Bradley: Mets Fans Get a Workout at the Price of Poor Officiating

Major League Baseball needs to take one long, serious look in the mirror if they are to go forward with potential rule changes in the coming years.

Let’s get this out of the way quickly: The Mets lost 11-1 today. Tyler Pill had a awful outing, and there was barely any offense to speak of.

So in a game that was, by any metric, something that the Mets will want to forget as they embark on a week-long road trip, the officiating stepped us to give us something to remember.

Fans got not one, but two seventh-inning stretches – for the price of one!

Allow me to explain. In the seventh, the Mets got a seemingly inning-ending double play. Wilmer Flores tossed a grounder to Neil Walker, who got the force out at second and then fired one down the line to Lucas Duda at first to get the second out and end the inning. Sounds fairly open and closed, right? Wrong.

After going through the normal mid-seventh routine of renditions of “God Bless America,” “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” and “Lazy Mary,” the umpires ordered the Mets back onto the field to finish the inning. Walker’s out at second hadn’t counted, apparently, because his foot was off the bag. Walker and the fans alike were up and arms, especially when the Mets gave up another run just one batter later.

The Mets then got the third out – for real this time – and the fans were treated to another workout.

It may seem humorous, but it highlights the inconsistency MLB has in the quantum leap they’re forcing everyone through in today’s game. In a season in which the commissioner’s office has subtly hinted that big changes regarding time-of-games is on the horizon, they’re missing critical steps.

For instance, how long do managers really have to challenge a call? Normally, it’s thirty seconds. However, if it’s an inning-ending call, they have to run onto the field immediately to challenge it. So is there a countdown-clock for managers and when does it start? When the play happens or when the ball is declared dead? And why does an inning being over mean that a potential challenge should be tossed away faster than in the middle of one? If anything, inning-ending plays are more likely to be game changing.

“They explained to me that Clint [Hurdle] wanted to challenge it,” Terry Collins said afterwards, “and obviously [Jim Reynolds] tried to get everything stopped, but it went right into ‘God Bless America,’ so he didn’t want to interrupt that so he just let it finish.”

Well, they probably wouldn’t have had to wait if the system to challenge plays was more streamlined.

And with regards to Walker’s play, or lack thereof, at second: make up your mind, MLB. What do you want more, to be absolutely sure of every play at second or to ensure player safety to a reasonable degree? Because right now you can’t seem to have both. If we regularly question whether or not infielders incontrovertibly had their foot on the beg every game, then we give them less of an opportunity to get out of the way of base runners and leave them more open to injury. Additionally, the rule put in place in 2016 requiring that base runners must make an attempt at the bag in order to legally slide has only made the problem worse, not better.

“When you do get a situation where you have to hang in there and a guy’s coming in hard,” Walker told reporters, “you can’t create a little bit of space for yourself –whether you’re barely on the base or not…That’s something that needs to be ironed out.”

Furthermore, double-plays are one of the most exciting kind of plays in the game, and that’s what Rob Manfred has been demanding more of, right? More excitement? More action equals more viewers and more twitter impressions and so on and so on.

Well, we’re going to get less and less of them if their current status quo remains. Infielders will be more hesitant and more calls will get overturned.

The real evidence of how much of a problem this is? I have barely talked about the game here. So if there’s one lesson I can implore to Commissioner Manfred and MLB, it’s this: fix these problems quick, or you risk allowing the all-so-important changes in the game to overshadow the very game itself.

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