Orioles manager Buck Showalter was ejected from Sunday’s game after arguing an overturned call at second base in the top of the seventh inning. It was his first ejection of the season.
The Orioles got the original call when fill-in shortstop Ryan Flaherty made a great diving stop on a ground ball up the middle by Cardinals outfielder John Jay and flipped the ball to second baseman Jonathan Schoop for what appeared to be a force play. But Schoop was in such a rush to try to turn a double play that the ball popped back out of his glove.
Second base umpire Jeff Nelson initially ruled that Schoop had possession long enough to record the force out, but Cardinals manager Mike Matheny appealed the ruling and the replay crew in New York overturned the call. That brought Showalter out of the dugout for an animated conversation with Nelson during which he motioned to the replay official manning the headset to come onto the field.
Nelson had enough at that point and tossed Showalter, who continued to argue and also aired his opinion of home plate umpire Gabe Morales as he left the field.
Once Showalter stepped on the field to argue, the ejection was a foregone conclusion. The new replay rules call for automatic ejection of any on-field personnel who further argue a call after it has been turned over to the replay crew. Nelson said after the game that the reason he allowed Showalter to initiate the conversation was to determine whether he had come out to argue or for some other reason.
“You just want to ascertain whether it’s an argument directly related to the replay result or if it was an unrelated question to clarify something such as how many challenges someone would have left or something like that,’’ Nelson said.
It remains to be seen if Showalter will get any blowback for his hystrionics. The umpires routinely file a report to the league office, but Nelson said the league already has video of the incident.
“Anything that’s pertaining to the ejection, the league has the video on, so they have a full idea of everything that happened,’’ Nelson said. "We write up our report as we always do and then the league looks at the video.”
Based on a similar incident last week involving Matheny, Showalter probably will not face further discipline. Matheny was ejected for the second time this year after questioning a replay decision and criticized the system in his postgame comments, but he was not fined or suspended.
The “transfer rule” has been an issue all season. It was modified before the season to require that the fielder make a clean transfer of the ball from his glove to his hand to record the force play while attempting to relay the ball to another base. If that was in force, then the runner was correctly ruled safe, but it isn’t the rule anymore.
There was so much controversy surrounding it after the season began that it was changed on April 26 back to the old standard, which merely requires the player receiving the throw to have “complete control” of the ball in his glove to record the force out.
Nelson originally ruled that to be the case, but the officials in New York obviously felt the ball came back out too fast to constitute “complete control.” The replay showed that the ball entered Schoop’s glove, but he tried to turn the double play so quickly that it was difficult to determine that just how much control he actually had before he lost the ball.