. If the rules were changed to allow an umpire to make this judgement when he makes a mistake, this would be less of a problem. In this case, the ump may have admitted his mistake and given the Dodgers a double play and there would have been less of a controversy.

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      • lospadres11 says:

        If you think this was alright and the runners fault you’ve either never played baseball or you’re a delusional Dodgers fan. Nobody is saying those judgement calls earlier in the series were ok either. I can’t believe you’re a professional writer and can’t be objective about a stupid baseball play.

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      • Dave says:

        Bill, if there was a mechanism for that, it would’ve been a perfect solution.

        Lospadres11, what makes this call worth replaying, but not those other two that you admit were bad? Could the answer to where your opinion comes from be contained in your username?

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      • AA says:

        Not to mention Dale Scott’s poor strike zone that seemed to affect the Dodgers in the game more than the Padres. They may have never tied the game.

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    • Anon says:

      I’m not a fan of the human element

      The human element of the game should be the players, not errors from the umpires.

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    • creanium says:

      Saying the blown call doesn’t matter because the Dodgers won the game anyway regardless of how the top of the 9th went is a bit disingenuous. The Padres had 2 on with nobody out. Had they been able to play out the inning, who knows if they would have been able to score a run or two. Had the Padres gotten the lead, they would have put Huston Street in, not Brad Brach, so the bottom of the 9th would have played out very differently.

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      • Jon Weisman says:

        No one’s saying the Dodgers would have won regardless. But the effect of the call on the game has been overstated at a number of places.

        (Putting aside the fact that the Padres should have put their best reliever in anyway, rather than waiting to get the lead …)

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      • Darklighter says:

        Overstated? The Dodgers WE went up over 30% on one play; a play that doesn’t happen if the original call stands. That seems like a pretty big deal to me.

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      • jorgath says:

        Actually, here’s the thing. If Scott gets the call right in the first place, as has been said elsewhere in this thread, the end result of the play is likely a 2-5-6-3 double play (safe at second). And by my eyeball that’s worth about +25% WPA. So, as has been said, letting the foul call stand is also getting it wrong, costing the Dodgers that 25%.

        So what we’re really talking about is the choice between costing the Padres 30% or the Dodgers 25%.

        (Bias disclosure: I’m a Nats fan. This play is irrelevant to my fandom until August, because until then I want all other NL teams, especially NL East teams not from Washington, to lose as much as possible).

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      • Darklighter says:

        jorgath, I don’t think that’s what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about having Scott’s original call of foul ball stand, in which case there’s still nobody out and the count is 0-1.

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      • jorgath says:

        Exactly. If we do that, then the Dodgers lose out severely. If we don’t do that, the Padres lose out severely. I’m pointing out that that option is almost as unfair as the current situation.

        Now, how I’d solve it is to please nobody. Replay the game from that point, sure…but with a twist. Let’s assume that one out could DEFINITELY have been gotten if that play had happened right. Let’s say it was the one at third. Put the batter on first, the guy from first on second, and the guy from second out on the fielder’s choice force at third, 2-5. One out, men 1st and 2nd, next batter please.

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  13. Dave says:

    Before Ellis even releases the ball to throw to 3rd, Scott pointed emphatically “fair ball.” If the Padres had started running then, there might have only been 1 or 2 outs on the play. By the time the ball got around to first, the runner was still there, foot firmly planted on the bag.

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    • DD says:

      It doesn’t matter that he pointed fair, his first TWO signals were “foul ball”, which makes the play dead instantly.

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      • Dave says:

        Yeah? Link to that rule for me, please.

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      • creanium says:

        This very article points to the rule: 7.06(a)

        When a play is being made on an obstructed runner, the umpire shall signal obstruction in the same manner that he calls ?Time,? with both hands overhead. The ball is immediately dead when this signal is given;

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      • Dave says:

        ?? I remember this play as being about a fair/foul ball, not an obstructed runner.

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      • creanium says:

        “Foul”, “obstruction” and “time” all have the same hand signal, and they all mean the same thing: “dead ball.”

        As a baserunner who can’t always hear the home plate umpire’s verbal call, you see two hands in the air, you don’t care about the reasoning, you just know the ball is dead at that point.

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  14. Snowblind says:

    Neither the Dodgers nor the Padres are important enough teams for MLB to do anything, especially regarding a game this early in the season.

    If this had happened to a team or teams with playoff contention on the line, or who were established favorites, this would be overturned on the spot. Dodgers/Padres? Meh. Angels/Rangers, Yankees/Red Sox, Tigers/DRays? This would get a do-over.

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  15. Everett says:

    The thing here is that under the rules of baseball, when an umpire raises his hands like that, play is dead. There is no continuation, nothing is supposed to happen. Play cannot continue, players cannot advance or be called out. That’s it. Umpires make wrong calls all the time, but judgment has its place in the rules, and the umpires are following the rules, and you cannot protest something that is legal under the rules. In this case the rules were broken and the game should’ve been played under protest. If it was played under protest, then it would be possible for the game to be resumed from that point. If it wasn’t played under protest, then all the Padres can get is an apology.

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    • Dave says:

      I read on another blog about this topic that your contention here is inaccurate – that hand motions don’t matter, it’s only the verbal calls from the umpire. Can you link to a rule that says “hands up=dead ball?”

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        Shhh…it’s easier if you just let people make claims without actually requiring them to do anything to back them up.

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      • creanium says:

        MLB Rule 7.06(a):

        When a play is being made on an obstructed runner, the umpire shall signal obstruction in the same manner that he calls ?Time,? with both hands overhead. The ball is immediately dead when this signal is given;

        There is no requirement for the ump to shout the reasoning, just the mere fact he put his hands up means “dead ball” per the official MLB rules.

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      • Everett says:

        Under 7.06:
        “…the umpire shall
        signal obstruction in the same manner that he calls “Time,” with both hands overhead. The ball is immediately dead when this signal is given…”

        Under 2.0
        ““TIME” is the announcement by an umpire of a legal interruption of play, during which the ball is dead.”

