It’s official, finally. The Toronto Blue Jays did, in fact, win the baseball game on Saturday. It sadly took a former Yankee manager to silence the manager of the Tampa Bay Rays.
Mike Wilner, of Rogers Sportsnet, broke the news via Twitter that “#MLB announces that #Rays protest of Saturday’s loss to #BlueJays has been denied.” For those who missed it and live outside the realm of any Toronto-based media, the issue came in the fourth inning of the home game between the Rays’ Wil Myers and the Blue Jays’ pitcher Mark Buehrle. A pickoff play was made, but Myers, sliding back into first base, was originally called safe. John Gibbons had challenged the play only after Buehrle stepped back on the rubber and the next Rays batter stepped into the batter’s box. By rule, the replay challenge should never have been allowed. However, the umpiring staff disregarded the rule and still replayed the event. It was later found that Myers was indeed out at first, to the chagrin of Rays manager Joe Maddon.
The Rays agreed to play the rest of the baseball game under protest, which they later lost by one run.
Ben Nicholson-Smith, of Rogers Sportsnet, reported further on the matter:
"Section K(4) of MLB’s replay regulations states that protests based around replay judgments or procedures will not be upheld. “No protest shall ever be permitted on judgment decisions by the Replay Official,” the rules read. “Moreover, a violation of any rule or procedure set forth herein shall not constitute a basis for protesting a game.”Executive VP for baseball operations Joe Torre made the decision to deny the Rays’ formal protest."
The understanding was made that the umpire’s decision to watch the replay overruled any challenge or protest by the managers. Even though Gibbons was late to challenge the call, the umpires’ crew chief made a decision that was not Gibbons’ fault. Since the Blue Jays can not be held responsible for the umpire making the call, it would be unjust to penalize the winning team.
Joe Torre did not make a large statement on the matter, seemingly wishing to forget this happened. Likely the umpires involved, as well as the rest of the MLB staff, will be even more blue after Torre is done with them, instructing the proper use of the replay challenge rule. However, the fact is that the proper call was made. The point of these challenges was to get the calls right.
Protesting a technicality seems cheap, but understandable if you were Joe Maddon and the Rays. If it is a rule to not challenge a call when the next play has officially started, then it should be enforced. In this case, the proper flow of the game was interrupted incorrectly. The Rays may not have won the protest, but it will benefit the rest of the league in the long run. Umpires will be looking to follow the rule more closely and keep the slow-moving games flowing to their eventual conclusion quicker.
Thanks for coming out, Maddon. A Yankee helps the Blue Jays for once.