Thursday, July 22, 2010

Rule 8.06

If you were watching the LA Dodgers / SF Giants game a couple of nights ago you were treated to a baseball rulebook gem. In the ninth inning with one out, bases loaded and Dodgers winning 5-4, hitting coach Don Mattingly went to the mound to visit All Star closing relief pitcher John Braxton. Mattingly was acting as the manager because Joe Torre, the Dodgers manager, had been ejected earlier in the game. After advising his pitcher, who wasn't pitching very well, Mattingly stepped off the mound and headed back to the dugout.

This sounds pretty normal at this point. On the way back to the dugout, the Dodgers' first baseman, Jamie Loney, called out to Mattingly. Mattingly stopped and walked toward first base stepping on the mound again and had a quick conversation with his player. The San Francisco manager, Bruce Bochy, protested calling this a double trip to the mound. The umpire, Tim Kurkjian, called rule 8.06 of MLB rule book.

Here is the rule:
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 base runner, then this pitcher must be removed from the game. The manager should be notified that his pitcher will be removed from the game after he pitches to one hitter, so he can have a substitute pitcher warmed up.

A Dodgers relief pitcher, struggling and about to be sent back the minors George Sherrill, was immediately brought in to save the game. He was given his obligatory 8 warm up pitches before the game would resume. Sherrill gives up a 2 run double and the Dodgers lose.

The problem is not so much the obscurity of the rule is that the umpire and the Dodger's manager didn't know enough about the rule that they didn't catch that Broxton should have been able to (even forced to) finish pitching to the batter (Andres Torres) that he had already started pitching to. The spirit of the rule was to prevent managers from stalling giving their bullpen more time to warm up. If Broxton finished to this one batter, not only might he have gotten the batter out but Sherrill might have had time to warm up properly. Not only is a bad year for umpiring, but Mattingly might want to forget trying to get a job as a manager any time soon. He should have known the rule. It is clear that the SF manager, Bochy, knew it better than both of them.

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