        “Time” = dead, and 7.06 seems to say that the signal has the same affect as the verbal call. Now, 7.06 is dealing with runner obstruction, so perhaps a different interpretation is more appropriate, but I’m not aware of one. It has been some time since I did any actual umpiring, and that would’ve been under HS rules, so perhaps my interpretation is incorrect. At the very least, the umpire’s use of the signal for time/dead ball is deceiving to the fielders. I don’t know if we’ll have any indication if he verbally said “Time” or not, in conjunction with the raising of the hands in the signal for Time/Dead Ball.

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      • chuckb says:

        Chances are that the runners on 1st and 2nd wouldn’t have heard the umpire call foul anyway. That’s why they also throw their arms up in the air. This is basic umpiring 101. I was taught it when I went through training to umpire high school games. All the players know what it means when an umpire throws his arms in the air as he did here. That’s what they responded to.

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    • Xeifrank says:

      Yes. This 1 million times.

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  16. adohaj says:

    Replaying the inning in July doesn’t make much sense to me. How it wouldn’t be the same situation. How would it be any more “fair” if in July 3 or 4 starters for either team were out with injury?

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  17. Spunky says:

    Typo nitpick: you say “The ball then went nearly straight down, landed in foul territory, and eventually rolled out in front of the plate into foul territory” (emphasis mine) when it should be “The ball then went nearly straight down, landed in foul territory, and eventually rolled out in front of the plate into fair territory.”

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  18. Michael says:

    You should breakdown the top of the first inning of the Nats-Reds game. There was a safe at first when he was clearly out, a called strike three on an obvious ball, then an called ball four on a full count right down the middle pitch and a called ball on the next hitter on a 2-2 count that two pitches later ended up with a grand slam.

    My favorite thing to watch with umps is the home plate umpire whenever Strasburg is pitching. They have no clue, usually giving up and calling everything a strike after the first couple of innings. You can watch them think “What was that?”

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    • JoeC says:

      Not germane to this discussion. We’re talking about an umpire making a call and then changing that call. It would be as if an umpire called a pitch a strike and then changed his mind and called it a ball.

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    • Kris says:

      Yeah, I’ve noticed that Strasburg seems to get a far different zone thatn everyone else.

      And that first inning (actually that entire series) was just atrocious from an umpiring standpoint.

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  19. Marver says:

    By the way, Bud Black did NOT protest the call. The game was not continued under protest.

    To recap:
    - Bud Black called for his cleanup hitter to sacrifice bunt with two runners on base.
    - Bud Black gets ejected arguing the call, but doesn’t protest.

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  20. Clayton Ashcraft says:

    All they simply had to do was review the tape like they would do with a questionable HR, which happened at Petco Park the last series with the D-Backs, and they would have seen that the umpire did throw his hands up! That indicates the play is dead and the ball is foul! Last time I checked as well, a ball had land in front of the plate to be fair!

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    • Dave says:

      No, the ball can land anywhere. If a ball rolls fair inside the bases without touching anyone, it’s fair.

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      • Breadbaker says:

        With one quite germane exception: if it hits the batter after it touches the bat, it’s simply dead. Which could have been what Scott was calling even if our view of the replay indicates that didn’t happen.

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  21. dfan says:

    I agree that this was terribly handled by the umpires, but umpires make gigantic mistakes all the time. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a 20%+ WE swing due to bad umpiring once a week. I don’t see why this should be treated so differently from other umpire boners.

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    • JoeC says:

      Because the umpire made a call and then made the exact opposite call a few seconds later. The original call directly affected how the play, and likely the game, turned out.

      Yes, it’s true that umps make calls all the time that directly affect the game (ball/strike, fair/foul, safe/out), but this case was special as the umpire first made one call and the players reacted to that, then made the opposite call a few seconds later, leaving the players at a disadvantage because of the first call. This affected more than one out, this contributed to THREE outs.

      Players need to have confidence that they can trust an umpire’s signals. They react instantaneously based on those signals. Sometimes the umpires get the calls wrong, which is accepted as part of the human element. What is not acceptable is the umpire making one call and then changing his mind and making a call that flatly contradicts the previous call. If that was allowed, the game would be utter chaos.

      At the very least, the umpire should be suspended for gross incompetence (and no, I’m not a Padres fan).

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      • JC says:

        It happens all the time that umpires make one call and then quickly change it. He caught it/no, he trapped it. Out/no, he dropped the ball. Foul/no, wait, it’s fair. This is not a unique case. The game goes on, and players have to deal with it the best they can.
        I learned in Little League to always run out a ground ball anywhere close to the foul line, and I still do in rec softball games in my 40′s. The Padre baserunners should know that, too. They had absolutely no reason not to run that out.
        I understand that they may have reacted to the umpire’s intial call (which, by the way, he reversed within about one second), but they shouldn’t have. They should have run out the play anyway.
        Also, the contention that the runners’ reaction to the umpire’s intitial call cost San Diego three outs is way off base. Had Dale Scott never thrown his arms up, or had the base runners run out the play like their Little League coaches taught them, the Dodgers would still have made the outs at both third base and first base by a mile, and likely would still have turned the triple play.

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  22. Craigary says:

    Marver brings up the most important point here, which is Black blew it as much as the ump did. And because Black did not file a protest of the game that inning all this is now a moot argument.(Not saying we can’t have this discussion, especially for future reference.) And yes, who bunted that particular hitter in the first place?

    But, hey, if we wanted to spend more time on this, could look up other botched calls over the past week and see whether those games should be replayed as well. I mean, if we’re going to open that Pandora’s box. Because this has the drama of a 9th inning triple play it’s being discussed like this, but does that mean a possibly botched 8th inning double play call isn’t important, could never have the same impact on a game? Because it might.

    The Dodgers’ Dee Gordon was called out at 2nd base in series of the season even though replays conclusively showed he was safe and it was a bad call. Same happened to Ethier, same series: http://isportsweb.com/wp-content/uploads//2012/04/openingday2012pic1.jpg I don’t believe Dodgers lost either game but if they had, I assume we would be within our right to call for a protest and have a lengthy discussion afterward.

