Not a lot went right for the Chicago Cubs in Wednesday’s 12-7 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.
However, they did benefit from a missed call and a review loophole that turned a potential double play into the team’s first triple play since May 10, 1997.
Cubs credited with phantom triple play
With the bases loaded in the seventh inning, Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant appeared to cleanly snag Shogo Akiyama’s line drive before stepping on third base to double off one runner and firing across the diamond to first base to double off another.
Duane Underwood Jr. gets three outs on one play. With bases loaded, Akiyama lines a pitch up third-base line, Bryant makes catch, steps on third and fires across diamond for the final out.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) July 30, 2020
Boom. Write that 5-3 triple play in the scorebook. Inning over.
Or at least that’s the story our eyes first told us.
What actually happened
Upon further review, it became clear that Bryant did not cleanly catch Akiyama’s line drive. The baseball clearly bounced before entering his glove, meaning Akiyama should not have been ruled out and the dynamics of the play should have been vastly different.
Reds fans — watching from home, obviously — immediately called for a review. However, the team’s broadcasters and beat writers quickly informed viewers the play is not reviewable under MLB’s replay protocols.
A line drive in the infield is not reviewable pic.twitter.com/qy4lS4hovz
— C. トレント・ローズクランズ (@ctrent) July 30, 2020
Why it’s not reviewable
While the purpose of replay is to get calls correct, some plays have too many moving parts to accurately predict what would have happened had the proper call been made originally.
This is one of those plays.
In this case, Bryant reacted to the out call on the catch. He looks directly at third-base umpire Larry Vanover, who clearly signals out, before making his next decision. Had Vanover ruled it a ground ball, Bryant may have reacted differently, either by throwing home for a possible force out or to second base for a more traditional double play.
It would be nearly impossible for umpires to accurately determine the outcome of the play. They could probably make a decent guess, but MLB would rather accept getting a bang-bang call wrong than deal with the fallout of trying to untangle said call. To save time and potential headaches, the league doesn’t even give teams the option to review.
Will this loophole be changed?
Not likely. Considering how infrequent plays like this are during the season, it doesn’t seem like something MLB would devote much time to reworking. Of course, you could easily argue the infrequency means MLB should be more willing to invest the necessary time into getting these unique plays correct.
In an ideal world, they would do that. But until it alters a game of ultra importance, we wouldn’t count on MLB considering a change.
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