An embarrassing scene played out in Los Angeles on Saturday night, as nobody knew the rules of baseball. It started in the top of the ninth inning, when Dodgers’ Manager Dave Roberts attempted to bring infielder Zach McKinstry in to pitch in a 9-4 game. Things got hectic once Mets’ Manager Buck Showalter pointed out that a position player is not allowed to take the mound unless the deficit is six runs or more.
Pandemonium ensued, as no one seemed to know how to handle the situation. While the umpires conferred to discuss whether or not McKinstry would be allowed to pitch, the players on the field simply stood around. It was an embarrassing scene, as the umpires had to get on the phone with New York in order to confirm their ruling that McKinstry could not take the mound. During this delay fans poured out of Dodger Stadium. Eventually, Crew Chief C.B. Bucknor announced to the crowd that McKinstry would not be allowed to pitch.
This caused Dave Roberts to bring in a real relief pitcher, which he was woefully unprepared to do. Roberts settled on right-hander Evan Phillips to be the sacrificial lamb. Phillips didn’t even begin warming up in the bullpen until the umpires had made their decision. Why Roberts hadn’t decided to get his insurance policy ready during the lengthy delay, no one knows. This led to another issue, as Showalter argued that Phillips should not be allowed to warm up properly, and should only receive the eight warm up tosses a pitcher throws once on the field. To this, Dodgers Bullpen Coach Josh Bard went ballistic, telling the umpires they were risking injury to Phillips.
The end result was Evan Phillips receiving as much time as he needed in order to fully warm up, likely due to the aforementioned injury concern. This was certainly benevolent on the umpires’ part, but was not by the letter of the law. As the Mets’ broadcast team pointed out, the price to be paid for breaking the position player pitching rule is having an inadequately prepared pitcher on the mound. By giving Phillips extra time, the umpires essentially bailed out the Dodgers. It’s a tricky situation, as no one wants to see Evan Phillips, an innocent in all of this, get hurt, but there should be a consequence to not knowing the rules of the game.
All in all, it didn’t matter, as Phillips pitched a scoreless frame and the score would hold in a 9-4 Dodgers loss. The eleven-and-a-half minute delay may not have meant much in the end, but it sure was embarrassing for the game of baseball when nobody knew the rules.