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    • Bill says:

      Did you fail to read both the article and most of the discussion? This play is different then other blown calls because it changed the behavior of other players during the play which changed the result of the play. The ball is dead when an ump signals foul. In other words, he told the runners, “Stop running and go back to your bases”. Then he said, “No wait, my bad, the ball really is fair, you should start running again.”

      You see how this is different then most blown calls?

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      • Craigary says:

        Bill, yes I’ve read the discussion. I also watched the play live, and watched the replay from multiple angles, and I saw that one team was taking no chances and made the play just in case it was fair, and I saw two baserunners who started to give up on it even before the ump finished his spastic “foul… no wait fair!” gestures at home plate. My point is not that the ump didn’t blow it by prematurely… uh, gesticulating (sorry if that sounds dirty, men everywhere suffer from premature gesticulation) because he did, but that the Padres did themselves no favors by not playing it safe just in case, while the Dodgers made a head’s up play.

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      • Craigary says:

        And sorry, I hadn’t seen Jon W’s response before I posted my comment, some redundancies here then. Sorry about that–Jon says it much better than I could.

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      • Marver says:

        A.J. Ellis only makes the play because he can’t see the umpire, who is behind him, signaling dead ball.

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  23. “”When a play is being made on an obstructed runner, the umpire shall signal obstruction in the same manner that he calls “Time,” with both hands overhead. The ball is immediately dead when this signal is given.”

    That signal was given (regardless of whether or not Scott said anything), so according to the rule book, the play was over at that point. This isn’t asking for a bad call to be reversed – this is just asking for the call that was actually made to stand.”

    That rule is WAAAY more ambiguous than you make it seem. That comment in the rulebook is referencing obstruction plays specifically. The claim that “the ball is immediately dead when this signal is given” could easily be interpreted to apply just to obstruction and timeout plays, rather than to apply universally. Of course, it is most logical for it to apply universally, but the rulebook does not always operate in the realm of logic. At the very least, the rules should be clarified to make the universal interpretation more clear.

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    • creanium says:

      What’s ambiguous about “the ball is immediately dead when this signal is given”? Ump’s hands go up, the ball is dead.

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      • Because it is in a comment about obstruction. Different signals can mean different things in different contexts. The safe signal can also mean that the batter did not touch the ball on a swing. The out signal can also mean an ejection.

        Again, I am NOT saying that Dave’s (and your) interpretation is not clearly the most logical one, but the rule book does not give a specific way to interpret it.

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      • creanium says:

        The context here is the ball made contact with the bat and/or batter. Dale Scott immediately threw his hands up in the air. At that point, dead ball.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        Where in that rule does it say anything about fair/foul plays in the context of whether the ball hit the bat or batter?

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      • AA says:

        Actually, the rule doesn’t say “hands up, ball dead.” It says you signal with hands up.

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    • Spunky says:

      RationalSportsFan, I think you are incorrect about the ambiguity. Rule 7.06 implies that way an umpire calls “Time” in all situations is with both hands raised. As Everett pointed out, Rule 2.00 states that the ball is dead when the umpire calls “Time” in any situation.

      Thus whenever the umpire raises his hands, he is signaling “Time.” Hence, the ball is dead as soon as he does this.

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      • I read it as saying, “When the umpire wants to call time, he raises his hands.” This does not mean that all hand raises mean time is called and the ball is dead.

        Again, this is usually how it is interpreted and is probably what the rule book reads, but it does not make it explicitly clear. They just need to sharpen up the language a bit.

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      • JoeC says:

        Yes, the ump is also allowed to raise his hands when confronted by a robber who demands his wallet.

        Otherwise, yes, an ump raising his hands signals time. Now and forever.

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    • Spunky says:

      If you look closely at the end of the sentence

      “…in the same manner that he calls “Time,” with both hands overhead.”

      the comma after the word “Time” in the sentence indicates that both hands overhead is the only way to call “Time.” So I’d believe your reasoning if it said

      “…in the same manner that he calls “Time” with both hands overhead”

      (note the absence of the comma). That implies that there is more than one way for an umpire to call “Time.”

      I know this is nitpicky to the fullest extent, but you started it. :-)

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        Just because it is the the only way to call “time” doesn’t imply that the only thing that signal can ever possibly mean is “time”

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      • JoeC says:

        What, pray tell, was he indicating with his arms raised… TWICE? That he wanted to fly away like a bird?

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  24. Steve Balboni says:

    …with the new playoff system in place, it’s more likely than ever that the outcome of one game could have a dramatic impact on playoff match-ups

    That particular appeal will fail, remember MLB has Texas playing Houston while Angels play the Dodgers. If different schedules for division rivals don’t bother them, this 1 blown call won’t either.

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  25. Gregory H says:

    Dave,

    Your reference to the obstruction rule makes no sense. There was no obstruction in this play. Obstruction occurs when a fielder, while not in possession of the ball and not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of a runner. The umpire is charged with the duty to call a dead ball when the defense is making a play on a runner that has been obstructed – that is, the defense is trying to throw or tag him out. If a play is not being made on the obstructed runner, then play continues until no further action is possible. And then the umpire decides what penalties, if any, to assess for the obstruction.

    Rule 7.06 is not relevant at all to this play.

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    • creanium says:

      But as a baserunner, they see two hands in the air by the ump and it’s safe to assume “dead ball” at this point since the rules state that hands in the air means “dead ball”. Whether it means “foul”, “time” or “obstruction”, that gesture means “dead ball go back to your base” to a baserunner.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        You must be reading a different rule than mean. The one I’m reading says the signal means dead ball when signaled on a specific type of play (obstruction). It says nothing about that signal always meaning dead ball no matter what.

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      • JoeC says:

        The rule book is one thing. But how are these things called in real life? That’s really the key. In real life, arms up means “foul/dead ball/time”.

        It’s hard to believe that the umpire has not been quizzed about why he raised his arms… TWICE!

