Before winning in the last of the 9th today in Los Angeles, the Dodgers turned a crazy triple play in the top half. After squaring to bunt, Jesús Guzmán recoiled from a meat-seeking missile, only to have it hit his bat, bounce behind the plate, and then dribble into fair territory.
Reeling from his close encounter — the pitch would have drilled him square in the chest had it not hit the bat — Guzmán turned and jogged completely out of the dirt area and never did run to first, and the Dodgers turned the rare 2-5-6-3 triple play at a stately pace suited to a Sunday afternoon in the park.
A controversy ensued over whether the plate umpire, Dale Scott, had initially signaled dead ball, and San Diego manager Bud Black was ejected.
The video shows Scott, as soon as the ball hits the bat, retreating from the plate and raising both arms above shoulder level in a way that suggests “dead ball.” After a moment, Scott points toward the field to indicate “live ball,” but that gesture clearly came after catcher A.J. Ellis had picked it up and thrown to third.
I think Scott blew it. It’s not clear whether Guzmán was even aware of the apparent initial call — his back was to the plate during some part of the play — but the runners clearly were affected: Each one went back to his base, and each one as he was called out physically echoed the ump’s initial gesture.
I don’t think there are any grounds for appeal, as it was strictly a judgment call. I can’t find anything in the rules that speaks to an umpire changing his call during the course of a single play. But here’s a link to the MLB rules, if you want to investigate for yourself.