The thing about unforeseen consequences is that they’re usually … you know, unforeseen. Major League Baseball learned that the hard way over a decade ago.
On September 26, 2008, Major League Baseball was just a few weeks into their brand new replay system (then for home runs only!) when things kind of … broke? I’m not really sure how to succinctly describe what happened, but one of the oddest scorings in baseball history – due to unfamiliarity with the mechanics and timing of a brand new instant replay system – was brought back to life by Jayson Stark at The Athletic just last night and it is glorious.
In short, this is what happened:
- Bengie Molina steps up to the plate in the bottom of the 6th inning at AT&T Park, down 2 runs to the Los Angeles Dodgers with a runner on first.
- Bengie Molina takes the first pitch of his at-bat way out to right field … where it is ruled a single. He stops at first base.
- Manager Bruce Bochy had pre-arranged a pinch-runner (Emmanuel Burriss) for Molina in the event of a single, and Burriss ran out to replace him.
- While Burriss was at first base, Omar Vizquel told his manager, Bochy, that the ball should be ruled a home run, so Bochy went out to challenge it … and won.
- But the pinch-runner substitution had already technically occurred, so Burriss was forced to finish out Molina’s home run trot, starting at first base.
Official scoring: Bengie Molina hit a home run, but did not score a run. Think about that.
Here’s the video …
At the Athletic, Stark gets into the nitty gritty behind the various perspectives and opinions of those present – including how Vizquel knew it was a home run in the first place – and even how stat sites like Retrosheet and Baseball Reference were forced to create special code and special notes just to keep their sites from breaking when this play was officially added.
My favorite bit, however, is from Vizquel: “I just remember seeing Bengie’s expression, as he was seeing Burriss run out the home run,” Vizquel said through laughter “because he thought they were going to give Burriss his home run.”
Baseball is so weird. I love it.