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      • Breadbaker says:

        You’re missing the point. No one has to say whether the play is obstruction or anything else that results in the ump calling time. So unless you, as a runner, have to know that the ump putting his arms in the air is because it is obstruction, which the rule clearly doesn’t state or imply, then when you see the ump’s arms in the air, the play is dead. Why? Because that’s how umps are to call time and when they call time the play is dead, as the rule states. That it happens to be a lot clearer as is concerns obstruction than any other time the ump calls time is feature of the rather ridiculous way the rulebook is written.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        Did you miss the rule umps verbally calling “time.” I happened to think that one was pretty clear. Much more clear than a rule that is clearly unrelated and merely describing the correct mechanic for a type of call.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        “because that’s how umps are to call time and when they call time the play is dead, as the rule states.”

        No, that is how umps are to SIGNAL time. The ball isn’t dead just because they SIGNAL time. It is dead when the verbally CALL time.

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  26. creanium says:

    The crux of the argument is not whether or not the ball was foul, it’s that the umpire signaled “Foul/Dead Ball” but then reversed his call in the midst of play. Whether or not he verbally said “foul” is irrelevant, the baserunners rely on the hand signals more than being able to hear the ump’s call.

    The rules clearly state that hands up in the air means dead ball. Yes AJ Ellis played heads-up ball and started the Triple Play, yes Bud Black should have protested the game at that point. But the crux of the argument here is by throwing his hands up twice like he did, Dale Scott handicapped the Padres runners and kept them tied to their original bases.

    The fairest thing to have done at the time would have been to reset everyone and replay that pitch. Maybe the second time around Guerra wouldn’t try to take out Jesus Guzman’s trachea.

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    • Taylor Maricle says:

      The baserunners aren’t supposed to be watching the umpire, they’re supposed to be running. The signal is really meant to signal the fielders that the play is dead, because they can watch the umpire and do their job at the same time. The Padres gave up on that play before the call, and they paid for it. Even if they ran after the call was made (because they didn’t run before it), it’s probably still a triple play and at the very least a double play because of their ineptitude.

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      • creanium says:

        That’s a silly argument. If the ump made no signal and the baserunners still lolly-gagged, then there’d be no controversy here.

        But the baserunners are watching the ball. In this instance. The ball ran in on batter (Guzman) so confusion ensued as the baserunner is unsure if the ball is still live or not. The umpire signaled twice that the ball was dead immediately after contact.

        If the umpire behind home plate fully admitted to not even being able to tell what was going on at that point, how should a baserunner know without relying on the umps signal?

        Why is it wrong at that point for the baserunners to not advance?

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      • Taylor Maricle says:

        Because the ball hit the bat and then the ground. On a bunt, that’s your cue to run. That’s why they should have been running, not standing there waiting for someone to tell them they need to run.

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      • JoeC says:

        You say that because you’ve seen the replay in slow-mo 20 times. The runners did not have the luxury of slow-mo replay (or high focus either). There’s no way the players could tell from 90 feet away whether the bat or Guzman himself was hit. This isn’t Shia LeBouf with his eagle eye, buddy.

        All the players can do is depend on the umpire, who is RIGHT THERE and whose job it is to make the calls, to make the final call and tell them if the ball is in play or not. The umpire CLEARLY signaled that the ball was dead TWICE, causing the runners to retreat to their bases. Then the ump reversed his call.

        This is in no way the fault of the baserunners.

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      • Simon says:

        Could we have a list of plays that players should ignore umpires’ signals on, please?

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      • Taylor Maricle says:

        I’m not saying they should ignore them, but in that case you shouldn’t be looking for them at all. You should be running, and if the umpire calls it foul the other players who can see the play will yell out that it’s foul to the baserunners. When a grounder is hit just foul, the runners don’t stand there and wait for the ump to call it, they run. Which is what they’re supposed to do.

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      • JoeC says:

        The runners should not be running automatically. They should be trying to determine if the ball has been popped up resulting in a likely catch. If so, they should remain on base. They should also wait to determine if it’s a wild pitch and if the ball gets far enough away from the catcher in order to advance. They should not auto-advance.

        So your entire premise is incorrect. They should only be going on contact if there are 2 outs. I can tell you’ve never played baseball in your life (except maybe T-ball).

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    • Gregory H says:

      The reliance argument isn’t very persuasive. I’ve watched the replays a number of times.

      The runner on second (Alonso) never breaks toward third base. Ever. Jake Scott doesn’t make the signal for “Time” until AFTER Ellis has thrown the ball to third base. Until then, Scott’s arms are up at his sides as he is backpeddling to get in better position to see where the ball was settling – in fair or foul territory. He hasn’t made a signal yet. But the runner on second base is, inexplicably, side-stepping back toward second base, reacting the way a baserunner would react after a pitch has been handled by a catcher. Alonso never reacts appropriately, which would be to sprint to third base. The batter was bunting, and the ball was struck with a downward angle and hit the ground. Why Alonso and Headley are not sprinting toward the next base cannot be explained by a home plate umpire’s erroneous signal which wasn’t even made until after the catcher had fielded the ball and thrown it to third base.

      If the evidence showed that Alonso and Headley began sprinting toward third and second and then slowed down after Scott had signaled for “Time,” then the reliance argument you are citing would be more persuasive. I think we had lousy, absent-minded baserunning by the Padres – which is a symptom of a very bad baseball team, which they are.

      I think it is far more persuasive that the runners did not immediately react to Scott’s ruling at all, but rather to their own confusion. I don’t think the runners had any idea the ball had been struck by Guzman’s bat. I think they thought that he had been hit by the pitch, but they weren’t sure. And then when Scott made the quick “Time” signal, followed by an immediate signal that the ball was in fact in play, they began crying like children, protesting a signal they never in fact relied upon.

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      • creanium says:

        You say the “foul” call didn’t come until after Ellis threw the ball.

        How do you explain this then? http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Screen-Shot-2012-04-16-at-11.02.03-AM.png

        And you mention that the baserunners don’t know if Guzman had been hit by the pitch. At that point, shouldn’t they rely on the umpire’s signal (or lack of signal) at that point? They see a pitch run in on the batter, then the ump throws up his hands, at what point does the baserunner have any indication that they should run to the next bag?

