I’m watching the mostly ceremonial game between the NL West Division champs, the Dodgers, and the Giants. Giants stadium was just host to its first instance of a disputed home run under the new playback rules recently instituted by MLB. This instance caused a 14-minute delay (an eternity even in baseball time) while everyone figured out what had happened. In a nutshell, this is what happened:
- Bengie Molina blasted a ball to right field that bounced off the edge of a green metallic terrace and back into the field.
- Molina ran to first, where he stopped because umpires decided it was a single (and because he’s a slow runner).
- Giants coach Bruce Bochy replaced Molina with a pinch runner, Emmanuel Burriss.
- The umpires then decided to use the new playback rule to determine whether they had made an accurate call. (The green metallic terrace is official home-run territory.)
- On review, the umpires decided that Molina had hit a home run.
- Burriss, who did not hit the home run, was told to run the bases as if he had hit the home run.
- This is where things got squishy. Everyone was combing their rule books to see if the home run is valid if the person who hit it does not touch all the bases on his way to home plate. Remember, Molina just walked from first base to the dugout when Burriss replaced him. Burriss did not hit the home run, so his base trot is probably not valid. And the rule book does not account (i.e., have loopholes) for this very interesting glitch.
The umpires informed Dodgers coach Joe Torre of their decision. They then informed Bochy of their decision.
The home-run ruling held, but Torre — very wisely — lodged a formal protest to the ruling. Like a lawyer seeing an opportunity to set precedent and eliminate ambiguity, Torre realized that this was a twist that the new world of playback simply had to be clear about.
A great 14 minutes, with Giants broadcasters Jon Miller and Mike Krukow valiantly explaining and questioning it all.
Much cooler than 90+ minutes of televised presidential debate (Jim Lehrer won that debate, by the way, especially since he’s been dead for eight years).