Friday, August 2, 2013

Pitching Change Balk: Manager's Arm Commits to Switch

Umpire Gary Darling ruled a pitching change balk against the Mariners Thursday night at Fenway after Manager Robby Thompson briefly motioned to the bullpen with his left arm before immediately switching to the right during a pivotal 9th inning pitching change. The Red Sox would score five times in the frame after Thompson's fateful move, completing an improbable walk-off victory.

SEA wants the righty, but Darling calls the lefty.
With none out and the bases loaded, Thompson ventured to the mound for a pitching change, initially signaling to the bullpen with his left arm before switching to his right arm, all while in the grass area between the third base foul line and the pitcher's mound.

As righty Yoervis Medina prepared to enter the game—he had already run onto the outfield grass—3B Umpire and crew chief Gary Darling quickly addressed the first arm movement and ordered lefty Oliver Perez enter the game instead. Forced to face righty Shane Victorino pursuant to Rule 3.05(b), which states that "if the pitcher is replaced, the substitute shall pitch to the batter then at bat, or any substitute batter, until such batter is put our or reaches first base," Perez allowed all three baserunners to score, surrendering two runs of his own during ensuing action before being relieved by Medina.

Rule 3.03 governs substitutions, stating simply that a player may be substituted during a game when the ball is dead while 3.05 governs the specific case of pitcher substitutions and 3.06 specifies the process:
The manager shall immediately notify the umpire-in-chief of any substitution and shall state to the umpire-in-chief the substitute’s place in the batting order.
HP Umpire and umpire-in-chief David Rackley had removed his lineup cards so as to make the change, but had not yet indicated the new pitcher as in Rule 3.07, which states that "the umpire-in-chief shall, after having been notified, immediately announce, or cause to be announced, each substitution."

Meanwhile, PBUC (MiLB) has officially interpreted that a manager or coach's signal to the bullpen "constitutes a substitution for the pitcher" (4.6); however, the MLBUM (MLB) has deemed that a substitution is completed only when the plate umpire is notified. If PU is not notified, a pitcher is considered as having entered the game when "he takes his place on the pitcher's plate prior to delivering a pitch (preparatory or otherwise)." The Major League Baseball Umpire Manual makes it clear it is the plate umpire's responsibility to coordinate all substitutions. MLBUM does not address the signal to the bullpen.

It sure would have been interesting had Darling worked the 1978 World Series when after positing the "take him out vs. leave him in" debate, Dodgers Manager Tommy Lasorda famously opted to "take him in" while gesturing to the bullpen with both hands.

26 comments :

Gil Imber said...

Oh man, imagine if that was Scioscia, he would have protested the game and the league would have said, "oh sorry Gary, that's a minor league rule." GAME REPLAYED from that point with Medina in the game, who might have actually gotten Victorino out as designed and the Sox's rally from behind would have never happened.


Media would have had a field day.


Instead, we get happy-go-lucky Thompson who just shrugs and says, "um... okay!"

Gil Imber said...

The MLBUM does address this in a round about way. If a signal to the bullpen is given then you cannot then do a double switch. So a pitcher is in the game as of the arm motion. Which pitcher that arm refers to and which pitcher comes out of the gate is another story.

Gil Imber said...

I just don't agree with Darling forcing the LHP into the game, but I'm not going to go as far to say that this cost Seattle the game. It was pretty obvious that the manager made a mistake with how quickly he pulled his left arm down. Maybe he thought that it would look like he wanted the RHP from the vantage point of the bullpen?

Gil Imber said...

Unless the lefty had been announced by the plate umpire, or had taken his place on the mound, it doesn't seem that the rules requires the umpires to require the change. I'd say that while they were consistent with the umpires' manual, they did not follow MLB rules, so they screwed up. Again.

Gil Imber said...

Alan Porter just tossed Mark Ellis and Don Mattingly for arguing balls and strikes in Chicago. His first two ejections of the season.

Gil Imber said...

I see it as a mistake by the ump. The gesture should not be used as announcement to the Ump. I can however say that due to the pitcher running onto the field that it could be considered a doubled up switch. But if he signals then corrects it, it should be fine.