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      • Gregory H says:

        Watch the video, not strategic stills captured by someone with an agenda. When you watch the video, Scott clearly doesn’t signal anything until after Ellis has pounced on the ball and is the process of firing his throw to third base. The still you are referring to, when played in real time, shows the umpire backpeddling with his arms raised to his side. He hasn’t signaled anything yet. More importantly, he hasn’t called “foul ball,” which is what needs to happen or the players are to assume the ball is in play. Had he called “foul,” the umpire wouldn’t be looking at the ball. And in this still photo, his eyes are clearly watching the ball.

        I truly believe that Alonso and Headley react the same way even if Scott never does anything with his hands. They both had brain farts on the basepaths. They almost reacted as if they weren’t even expecting a bunt. As soon as a baserunner sees the downward angle off the bat, he should be darting to the next base. Neither baserunner reacted appropriately.

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      • creanium says:

        How does one have “his arms raised to his sides”? The arms are in the air, the entire time. In any other situation, that’s a signal for “dead ball”

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      • JoeC says:

        He’s not giving a logical analysis. He’s giving Dodgers’ fans analysis. You can tell by referring to the baserunners as “crying like children”.

        There’s no point in wasting your breath arguing with these types. Logic never enters the equation.

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  27. Jon Weisman says:

    If the umpires had decided to rule foul ball on the field, based on Scott’s arm-waving, I wouldn’t have had a problem with that at all.

    But the idea that MLB should step in on this play today, after the umpires had time to discuss it and after the Padres deemed it unworthy of protest – something, with the mid-inning break, they had ample opportunity to do — just doesn’t hold water.

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  28. Jon Weisman says:

    “Darklighter says:
    April 16, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    “Overstated? The Dodgers WE went up over 30% on one play; a play that doesn’t happen if the original call stands. That seems like a pretty big deal to me.”

    Some people have been saying that the play cost the Padres the game. That’s overstating it.

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    • Nitram Odarp says:

      Not to mention that it was already going to drop dramatically even if the Dodgers only managed to turn a double play because of the runners were actually running. There’s no doubt they were at least getting two outs on the play. Would Dave have written an article complaining about the bad fair/foul call and how it possibly cost the Dodgers the game if Scott does call the ball foul and the Padres go on to score that inning and win? I can’t say for sure, but based on the history of FG on bad umpire calls, I’m betting he would have.

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      • Breadbaker says:

        “No” doubt? Because no team in history has ever thrown a potential double play throw into the dugout, right?

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        Did you miss the part where they had no problem making the same throws they presumably would have made to turn 2 (since the batter wasn’t running through no fault of Scott there was plenty of time for a 1-5-4-3 DP.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        That should of course be 2-5-4-3

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      • Breadbaker says:

        No, I didn’t miss it. But at that point, all the runners were back on their bags. No need to rush a throw, no runner heading into your legs. It’s not the test. You seem to enjoy your own rhetoric, but that doesn’t make it persuasive.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        Says the guy talking about the hypothetical of how things might have possibly changed if the Dodgers were slightly more rushed.

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  29. monkey business says:

    Why didn’t the catcher tag the plate? That would also have cleared everything up in a hurry.

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  30. Gregory H says:

    I don’t like the use of stills in this piece. The action was played in real time, and the players react in real time. Jake Scott never signals anything until after Ellis had fielded the ball and thrown to third base. His hands are at his sides and raised, but the umpire is backpeddling the entire time. He hasn’t made the emphatic gesture expected from an umpire. It’s similar to an umpire who begins gesturing as if to make an out call but changes the call to safe after the play is completed. And he’s still watching the ball, which makes no sense if he’s already made a call. He clearly hasn’t yelled, “Time” or “Foul ball,” because Ellis continues to play the ball.

    When Scott finally makes the “Time” signal, Ellis has already fielded the ball and thrown to third base. But Headley and Alonso never budged. And that cannot be explained by a hesistant umpire.

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  31. PQ says:

    It was as though the baseball gods were punishing the Padres for bunting with their cleanup guy in that situation.

    As the pitch was being thrown, Vin Scully was sharing the fact that Guzman was the best hitter in MLB with RISP last year (in a limited number of games). He hit over .400 in that situation.

    Then the ball went straight toward his chest as he squared to bunt.

    What’s most amazing about this is that the umpires convened and then STILL upheld the call. And this is no simple umpiring gaffe. It resulted in a TRIPLE PLAY in the 9th inning of a tied game. It doesn’t get much worse than that.

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    • atoms says:

      The bottom line here: The ball was fair. It was the right call. The Padres runners should have run. They didn’t. AJ Ellis made the right play.

      Was Dale Scott’s gesture (which I think he intended to mean “I can’t see what’s going on, someone help me!”) potentially confusing to the baserunners? Sure. Should they have been running anyway? Yes. Would they have been out anyway? Possibly. But even though the gesture may have been confusing (it was a confusing moment during a confusing play), it was a fair ball and a live play, and it would have been wrong to reverse it.

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  32. PQ says:

    And, for what it’s worth, Dale Scott called a terrible strike zone all game.

    See all the non-strikes in the lower half of the zone here:
    http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/cache/zoneplotNonNorm.php-pitchSel=all&game=gid_2012_04_15_sdnmlb_lanmlb_1&sp_type=1&s_type=7.gif

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    • Nitram Odarp says:

      Hasn’t it been established that pitch f/x is less accurate than umpires on high/low calls? I know Mike Fast made that point in why he preferred human umpires to other currently feasible options for eliminating them on ball/strike calls.

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  33. Bip says:

    Yeah, the people who are using the slippery slope argument against replaying this game have it backwards if you ask me. I personally wonder about that slippery slope of allowing an umpire’s call to be ambiguous as opposed to definitive. I’d certainly rather have an umpire’s call be set in stone and occasionally wrong than for it to be up in the air for a while, during which time the players don’t know what is happening.

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  34. CJK says:

    Of course Dale Scott didn’t motion that the ball was fair until it was fielded by Ellis. That’s because the ball *wasn’t* fiar until it was touched by Ellis in fair territory. Until then, it was nothing. When first touched on or over fair territory, it becomes a fair ball. That’s the appropriate timing for signalling a fair ball.

    As for whether the ball was called foul or dead, you have to hear it. If it’s close, as this play was, and the ball was ruled foul by Dale Scott, he would have been making that call several times at maximum volume. There would be no question whether the ball had been called foul.

