Mets 'frustrated' over play at plate
MIAMI -- New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson disassociated himself Friday from the blocking-the-plate rule enacted by Major League Baseball this season even though he serves as chairman of the rules committee that influenced it.
The throw from Ozuna beat Wright by 10 feet, and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia applied the tag.
But Mets manager Terry Collins challenged the play, asserting Saltalamacchia had not provided a lane for Wright to slide. After a 1-minute, 47-second review, the out ruling on the field by plate umpire Lance Barrett stood.
After the game ended with Kirk Nieuwenhuis being thrown out at the plate by Ozuna on a would-be sacrifice fly, the Mets decried in a mostly calm manner the inconsistent application of the blocking-the-plate rule.
The only person visibly livid in the clubhouse was Alderson.
The GM implied after the game that he already had been in touch with Major League Baseball "just to make sure that we all understand what the rule is and how it's going to be applied," he said.
Alderson added that the blocking-the-plate rule ultimately enacted was not the one recommended by the MLB rules committee he chairs.
"The rule that is currently written is the product of a negotiation between the players' association and Major League Baseball," Alderson said. "It is not the rule that was written by the playing-rules committee. Beyond that I can't really comment on the plays tonight because it would compromise my league-wide position as chairman of the playing-rules committee."
"I do have a couple of thoughts as general manager of the Mets that I can't really share tonight," Alderson added with a gallows-humor laugh.
Alderson had calmed down by then. Fifteen minutes after the game, shortly after completing a call with an MLB official, Alderson could be heard barking outside the manager's office to someone: "They've been f---ing involved! That's the problem."
A much-calmer Alderson subsequently acknowledged to reporters the expletive-laced comment was related to the circumstances of the eighth-inning play at the plate.
"That would be it," Alderson said. "Look, everybody was a little frustrated at the end of the game, including myself."
Alderson, cognizant of the league acknowledging an incorrect ruling on a blocking-the-plate call on a forceout in Wednesday's Cincinnati Reds-Pittsburgh Pirates game, added: "There was a clarification today or yesterday, or there may be one going out shortly with regards to force plays at the plate."
In a statement released Thursday, MLB executive vice president of baseball operations Joe Torre sought to clarify the rule.
"The goal of Rule 7.13," part of Torre's statement said, "is to prevent egregious home-plate collisions. And despite how challenging these situations can be, we have made important progress in accomplishing that goal."
Collins, the oldest manager in the majors at 65, acknowledged Wright deserved to be out in a pure baseball sense.
"Yeah, he was out. The replay showed he was out," Collins said. "But rules are rules. That's why once in a while you've got to go challenge them. ... When you saw the play, [Saltalamacchia's] foot had pretty much that whole side blocked.
"You don't ever get an explanation of what they saw or why they ruled it. And the umpires are as confused as anybody. As I told them, 'We've had two of those plays reversed. And now how come we're not reversing them?' And they had no explanation. They just said it's a constant discussion with them, too."
Said Wright: "It's not the umpires' fault. Or the replays' fault. I think it's just a confusing thing in general. This isn't a bashing or calling out or anything. It's just a little confusing.
"Obviously I got thrown out by about 10 feet. It wasn't a real close play. But, at the same time, I think we kind of thought that he was blocking it. Apparently they thought he wasn't. It's just a little confusing. Hopefully we'll get used to it or adjust to it. ... You play the game one way your entire life and then you've got to adjust the way you play. It's not necessarily a bad thing, because I understand the players' safety and health and things like that. It's just a little confusing."
Saltalamacchia suggested he did what came naturally, not cognizant of rules.
"At that point, I'm just trying to do what I've done. You've got to kind of let instincts take over and not take it too much in front of the plate," he said. "You've got to remember that. I was just sitting back, letting the ball to come to me."
Meanwhile, Collins said he did not quibble with third-base coach Tim Teufel's decision to send Wright, even though the captain would have been at third base with the Mets trailing 3-2 and one out in the eighth had he been held.
"We're not exactly driving in a lot of runs," Collins said. "So when we get opportunities, we've got to make them make the play. And they made the plays."
Collins added about the remarkable eighth-inning throw by Ozuna: "Hell, I thought David was going to be in there easy."
Ozuna added to his highlight reel in the ninth. On Chris Young's one-out fly ball to deep left, he nailed Nieuwenhuis at the plate for a game-ending double play.
It marked the first time since Sept. 13, 1979, that the Mets lost on a game-ending throw to the plate on a would-be sacrifice fly, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. In the last instance, Doug Flynn flied out to Phillies center fielder Greg Gross at Shea Stadium.
Gross then fired to the plate to retire a tagging Joel Youngblood.
"Right when C.Y. hit it, I thought, 'Tie game,'" Nieuwenhuis said.
"Well, he started at the Clevelander, so I didn't think he had a shot," Saltalamacchia quipped, referring to the nightclub beyond the left-field wall at Marlins Park. "I thought the ball was going to be deeper. Then all of a sudden, he kept running in and almost caught the ball where Hechy [shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria] was.
"Once I knew he was getting closer, I thought he really had a chance. That's a tough throw. Big moment. You tend to do too much. He just made a perfect throw."
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