Monday, September 16, 2019

Replay Error Costs Chicago in Loss to Seattle

MLB admitted a Replay Review miscommunication between 2B Umpire & Crew Chief Marvin Hudson and White Sox Manager Rick Renteria during Mariners batter Omar Narvaez's walk-off home run hurt Chicago and sealed Seattle's victory, all while the HR never actually left the playing field in flight.

Had the play been reviewed, the Replay Official would have likely overturned 2B Umpire Hudson's on-field ruling of "home run" to "in play" based on the batted ball's caroming off the top of the outfield wall and back into play, likely placing batter-runner Narvaez at second base. Instead, Seattle walked off the White Sox.

Major League Baseball released a statement after Saturday's game, attempting to explain why the controversial walk-off homer wasn't reviewed:
In last night's game there was conversation between the umpires and the White Sox as to the procedure for potentially reviewing two different aspects of the game-ending play. There was then a misinterpretation regarding Chicago's desire to have any aspect of the play reviewed. We regret that this miscommunication resulted in not reviewing the home run call on the field.
HR is signaled without a replay decision.
Pursuant to Replay Review regulations, a manager must specify which part(s) of a play the team wishes to challenge, a provision called, appropriately enough, "Specificity of the Challenge" (which also applies to Crew Chief Reviews).

The Specificity of Challenge regulation states:
When invoking a Manager's Challenge or otherwise requesting a Crew Chief review, it is the Manager's responsibility to ensure that the Umpire knows the specific calls for which he is seeking Replay Review, but the Manager need not state the reason for his belief that the call was incorrect.
Replays indicate that Narvaez's batted ball did not clear the wall—it likely would have been reversed to a double had it been reviewed—and that Renteria timely sought out the umpires to seek a review.

Because it was a home run-related boundary call, the play would fall under "Crew Chief Review" rather than a Manager's Challenge, and at some point, the concept of a challenge on Narvaez's base touch at home plate entered the picture and HP Umpire Adrian Johnson prepared for a possible appeal play as well. The code allows for a manager to challenge a second aspect of a play already subject to Crew Chief Review.

Johnson anticipates an appeal play at home.
Instead, Hudson apparently asked Renteria if he still wanted to challenge the call (he only can challenge one call [base touch], while the other [HR/Not HR] is a Crew Chief Review), Renteria said no (reportedly under a mistaken assumption that the HR/Not HR issue had already been decided), and Hudson took this to mean he didn't even want the home run reviewed, thus ending the game.

Gil's Call: For all officials: slow down. This communication error may have been averted by taking more time to glean precisely what Renteria wanted reviewed, as opposed to a walk-and-talk from several yards away (with an excited crowd cheering a walk-off win). Pursuant to Specificity of the Challenge, it's important to know exactly what the manager does and doesn't want reviewed, so double checking before finalizing the HR and declaring the game over could have helped. It's a failure to communicate mistake that could benefit from taking extra time to make sure everyone's on the same page—pace of play be darned.

Postscript: Watch Adrian Johnson on the replay and notice how he signals to his crewmates that Renteria wants a Replay Review prior to Narvaez arriving at home plate. Because this hold occurs during Narvaez's home run trot and prior to the celebration, it logically follows that Renteria wants something reviewed that occurred prior to Narvaez touching (or failing to touch) home plate. I believe that *something* was whether the wall-scraper in the outfield was indeed a home run or not.

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Chicago Loses Game After Communication Breakdown in SEA (CCS)


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