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    • Everett says:

      Show me the rule that says seeing the sign for Time/Dead Ball doesn’t matter unless you also hear it.

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      • s choir says:

        Rule 5.02.

        After the umpire calls “Play” the ball is alive and in play and remains alive and in play until for legal cause, or at the umpire’s call of “Time” suspending play, the ball becomes dead.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        Get your “rules” out of here.

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  35. Chris says:

    Yes it was a crummy play, but replaying the game will not happen. The best thing for MLB to do would suspend Dale Scott for a couple games.

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  36. Ignorant Tool says:

    So change the sign for foul ball to something less ambiguous than throwing your hands in the air and be done with it. It kind of looks like the home plate ump has his hands up as if to say, “My viewpoint has been compromised so I’m deferring to the third base ump here and he’s telling me the ball is fair, so out at third, out at second…”

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    • andrew says:

      The sign for foul ball is to point toward foul territory. Hands up is a signal of time or dead ball. At no point did the umpire ever make a gesture that would indicate foul ball.

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  37. Xeifrank says:

    Only excuse umpire could come up with would be that he was raising his hands in an attempt to get out of the way. But he made a second waving of his arms that kind of rules this out in my mind.

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  38. s choir says:

    First, your cite to the comment on 7.06(a) is misleading. There is no actual rule that says that an umpire putting his hands up means “dead ball.” What the rules actually, clearly, and unmistakably say is that the ball is dead when the umpire calls “Time.”

    Second, there actually is precedent for umpires reversing calls to make them correct, and baserunners are warned that they cannot rely on the initial call.

    Comment on Rule 9.02(c)

    “Appeals on a half swing may be made only on the call of ball and when asked to appeal, the home plate umpire must refer to a base umpire for his judgment on the half swing. Should the base umpire call the pitch a strike, the strike call shall prevail.

    “Baserunners must be alert to the possibility that the base umpire on appeal from the plate umpire may reverse the call of a ball to the call of a strike, in which event the runner is in jeopardy of being out by the catcher’s throw. Also, a catcher must be alert in a base stealing situation if a ball call is reversed
    to a strike by the base umpire upon appeal from the plate umpire.”

    Similarly, in this situation, the baserunners should have been aware that the “foul” ball could have rolled fair.

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    • Everett says:

      The difference is that these situations don’t result in a dead ball and end the play. In either a BB or a K the ball stays live.

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      • s choir says:

        No, there is no difference. The fact that the umpire puts his hands up does not stop the play dead. There is no rule to support that proposition. The umpire must call “Time” to stop the play. Rule 5.02.

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      • Everett says:

        Yes, and rule 7.06 says that putting your arms up like that is the call for time.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        No, it is describing the signal for “dead ball” on obstruction plays by saying it is the same as the signal for “time,” however as Rule 5.02 states, the signal for “time” doesn’t actually initiate “time” being called, rather the verbal signal does.

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      • djc6535 says:

        5.02 simply says that time must be called…. not that the call has to be verbal. this is important because in other places you get language like this:

        the umpire shall signal obstruction in the same manner that he calls “Time,” with both hands overhead. The ball is
        immediately dead when this signal is given;

        That the rule itself is for obstruction is beside the point, the signal must be the same as the one for “Time” and the ball is immediately dead upon that signal.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        They’re describing the signal to be made. You’re reading too much into the use of the word “call.” They’re simply saying the signal used for both calls is the same. Using “call” instead of “signal” does make it a bit ambiguous, but then again their not saying anything relevant about the “call” or “signal” for time in a rule about obstruction. The weakness of your position is apparent when you’re using ambiguous wording from a completely unrelated rule to try and make your case.

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    • Simon says:

      This is totally irrelevant, because it deals with an entirely different situation. In some ways, because it says that calls can be changed in half-swing situations, it implies they can’t in other situations.

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      • s choir says:

        Nothing implies calls can’t be reversed. In fact, rule 9.02(c) sets forth the exact conditions that calls can be reversed (i.e. a call may only be reversed by the umpire who makes it).

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    • djc6535 says:

      There absolutely is a difference. A live ball may be reacted to. A dead ball (such as in a foul, BB, or K) can not. In this case, the call is IMMEDIATELY important to the remaining action of the game. In the Appealed Strike case it is not.

      All of this talk of Rule 5.02 is pretty darn weak. I can’t recall ever hearing an umpire call “TIME” in response to a foul ball. “For legal cause” seems to apply here. That or the fact that there very well may be other rules signifying calling a ball dead.

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  39. Spunky says:

    I realize I missed your point. But I still think it’s not the correct way to read the rule. If there were more interpretations to the “hands overhead,” the rulebook would/should have made that clear. But since it didn’t, we can safely assume raising the hands is the same thing as “Time.”

    In addition, there never appears to be a time when an umpire raises his hands that he does not mean “Time.” Can anyone point to an example (either in the rules or an action, except Scott’s actions) where raising hands does not imply a dead ball?

    To me, it seems the obstruction rule is as such in order to confirm that the ball is dead. In every instance we see umpires raising their hands (foul balls, obstructions, HBP, fan runs onto the field), the interpretation is always “Time.”

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  40. Other Scott says:

    So much of baseball comes down to luck. How many times is a batter completely fooled and throws either a nubber or a slow ground ball through the infield where no one is playing to get a hit. This is simply a different type of luck, and will be as long as we have human umpires.

    Did the Padres get shafted? Of course they did, but that is the way the game works. Tomorrow, the Dodgers might outhit their opponents but because of fluke plays and bad timing, lose the game. It’s the way baseball works. Umpire mistakes are a part of baseball and will be as long as the game stays the way it is. And to some people, the imperfections of the game are an endearing part of it.

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  41. Jason says:

    Silly article. The result of the play is obviously closer to what should have happened had Scott kept his arms down. You’d be robbing at least 2 outs from the Dodgers to play it over as if it was a foul ball. Why would you want to do that? Because of some trivial distinction between preferring a blatantly wrong call (foul ball) over an ambiguously signalled correct call (fair ball)?

