Sunday, September 04, 2011

Joe West gets call right, Instant Replay misused though

Florida Hands Game
Florida Hands Game2

Video stills capture the fan interference but it wasn’t called initially

Nobody can argue that Umpire crew chief, Joe West, didn’t get the call right. In the end, this is where I think this protest will be denied. The Phillies did indeed protest the final game of a three game series in Florida today after a Hunter Pence long fly ball to right field wasn’t caught by the Florida Marlins fielder, Bryan Peterson. Could have Peterson even caught that ball? Joe West said, yes.

There were two fans just with the hands where you aren’t supposed to put them when a ball is in play. It all happens so fast though, and within a split second these two fans interfered with a baseball in play and it caused them to be ejected from the stadium and some embarrassment for sure. Hunter Pence had stood on second base for the better part of 15 minutes before Joe West and his umpiring crew emerged from the Sun Life Stadium review area just inside the Marlins dugout area.

Should this play have even been reviewed? A signal of homerun wasn’t called by any umpire, in fact they were fine with awarding Hunter Pence second base. Joe West made the decision to review the play. He didn’t have the proper reason to do so, but perhaps he did us all a favor. Should instant replay be used in baseball? Why not use instant replay on a close play at first base for instance?

You could see the look on Joe West’s face. He had opened a can or worms, but now it is up to Major League Baseball to determine if the Phillies claim of protest is warranted. Part of me says they should say to replay the portion of the game from where this occurred, but the other half of me is reassured that the MLB will probably do nothing about this, because the right call was made on the field. The catch is only after the play was looked at on instant replay, and that isn’t allowed by rule. So I think the MLB will just sweep this tidy little mess under the carpet like it does with most controversies.

Oh yes, the Phillies did lose this game. It took 14 innings, and this game took it’s place as the 2nd most innings in a game that the Phillies have had to play this season. The other of course being the May 25th game with the Reds in which Wilson Valdez picked up his first and only win as a pitcher so far this season.

This game today will take it’s place in Phillies game history as perhaps “The Instant Replay Game”. Another game that we will remember for some time to come. The outcome of the decision by the MLB will be another interesting part of how all of this game finally played out as well.

Phillies are no stranger to Instant Replay reviews, here is one from 10/10/10 last year, when Chase Utley hit a home run in the playoffs:


  1. The problem with the "they got the call right" issue is that it rests on a pretty generous interpretation of the fielder's ability to make the play. Remember, he was at full speed, in mid jump, crashing into the wall when the fans touched the ball. Was that ball headed for his glove, his wrist, the fence? No one can say for sure, not even with the instant replay. This call was screwed up twice: once for reviewing it at all, and once for a questionable interpretation of the interference rule.

  2. I agree with everything you've said, but in the end there was fan interference and that was the call. I agree that the replay shouldn't have been used to call it, but it was the correct call and I think the MLB will just say this, that the correct call was made in the end. The MLB will just deny the Protest claim and dismiss it in my opinion.