SAN FRANCISCO — The White Sox still aren’t quite sure what transpired when umpires, using Rule 7.13, overturned a call on a play at the plate in a 7-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday afternoon.
Replay officials in New York determined that White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers blocked the path of Giants base runner Gregor Blanco to home plate even though Flowers caught Jose Abreu’s throw and easily tagged the runner out. Manager Robin Ventura was ejected after officials needed 4 minutes, 55 seconds to overturn the call, which allowed Blanco to score the tying run.
Since its inception, Flowers has had plenty of questions about the experimental rule that Major League Baseball put into place this season. Here’s a transcript of Flowers’ thoughts on how the rule was interpreted on Wednesday:
Question: Do you have any further understanding of this rule after this?
Answer: I don’t think anybody has an understanding of this rule. Apparently they’re interpreting this thing extremely black and white with no context of the play -- infield, outfield, base runner, where he’s at. If you go by the black and white rule, I guess they got it right. But you also have to put into context, I could go on for a while, I’m set up inside, jammed the crap out of this guy. It’s a dribbler to first. I’ve got a bat flying behind me. I realize where the ball is -- OK, Jose’s about to come home, and I just looked at it. So I had two seconds to get from behind home plate, catch a ball and make a tag, and I’m supposed to be able to make sure I don’t block the plate, catch a ball and make a tag, all within two seconds on an infield dribbler. It’s just not realistic. If it’s an outfield throw it’s one thing. I think most people are getting that. When you’re talking about such a short time period there, on a play like that, it just doesn’t make any sense. And that had no impact on Blanco being able to score. It’s one thing if he makes contact with me before I have the ball, but that wasn’t the case. He was still seven-plus feet away. It had no impact on him whatsoever.
Q: Did you get the ball in time that you could see how far he was away?
A: Yeah. He was at least seven feet by the time I got eyes on him after I caught the ball. This whole rule, that’s not the purpose of the rule. I think that’s the tough thing for people, everybody in baseball, to grasp is the purpose of the rule is to avoid the situation like Posey had. It’s not when a guy is out by 30 feet, Oh, he blocked the plate. Well, that had no impact on that guy being safe or out. And there’s no clarification on that. Where do we draw the line? If a guy rounds third and he’s out by 80 feet, and I’m standing in front of the plate, is he safe? It just doesn’t make any sense.
Q: Do the rule penalize teams that makes the play fast?
A: Today as an example, yeah. I understand the rule as much as anybody else, which isn’t 100 percent. But you’ve got to put the whole play together. That play is different than a throw from center field. That play is different than I catch and he hits me. When there’s significant distance, it just doesn’t make sense to change a rule on that, and change the outcome, like today’s game, the outcome of a game, drastically.
Q: Do you think the interpretation of the rule changes day-to-day from the umpires back at New York at the replay center?
A: Every one is different. Every one is an individual play so some have surprised me, some of them haven’t that I have seen on TV. Some of them like today are too literal. Other ones like I said surprised me --- the other day I saw one I would think they would do this one the same. There is some margin there I guess. It’s humans looking at plays and every one’s different like I said. There is going to be a little bit of a variable in every situation. I just don’t think it was used appropriately.
Q: Did you hear any further explanations from the umpire (Chris Segal) on the ruling?
A: No. Nothing I’ll share.
Q: Have you ever seen Robin that upset?
A: I knew he would be and the longer that whole thing took I think we all were getting a hunch that it was going that way. I think he’s right. I think if you ask the catchers in this league, first of all no one has the comprehension of what the rule actually is and secondly the majority of us would rather get rid of it if this is how it’s going to be applied.
Q: Lost in all that is the way Jose (Quintana) pitched.
A: It’s a shame. Today might have been one of his best outings ever. I don’t know what the line ended up but it wasn’t just.
Q: Did the wait have an effect on Quintana’s pitching?
A: No, not that I saw.
Q: It happened so quickly. Would you have had time to react differently if you knew the rule?
A: No because I know the basic premise of the rule and I don’t think I could have done anything differently. That’s such a short amount of time. If you put the whole play together. If it’s a fastball away and the guy barrels it up straight to Jose, I see the guy’s coming, that’s different. This is a jam-job, broken bat flying by my head. The hitter is looking back where the bat is going. I realize the ball is in play over there. He’s coming home. ‘Ok, I’ve gotta move up five feet to get into position to make a tag.’ And like I said, this is all in a matter of two seconds. That’s a lot to ask of anybody to have all those things go through your head in addition to catching a ball and making a tag. There’s not enough time to be on top of every aspect of that play.