Manager Joe Maddon and the Tampa Bay Rays appeared to have a sound case when they filed a protest saying umpire Bob Davidson incorrectly allowed the Toronto Blue Jays to use a replay challenge Sunday. The Blue Jays won 5-4 but might not have, had umpires ruled Tampa Bay's way during the fourth inning.
The Blue Jays challenged a call on a pickoff play at first base, but Maddon contends the next "play" had occurred — making it too late for a challenge — because the pitcher had toed the rubber and the next batter had entered the batter's box.
Well, Major League Baseball ruled Tuesday: Protest denied. No reason was given in MLB's official release, but ball writer Jason Collette explains why Joe Torre ruled the way he did:
So we didn't have a second protest upheld within a few days, when none otherwise had been granted since 1986. Maddon seemed to roll with it, if his response on Twitter is any indication:
No protest...denied! http://t.co/dI7izHiJXr— Joe Maddon (@RaysJoeMaddon) August 26, 2014
The rules say the Rays are out of luck, but this is another detail about the replay system that MLB ought to refine this offseason. The issue wasn't necessarily the amount of time that passed between the "out" call on the pickoff and Jays manager John Gibbons coming out to make his replay inquiry, but instead that Mark Buehrle made the mistake of ascending the rubber quickly and batter Yunel Escobar had stepped into the batter's box, "starting" the next play. Because that's what they do.
Common sense tells us this: Even though the bench gets input from the players, the decision to challenge comes from the dugout. If the dugout is able to call timeout before the next pitch is thrown — which is what happened in this case — then video review should be allowed. The dugout is the place with access to staff watching video. The players should be responsible only for playing. In cases of replay, Buehrle should not be penalized for ascending the mound and getting right to the next pitch, as long as his team challenges before the next pitch is thrown.
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