    Bad calls by umpires affect the outcome of baseball games. This is not remarkable. It is not good, but it is not remarkable.

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  42. s choir says:

    This whole thing reminds me of that one umpire who’s really slow to call strikes, Tim McClelland. How many times have you watched him call a game and think a pitch is ball four and a free advance for the runner on first when it was really a called strike? The baserunner in that situation is trained to wait until the ball four call is clear.

    It also reminds me of that Angels-White Sox playoff game in the bottom of the ninth where the pitch on a swinging strike three appeared to have been trapped by the catcher. The umpire signaled strike three by making a fist, though his “strike” signal was the same as his “out” signal. A.J. Pierzynski alertly ran to first while the Angels’ catcher trotted off the field. Later in the inning the Sox won the game on a walk off. After the game the umpire stated that if he had called Pierzynski “out” he would have made the “out” fist twice. Once to signal strike three, and once to signal “you’re out.”

    The moral of the story is that you can’t rely on an umpire’s body language.

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  43. Steve Balboni says:

    I asked Doug Eddings for comment and he suggested Dale Scott try this: “My interpretation is that was my ‘might be foul, might be fair’ mechanic, when it’s a rolling bunt. If you watch, that’s what I do the whole entire game. … I did not say ‘Time’.”

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  44. joey says:

    Catcher let the ball roll FAIR before picking it up. Fair ball, triple play. Runners should have run until they hear the word FOUL which was never uttered by the umpire. His hands did raise up until the ball rolled fair and the catcher picked up and threw it. Runners and batters fault for not running.

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    • JoeC says:

      I see. So you think you’d be able to perfectly hear somebody saying “Foul” (even in a loud voice) when they’re 90 feet away and there’s 30,000 people screaming for blood surrounding you? Good luck with that.

      The reality is, the baserunners have to depend on the ump to use his body language to convey the result of the play. There is no way they can depend on their ears at that distance. Arms up, parallel to the ground means “foul ball/dead ball” all the time, every time. The runners correctly stopped running when they saw the original call that was made. Umpire reversed himself and the runners were up a creek at that point.

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  45. Richard says:

    actually the umpire was correct in his mechanic. He stepped away from the play and raised his hands slightly to his shoulders to indicate “nothing” meaning there was no interference on the play; i.e. the ball did not strke the batter, the ball was no interfered with by the catcher and the ball was “still in play”…if the umpire was to rule the ball foul he would have did it verbally along with “waving” his hands, not just raising them. The catcher did not seem to have any problem reading what was going on. The runners should have been running, its their bad, because this was not a foul ball call or indication by the umpire. If you look at the video enough times you will see him clearly move away from the play, because the ball is still alive in his opinion and he his using his body language to demonstate that “nothing” has happened…as soon as the ball went fair he signaled it immediately. Foul balls are called both verbally and by hand waving. If he felt it was a foul ball there would have been no need for him to step back out of the way of the live ball play.

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    • JoeC says:

      The catcher was not facing the umpire, so there’s no way he could interpret the umpire’s signals. The baserunners interpreted the umpire’s signals as meaning the ball was dead/foul. Not their fault that the umpire gave the wrong call (but I agree with others that they would’ve been out anyways).

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    • djc6535 says:

      MLB themselves disagree with you.

      “However, while making the call, there was an incorrect mechanic ” – Senior VP of Baseball Operations from MLB

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        I like the selective editing.

        “However, while making the call, there was an incorrect mechanic, which appeared to confuse San Diego’s base runners. At no time did the umpire verbally kill the play on the field. After reviewing the entire situation following the game, the umpire realizes his hands were in an exaggerated upward appearance similar to a call that would indicate a dead ball.”

        The only thing incorrect about the mechanic was that his hands were in an “exaggerated upward appearance” so it seems like what he did was actually along the lines of the correct mechanic.

        It should also be noted that he specifically mentions that the play was not verbally killed, which should end all of the debate about whether or not the signal itself is enough to kill the play.

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  46. Gary Bettman says:

    Scott intended to call the ball fair all along, so naturally what he actually called doesn’t matter.

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  47. Richard says:

    @JoeC
    Runners should be running bro, not looking at the umpires. They can always send you back if it was a foul ball call. Besides “safe” and “out” the only other verbal call on the baseball field is “FOUL BALL”…if you don’t hear that my recommendation would be…RUN…no one is taught to watch the umpires, you are taught to run on contact and that is the best way to run bases not shoulder watching umpires while running down the line

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    • Marver says:

      Are the runners not supposed to watch the pitch and make sure the ball is not hit in the air?

      The judgement call by the umpire came immediately following the ball hitting the bat — a time when the runners should certainly be watching.

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    • Jason says:

      This is, of course, correct. If the runners actually thought the ball was foul they would have been running. They would not have been paying attention to the umpire. Watch a game. Runners run on all foul balls where they are forced to run. The degree to which they run is a function of how foul the ball is. It might be a step or they might actually make the next base.

      The reason the runners didn’t run in this case is not because they thought it was a foul ball. They thought it was a dead ball because they thought the pitch hit the batter.

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  48. Ken says:

    I can see this going both ways.

    To those saying “The play isn’t dead until the umpire actually says ‘TIME’” I have to ask: What of the situation in a playoff game where there are two men on, no outs, the crowd is extremely loud and the batter hits a ball in the air down the first base line. The crowd erupts, the ump signals foul (and yells but cannot be heard). Should the players continue play until the crowd is quiet enough for the Umpires to tell all the players “It was foul you just couldn’t hear me,” or are they allowed to stop playing as the umpire has signaled foul?

    To those saying “The play was clearly dead” the rules seem ambiguous and if that’s the case, the players shouldn’t assume that they aren’t.

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  49. MichaelPat says:

    Looking at the replays, it does appear to me that the umpire signaled the ball foul, then changed his call. I don’t know that that is what happened on the field, but twice he raises his arms like he is calling foul.

    But there’s no way MLB should step in and reverse anything. MLB does have a mechanism that would allow it to step in and reverse an on field result: the protest. Did the Padres protest? No.

    I think the umpire erred. I am certain the San Diego manager erred.

