A replay rule that needs revision did not help the Mets

By Rich Mancuso

Maybe it would have tied the game in the Mets ninth inning at Citi Field Wednesday night.  Matt den Dekker was called out at the plate and Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos made the tag and it appeared he was illegally blocking the plate.

That new and confusing, catcher blocks the plate rule was again the center of attention on this play. The rule states the runner can hit the catcher if he is blocking the plate while holding the ball. And from the replay it certainly appeared that way and may have cost the Mets a run in a 3-2 loss to the Nationals.

The umpires asked for the play to be reviewed. Did they get it right? Manager Terry Collins was perplexed because a similar play occurred earlier in San Francisco and it went against the White Sox. The same eight umpires sitting in a room at MLB Advance Media headquarters in New York City reviewed that play.

Except that Collins and fans at Citi Field saw the same play on the outfield video board, and it looked from the angles shown, that Ramos blocked Den Dekker and he could not score a run that could have made a difference. The media also saw the play, in the press box that was reviewed more than once.

And we will never know, as has been the situation more than once this season, what those umpires were looking at on their video screens. How many different angles did they view that we didn’t see?

And we will never know what they are viewing, just like what we never know when union and management are conducting intense bargaining sessions to negotiate a new labor contract behind closed doors.

It brings to question, again and again, that this new home plate collision rule needs major adjustments. It does seem at this time of year that adjustments need to me made because it could determine a play that has significant post season implications.

In this case, the Mets, barely alive and looking on the outside for a wild card spot, need every win they can get. The Nationals are more certain that they will be playing baseball on October, either as NL east champs or one of those two wild card teams out of the National league.

“Four hours ago, he's safe, four hours later, he's out,” commented Collins about the play that decided the game in San Francisco for the Giants, and the one that prevented his team from tying the game and possibly putting the Mets in position to win it against Nationals closer Rafael Soriano.

But that can be put into question for another day because the Mets did not get their opportunity until that ninth inning. They lost their second straight to the NL East leading Nationals that put them further back in the division and in the wild card hunt.

The players are just as confused as the managers. Robin Ventura got ejected and went on a tirade when the play went against his team and gave the Giants their tying run and eventual win.  Collins kept his cool and shook his head, and hopes there will be adjustments to a rule that has definite glitches.

More so, the players are just as perplexed and wonder if they are doing the right thing.

"Your instincts say you want to jar the ball loose," den Dekker said, "But you can't do that."  Fact is, den Dekker could have done that but the rule has been so misconstrued and the umpires at times seem to be just as confused as the players.

The rule put into play this season was done to reduce injury to the catcher but it seems the base runner is on the wrong side of the fence.  And from the inside, Major League baseball knows there is confusion and will be looking to make revisions sooner than never

Said Curtis Granderson, who saw the replay on a clubhouse television, “Don’t know the whole interpretation of the rule, The players  are not 100 percent sure  the umpires do. Still a little of a grey area there, a little of back and forth on it  but hopefully it will get cleared up here sooner or later.”

He added, a similar play occurred with him at the plate earlier this season.

“Once the ball is in that situation, just thinking of trying to score,” Granderson said.  “Myself I’m just trying to go ahead and score…just trying to get to the plate before the ball gets there.”

Granderson said the Mets would forget about this one and look forward to try and salvage a third game of the series Thursday night. And for the sake of the game, hopefully there will not be another controversial decision at the plate until they get this right.

If the players and managers are not sure, can we be?