Direct from the Department of You Have Got To Be Freaking Kidding Me:

So a team is supposed to predict to a nicety when, where, and how a player receives an ovation, in its home stadium, even if the player who receives it is a member of the other team.

This is a social nightmare, and exactly the kind of crap that crabby old people like me were concerned about when the pitch clock became a reality.

We’re in this position to begin with because umpires refused to enforce Rule 8.04 (“When the bases are unoccupied, the pitcher shall deliver the ball to the batter within 12 seconds after he receives the ball. Each time the pitcher delays the game by violating this rule, the umpire shall call “Ball.” Yeah. That was already a rule. For a while.)

And now that the pitch clock is among us? Well– and I know this is difficult to believe–the pitch clock isn’t consistently enforced. Ovations are permitted; then they aren’t. Cody Bellinger was hit, but Teoscar Hernandez wasn’t.

What was the difference? According to SportsNet, umpire crew chief Mark Carlson tells us: “We took it upon ourselves to let Major League Baseball know that if this happened when he came up the bat, that we were going to pause the clock and let him (Hernandez) take his time.”

But wait, there’s more! Carlson also said:

Normally, the clubs have the ability to contact Major League Baseball when they feel that there might be an extended reception for a former player. And if they don’t, we still have the option of recognizing it and allowing the extra time.

We don’t want to take away from a former player’s reception and that the fans who loved him want to give him. We just took it upon ourselves to delay the start, give him his opportunity to relish in his success that he’s had here and go from there.

In other words, Teoscar Hernandez was spared his at-bat because one of the umpires– who, judging from his actions and comments here, understands the game of baseball and the incalculable mechanics of crowd behavior– “let Major League Baseball know.”

In other other words, someone asked permission. That’s it. That’s the only reason Hernandez wasn’t slapped with a pitch clock violation. The umpire– not the Blue Jays, mind you– the umpire was running interference for him. Because now someone in a position of power must submit an authorized permission slip for fans act or think of their own accord at an MLB game.

But rules are rules, I guess:

Teoscar Hernandez had a solicitous umpire greasing the skids for him; Cody Bellinger did not. And so: Strike for you, Cody, for daring to return to your former home stadium where they were thoughtful enough to let you know they remembered you, missed you, and wished you well in your new hell life as a Chicago Cub.

So in addition to everything else sliding down the MLB slush pile,  we now have clubs not even bothering to acknowledge that they need to submit a TPS report to Major League Baseball every single time the crowd might have the temerity to clap. And we have managers who don’t even seem to understand the rule to begin with.

This rule is dumb, the enforcement of it is dumb, and we are now in a position in which Major League Baseball must receive a 24-hour warning that its customers might enjoy Major League Baseball. What if the ovation happens after a grand slam? What if the crowd bangs some leftover appreciation for a spectacular feat of fielding that took place just before the inning flipped? How are these moments possibly foreseen?

Don’t say I didn’t warn you when Joey Votto returns to the lineup already one strike in the hole.

10 Responses

  1. LDS

    Spot on, MBE. As for a preexisting rule? Just like Congress, pass yet another and pretend you’re doing something.

  2. Joe Shaw

    These are the kind of folks who would have insisted the game move on after they cleared Dhamar Hanlin from the field.

    They should go be accountants or something and leave the “having fun” to the rest of us

  3. Scott C

    “This rule is dumb, the enforcement of it is dumb, and we are now in a position in which Major League Baseball must receive a 24-hour warning that its customers might enjoy Major League Baseball.” I believe you said it all. Having umpired in high school ball for 25 years, I found that some of the guys I worked with understood situations like Carlson did and others did not. I actually knew one guy who in the State Finals called a batter/runner out after hitting a game winning Home Run because the third base coach high fives her as she rounded third base. The rules in our stare was that a coach could not touch a runner as she was running the bases. He said, “A rule is a Rule.” Yeah but common sense and common curtesy should also be in play. Too bad some people including in MLB execs don’t understand that.

  4. Mark Moore

    Well said regarding the TPS reports … 😀

    Seriously, I’m a fan of the pitch clock and limiting the delay shenanigans. The current “My Pitch-Com is dead” ruse will need to be dealt with at some point. But punishing a spontaneous outburst? 😮

    C’mon, man! Think, will you? Thanks to the one umpire who did just that.