“The 0-2 pitch… Oh no! That’s strike three called on Ryan Howard!” exclaimed the radio voice of the Phillies, Scott Franzke.
By now everyone should know what happened in the seventh inning of the Marlins-Phillies game on Sunday in Philly. It was a crazy turn of events, some which we didn’t find out until after the game.
What everyone noticed on TV was Wes Helms got a ball called on an 0-2 pitch and suddenly home plate umpire Ed Rapuano ran a few steps onto the field and threw up the “you’re outta here!” signal. Without the replays, we all would have been thoroughly lost. At first some people thought it was the pitcher (Rodrigo Lopez), and then shortstop Jimmy Rollins made some movement, but it wasn’t him either. Then you see center fielder Shane Victorino sprinting in from the outfield.
A great quote by Helms after the game was, “You think you’ve seen it all, but you never have seen it all. In 10 years in the big leagues I have never seen something like that.”
What he was referring to was a home plate umpire throwing out a centerfielder, and then the reaction by the fans. Philly fans lived up to their reputation and the boo-birds were out in full force. Now, being from Philly, I’ve heard the boos before, but this was something I’ve even never seen.
The Marlins continued on to send 10 batters to the plate that inning and score six, but the fans could care less. They were focused on Rapuano behind home plate. Every time he made a call or even a movement the boos echoed throughout South Philadelphia in unison. Then they got a little carried away in the seventh inning stretch, yelling and booing the poor guy singing “G-d Bless America,” though to be honest, he wasn’t really good.
They had a right to boo, they were upset, and no one really understood what was going on or really what triggered it. We had a chance as media to hear Rapuano’s explanation after the game:
“Ed Rapuano, describe what you saw…”
“Very simple, an 0-2 pitch. Third pitch was called a ball and he was out there waving his arms like this (waving arms up and down), waving his arms. So I stepped out, took my mask off and looked out there and I gestured. Again, he went (waving his arms) and I said that’s it. You can’t do that from center field.”
“So there were two gestures?”
“Oh, absolutely. I gave him the chance to not do it again…”
“Did you see Rollins waving?”
“No. I didn’t see that. That may have been after we ejected (Victorino) and (Rollins) said that (Victorino) wasn’t doing anything. I didn’t see Rollins do a thing.”
“What would you say to people who say its difficult for a home plate umpire to throw someone out who is in centerfield?”
“He’s right in the line of sight and he’s out in front of everybody, waving his arms in disgust of a pitch that I called. It is very simple (to eject him.) And Charlie agreed with me….”
“Charlie agreed with you?”
“Did Victorino bump you at all?”
“No, he was prevented from bumping me by I don’t know who (it was Bako). I’ll get the tape and find out.”
“Will there be a further report?”
“I will fill out my report and the rest is up to the league office.”
Now, we also heard some other tidbits after the game, such as Victorino apologized profusely to Rapuano afterwards for losing his cool, and Charlie Manuel had a closed-door meeting to have a chat with the team.
Cody Ross said he could relate to Victorino’s frustration, because he’s been there before. You see a call on your teammate as a strike when you think it’s a ball, and then the umpire calls a ball on a similar pitch to the opposing team. “I’ve probably even gestured with my arms in exasperation before,” Cody said with a smile, “I just have never been caught.”
But what could have triggered the ejection was that apparently Victorino had some words with Rapuano before the seventh inning. After that call on Howard to end the sixth Victorino obviously wasn’t pleased and on his way to the outfield, said a few things to Rapuano, which caused him to look his way during the Helms at-bat.
For the record, we have yet to see any footage of a second gesture by Victorino.
Rapuano was walking by the elevator where the media was waiting after the game and someone asked him, “So what do you think of the fans reaction?” He smiled and responded, “It’s Philly – I’ve heard it before.” Everyone laughed. The end.