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Friday, May 07, 2021

MLB teams can’t play games under protest anymore

For those of us of “a certain age,” the photo above brings back memories of Cubs manager Leo Durocher arguing with an umpire over ... well, just about anything. Sometimes, depending on the situation, those arguments resulted in filing an official protest with the league, “playing the game under protest,” in the vernacular of the time.

League officials would review the protest and make a judgment. 99.9 percent of the time, the protests were disallowed. Perhaps the most famous example of a protest that was upheld was the George Brett “Pine Tar Game” in 1983, when Brett’s apparent home run was taken away because his bat was seen to have pine tar above the legal limit. The game was ordered replayed from that point on.

I have learned that this is no longer possible. Official Baseball Rule 7.04, which covers protested games, has been amended for 2021 and now reads:

Protesting a game shall never be permitted, regardless of whether such complaint is based on judgment decisions by the umpire or an allegation that an umpire misapplied these rules or otherwise rendered a decision in violation of these rules.

This is interesting, despite the fact that almost no protests were ever upheld. What if there actually is “a decision rendered in violation of these rules” by an umpire or umpiring crew? There won’t be any recourse for teams.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 07, 2021 at 10:08 AM | 30 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: protest

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Howie Menckel Posted: May 07, 2021 at 10:40 AM (#6017537)
There is something lost when players can no longer play for two teams in the same game

it happened in the NBA in the 1978-79 season, as the result of a protest that was upheld.

Eric Money scored 23 points for the Nets and 4 points for the 76ers in the Sixers' 123-117 win.

Ralph Simpson [father of India Arie] didn't score for the Nets but he scored 8 for the 76ers.

Harvey Catchings [father of Tameka] went the opposite route, scoring 8 for the Nets but none for the 76ers.

Al Skinner was a DNP for both teams in this game, which is another kind of weird.

   2. winnipegwhip Posted: May 07, 2021 at 11:53 AM (#6017558)
So for all the hand wringing we have heard over the years about the necessity of getting the calls right is paramount, teams do not have the right to protest a game in case there is a rule misinterpretation...or while Hernandez and Diaz are still in the game?
   3. The Yankee Clapper Posted: May 07, 2021 at 01:27 PM (#6017583)
No protests in the National Pastime? It’s almost like MLB doesn’t believe in free speech. In any event, playing under protest seems far less disruptive than the Manager storming the field and refusing to leave until he speaks to the umpire’s supervisor.
   4. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: May 07, 2021 at 01:31 PM (#6017587)
the Manager storming the field and refusing to leave until he speaks to the umpire’s supervisor.


You gotta admit that sounds pretty american though.
   5. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: May 07, 2021 at 02:41 PM (#6017607)
It must be bad business for the Official Gaming Partners of Major League Baseball™ to be unable to pay out and deposit the vig as soon as the game ends.
   6. Karl from NY Posted: May 07, 2021 at 03:35 PM (#6017617)
What if there actually is “a decision rendered in violation of these rules” by an umpire or umpiring crew? There won’t be any recourse for teams.

The "what if" is that the incorrect decision just stays as the result.

I can kinda agree with it, protests cause more distraction and embarrassment to the system than they're really worth.

And #5 has a great point too.
   7. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: May 07, 2021 at 03:58 PM (#6017622)
Protesting a game shall never be permitted, regardless of whether such complaint is based on judgment decisions by the umpire or an allegation that an umpire misapplied these rules or otherwise rendered a decision in violation of these rules.


I don't even know how to parse this. What does 'shall never be permitted' mean? What happens if a manager says to an umpire 'we're playing this game under protest'? Would there be a penalty for saying that? And what if the manager tries to protest the penalty?
   8. SoSH U at work Posted: May 07, 2021 at 04:15 PM (#6017624)
,What does 'shall never be permitted' mean? What happens if a manager says to an umpire 'we're playing this game under protest'? Would there be a penalty for saying that? And what if the manager tries to protest the penalty?


I'd interpret it to mean he can say it all he wants, but it doesn't matter. Protests are no longer permitted.
   9. pikepredator Posted: May 07, 2021 at 04:48 PM (#6017631)
What happens if a manager says to an umpire 'we're playing this game under protest'?


