The Chicago Cubs and New York Mets played a relatively uneventful game for eight innings on Saturday afternoon. In the top of the ninth inning, however, the two teams, along with the four umpires led by crew chief Gary Cederstrom, were involved in possibly the most complicated and confusing fielder's choices you'll ever see.
The play happened with the bases loaded, nobody out and Chicago's Darwin Barney at the plate. Barney would end up hitting a soft liner to shallow center field that Juan Lagares appeared to trap at first look, but probably caught after further review. It was a tough, flip-of-the-coin type call any way you slice it, which might explain why none of the four umpires offered an initial ruling. Eventually, first base umpire Lance Barrett signaled the ball was trapped, but at that point there were three baserunners trapped in no man's land, nine fielders that didn't know which way was up, and three other umpires still deciding in their own minds what just happened.
It was, in a word, chaotic, and when all was said and done, only one out was recorded and no runners advanced.
I don't know that I could do this play justice with a full play-by-play, but I can confidently tell you that after coming up with the ball, Lagares quickly fired to second base for what he thought was a potential double play. However, runner Ryan Sweeney made it back in time so he was ruled safe, which would have been true regardless of the call in center field. What actually ended up happening on the throw, Justin Turner caught it and stepped on second, which forced out the runner at first, Nate Schierholtz, and essentially ended the play right there because there were no longer any force outs in play.
Had Turner realized it was a trap initially, he would have been the second leg in what I believe would be the first 8-6-3-2-5-6 triple play in MLB history. Despite that missed opportunity, it still could have been an easy double play. Once the ball finally made it around to David Wright at third base, Wellington Castillo, thinking he was just forced out at home, wandered off the base, but Wright didn't know what was going on either, Just before Wright figured the situation out. Castillo got his foot back in before the tag could be applied.
It was at this point that Mets manager Terry Collins ran on the field looking for an explanation, but all the umpires could tell him is that everybody involved in the play screwed up one way or another and you'll just have to take your one out.
I'll tell you what's funny about that, too. Had the play been ruled a catch (which I'm going to say is the correct call) they would have only got the one out anyway. The only difference is Nate Schierholtz is the runner at first base instead of Darwin Barney. So really, it was a lot of time and energy expended to get us right back where we should have been all along.
But hey, it's not all bad for the Cubs and Mets. At least it got us to write about them before the trade deadline.
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