As previewed http://softballinsider.blogspot.com/2010/11/championship-edition-inwood-final-four.html last week, Citysoftball's final four was scheduled to take place on this day and it did as legal modified pitching
and top player performances
were the feature story throughout most of the day.
In the first match up, the number #1 seed Marlins showed their championship merit by overcoming a game one setback to win games two (in extra innings) and three (blowing open a 1-0 game late) to earn a trip to the Finals. Citysoftball would like to congratulate their manager Joe on their hard fought and well deserved success.
The second match up WestLanders "WL" vs. Trojans also went three games, but the final chapter has not yet been written regarding this messy affair. It all started so smoothly as things went as expected in game one as new "WL" ace Flaco remained undefeated
in a blowout WL victory.
However the momentum shifted in game two
when Flaco mysteriously left the park. The Trojans seized this opportunity and hung on by the skins of their teeth to a 6-5 victory forcing a deciding game three where anything could happen.
Well anything did happen in Game Three as it had everything you could ask for in an elimination game :
- talented players
- great pitching
- multiple lead changes
- one of the greatest softball postseason comebacks
However, the Fall Back on this day would not be solely attributable to time, rather Controversy and Umpire Failure has forever marred/tainted this classic match up.
The following long Official League Letter explains the incident, protest, and league decision:
The league’s number one goal for its participants is fair modified softball competition. Last Sunday the Westlanders “WL” and Trojans engaged in a truly outstanding semi-final playoff series that truly displayed excellent play and resiliency by both parties.
Unfortunately in the 4th inning of the third and deciding game, there was the following improper rules interpretation when “The Trojans improperly inserted a courtesy runner for a player that was not listed as courtesy runner eligible before the game.” After pitches were thrown and an ensuing play transpired which resulted in two Trojan runs scoring and the advancement of the ineligible runner to second base, the WL protested the illegal runner. The home plate umpire then decided that only the first run would count and the inning was now over because he declared the ineligible runner out. It should also be noted that after this incident players from both teams were ejected during the remainder of the contest which was postponed after eight innings due to darkness. Both teams have protested the umpire’s decision and because of the material impact of this Rule Interpretation by the umpire.
Citysoftball has done the following extensive review/research to determine the correct course of action:
- Reviewed our League Rules
- Reviewed the ASA Rulebook
- Consulted with head Citysoftball Umpire Carlos Sahdala
- Consulted with other head umpires officials in the Tri-State Area
- Called the head ASA softball office in Oklahoma and NY for guidance
In CitySoftball each team is allowed to list two hitters as courtesy runner eligible on their official lineup card that is handed to the home plate umpire before the game begins. It is the umpires and players responsibilities to adhere to those designations. If a playing rule is violated ASA Rule 9 regarding Protests states:
Misinterpretation of a playing rule must be made:
A) Before the next legal or illegal pitch
B) Before the next play
C) Before all infielders have left fair territory
(1) WL did not protest appeal before the next pitch nor before the next play. However, they did protest before all fielders’ left fair territory
(2) The Trojans have also protested that the WL protest should have come before the next pitch or play took place.
The league in agreement with our head official, as well as other experienced head umpires in the tri-state area, has reached the following decision:
Protesting/Appealing an illegal courtesy runner should have been done either
(1) Before the 1st pitch (legal or illegal) and the proper runner would have been returned to the base and no out would be charged Or
(2) After the 1st pitch (legal or illegal) and then the illegal runner in question would have been called out.
Anything else would disrupt the normal course of the game and sequence of plays that follow. In other words, the window of opportunity to appeal is either immediately before or after the 1st pitch, anything else is too late.
In this instance this is exactly what happened as a play took place that resulted in the batter being recorded out and two runs scoring for the Trojans. Luckily, the Trojans illegal substitution had no impact on the outcome of this play.
As a result, the continuation of the WL-Trojan game three will take place as follows:
Trojans batting top of the 4th inning leading by the score of 5-3 with two outs with the incorrect courtesy runner standing on second base. Lineups for both teams will be restored to the time of the above mentioned incident with the exceptions of anyone who was ejected.
All ejections that occurred in this game will count regardless of the cause and effect of the umpire’s decision because the working umpire felt these ejections were necessary to restore order to the game and aid in its completion. These ejections will be honored in this contest as poor sportsmanship will not be tolerated."
Needless to say WL's manager is not happy as he initially fought the ruling, then accepted it, and hours later ranted and bombarded the league with numerous threatening text messages. It appears memories are short when the game is on the line.
Regardless, I am very confident given the information and resources we had at our disposal we made an informed decision that not only embodies the letter of the law but also the spirit/intent. Looking at the play objectively, the rule timing for appealing the runner had past, a play ensued, and the home plate umpire made an erroneous mistake by taking a run off the board for the Trojans. I hate protests. I really do. Players make plays that decide games, not technicalities. Anyway you slice it is a fucking mess.
The league could have very easily done nothing just let both teams play on from the 9th inning going forward this upcoming Sunday, but that would have not been the fair/right thing to do. It's not going to be a fun four inning Sunday as tensions will be high, but this decision stands.
In the end, my gut tells me WL will rally and win this game, but you never know and more importantly this stupid controversy/protest/event has caused the league to briefly fall back into something other than softball on the field. Where it truly belongs