It reminds me of Michael Scott's "I DECLARE BANKRUPTCY!" in a random office episode.
   10. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 07, 2021 at 04:59 PM (#6017634)
So Trump can't protest MLB anymore?
   11. cardsfanboy Posted: May 07, 2021 at 06:52 PM (#6017654)
I honestly think that post 5 nailed it on the head as to why this has happened.
   12. Walt Davis Posted: May 07, 2021 at 08:21 PM (#6017670)
I go with post 5 too. From a baseball perspective, I would have zero problem getting rid of protests if every protestable call is already reviewable in-game. Then we're just getting rid of a second bite at the apple. I wouldn't care at all except it seems clear you can't be certain that the umps will get together, tell the first ump he needs to read the rulebook then properly apply the rule. With 4 people and a crew chief whose main/only job skill should be knowing the rulebook by heart, it should be nearly impossible for a rule to be incorrectly applied.

Anyway, if somebody can come up with an example of a protestable call that is not a reviewable call, I'll become mildly perturbed. As is this rule will probably last until the point they do something as stupid as over-rule a Brett HR.
   13. Ron J Posted: May 07, 2021 at 09:03 PM (#6017679)
#12 I know that years ago the passing score for an NFL referee on their rules test was 100%.

You weren't fired for a mistake on the test but you automatically became a candidate for replacement if somebody was judged ready to move up.

No idea if it's still true -- and we do see the occasional mistake in rules application but they're pretty uncommon.

Baseball by contrast has always placed a greater emphasis on the ability to control a game. Not that they ignore rules but there's a different attitude to an official's mistake on the rules front.
   14. SoSH U at work Posted: May 07, 2021 at 09:50 PM (#6017687)
Anyway, if somebody can come up with an example of a protestable call that is not a reviewable call, I'll become mildly perturbed.


We've already seen one. The Conforto HBP on what would have been Strike 3 should have been protested, and such a protest should have been upheld in a world where a commissioner who isn't Rob Manfred is in charge. The umpire clearly thought the pitch was a strike, then changed his mind and awarded an HBP, misapplying the rule. The Marlins could take their argument to the other umps, but the call itself was not reviewable.

I suspect most determinations that could conceivably be protested (like the Mets/Cards incident* the other day involving the interpreter) would not be reviewable.

This is a terrible decision, like most made by Manfred, and I join you and CFB in suspecting Pat Rapper is correct about the motivation. And winnipeg is absolutely correct that it shows how much "getting it right" is truly valued.

*I highly doubt a protest would have been upheld in that scenario, though the umps clearly misapplied the rule.
   15. Benji Gil Gamesh VII - The Opt-Out Awakens Posted: May 08, 2021 at 09:23 AM (#6017744)
I honestly think that post 5 nailed it on the head as to why this has happened.
Cosign.

It probably makes me a bad person or at least a bad fan to say this, but there's a non-zero part of me that is rooting for a significant player/manager/umpire/league official scandal related to the betting to drive home what a terrible idea it is for the league to be involved in.
   16. Brian C Posted: May 08, 2021 at 10:40 AM (#6017750)
The umpire clearly thought the pitch was a strike, then changed his mind and awarded an HBP, misapplying the rule.

That's not "misapplying the rule", he changed his mind on a judgment call. It's just garden-variety making a bad call. No commissioner ever - past, present, or future - would uphold a protest on that play.
   17. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: May 08, 2021 at 11:29 AM (#6017757)
It probably makes me a bad person or at least a bad fan to say this, but there's a non-zero part of me that is rooting for a significant player/manager/umpire/league official scandal related to the betting to drive home what a terrible idea it is for the league to be involved in.

I think it makes you a true fan who loves the game of baseball more than you love the gaming of baseball because I too have been rooting for "existential crisis for the sport" regarding their gambling foray.

Baseball deserves better, not bettors.
   18. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: May 08, 2021 at 11:43 AM (#6017759)
The ability to protest a game was almost completely meaningless, so this is no great loss.
   19. Froot Loops Posted: May 08, 2021 at 12:21 PM (#6017768)
Was the Brett pine tar game the last time a protest was upheld?
   20. SoSH U at work Posted: May 08, 2021 at 12:22 PM (#6017769)

That's not "misapplying the rule", he changed his mind on a judgment call.


