Nationals Baseball: Well why not let them just catch the balls?

Friday, April 09, 2021

Well why not let them just catch the balls?

 If you didn't see yesterday the Mets won a game bc Michael Conforto stuck his elbow out over the plate and let it graze his elbow pad. This isn't hyperbole. He was leaning right at the zone, the pitch came in the zone, so much that it was called a strike, and as it came in he moved his elbow straight out.  He was awarded the base and afterwards the umps said they messed up but by that time the damage was done. 

I've never been a big stickler for the rule as written, in part because neither has baseball. The rule says basically you gotta try to get out of the way of a ball thrown out of the strike zone (and not swing at it). But the way it's mostly worked it that the batter owns the area in the batters box and if the ball goes in there all bets are off.  Don't move or maybe even little lean in? That's fine. Pitcher missed his target so do what you feel like. This is why I was never a Jose Tabata hater. If you hate that HBP that broke up Max's perfect game then you should be yelling every day at a HBP in a game bc that's about how often you'd see something like that. (Should a perfect game have a more stricter interpretation of the rules? Possibly)

But the Conforto thing - that even took away the "has to be out of the strike zone".  If you can get hit by pitches over the plate then the whole thing breaks down. 

I don't know what the punishment here would be, can you suspend Conforto? I guess so but that opens up another can of worms.  Mostly I think you yell at the umps, say never do that again and hope it doesn't end up mattering with like the Mets winning the division by a game. 

Baseball tonight.  This weekend the Nats face defending champion and arguably still best team in baseball Los Angeles Dodgers. 

Joe Ross vs Walker Buehler

? vs Jose Urias

? vs ? 

Don't you love these first few weeks match-ups?  The Nats are waiting to see who is cleared when but also these guys will probably need some warm up time so either their first start would be delayed and/or limited to a couple innings. Max is in line to pitch Sunday but if both Corbin and Lester can go they might try to work them in AND give Max another day off.  

This is part of a six game swing through LA and STL and you have to set the bar low not knowing who can play when.  Assuming everyone isn't a go tonight 2-4 should be the goal. Hang on and move on. 

FWIW travel wise there are no really bad parts of the Nats schedule this year - the worst travel swing might be a MIA, CIN, COL run to end the year. In terms of days off the Nats have a run from June 22nd to Jul 11th now thanks to a makeup Mets game and a run from July 23rd - August 8th. In some sense the end of the season will also be brutal. They'll play 36 games in 37 days (one DH so two off days) from August 24th through September 29th. The dog days are coming to bite the Nats.


Cautiously Pessimistic said...

The biggest piece of BS about the Conforto situation is that it's deemed a "judgment call" and therefore not reviewable. Why is breaking up a double play reviewable then? That's equally as much a judgment call. Any person with a brain can watch that replay and see 1) it was a strike and 2) he leaned into it. Both of which, by the rulebook, are not allowed (yes I'm still mad about Tabata). Little league umpires call strikes for kids who lean in, why can't MLB umps?

As long as the Nats don't get swept by the Cards, this road trip will be a success. I don't expect the Nats to win any games against the Dodgers, not with this roster

Anonymous said...

My take is that this case is especially egregious because there's no need to even have an opinion about Comforto leaning in. The umpire clearly thought the pitch was a strike in the first place.

So this has nothing to do with the sacrosanct strikezone being exempt from all questions, or some other judgement call being "unreviewable" (which in principle I have no problem with - I wish they'd rule tags on stolen bases "unreviewable"). No, this is literally a question of applying a simple, cut and dried rule correctly given facts that no one is contesting.

I wouldn't suspend Comforto but I'd definitely void the win and replay it again from that point (bottom 9th, 2 on, 2 outs) later in the season. It's ridiculous that anyone at MLB would argue otherwise, and I'm struggling to understand how the conversation in the review booth didn't correct it.

Anonymous said...

@Anon, it's because once the ump called it a HBP, the only thing the booth could do was overturn the HBP. But it did clearly hit him. Balls/strikes aren't reviewable, and whether a player leans into a pitch isn't reviewable. The replay booth did what they were supposed to, and the problem at hand is the fact that they couldn't do more. And accepting the protest would mean that MLB is copping to the fact that their rules around replay are insufficient, which means they'll never accept the protest.

Anonymous said...

@ other anon - Yeah, I know that's what they're saying about why the review couldn't change the call. But the order of events wasn't "Ump calls HBP, Marlins ask for review, Ump sees during review it was really a strike, Ump powerless to correct the mistake."

The order of events was "Ump calls Comforto out on strikes, Comforto protests that it hit him, Ump agrees that it hit him and sends him to first."

You don't need to overturn anything to correct the call on the field. The ump would just have to admit to making a mistake in applying the rules as opposed one seeing or interpreting what was happening.

mike k said...

I agree with anon 1. My understanding is that the RULE states if a pitch is a strike that takes precedence over HBP (if I'm wrong someone correct me). So while you cannot overturn balls and strikes or HBP via replay, you actually don't have to overturn either because the umpire initially called the pitch a strike. You just apply the rule correctly and overturn the call, saying the strike overrules the HBP.

KO said...

I think id be ok with challenging balls/strikes at this point as long as they limit. Like it won't take long to review just 2 or 3 a game and if 1 call is gonna make this big a difference it shouldn't be up to the ump

Max David said...

The 2 things, actually 3 things but one is a general complaint about the Conforto play Harper and then I'll say something about the Tabata play from years back (was that 2015 or 2016??)

1). The MLB rule book specifically states a strike precedes any hit batter (as an example see all of those times a batter gets hit by a pitch but swings at it, they get the strike on the swing, not first by getting hit), so irregardless of whether Conforto leaned in or not which he obviously did, the pitch was a strike, so he should've been struck out regardless. I just cannot believe when the 4 umps huddles up before going to replay, even ONE of the other 3 didn't chime in and say "Gee Ron, if you were about to call him out on strikes, how can that possibly be a hit by pitch? The strike out takes precedent." That tells me the umpires either: A) Don't know the rules or B) they do know the rules but are choosing when they enforce them. Either way it's a major problem.

2) Of all the crap MLB reviews now, intent has to start getting reviewed, especially when it decides a game.

3) Embarassing for the Mets to be celebrating that "win" like they won game 7 of the World Series, but since that's as close to the World Series they'll get this year, maybe let them have it?? In any case, Conforto should get a nice one right in the ribs in his first AB on Saturday.

As for the Tabata play: I don't have a problem either. You are never truly out of the game, I think about once every 5 or 10 years there's a team that's down 5+ runs with 2 outs in the 9th and comes back to win, actually maybe even less, so with no clock, technically even 30-0 with 2 outs in the 9th really isn't over, so you never know when you are going to get a 2 out rally, and really every team every season usually has a multi run rally with 2 outs, so you just get on base any way. It's a bad look, but you do what you have to do (and I feel the same way about bunting late games in no hitters). The major difference between Tabata's play and Conforto's is Conforto's single-handily won the game. The Nats still won that game, I think Max still got the no hitter anyways, so really no harm no foul. The Marlins are already starting behind the 8 ball, and in a division that looks like it will be very competitive that's a brutal way to lose.

Robot said...

The Conforto thing was pathetic, but so are the Mets.

Tabata can burn in baseball hell alongside Pete Kozma.

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