Big League Stew

Angel Hernandez and crew review call that doesn’t seem to fit replay criteria

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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Walt Weiss talks to Dana DeMuth while Dexter Fowler listens in. (AP)

In a head-scratching moment during the Colorado Rockies 4-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday afternoon, the umpiring crew that includes Angel Hernandez took time to huddle up and then review a fair-foul ruling that would NOT have resulted in a home run regardless of their determination, was not interfered with, and never came close to leaving the field of play.

Those are the three big criteria a call needs to be reviewed.

Of course we all remember Angel Hernandez from several bizarre incidents and rulings over the years, but the freshest in our minds is the botched home run review in Cleveland two weeks ago. These were entirely different circumstances that played out at Coors Field. The game was in no way decided by what happened, but it was no less weird, and the men in blue won't come off looking much better.

It happened during the sixth inning with Dexter Fowler at the plate. Fowler hit a towering fly ball down the right field line that was pushed into the corner by a pretty strong crosswind. The result was a ball striking high upon the wall, where only a white line separates fair from foul, before dropping back into play.

Though it hit high on the wall, at no point did it appear to be a home run or anything reviewable. In fact, Fowler and D-Backs' right fielder Gerardo Parra went through the motions as if the ball were live and in play, only stopping when first base umpire Doug Eddings' foul ball ruling had become clear. That was the correct call, by the way, as several replays confirmed Fowler missed a likely double by mere inches.

But here's where the situation became odd. Rockies manager Walt Weiss immediately discussed the call with Eddings, and then returned to his dugout. Before the next pitch, though, Weiss again reemerged from the dugout, this time seeking out home plate umpire Dana DeMuth. DeMuth then huddled with the entire crew, including Eddings, Hernandez and Adrian Johnson, before going back to review the play and confirming the original ruling.

Needless to say, pretty much everyone was confused. That includes Troy Renck, who's the Rockies beat reporter for the Denver Post.

The only explanation I can come up with is that Weiss specifically argued it was a home run during the second conference and the umpires felt it was somehow close enough to look at.

Would that be ridiculous if true? Pretty much. But that's all I can come up with other than...

It should be noted that Dana DeMuth is the crew chief of this specific crew. When Angel Hernandez and company botched the review in Cleveland, he was actually filling in for DeMuth who had the series off. This review wasn't Hernandez's call, but his involvement is still noteworthy, especially if you consider the accusations Hall of Fame baseball writer Peter Gammons' threw in Hernandez's direction following the Cleveland debacle.

Also, on the heels of veteran umpire Fieldin Culbreth being suspended and fined for misapplying the rules in Houston, it'll be interesting to see how MLB handles this situation. Will it again be seen as a judgment call on the umpires' behalf, just as it was in Cleveland? That in the eyes of the crew chief, it was close enough to meet the criteria for review. Or will MLB see it as another misapplication, in this case a misuse of the replay system, and hand down a reprimand (even a warning) of some sort?

I'm guessing they will rule on the judgment side, but it might be worth staying tuned to find out.

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