In wake of the Don Mattingly debacle Tuesday night, I woke up to an email from a loyal Stewie named Dylan B. who thought that Rule 8.06 had been misapplied by the umpires and that Jonathan Broxton(notes) should have been allowed to remain in the game for one more batter.
Intrigued by the possibility of a juicy post, I reviewed the relevant language in 8.06 and the timing of Mattingly's mound visit before ultimately deciding that the rule was poorly written and that its conflicting nature left enough wiggle room for the umps' ruling to stand.
End of story, right?
Well, not quite, because league officials are now telling Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports and Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle that the crew erred in not allowing Broxton to face the next batter — Andres Torres(notes) — before being forced from the game.
The correction stems from the fact that umpires enforced the stated first part of a rule, but did not enforce a seemingly-conflicting addendum that appears later in the MLB rulebook.
"A second trip to the same pitcher in the same inning will cause this pitcher's automatic removal from the game."
... while Rule 8.06 (comment) then says ...
"In a case where a manager has made his first trip to the mound and then returns the second time to the mound in the same inning with the same pitcher in the game and the same batter at bat, after being warned by the umpire that he cannot return to the mound, the manager shall be removed from the game and the pitcher required to pitch to the batter until he is retired or gets on base. After the batter is retired, or becomes a baserunner, then this pitcher must be removed from the game."
But that is incorrect and it would appear that the error that yours truly made was to assume that the mention of "automatic" in the first part also meant "immediate."
[Related: Mattingly's misery]
ESPN's Rob Neyer ruminated on this subject a lot on Tuesday night and his explanation for the existence of the rule is rather illuminating. By requiring that the pitcher stay in the game for one more batter, an enterprising manager is prevented from intentionally visiting the mound twice — and purposely getting his pitcher thrown out — so that he can get a better matchup for a batter that was just inserted into the game.
But, of course, Broxton had already faced more than one batter before Torres came up to the plate and crew chief Tim McClelland told the San Jose Mercury News that "he respectfully disagreed with MLB's interpretation of the rule, saying the comments to Rule 8.06 are applicable only when dealing with a 'defiant' manager."
"Is the league of that opinion? Yes," said McClelland, who is in his 28th year as a full-time umpire. "It's a difference of opinion over a situation that happened that's not covered in the rule book."
In any case, it's clear that 8.06 is a somewhat-confusing rule that should be clarified a bit more in the rulebook's next revision. As for Tuesday night's game, Rosenthal says the umpires will not be disciplined and Schulman reports that the rule could have been protested had the Dodgers known about the mistake.
However, the game's outcome will stand because nothing was filed on Tuesday night.
So what's done is done and all that's left is to give a big BLS head nod to Dylan for getting out in front of an overlooked oversight. Get the man an umpiring gig already.
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