    The only time I am aware of MLB calling for a ‘do over’ is the pine tar case, but that’s only because the Royals protested. Has there ever been any other ‘do over’?

    The protest rule is a great one. It is the only mechanism under which anyone other than the men in uniform (players, managers, umpires) get a say in what happens (or has happened) on the field.

    I think MLB is consistent with this approach with its use of video replay. The conditions that trigger its use are clearly spelled out beforehand and it’s the game umpires who do the review.

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    • Breadbaker says:

      Of course, it was easier for the Royals to be able to protest in their own sweet time, as the game, as called by the umps, was over. Here, the half inning was over and whoever takes over from Black upon his ejection had quite a long time to make his protest and failed to do so, which is his own damned fault. Even if the protest wouldn’t have been upheld, it was a stupid mistake to make.

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  50. vilhelm says:

    Replay BEGINNING from Guzman’s at bat?

    Let me get this straight.

    You want me to give up that filet mignon centered on a plate. I got opps on 1st and 2nd and no outs, and I got this gift handed to me guaranteeing one, probably TWO, and possibly EVEN THREE outs?

    Do you realize the odds of a clean hitter laying one down like that on a pitch that by all rights should have landed his carcass on first, loading the bases with NO outs?

    Tell you what we’ll split lottery winnings 50 50. I’ll take the first megabucks winning ticket. You can have the second.

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  51. D'back Fan says:

    People here who advocated replaying the game from the moment the ball appeared to have been called dead but wasn’t, because that bad signalling changed the behavior of the runners, are confusing two issues.

    There is a distinction between calls like Scott made and, say, the ruling that a single runner was safe on an attempted steal or that a trapped ball was caught when no other runner was on. In the latter cases, the umpires could get together and overturn the initial call immediately after and, if they got it right, the game would be restored. In the case where runners rely on the call, that can’t usually happen.

    But that provides no justification for playing the game over from that spot afterwards. Afterwards, if uncorrected, every missed call affects the game potentially drastically. So if there is reason to replay this game, there is reason to replay every game with a significant blown call. What’s the difference?

    What makes this instance stand out is that the umpire actually made the right call, but made it look as if he didn’t. That is indeed rare — but not so different in screwing up the game than a run of the mill blown call.

    Also, frankly, replaying the game would leave things farther from “what would have happened” without any confusion than otherwise. The Padre runners got no jump, any more than the would have on any ball off the bat of someone getting out of the way. The ball fell at the catcher’s feet and he did not hesitate. It was a sure double play, and even a possible triple play, had there been no confusion.

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    • Breadbaker says:

      The reason for starting over from that point (assuming a Padres protest and that the protest is upheld) is that that is how you would enforce the rules interpretation that Scott had called time, rightly or wrongly. Imagine if the umpires’ discussion was not about whether the ball was foul or fair, but simply about whether Scott had called time. And the other three umpires said, “Dale, sorry, but we all saw you signal dead ball twice, gotta keep those arms down until you know.” Then where would you be? Exactly at an 0-1 count on Guzman with runners on first and second and no outs. So if that is the correct rules interpretation, that is where you’d end up if you replayed it. Unfair to the Dodgers? Heck, yes. But the Padres didn’t call time incorrectly, so it’s just another instance of shit happening.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        But your punishing the Dodgers far more harshly than the Padres actually were. Why should they enforce what would be an even more egregiously bad call to make up for what was simply a bad call?

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      • Jim says:

        I’m sympathetic to the Padres’ frustration. But hand signals are not sufficient to make a call, under the rules, so your scenario would not have happened. In fact, the other umpires had no hesitation, and called the outs immediately as the ball progressed around the horn. They all understood what had been called.

        The bigger point is that the umpires did not make that call. So, at that point, it just becomes a blown call (at best) like any other. Your argument explains why the game would restart at that point were it to be replayed, but not why this umpire’s mistake should be treated differently than any other, once the rest of the game has gone on to its conclusion.

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      • Breadbaker says:

        If what you folks have said a couple of times were close to accurate, the MLB reaction to the call would have been “without a verbal call of ‘foul ball’ the runners were at their own risk.” That’s not within a hundred miles of what they said.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        What are you talking about? The only comment I’ve seen said he used an incorrect mechanic (i.e. he made the wrong hand signal), but he made the right call. Did I miss something?

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  52. John says:

    You can’t argue that the runners should have been running anyway. When the umpire threw his hands in the air declaring foul ball/dead ball, the way that pitch came in, the runners could have thought the ball hit the batter and not the bat, thus resulting in no need to run. If the ball would have clearly been bunted on a pitch in the strike zone and the call was made, I believe the runners would have been in motion, which could have ended in a different result. Since the pitch was at the batter, the ball was bunted, the umpire’s arms were raised indicating foul/dead ball, the runners did not proceed. MLB needs to replay this game as it could have implications on the division/wild card as the season progresses.

    Bad calls can really turn on a team’s momentum. I don’t think the Padres are in that position this year, but I recall a blown call in a Braves-Pirates game that seemed to completely deflate the Pirates and they fell apart last season. Things like that can make a huge impact mentally.

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  53. Zobmie says:

    Imagine, if you will, the reaction John McGraw would have had if he was on the receiving end of that blown call.

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  54. Tom says:

    The most irrelevant thing anyone has said in this entire discussion is that the game should be replayed because there is a new playoff system in place. And the comment belongs to resident genius Dave Cameron, no less:

    “But, with the new playoff system in place, it’s more likely than ever that the outcome of one game could have a dramatic impact on playoff match-ups, and Major League Baseball owes it to the teams and the fans to make sure that games aren’t decided on incidences such as this.”

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  55. Marver says:

    Jeff Sullivan has a great article on it all, that includes GIFs of other dead balls Scott called in the same game…including the dead ball call on Dee Gordon’s fouled bunt attempt: http://mlb.sbnation.com/2012/4/17/2953521/dale-scott-dodgers-padres-triple-play

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  56. Tom says:

    Here it is April 19 and the Dodgers lost a game on a bad call at home.

    Let’s take Cameron’s postion to its logical conclusion and just replay the whole season over from scratch.

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