The controversial play in Kingsport
What an evening, Tuesday July 17, 2012 at Hunter Wright Stadium in Kingsport, Tennessee. It will be on that this announcer will not forget for a long time. Let’s look at the reasons for that.
First will be the insightful comments from our Intern for Bristol Baseball, Inc., Jordan Childress. This was the first time I’ve had the pleasure working with this fine young man from the University of Virginia at Wise. Jordan is a proverbial walking encyclopedia of baseball knowledge and trivia. His insightful, thought, and provoking comments, along with an eye on detail play by play announcing made this a fun game from the broadcast booth.
Secondly, with at least one exception, this was a well officiated game. Our umpires for the game, Morgan Day behind the plate, and Travis Godec in the field, were in perfect position all game to make the right call.
If you are to look at the Play by Play provided by MiLB, http://www.milb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?sid=t557&t=g_log&gid=2012_07_17_brirok_kptrok_1, and go to the top of the 7th inning, you’ll see that Courtney Hawkins walks and steals 2nd base. Alex Williams strikes out for the first out of the inning. Nick Basto, the night’s shortstop, comes to the plate and flies out. What you won’t see is that Basto hits a “Texas Leaguer” bloop to short right field about 15 feet in fair ground down the right field line. With that bloop, the Kingsport Mets right fielder Maikis De La Cruz along with 1st baseman Jeffery Diehl both run for the fly ball. As De La Cruz makes the catch he collides with Diehl and the ball pops up about 3 feet out of the right fielder’s glove.
At that point, the Bristol runner at 2nd, Hawkins breaks for 3rd base as he feels that the ball is deep enough to advance and with the fielders colliding, he has an extra margin to make the next base.
Mets 1st baseman Diehl makes the bobbled catch from the collision with right fielder De La Cruz and Nick Basto is out. Diehl then looks in the field, and sees Hawkins way off base and proceeds to trot to 2nd base for what Diehl perceives as potential out number 3. Sox 3rd base coach sees the situation and sends Hawkins to home with an apparent run for the Sox tying the game at 3. While Hawkins is busting home, the KMets infielder steps on 2nd. Field umpire Travis Godec calls Hawkins out, then Home Plate umpire Day overrides the call seeing the bobbled play in the outfield and motions safe.
As the two umpires confer on the call, again the right thing to do on a controversial play and attempting to make the right call, they walk over to the KMets dugout and talk with their coach, Jose Leger. Leger clearly upset with the call, I could observe him making an argument. From the broadcasting booth, neither Jordan nor I could hear any of the conversations on the field. After that the umpires went over toward the Sox dugout and proceeded to talk with Coach Pete Rose, Jr. Rose made several motions toward right field and 2nd base, and after a few minutes was tossed by home plate umpire Morgan Day. Rose continued his comments and pointing to right field and 2nd base and field umpire Travis Godec had to get between Rose and Day.
Then to our amazement Courtney Hawkins came out of the dugout and went to 3rd. What??? Hawkins to 3rd? Why??? In all of my years of umpiring, being a part of MiLB, and being a fan of MLB, I’ve never seen a rule that pulls a player back on the field, especially in this case. Evidently plate umpire Day put the Sox runner Hawkins back at 3rd. Bristol was unable to plate Hawkins after that “Decision” in the top of the 7th.
Both teams scored one in the 8th and the game ended 4-3 KMets.
I caught Courtney after the game and asked him how he ended up back on 3rd, and he remarked that he didn’t have a clue. I also saw Pete Jr, and got the understandable look from him that he didn’t want to talk, so I respected his wishes.
It is unfortunate with the scoring includes someone other than the 18 players on the field, but last night at Kingsport, that very thing happened. Morgan Day, in essence, took a run off the scoreboard for the Sox which would have tied the game. Would it have made a difference? It could have. If the game would have continued as is, we would have went into extra innings, free baseball, to decide the outcome.
I’ll continue to remind our fans and blog readers that these umpires are mostly kids, similar in age to many of the players, and most likely with much less baseball experience than our kids playing the game they love. In my umpiring career, as in life, I have those situations I wish I could have made a different call. In life sometimes it’s you and one person, but in an umpiring situation, it’s not so private.
One last note I’ll add is that if it was a rule interpretation, a possible alternate course of action would have been to protest the game, which would have went into the score book, and been evaluated by League officials for validity.
I have a newfound respect for Pete Rose, Jr. I’ve had the pleasure of talking to Pete on many occasions and he is a kindly gentleman loving the game he grew up with. However when things go wrong on the field, and his beloved players are wronged, the exuberance and fire of his father, Pete Sr. is apparent in the family genetics. From my perspective, Pete is usually right, too. I believe that if I ever got the opportunity to umpire professionally, and Pete argued with me, I’d have to listen to his comments.