On the first pitch of his at bat against Clayton Kershaw, Oakland A’s right fielder Stephen Piscotty hits a very high long ball into the stands. Third base umpire Brian Gorman signals a home run, so Piscotty does the home run trot. But Kershaw, Lux, and others seem to say otherwise, including home plate umpire Adrian Johnson. Johnson signals to Gorman, who is also the Crew Chief, and the umpires circle. After a short meeting, the home run call is overturned. Foul ball.
Oakland protests and calls for a review. It’s a quick one. The overturned home run into a foul is upheld.
Official Baseball Rule 8.02(c) states that no call made by an umpire can be overturned by another umpire. But later on, in the General Instructions to Umpires, there’s an interesting passage that reads “Each umpire team should work out a simple set of signals, so the proper umpire can always right a manifestly wrong decision when convinced he has made an error.”
The MLB Umpire Manuel elaborates on the idea:
“In a limited number of situations, a partner may have critical information that is unknown to the umpire making the call. When the partner is certain that the umpire making the call could benefit from such additional information, the partner should alert the other umpire that there is additional, important information that should be shared. While the mechanics of bringing this information to the attention of the umpire who made the call is left to the crews (walking towards the partner, inconspicuous signal, etc.), crucial, potential call-changing information should not be withheld on a play that has clearly been missed.”
On the Field Application – A Home Run Call is Overturned
This is exactly the situation that happened tonight. Third base umpire Brian Gorman lost the ball, either in the lights or in the crowd. As Piscotty rounds the bases, home plate umpire Adrian Johnson signals for the umpires to come in for a consult. Not exactly an “inconspicuous signal,” Johnson gestures clearly with his fingers. The other umpires circle up and give Gorman some advice and he overturns his own ruling – the only person on the field who could. It was at this point that the A’s called for a Replay Review.
Up until Replay is called for, the umpires on the field are able to change their ruling individual rulings based on the information given to them by fellow umpires. Once a Replay is called for, the decision lays with the umpire team in New York.
The umpire team did what they should have in a situation like this. They took the right steps to make sure the ruling was right and fair, even at the cost of their crew chief’s ego. To Gorman’s credit, he readily changed his ruling when presented with new information. So good on them.
Just the last incident in a long list of strange rules and regulations coming into play less than a week into the season.