By C. Trent Rosecrans
The protest came after umpire Joe West (who else?) used instant replay to review fans Hunter Pence double in the top of the sixth inning. After reviewing the play, Pence was called out on fan interference. Pence's ball was hit to right field, where Florida's Bryan Petersen lept to try to catch the ball, but instead a fan in a green shirt and another in a Phillies jersey and hat, leaned over the railing to try to catch the ball. The ball bounced off the fan in green's hand, just above Petersen's glove, then bounced off the outstretched hat and into the corner in right, giving Pence a double and allowing Ryan Howard to get to third.
As soon as West reviewed the play and announced Pence was out, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel argued and was ejected. In all, the delay lasted 13 minutes, with not only Manuel arguing, but also bench coach Pete Mackanin arguing it as well. Their argument was that fan interference isn't one of the approved uses of replay.
"If they wanted to see if it was for a defense play, I didn't think you could do that," Manuel told reporters (News Journal). "My understanding is that's not the rule."
The fan clearly interfered with the ball, so ultimately it was the correct call. ESPN's Steve Berthiaume spoke with former Major League umpire Jim McKean, who told him that once the umpires decided to review whether it was a home run, the umpires could then use their judgement to rule on fan interference (Twitter).
According to the rule, the umpire can use his "sole discretion" in determining the use of replay, though Joe West told reporters the umpires were reviewing the home run (a charge Manuel denied), but that home plate umpire Chad Fairchild believed there was fan interference on the play. The second part of the matter was that the umpires ruled Pence out -- the Phillies outfielder didn't quite agree that Petersen was definitely making the catch.
"I'm going to say it's one of the best plays of the week if he makes it," Pence said (News Journal).
Said Petersen: "I honestly don't know what happened. I thought I was going to catch the ball." (Sun-Sentinel)
The next Phillies batter after Pence, Raul Ibanez, doubled, which would have scored both Pence and Howard. Instead, after an intentional walk to load the bases, Wilson Valdez grounded into a double play to end the inning.
The Marlins then took the lead with a run in the bottom of the sixth inning with a run off of Roy Halladay.
Since the Phillies lost the game, Joe Torre will review the appeal. If Torre agrees the umpire erred, the game would be replayed from that at-bat -- but without Manuel, who was ejected. Here's a list of protested games that were later resumed, including, of course, the Pine Tar Game. No protest game has been replayed from the point of pretest since 1986 in a game between the Cardinals and Pirates.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.