By now, everyone has either heard about or seen the triple play against the San Diego Padres from April 15. The play came in the ninth inning in a contest against the Los Angeles Dodgers and may have cost the Friars an elusive win. There is little doubt that the ball was indeed fair, but plate umpire Dale Scott really made a mess of things. Nobody can know whether the results would have been different had the play never occurred.
Still, it is worth taking a quick look at nonetheless.
Javy Guerra was pitching for the Dodgers and allowed Yonder Alonso to reach base via a single. He then walked Chase Headley. At that point, there were two runners on and no outs with Jesus Guzman at the plate. On the very first pitch, Guzman attempted to lay down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners. The moment the ball hit his bat is where the problems started.
Of course, he attempted to pull back his bat at the last second. The ball glanced off the bat into fair territory, and catcher A.J. Ellis started the triple play by firing to third base. Problems started as soon as the ball hit the bat, though. Scott raised his arms as soon as the ball made contact and Guzman attempted to move out of the way. From there, the umpire raised his arms a second time before Ellis started the triple play. All of these things are facts, but this is exactly where all of the arguments come in.
For starters, I do not doubt that Scott threw his arms up to get out of the way the first time. He was obviously trying to avoid getting hit by the hitter or the ball because Guzman jumped backwards to begin with. Scott then made a more forceful motion that looked a lot like a foul ball call, which is where the confusion began for the Padres’ baserunners. Plus, he then immediately pointed forward indicating the ball was fair. Yeah, I would be pretty confused too.
We all know the results from there. After the triple play ended the top of the ninth, the Dodgers walked off on a Dee Gordon single. San Diego left that contest with a 5-4 defeat instead of a potential win. I will not say the Friars would have absolutely picked up the victory without that triple play, but the chances were probably better than 50-50. Without a doubt, it is easy to see how the entire ordeal is disputable by both sides.
I would choose the side of the Padres over the Dodgers as a fan of either team or a simple observer, though. For myself, the swaying factor is the umpire throwing up his hands a second time in what was a pretty convincing foul call. Most people probably attributed his first flail as a reaction to Guzman, which is what actually happened that time. I see where the confusion started and why the play never should have happened. Obviously, the team is having enough trouble this season already.
Nobody is going to go back and change the triple play against the San Diego Padres. The fact of the matter is that it happened and Los Angeles walked away with the victory in the next half. In reality, this is one play that should have been undone the moment the umpire seemed a bit confused. It hurts to see San Diego sporting the worst record in baseball right now, but one game does not mean a whole lot this early in the season. Sure, Dale Scott made a poor call, but A.J. Ellis did what he should have. Perhaps the baserunners should have run out the play regardless to avoid any issues.
Tons of different arguments can be made.
For more information, visit the San Diego Padres site.
Errick D. Williams lives in San Diego within walking distance of PETCO Park. He attended over 100 games in the last three seasons and hopes to attend a few more in 2012. Otherwise, he will continue to be an avid fan from the comfort of his own home.