Hunter Pence hit a double in the sixth inning that advanced Ryan Howard to third. Marlins manager Jack McKeon appealed to umpire Joe West to review the play for fan interference, even though instant replay (which is NOT included in the official rule book) is only meant to review boundary home run calls. When West viewed the video, he determined the fan interfered with the ball, called Pence out, and sent Howard back to first. West seems to have made up a rule. Even though the call proved to be the right one, the situation was not reviewable. We think.
Since it's not in the rule book, here's wording from a 2008 column by Tim Kurkjian about how replay would be implemented: [ESPN]
The only plays that will be reviewable will be home runs: Was it fair or foul? Did it clear the fence, or didn't it? The Steve Bartman play from the 2003 playoffs at Wrigley Field would not be reviewable, but the Jeffrey Maier play from the 1996 playoffs at Yankee Stadium would be reviewable. No other play is reviewable, and from all indications MLB is adamant that replay will not be expanded to cover anything beyond home run calls.
Charlie Manuel was thrown out of the game then made his intention known that the Phillies would protest the game. The Phillies wound up not scoring any runs in the inning, despite Raul Ibanez doubling in the next at-bat, which would have easily scored Howard had he been on third.
But here's where it gets weird. Steve Berthiaume spoke with a former Major League umpire who said the following (Berthiaume's words):
On that play, umps CAN use replay to determine if ball was a home run. Once umps see play, they CAN use judgement call to determine fan interference, which is then NOT subject to protest. Once reviewed, umps CAN use judgement on any play between lines, which is not subject to protest.
That would, of course, assume that McKeon made the ballsy call of asking the umpires to review Pence's double to see if it was a home run, a request that would, in turn, allow them to rule on fan interference. Again, that's if you believe Berthiaume's interpretation.
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.
Rule 4.19 Comment: Whenever a manager protests a game because of alleged misapplication of the rules the protest will not be recognized unless the umpires are notified at the time the play under protest occurs and before the next pitch, play or attempted play. A protest arising on a game-ending play may be filed until 12 noon the following day with the league office.
Rule 10.01(b)(3) Comment: It is important that a suspended game resume with exactly the same situation as existed at the time of suspension. If a protested game is ordered replayed from the point of protest, the game must be resumed with exactly the situation that existed just before the protested play.
This is obviously the Phillies' last trip to Miami and there are no off days on which to play the game. So, should the Phillies lose the game and win the protest, the second half of the game could, in theory, be played in Philadelphia when the Marlins come here in September.
Here's the guy who interfered. That said, when a fly ball is coming at you (as a fan), it is rather hard to judge where it's going to land. Let's not Bartman this guy just yet.