Except after the game he admitted he should have called a strike. His judgement on the pitch never changed. He didn't suddenly (or ever) think the ball was not in the strike zone. He belatedly realized it hit Conforto, then misapplied the rule that a player hit by a pitch in the strike zone is not awarded first base.

   21. SoSH U at work Posted: May 08, 2021 at 12:23 PM (#6017770)

Was the Brett pine tar game the last time a protest was upheld?



No, the Giants (I think) successfully protested when the Cubs ground crew had some issues during a rain delay sometime in the last 10 years.
   22. PeteF3 Posted: May 08, 2021 at 12:28 PM (#6017771)
There was also an upheld protest in 1986 between the Cardinals and the Pirates, when umpires called the game after rain delays of 17 and 22 minutes. NL rules stated that a game had to be delayed at least 30 minutes before calling a game.

Then there was the infamous Bo Porter moment where he was allowed to change pitchers to deal with an Angels pinch hitter, without the first hitter facing a batter. The Angels protested, but ended up coming back to win the game anyway. That protest doubtless would have been upheld had the Astros won, and the umpires were fined and suspended.
   23. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: May 08, 2021 at 12:38 PM (#6017777)
No more Antifa at the ballgame, boys.
   24. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: May 08, 2021 at 07:23 PM (#6017855)
Then there was the infamous Bo Porter moment where he was allowed to change pitchers to deal with an Angels pinch hitter, without the first hitter facing a batter. The Angels protested, but ended up coming back to win the game anyway. That protest doubtless would have been upheld had the Astros won, and the umpires were fined and suspended.

Yeah, this was the moment that came to mind for me. Protesting a game was never about a bad call being made; it was about the umpires applying a rule incorrectly. And yes, it almost never happens, but if it almost never happens, then what's the harm in getting it right? A successful protest once a decade is far less deleterious to the viewing experience than three replay reviews per game.
   25. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: May 08, 2021 at 07:29 PM (#6017856)

I'd interpret it to mean he can say it all he wants, but it doesn't matter. Protests are no longer permitted.


But it's not the protest that isn't permitted; as you note the manager can protest all he wants. What is not permitted is review of a protest.
   26. SoSH U at work Posted: May 08, 2021 at 07:59 PM (#6017858)
But it's not the protest that isn't permitted; as you note the manager can protest all he wants. What is not permitted is review of a protest.


He can protest in the, Hey Blue, you got this wrong, sense. But there's no longer a mechanism for him filing a formal protest that will be heard by the league.
   27. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: May 08, 2021 at 08:56 PM (#6017867)
Harvey Catchings [father of Tameka] went the opposite route, scoring 8 for the Nets but none for the 76ers.


He had the T-Rexiest arms of any basketball player I ever saw.
   28. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: May 09, 2021 at 07:15 AM (#6017900)
He can protest in the, Hey Blue, you got this wrong, sense. But there's no longer a mechanism for him filing a formal protest that will be heard by the league.


I understand, it's the 'not permitted' wording that still gets me, as someone who writes lots of rules. 7.04 could simply say 'there is no formal mechanism for protest' and it would not bother me. 'Not permitted' implies it is against the rules and subject to some sort of sanction, not simply that it's not possible. It's like saying you're not permitted to teleport to Hawaii. That's just a very odd way of phrasing it.
   29. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: May 09, 2021 at 09:05 AM (#6017908)
you're not permitted to teleport to Hawaii.


Damn COVID is screwing everything up.
   30. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: May 10, 2021 at 10:08 AM (#6018005)
I'm really curious about this now. MLB.com has this article listing rule changes for 2021, but no mention of the protest rule getting scrubbed. It is so unlike Rob Manfred to not float trial balloons for any rule change he's "considering." Has there been any chatter on MLB Network about this change? I'm not normally conspiracy minded, but this is so different than any other time Manfred has stuck his grubby little fingers into the MLB rule book. Is it such bad optics for MLB to now be doing the bidding of Big Gambling that even Manfred is aware of what a terrible look it is, or is there some other plausible explanation why MLB would keep such a rule change so much on the down low?

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