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Marlins object to umps watching TV
Posted: Tuesday June 01, 1999 12:08 PM
MIAMI (AP) -- Cliff Floyd's deep drive hit the top of the scoreboard, or perhaps the wall behind it, and then bounced back onto the field.
Home run? Double? Umpire Frank Pulli checked a television replay and then changed his call, much to the dismay of the Florida Marlins.
On further review, the rare role for TV helped the St. Louis Cardinals beat Florida 5-2 Monday.
Former Marlins World Series hero Edgar Renteria hit a pair of solo homers against his ex-teammates, while Kent Bottenfield pitched five innings and improved to 8-2, tying him for the National League in victories.
But the hot topic in both clubhouses afterward was Pulli's decision to consult a TV replay. The umpires changed the call twice and got it right in the end, costing Florida a run.
The Marlins played the game under protest, arguing that the reliance on a replay violated major league policy and set an unwanted precedent.
"They used video to change the call -- that's what I'm protesting," interim manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
"I didn't know instant replay was in the game," Floyd said.
There is no mention of replay in the rulebook, though umpires "do have the authority to rule on any point not specifically covered in these rules."
Pulli, whose 28 years as an umpire rank second in National League seniority, said it was the first time he had looked at a TV replay to make a call.
"I sure don't want to make a habit of it," he said. "But at that moment, I thought it was the proper thing to do."
The ruling came in the fifth inning. St. Louis led 4-1 before Floyd drove in a runner from second with his deep drive.
Floyd claimed his hit was a homer because it bounced off the facade behind the scoreboard. Second-base umpire Greg Gibson at first called the hit a double, but after the Marlins began to argue, the umpiring crew conferred briefly, and Pulli -- the crew chief and third-base umpire -- changed the ruling to a homer.
The Cardinals then protested, and the game was delayed for more than five minutes while Pulli studied replays on a TV camera near the Marlins' dugout.
"I've never seen anything like that before," Marlins general manager Dave Dombrowski said.
Pulli said he consulted the replay because he became confused about the ground rules at Pro Player Stadium. He declined to be more specific.
"A lot of things went through my mind," he said. "I hope I don't have to go to the replay again. I don't want it to become like football."
When the replay showed the ball hit about two feet below the top of the scoreboard, Pulli changed the call back to a double, and Floyd ended the inning stranded at third.
"He did end up making the right call -- with the help of the cameraman," Floyd said. "I was hoping maybe I'd get a cheap one."
Florida manager John Boles, nursing a sprained neck that has kept him out of the dugout for the past four games, watched the sequence from his office. Boles said the Marlins' protest has a chance to be upheld, in which case the game would be replayed.
"There's a precedent being set," he said. "It's a protest that has some validity."
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa disagreed.
"How much do you want to bet on that?" La Russa said. "Do you want to bet any money that this doesn't go anywhere? You can protest certain things; certain things you can't protest. It's not going to work."
La Russa said he has seen umpires rely on a TV replay before, but he couldn't specifically remember when.
"There's nothing wrong with using replay," he said. "The No. 1 priority for the umpire is to get the play right."
In the ninth inning, when Florida's Alex Gonzalez took a called strike that appeared inside, the crowd chanted, "Replay! Replay!"
The controversy managed to make Mark McGwire a footnote.
McGwire, playing in his second game since being hospitalized for 36 hours with a staph infection in his right leg, went 2-for-5 with an RBI double. With the Marlins using four outfielders, he hit a grounder through the hole, normally occupied by the second baseman, for a two-out single in the seventh.
Renteria, fondly remembered by Marlins fans for driving in the winning run in the 1997 World Series, led off the fifth inning with his second homer of the year, then homered again to start the ninth. The game was his first in Miami since being traded to the Cardinals in December.
Bottenfield, now tied with Curt Schilling and Jose Lima for the most victories in the NL, allowed seven hits and two runs in five innings. Ricky Bottalico pitched two scoreless innings for his fourth save.
Brian Meadows (4-5) allowed four runs in six innings for the Marlins. They have lost three in a row.Notes: The game drew a holiday crowd of 21,943, well below the Cardinals' road average of 33,634. ... Coming into the series, nine of McGwire's 12 career hits against Florida had been homers. ... Marlins rookie Preston Wilson went 0-for-3, ending his 10-game hitting streak. ... Renteria's only other two-homer game came July 18, 1997, for Florida against San Diego. ... The Marlins optioned LHP Brent Billingsley to Class AAA Calgary and activated RHP Archie Corbin from the DL.
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