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Yankees Lose On Controversial Home Run Call

Ed Zurga, Getty Images

The New York Yankees lost to the Kansas City Royals 5-4 on Wednesday night. The one run difference was a Billy Butler HR that had to be reviewed, and ultimately upheld by the umpiring crew at Kauffman Stadium.

So what exactly was so controversial about Butler’s HR? What does this say about MLB replay?

In the bottom of the 3rd inning, Billy Butler hit what was ultimately ruled a home run off of green padding at the very top of the left field wall. The ball was fielded by Gardner but the umpires ruled it a home run on the field. Umpire crew chief Dana DeMuth then gathered his crew and went into the umpires room at the Stadium to review the play.

Ed Zurga, Getty Images

Replays showed the ball hit green padding at the top of the wall and the ball came back into the field of play. There was no yellow line marked along the wall and nothing else other than some metal railing behind the wall that the ball could have stuck in order for it to clear the wall. Dana DeMuth and his crew came back onto the field and upheld the call on the field being a home run.

Again, on the replay, it appeared the green padding at the top of the wall appeared to be part of that wall and therefore in play. However, the umpires must have seen it differently where that padding was somehow deemed out of the park and a home run if struck. Because there was no yellow line, the green padding, if it is part of the wall, is in play. If that green padding was deemed as a second wall behind the primary wall, then it would be correct to call it a home run.

This controversy raises new questions as to how clear ┬áthe markings are around the ballpark and ground rules at each ballpark. According to Suzyn Waldman on the Yankee radio broadcast, the Kansas City Royals broadcasters had talked about how since they renovated Kauffman Stadium that with the added railings and seats in the outfield, it has made it more confusing and added a lot of gray area to what is a home run and what isn’t based on the added railings.

Some ballparks have a painted yellow line(s) around their outfield walls while others don’t. At Yankee Stadium, there aren’t any such yellow lines, however, the walls are clearly a single wall and anything over that is a home run. But if you look at a park such as Minute Maid Park in Houston, there are yellow lines all over the place since the outfield is busy with many different walls. In fact, at Minute Maid Park and at Fenway Park along the Green Monster, there is a vertical line indicating that anything to the one side is a home run while the other side is in play.

In my opinion, Major League Baseball needs to make it clear at all ballparks what the ground rules are. Clearly there was some uncertainty here at Kauffman Stadium. There is also great uncertainty at Tropicana Field with all of the catwalks suspended from the dome ceiling. If MLB stepped in to make it clearer for these parks, we wouldn’t have the issues that we saw tonight. To quote a baseball writer after the game “The NFL doesn’t paint its sidelines in green like the rest of the field.”

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