Without Realizing It, Jack McKeon Agrees with Protest

The bowels of Sun Life Stadium sounded like a real scary place to be yesterday. More scary than usual. According the beat writers, Joe West literally had to be chased down for comment. Further, Charlie Manuel and Jack McKeon were no doubt hounded for their takes on the controversial call.

Without knowing it, McKeon actually agreed with the basis for the protest:


"Isn't what we want from the umpires, to get it right?" McKeon said. "Did they get it right? Yes. Did they make a mistake in how they went about getting it right? Yes."



 "Even if the umpires were wrong in their decision to go in and review it, they did what was right. They got the play right. They were wrong if they misinterpreted the rule, but they got the play right, so I don't see how it could be overturned [after the protest]."


Much like declaring a mistrial in a court of law (putting my edumacation to work), a protest in baseball is meant to dispute an application of the rules (laws), not a judgement call (verdict). Ladies and gentlemen, rule 4.19:

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.

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.


McKeon is right, the correct call was made. But that’s not the issue. The issue is whether the play could be reviewed at all. Unfortunately for the Phillies, there were no rules for West to misapply. MLB doesn’t have replay rules in the rule book, just guidelines (detailed here) that say replay should only be used to determine whether a ball went over the line, was fair or foul, or interfered with by a fan (under the guise that it would be a home run). Joe West said Charlie wanted it reviewed to see if it was a home run and McKeon wanted it reviewed for fan interference: [Marlins.com]

"I had two managers on the field," West said. "One of them was arguing that they wanted an out, and the other was arguing that he wanted a home run. Because they wanted me to go look because they wanted a home run, I got to judge whether it went over the fence or not.

[Home-plate umpire Chad Fairchild] already thought it was spectator interference. So now we go look at the replay, and we have to take all the evidence that we get from the replay and that's why we came up with the rule, which is the correct ruling."


Charlie says he never asked for the home run review. Rather, it was McKeon who wanted the review for fan interference… even though that’s not reviewable (confused yet?). But none of that will matter- West can review on his own. And since there is nothing in the rules about home run reviews, the league can hide behind its fuzzy guideline, which apparently says that umpires can make other, non-home run related judgements while reviewing for a home run. Therefore, West can say he reviewed the play as a home run (even though that may not have been his intention), saw the interference, and made a judgement call that Pence was out. End of story. Crisis averted. Phillies screwed.

How is this not in the rule book, again?


13 Responses

  1. Incredibly irritating …
    Not only did West completely misapply the rule for replay, but he BOLD-FACED LIED about Manuel asking about it. Manuel didn’t even come out of the dugout until after Pence was called out after the fact!
    If you read the article, you’re absolutely right! Even McKeon confirms that Charlie never said that!
    West is clearly LYING and trying to cover his ass. Result of the game aside, I’m floored that nobody in the national media is making a bigger deal out of this.

  2. I hate to play the Yankees/Red Sox card again, but the fact is, had this happened to the Yankees or Red Sox, ESPN would have been up in arms about this.
    But it happened to the Phillies, so whatever.
    Joe West is a very large piece of crap.

  3. McKeon is being honest, at least.
    Even the “Umpire official” they have on ESPN said that it was the correct call. They seem to be covering all of their asses. It was incredibly incorrect. They need to apologize and honor the protest.

  4. The fan interfearence rule is a complete farce to begin with. If the league is gonna allow fans to be close enough to the action, where there is a possibily they could interfear with a ball, then it’s the leagues own fault, and fans who are that close should be part of the field, like any ump, or ref in another sport. You can’t expect a fan not to reach our for a ball that’s coming at them. It’s a natural reaction. If the league has a problem with that, they shouldn’t sit fans that close to the action. End of story,

  5. Salisbury is tweeting that the Phils intend to file an official protest.
    I’m glad.
    And ESPN needs to get its facts straight: Yes, there was fan interference. But no, that was not a review-able play.

  6. Mike makes a great point here. Move the seats back a bit and take the fans out of the equation. Maybe they’d even prevent the tragedy that happened earlier this year with that guy in Texas falling over the rail.

  7. The irony of the situation is that 90% of the people who think that the Phils got screwed are probably in favor of more instant replay in baseball. Hypocrites.

  8. I can say for a fact that I am NOT in favor of more instant replay. I want it banned from all sports because it disrupts the flow of a game. The job of the officials should be to call the action the best they can and stick to whatever they call. Yes, there will be a few obvious bad calls and the national media will demand the reinstatement of instant replay, but sitting around for 10 minutes while they decide whether or not to overturn the call on the field detracts from the experience.
    If instant replay is a good thing, why don’t they have instant replay for ball and strike calls? Sure, it would take 12 hours to play a baseball game, but it is important that they use replay to get the call “right,” isn’t it?

  9. @ Jeff: Its not hypocrisy. The rules as they are don’t have provisions for instant replay in this manner, its simply an argument to follow the current rules.
    Its like someone who doesn’t drink underage even though they believe that they should have the right to drink at 18. You follow the rules as they are now, even if you want them changed.

  10. And I’m on and off about the expansion of instant replay. For one, it would be nice to watch a clean game every time I tune in or have the disposable income to attend… But at the same time, baseball is a game of rhythm, and to have that broken up over every disputed play would be insanely aggravating.

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