What the…?

Yes, it’s two posts in two days. Don’t get used to it.

First off, I want to make it clear that I’m not writing this in a whining way or to make anybody look like an idiot (I think that happened just fine already). I just want to share a learning experience at a baseball game.

So last night, we had a major malfunction at the game. As you probably know, baseball requires nine batters to be in the lineup. The TinCaps found a way to only send eight batters to the plate in their first trip through the lineup. Not eight batters in one inning… eight batters in one trip. It’s as mind-blowing now as it was last night.

What it boils down to is, the TinCaps skipped a batter in the order, which is considered batting out of order, which led to a situation that Vince Lombardi (and maybe Vince McMahon) should’ve been here to solve. Let’s go to the gory details!

The lineup which was posted on the clubhouse bulletin board was this:

1. Payne LF
2. Valdez 2B
3. Hagerty DH
4. Freiman 1B
5. Rincon 3B
6. Liriano CF
7. Benedict C
8. Anna RF
9. Galvez SS
Watt P

Players (and radio/media guys, aka me) generally look at that lineup as gospel. I copied it down and distributed it like I do every day. Every day for the last two years, that has worked fine.

Until last night.

Now, understand that the ONLY lineup that means anything is the triplicate copy given to the opposing manager and the umpires. That is the official lineup, and everything else is essentially just for show. THAT lineup was this:

1. Payne LF
2. Valdez 2B
3. Hagerty DH
4. Freiman 1B
5. Rincon 3B
6. Benedict C
7. Liriano CF
8. Anna RF
9. Galvez SS
Watt P

Apparently, something happened (intentional or unintentional switch from one sheet to the other, alien abduction, etc.). Nobody told me or anybody in the press box about this, which would’ve been nice, but not essential to the rules of the game. But, as you can see, Benedict and Liriano were flip-flopped in the batting order on the two sheets. Again, all that matters is the lineup the managers and umpires have (the second one I listed for you here). What ACTUALLY happened in the game was that the TinCaps came to bat in the first order I listed. In other words, Liriano followed Rincon (out of order, which is against the rules) and grounded out to end the top of the 3rd inning.

Now, according to Rule 6.07(a), a batter shall be called out, on appeal, when he fails to bat in his proper turn, and another batter completes his time at bat.

BUT! there was no appeal from anyone. Once a pitch was thrown in the top of the 3rd, Wisconsin’s chance to appeal had passed. Now according to Rule 6.07(d)(2), when an improper batter (Liriano) becomes the proper batter because no appeal is made before the next pitch, the next batter shall be the batter whose name follows that of such legalized improper batter (Liriano). The instant an improper batter’s actions are legalized, the batting order picks up with the name following that of the legalized improper batter (in this case, Anna).

So Dean Anna led off the bottom of the 3rd, and the TinCaps only sent eight batters to the plate. Believe it or not, this was exactly the way the rulebook says the rules should’ve been administered.

Now, when the TinCaps sent Benedict (who hadn’t batted until the 5th inning!) to the plate in the bottom of the 5th, then Liriano reached on an infield single, Wisconsin finally said something, because they were hoping to get an out from the lineup snafu (if a batter who bats out of turn reaches base, and you appeal before the next pitch, the runner is out). Unfortunately for them, their chance to appeal had already passed and the TinCaps were back in order. Which in a way doesn’t make sense because they only sent eight batters to the plate in their first time through the lineup, but it’s the correct interpretation. So, while the umpires went back into the locker room to double-check the rulebook to make sure everything was right (it was), Wisconsin’s pitcher (Maverick Lasker, which may beat South Bend’s Lieutenant Dan Taylor for best name in the MWL so far) stood around doing nothing. Sixteen minutes later when the game resumed, the Timber Rattlers put the game under protest and the TinCaps scored two runs to make it a 4-2 game. Wisconsin’s coaching staff admitted later they messed their own pitcher up by doing all this, but it didn’t end up mattering because they won 6-4.

Now… how could this have been avoided?

1. Call your friendly neighborhood radio/media guy with the lineup switch, everyone gets the correct lineup, the correct name is announced and Liriano probably doesn’t come to the plate in the wrong place in the first place.
2. Someone, anyone, checks the official lineup card, which was correctly copied onto the lineup card taped to the wall of the dugout, call Liriano back into the dugout at any time before or during his at-bat in the 2nd inning, send Benedict up there to finish the at-bat and everything is fine.

Neither happened.

This is the life of a Class-A baseball team, apparently. BIG salute to the umpires (Matt Jones and Brett Houseman), who ruled the whole thing perfectly. Umps catch all the heat when they miss a call, but this one was spot-on.

Here’s the final word on the Tigers’ perfect game/one-hitter escapade, as far as I’m concerned. Peter Gammons, you have the floor.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m participating in pitchers’ batting practice this afternoon and I’m about to put on a hitting display.

And now, musical guest… The Gap Band!

Take care!

DW

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