As I always do, I watched my Chicago Cubs play last night against the Phillies. In the Eighth inning with the game all but over with a 5-1 Cubs lead, a curious thing happened. Third base umpire Joe West came out as Addison Russell was batting. He called out Phillies pitcher Austin Davis for something that was not clear — something that brought out manager Gabe Kapler. It turned out that Davis was using a crib sheet or scouting card and pulled it out to check out the stats on Russell who was brought in to pinch hit for Kyle Schwarber. That was in violation Rule 6.02(c)(7) and the sheet was taken away. Now, the Phillies are seeing a convoluted way to try to negate the one-sided loss. It is my dream come true: law has finally made it into an actual baseball game. Before I address the legal issue, I simply want to repeat my willingness to suit up as the Cubs pinch lawyer to call all future legal hits, strikes, and balls. Since I am already responsible for winning the 2016 World Series (and I clearly already have a uniform), I think that this is a signing that needs to happen this season. Joe Maddon, I am ready to start as the designated lawyer. Send me in, coach.
Rule 6.02(c)(7), is entitled “Improper Play, Illegal Action, and Misconduct” and “Pitching Prohibitions,” and mandates that a pitcher must not have “on his person, or in his possession, any foreign substance.” The commentary to the rule further states that a pitcher may not “attach anything to either hand, any finger or either wrist,” and that the umpire shall determine “if such attachment is indeed a foreign substance for the purpose of Rule 6.02(c)(7).”
Now here is the kicker. The Phillies are arguing that if the rule was violated, West should have thrown their pitcher out of the game. That’s right, they are complaining that their own pitcher was allowed to pitch — or be allowed to violate the rule with the crib sheet.
It is a legal variation of “junking a game”– not trying to win as much as losing in a better way.
The sheet is clearly a “foreign substance.” And the rule mandate that, for any violation of Rule 6.02(c)(2) through Rule 6.02(c)(7), the pitcher “shall be ejected immediately from the game” and receive an automatic suspension of 10 games. West merely took the scouting card when he should have tossed out Davis.
Kapler did protest but it is not clear if he demanded an expelling of his own pitcher. That brings us to the protocol:
Managers can protest a game when they allege that the umpires have misapplied the rules. The umpires must be notified of the protest at the time the play in question occurs and before the next pitch or attempted play begins. If the play in question ended the game, a protest can be filed with the league office until noon the following day. No protests are permitted on judgment calls by the umpires.
Major League Baseball’s executive vice president of baseball operations later determines whether the protested decision violated the rules, though the game will not be replayed unless it is also determined that the violation adversely affected the protesting team’s chances of winning.
Update: I am left watching today’s game like a regular slob with no call up from Maddon. Worse yet, the MLB has declared that cheat sheets will be allowed — removing my big play for designated hitter.