Already one week into the baseball season and we have an issue with the MLB challenge system. The issue could even happen to the Texas Rangers.
The conundrum is whether a team can challenge a batter being hit by a pitch in the strike zone. It’s an ultra-rare issue that happens one or two times a season.
On April 9th, the Miami Marlins were playing the New York Mets and the Mets had the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Marlins pitcher Anthony Bass threw a high fastball that looked like it grazed the Mets’ Michael Conforto on the elbow.
Home plate umpire Ron Kulpa was about to call a strike when he changed it to hit by a pitch and told Conforto to take his base. The Mets started celebrating the win while the umpires came together to discuss the call.
The umpires decided to review it and put on the headsets to talk it over with the league replay official. What the fans saw on the video board was the batter was hit by the pitch in the strike zone which meant he would be out.
MLB needs to review its challenge system so that it doesn’t affect the Texas Rangers or other teams in 2021.
The home plate umpire ruled that the play stood and the game was over. Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly was furious, he even went over to the umpires asking why the play stood.
Apparently, being hit by a pitch in the strike zone is not a play that can be challenged during a game.
According to the postgame article by New York Mets beat writer Anthony DiComo, the league rule about being hit by a pitch is:
"Major League Baseball Rule 5.05(b)(2) states that a batter is entitled to first base if he is struck by a ball he is not attempting to hit “unless (A) The ball is in the strike zone when it touches the batter, or (B) The batter makes no attempt to avoid being touched by the ball.”"
The reason why I’m writing this article is not to patronize the umpire crew that was assigned to the series but to highlight the flaws of the challenge system they have in place currently in place.
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Just imagine this happening in Game 7 of the World Series and not being able to challenge it. There would be countless baseball documentaries made about the series in the future.
If the MLB doesn’t allow for managers to challenge different scenarios like a hit by a pitch in the strike zone, they might as well consider getting rid of the review system altogether.
The decision to modify what can be challenged by a manager during a game is in the hands of the MLB front office now. Hopefully, the league takes a long look at what happened and makes the right decision for the game of baseball.
I’ll end with this: I hope this does not happen to the Texas Rangers or any other team in the league for the remainder of the season.