Should Dodgers have lodged protest?

July, 22, 2010
7/22/10
3:39
AM ET
Just 24 hours ago, I got fairly obsessive about the Mattingly Affair, noting the haziness of the rules but allowing that the umpires probably came up with the right answer in the end.

Well, maybe not so much:
    Umpires in Tuesday's Dodgers-Giants game erred in forcing Jonathan Broxton from the game, a major league official told ESPN's Tim Kurkjian.

    --snip--

    Rule 8.06 (d) states a manager or coach is considered to have concluded his visit to the mound when he leaves the 18-foot circle surrounding the pitcher's rubber.

    However, Rule 8.06 Comment says: "In a case where a manager has made his first trip to the mound and then returns the second time to the mound in the same inning with the same pitcher in the game and the same batter at bat, after being warned by the umpire that he cannot return to the mound, the manager shall be removed from the game and the pitcher required to pitch to the batter until he is retired or gets on base. After the batter is retired, or becomes a baserunner, then this pitcher must be removed from the game."

    In other words, Broxton should have faced Torres before being relieved.

    Instead, Giants manager Bruce Bochy protested that Mattingly's about-face constituted a double trip to the mound. The umpires huddled and agreed, and Broxton had to leave the game.

    --snip--

    The mistake was discovered after the game in a rehash with league umpiring evaluators. If the Dodgers had protested the game, there is a chance the protest would have been upheld and the game replayed. The Dodgers did not protest the game.

    Torre contended that Broxton should have been allowed to pitch to Torres before leaving, something the veteran manager said he wasn't clear on until Wednesday.

    Bochy agreed with Torre that Broxton should have faced Torres.

    "It's unfortunate, I guess, as far as when you're trying to interpret the rules and what's the right thing to do," he said. "They probably would have [had grounds to protest], and it might have caused everybody to review the rules."

Well, everyone's reviewing the rules anyway. Which is good, because these particular rules are bizarre and should probably be changed. Or clarified. Or something.

Meanwhile, I don't know who should be more embarrassed, the umpires or the Dodgers.

Aren't the umpires, perhaps above all else, supposed to have the rules down cold? I won't suggest that they should have the rules memorized precisely, word for word, but shouldn't they, really? Oh, and if you're not sure about a rule, how about pulling the book out of your pocket and looking it up? Yeah, it might be a little embarrassing to admit that you're not sure. What's more embarrassing is actually getting it wrong and having the result of the game nullified by a successful protest.

It's not exactly the Dodgers' job to have the rules down. Not cold, anyway. But the game was in Los Angeles. There must have been a couple of dozen really bright Dodgers employees watching the game. Shouldn't one of them have been alert enough to check the rules -- as I did, afterward -- and realize that something funny might have happened? And that a protest might have been in order?

I don't know that a protest would have been successful. Major League Baseball is highly reluctant to overturn rulings on the field. And I will continue to maintain that the rules are so hazy the umpires could have justified almost anything they wanted.

This whole affair seems strange to me, though. It's strange to me that I -- just another guy sitting at home, watching the game on TV and fooling around with his computer -- realized there was a problem with the rule, and that maybe Broxton should have pitched to one more hitter and Mattingly should have been ejected. It's strange to me that just another guy (and I wasn't the only one) came close to figuring out something that all those bright boys in Los Angeles didn't.

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