Matt Joyce broke his bat, and the ball spun weakly up the middle. The .120 hitter legged it out even though it looked like a double-play ball. Francisco Lindor attempted to tag Andrew McCutchen before he reached second base, but wasn’t close enough to get him. He threw it to first. Joyce was called safe. First and second with one out?
Ah, no. Ump Jose Navas said McCutchen was out of the basepath, and called him out. The Mets challenged the safe call at first, which was overturned on replay because Joyce didn’t actually beat the throw. Instead of a late-game rally to potentially break a 4-4 tie, the inning was over. The Mets would win the game 5-4 on a Michael Conforto homer in the top of the ninth. The decision that called out McCutchen was, of course, not good.
As you can see, the call was so out of line—McCutchen was literally running straight!—that the Mets announcers were angry about it, too. But, thanks to baseball’s replay rules, McCutchen’s out was not reviewable, while the play at first was, and so that was the only one that could be changed. (Baseball’s replay reviews, like most sports instant replay, is concerned with following a set of rules to possibly change a call, rather than looking at a replay and just trying to get the call right when you can look at it in slow-motion.)
The Phillies were quite mad about it all.
“That was about as straight of a line as you could run,” manager Joe Girardi said. ”He said he left the baseline. It’s a terrible call, right? And to me, the sad thing about it is it’s not reviewable because it’s a judgment? Well, I’m sorry. That’s about as clear as it can be, and it might have cost us this game.
“They’re never going to overrule that. They’re just not. It’s on the screen as clear as day. The idea is to get the calls right, right? You see it on the screen like that, just reverse it. But I’m sure their team would go crazy.”
Bryce Harper, meanwhile, was ejected after appearing to yell something that rhymes with “duck shoe” at the umpire.
This is the far from the first instance of ump judgement making the news this season. In a Mets game last month, Conforto stuck his elbow out into a pitch with the bases loaded to give his team a walk-off win. No matter how obvious it was that Conforto leaned in, replay could not reverse it.
And earlier this week, umpire Marty Foster called Isan Diaz safe on interference, ruling that pitcher Zack Godley got in his way after tossing the ball to first.
As you can see, this call was a bit charitable. Again, it was not eligible to be reviewed. “I’m 100% sure that the runner was impeded on his way to first base,” Foster said afterward, so it didn’t even matter that it needed to be reviewed. Milwaukee was unconvinced. “It was a terrible call,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “I have no idea what Marty was trying to make up there, what he saw. It’s even worse looking at the replay.” (I suppose you could argue about this one a little more than the other call.)
Nobody—except people like me who enjoy chaos, and think baseball should be even slower—wants more instant replay. It’s already delaying games with enough dead time. So we’re just going to keep enjoying these hilarious calls. It’s baseball as it is meant to be.