By Chris Murray
For the CM Report
Nearly 24 hours after playing Sunday’s 14-inning loss to the Florida Marlins under protest, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel is sticking to his guns about the disputed fan interference call in the sixth inning.
The Phillies filed a formal protest today on the grounds that the umpires misinterpreted the use of instant replay.
“We felt like we had grounds to back Charlie’s protest and let Major League Baseball make their decision,” said Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. “We thought that utilization of the video was not properly used in this case.”
With game tied at 2-2 and first baseman Ryan Howard on first, Hunter Pence hit a ball deep to rightfield that was destined to be a double off the wall, but a fan reached out for the ball with his cap and the ball caromed off the wall.
Marlins rightfielder Bryan Peterson pointed up to crowd. Florida manager Jack McKeon urged home plate umpire and crew chief Joe West to review the play through instant replay. According to Major League Baseball rules, instant replay is only used to review home run and not fan interference.
Pence was ruled out and Howard was returned to first base. The next batter Raul Ibanez doubled. If Pence’s hit had been ruled a double, Ibanez’s two-bagger would have driven in two runs. Instead, catcher Carlos Ruiz was intentionally walked and shortstop Wilson Valdez hit into an inning-ending double play. Manuel was ejected from the game for protesting the call.
The Phillies filed a formal protest with MLB. If the play is overturned in the Phillies the game would be replayed from the sixth inning when the game was tied.
“My interpretation of it was that you can’t make a defensive call with a review,” Manuel said. “I wasn’t arguing about the decision. I was arguing about the fact you’re not supposed to have a review about a defensive play as I understand the rules.”
Looking at the play, it looked like Peterson wasn’t going to be in position to make the play even if the fan had not reached out to catch the ball. Video accounts and still photo views of the play showed that the ball was several feet away from Peterson’s closed glove.
“If you look at that play the ball did not get in his glove and he’s going to hit the wall at impact,” Manuel said. “It could jar the ball loose or he can hit his glove and the ball bounces off. There’s a lot of things that we can sit here and predict and assume.”
Manuel said if it wasn’t for the interference, the Phillies should have gotten a double out of that play.
“I thought the least that we were going to come out of it was going to be a double,” Manuel said.
When asked whether or not, he would be in favor of expanding the rules for instant replay, Manuel said he would be for it as long as it didn’t slow the game down. He also said baseball is a game where the human element should be a part of the game.
“The only thing about replay is that if it makes the game better and gets things right, I’m not against that,” Manuel said. “Baseball’s a human nature game and things like that. …I would like to see it done right.”