Orioles file protest hoping they will get kid-glove treatment Letter asks AL, Selig to reverse Game 1 call in 'best interests' of game

THE BALTIMORE SUN

NEW YORK -- Orioles owner Peter Angelos, outraged by the fan interference that led to Wednesday night's loss in the first game of the American League Championship Series, delivered a letter of protest to acting baseball commissioner Bud Selig and AL president Gene Budig during Game 2 yesterday.

The Orioles protested Game 1 after umpire Rich Garcia failed to call interference on a fly ball by Yankees rookie Derek Jeter that was snatched away from Orioles right fielder Tony Tarasco by 12-year-old fan Jeff Maier. The ball disappeared into the stands and was ruled a home run, tying the game and buying time for the Yankees to win, 5-4, in 11 innings.

Angelos and front office executives Pat Gillick, Kevin Malone and Syd Thrift visited the American League office yesterday to meet with Budig, then filed the written protest -- signed by Angelos and Gillick -- which called upon Budig and Selig to act in the best interests of baseball and reverse the call.

"I think it speaks for itself," Angelos said yesterday. "I don't want to add anything to it. We hope that it receives every consideration."

Manager Davey Johnson indicated on Wednesday night that he did not protest the judgment call by Garcia -- which is prohibited by baseball rules -- but chose instead to lodge a protest because the Orioles had been assured before the game that extra security would be in place in areas where fan interference was most likely.

The document delivered to Selig and Budig yesterday actually presented a legal pretext to reverse the judgment call by the umpire. Citing Section 3.11 of the Official Baseball Rules, the Orioles highlighted a clause at the end of the section that they believe allows them to challenge a judgment call in this case.

The rule states: "There shall be no appeal from any decision of the umpire on the grounds that he was not correct in his conclusion as to whether a batted ball was fair or foul, a base runner safe or out, a pitched ball a strike or a ball, or any other play involving the accuracy of judgment; and no decision rendered by him shall be reversed, except that he be convinced that it is in violation of one of the rules."

The Orioles hope to convince baseball officials that the stated exception came into play when Garcia conceded after the game that he had called the play incorrectly. That clause is generally interpreted to allow an instant reversal on the field and has not been used before to justify a reversal under protest.

Angelos and Gillick also called upon Selig to exercise the "best interests of baseball" power of the commissioner to correct an error that could affect the outcome of the best-of-seven ALCS and -- in their opinion -- damage the integrity of the postseason tournament.

". . . in the Report of the Restructuring Committee at the Joint Major League Meeting [Jan. 1994], the important role of the commissioner and league president in maintaining baseball integrity was emphasized. The report concluded that the 'best interests' powers of the commissioner must reach issues pertaining to the integrity of the sport. The best interests of baseball demand that this wrong be righted and the violation of Rule 3.16 be rectified."

The protest almost certainly will be denied, but Angelos remains hopeful.

"We won tonight, and some might say we won last night, too," he said. "Two in a row isn't bad. We'll just keep playing and see what happens."

Selig, reached at his office last night, said that he had not seen the protest and declined comment on the rationale or the possible outcome.

It would be a major surprise if the appeal were upheld. Most appeals are routinely rejected, and the logistical problems that would be created by a successful appeal in this case would be significant. The game would have to be restarted from the point of the corrected ruling.

The last time a protest was upheld was the famous 1983 "Pine Tar" incident, in which a home run by Kansas City Royals third baseman George Brett originally was disallowed because of excessive pine tar on the bat. The ruling was reversed and the game restarted later in the season.

Pub Date: 10/11/96

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