I have a question about the disputed Butler homerun in the game against the Yankees. It appears that the umpires missed the call despite looking at the replay. Is this a situation where Joe Girardi and the Yankees could play the rest of the game under protest?To answer this question requires several elements. First is a look at Rule 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.Obviously, Yankees Manager Joe Girardi did not protest the game, but assuming he had, would this protest be allowed? The deciding factor: was DeMuth's instant replay a judgment call or a rules interpretation? To answer that requires a look at Kauffman Stadium's ground rules. Both the Royals and Yankees play in stadiums (Kauffman and Yankee) that do not have ground rules other than the Universal Ground Rules. The third and final stadium with no ground rules of its own is U.S. Cellular Field (White Sox). The Universal Ground Rule concerning home runs: there is none other than "all yellow lines are in play." But Kauffman doesn't have any left field yellow lines.
|View from the spectator's area behind the left field wall at Kauffman Stadium. txrangersfan|
Rule 7.05(a) permits each runner, including the batter, to advance to home plate if "a fair ball goes out of the playing field in flight." Accepted interpretations of Rules 6.09(d) and (h) permit the deflection of a fair ball out of the playing area over fair territory to be called a home run. Rule 1.04 defines the outer limit of The Playing Field as a "fence, stand or other obstruction on fair territory." Rule 2.00 FAIR TERRITORY specifies that fair territory encompasses "the bottom of the playing field fence [extended] perpendicularly upwards."
Notice from the picture above, that the chain link fence and padding appears to be slightly recessed from the playing field fence (you may have to look towards the left-center field area to see it). In other words, the ~ three foot high chain link fence and its corresponding padding ("an obstruction") is on the out of play side of the fence defined by Rule 1.04. It is not flush with the wall, is not perpendicular to the ground at the point in which the fence defined by Rule 1.04 begins, and therefore, is not part of the playing field. By virtue of all that rules review, the umpires got it right.
But the question remains, can it be protested? Because Kauffman Stadium has no ground rules of its own and because there are no yellow lines, there are no rules specifically governing that chain link fence. Though we were able to use Rules 1.04, 2.00 FAIR TERRITORY, 6.09(d), 6.09(h), and 7.05(a) to answer the Quality of Correctness question, there is no one rule that specifically states, "the chain link fence above the outfield wall is in/out of play." Therefore, this call falls under Rule 9.01(c), the elastic clause, which is a judgement call and is not grounds for protest (well, Girardi still could have filed the protest, it just might not have been admitted). Still, that didn't prevent MLB Supervisor Steve Palermo from allegedly (and publicly) going out to left field after the game with DeMuth, Kerwin Danley, Doug Eddings, and Chad Fairchild and discussing the play within several feet of where the earlier Butler ball rattled around somewhere above the outfield wall. Perhaps one less stadium will be without its own set of ground rules next season. Either that or the Royals are going to have to invest in some yellow paint.