I can't blame the loss on this either. Mariners shouldn't have given up that big of a lead to begin with.

Gil Imber said...

He must have been feeling left out cuz he screwed up there

Gil Imber said...

Video: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130802&content_id=55649208&vkey=news_mlb&c_id=mlb . Also, the announcers must not think throwing up your hands for all the world to see along with openly arguing about the strike zone isn't a reason to get tossed.

Gil Imber said...

Fans have criticized umpires and the umpires have been quick to defend their colleagues, but MLB has had a bad year. Not only missed calls on bang-bang plays, but knowing the rules! MLB has had its share of missed interpretations this year that even replay can't fix!

Gil Imber said...

Gibbons was his first ejection

Gil Imber said...

Well, the pitcher running on the field was the lefty that Thompson really wanted to bring in, so I wouldn't really think it's a double switch. What gets me is Darling forced the lefty who ran onto the field to go back to the bullpen. That didn't look good.

Gil Imber said...

He was probably pissed because it was a bad call. Go figure.

Gil Imber said...

Like you fans even know half the rules yourself.

Gil Imber said...

You know what the difference is? I'm not paid big bucks to know the rules!

Gil Imber said...

Protest it.

Gil Imber said...

There was actually only ONE instance of the rules being mistaken (and the umpire crew chief was suspended). Shit happens.



I guess you hold people accountable! I certainly hope you're writing your Congressional reps about the quagmire they have buried us in economically! And that fat bastard Santa Claus - it's HIS fault (and Chris Christie) that Americans are so damn corpulent on average!



And Darling is doing the smart thing here after what happened to Culbreth!

Gil Imber said...

I guess it depends on the umpire. If you don't like verbiage, cussing will do it. If you don't like demonstrative, adios to the hands-thrower-uppers. Quite frankly, I don't understand being bent out of shape over the latter (in pro sports) but so be it!

Gil Imber said...

Can you point to a specific MLB rule, or is this more board speculation? I thought it is up to the umpire and coach to determine if he or she has been notified.

Gil Imber said...

What if a manager wants to bring in Pat Venditte from the bullpen? Does he raise BOTH hands?

Gil Imber said...

Ditto

Gil Imber said...

True. Forgot about that one.

Gil Imber said...

Tom Wilhelmsen's wildness cost the Mariners the game.

Gil Imber said...

As a fan who somewhat understands the rules, this really confuses me. Since when is a manager required to announce the handedness of his pitcher? He announces a pitching change by tapping his arm, but he has multiple right-handers and left-handers in the bullpen, so that signal can't be interpreted as specifying which player is coming in to the game.


Quite honestly, I think that it's a bit of a stretch to even consider that to be a binding signal for a substitution, but a pitcher doesn't have to settle on his "handedness" until he prepares to throw the first pitch? Correct? And he can change his handedness from batter to batter, correct? Just not in the middle of an at bat.


How can this be a binding signal?

Gil Imber said...

From MLB:

"Official Baseball Rule 3.06 governs substitutions including pitching changes and requires the manager to immediately notify the umpiring crew of any substitution.

"This Rule has been interpreted by the umpires to require the manager to stick with the pitcher he signaled for. Thus, if a manager notifies the umpiring crew that he is making a pitching change by clearly and unambiguously signaling for a left-handed pitcher with his left hand, or a right-handed pitcher with his right hand, that team is thereafter required to bring that pitcher into the game. If there is uncertainty when bringing a pitcher into the game (e.g., two left-handed pitchers warming up simultaneously in the bullpen and the manager signals only with his left hand), the umpire has the discretion to ask the manager to identify the substitute pitcher by name. If the wrong player attempts to enter the game under those circumstances, a correction can be made as long as it is done immediately.

"Please be advised that this rule interpretation will be interpreted strictly for the remainder of the 2013 season."

http://espn.go.com/boston/mlb/story/_/id/9541891/mlb-clarifies-change-pitcher-protocol-source-says

Gil Imber said...

Like you know more rules than the umpires.

Gil Imber said...

Well if you don't know the rules than don't sit there criticizes the umpires.

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