One night after Oakland Athletics shortstop Adam Rosales was robbed of a game-tying home run against the Cleveland Indians, Major League Baseball is once again facing a big umpiring controversy.
And if the social media reaction was any indication, this latest mistake could go down as one of the strangest rulings in recent league history.
Let's set the scene. In the top of the seventh inning of Thursday's game between the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Angels at Minute Maid Park, Astros manager Bo Porter takes out pitcher Paul Clemens for Wesley Wright. Seeing that the lefty Wright was subbed in, Angels manager Mike Scioscia pinch-hits right-hander Luis Jimenez for left-hander J.B. Shuck—a common baseball move you see on a nightly basis.
What happened next was nothing short of bizarre. Before Wright could face off against Jimenez, Porter again calls to his bullpen, taking out his left-handed pitcher in favor of righty Hector Ambriz—a move the umpires allowed.
By rule, a pitcher is supposed to face at least one batter after being brought into the game. Seeing an obvious breach of the rules, Scioscia was incensed. He argued vehemently with umpires about the move and placed the game under protest, according to ESPN's Buster Olney:
Umpires just informed the press box that Mike Scioscia is protesting the game, because Wesley Wright is not being forced to face a hitter.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) May 10, 2013
The Angels' official website later confirmed the protest.
It was a bizarre scene, one that many folks took immediately to social media to react about. With that in mind, let's take a look around the Twittersphere and highlight some of the best reactions to the strange scene at Minute Maid Park.
ESPN's Buster Olney tweeted out the exact rule Scioscia thought was broken:
Rule 3.05 (b): if the pitcher is replaced, the substitute pitcher shall pitch to the batter then at-bat, or any substitute batter...— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) May 10, 2013
There is a time and place for pulling punches—most pundits did not feel that was the case and went full-force toward Major League Baseball and its umpiring crews. Bleacher Report MLB lead writer Zachary Rymer seems to have had enough of the "human element" excuse used often by baseball purists:
Screw "human element." All too often, what MLB has is a "dumbass element."— Zachary D. Rymer (@zachrymer) May 10, 2013
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal called the whole scene "bizarre" and wondered what justification the umpires could possibly give:
I can’t wait to hear umpires’ explanation for that bizarre sequence of events in Houston. Seems #Angels’ Scioscia has an excellent case.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) May 10, 2013
Again, "bizarre" seemed to be the in-vogue word. CBS' Scott Miller says the situation clearly favors the Angels and their manager:
Unless the umpires can cite some bizarre extenuating circumstances, #Angels Scioscia is clearly right. This is crazy.— Scott Miller (@ScottMCBS) May 10, 2013
If Major League Baseball agrees and upholds the protest, Thursday's game will be unprecedented. According to Astros radio broadcaster Robert Ford, the last time a protest was upheld was in 1986:
While most of the reaction was one of befuddlement, others used this as an opportunity to do their best 140-character Louis C.K. impersonation. Bleacher Report featured columnist Adam Wells noted the Angels might have only themselves to blame for being down against the lowly Astros:
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, citing Los Angeles' season-long struggles, said Scioscia might want to consider filing a longer-term protest than just for Thursday night:
If Mike Scioscia wins this protest, he should press his luck and file a retroactive one for the entire Angels season so far.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) May 10, 2013
Sports Illustrated's Joe Sheehan might be exaggerating a bit, but he does make a good point about the Angels' dreadful night bringing home runners in scoring position:
Then again, if the #Angels weren't 0-for-52 with RISP in this game, maybe it wouldn't matter.— Joe Sheehan (@joe_sheehan) May 10, 2013
Because this is how things work in today's umpiring society, the Angels came back to take the lead in the bottom of the eighth inning and won 6-5. Sam Miller of Baseball Prospectus jokingly suggested they hold up the protest:
If the Angels win this game Mike Scioscia should KEEP the protest, just to show his boys how much confidence he has in them— Sam Miller (@SamMillerBP) May 10, 2013
Some people, like ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, were happy to see Los Angeles win. Why? He doesn't want to see these two teams play again:
Worst part of an #angels protest being upheld: These two teams have to get together and actually play some more.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) May 10, 2013
While Scioscia's Angels dug themselves out of the bad situation and won, a blatant missed call cannot go unpunished. Major League Baseball's umpiring problem has become one of the biggest stories of the 2013 season—almost to the point that it's dwarfing the on-field action.
While no one from the league has made a statement on Thursday night's game as of yet, you can bet plenty are anxiously awaiting what comes next.
Follow Tyler Conway on Twitter: Follow @tylerconway22