Cody Bellinger Got Called for a Pitch Clock Violation Because He Acknowledged the Crowd in His Return to Los Angeles
Cody Bellinger made his return to Los Angeles last night with the Chicago Cubs, and although we don’t have that connection to him as a Dodger, you can understand how their fans might feel about a former MVP, Rookie of the Year, and World Series Champion. It was a big moment for them.
Naturally, the fans gave Bellinger a hearty round of applause as he took to his first at bat. In response, Bellinger stepped out of the box, as is customary in a situation like that. It’s an acknowledgement of what the crowd is doing.
Not customary? Giving the batter a pitch clock violation because he wasn’t ready at eight seconds:
As you would expect, the Cubs were’t happy about it.
“We’ve got to find those moments where you’re giving some love to players that the fan base wants to appreciate them,” David Ross said, per the Tribune. “Umpires get in the mode of doing their job and I understand that, but that wasn’t my favorite thing of the night.”
I think the issue here was not the rule, but instead was in the umpire’s decision not to use his discretion. I get that they want to be hardliners about pitch clock violations, at the insistence of the league, because they want players to get used to the new reality. However, in extraordinary circumstances, umpires can – and should – have some flexibility. That was OBVIOUSLY one of those situations, and home plate ump Jim Wolf made a mistake. I wouldn’t be surprised if, upon reflection, he would see it the same way.