Maddon ejected; criticism, zany visual follow

Reversed third-strike call causes drama in NLCS Game 4

October 19th, 2017

CHICAGO -- In the end, Cubs closer threw just one additional pitch. But oh, the drama that preceded that pitch.
Here's what happened: With a runner on first base and one out in the eighth inning of the Cubs' eventual 3-2 win in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series, Dodgers center fielder appeared to swing through a Davis pitch that nicked catcher ' mitt before hitting the dirt.
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Granderson argued the strikeout call with home-plate umpire Jim Wolf, insisting it was a foul tip. After Wolf had a meeting with the other members of his crew, the call, which is not reviewable under MLB replay rules, was reversed.
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That's when Joe Maddon lost it. The Cubs' manager stormed out of the home dugout to launch a lively tirade in which he unsuccessfully urged the umps to watch the slow-motion replay of the swing that was playing on repeat on the gigantic video board above the left-field bleachers.
Maddon didn't get the call changed, but he did become the first skipper to be ejected twice in the same postseason series, having already been tossed from Game 1 of the NLCS presented by Camping World for arguing a play at the plate that umpires overturned via replay.
"If Granderson hits the next pitch out, I might come running out of the clubhouse in my jockstrap," Maddon said afterward. "That was really that bad."
Rather than hit the next pitch out, Granderson swung through it and struck out. So, the tip/no-tip controversy proved to be of little consequence to the game itself, or at least to Game 4. Who knows whether the delay might have led to the walk Davis issued to the next batter, , extending his outing.
After the fact, Wolf admitted he handled the situation poorly.
"After looking at it, I was dead wrong," Wolf told a pool reporter. "I talked myself into the whole thing."
As Wolf explained, it wasn't a matter of the other umpires correcting the call itself, but rather telling Wolf that the ball did not bounce, as he thought it had.
"It hit the ground the same time as the mitt," Wolf said. "After hearing that, then I [recalled hearing] two distinct, separate sounds. And after hearing that from the crew, that the ball did not bounce -- it did hit the ground, but it did not bounce -- I basically talked myself into, 'He did foul tip it.'"

Though Wolf was convinced by the replay that he made the wrong call, Granderson remained adamant that he made contact.
"I don't know what it looked like, but I hit the ball," Granderson said. "Replay's not always going to show it."
If the bat changed the trajectory of the ball in any way, it was subtle, to say the least.

As the replay of the swing showed on the video board while Maddon barked at the umps, many of the 42,195 fans in attendance at Wrigley Field joined Maddon in making their displeasure known. In fact, it was the sheer size and sound of the crowd in the first place that made the Cubs upset with Wolf's "two distinct, separate sounds" explanation.
"You've got 45,000 fans in the stadium," Cubs starter said. "He says he heard two sounds. You're hearing 45,000 sounds."

Added Maddon: "As Ricky Bobby once said: 'Once you've said, 'With all due respect,' you can say whatever you want.' With all due respect, under those circumstances, that can't happen. It can't happen. If Granderson hits the next pitch out of the ballpark, that can't happen. The process was not good."
Whatever the process, the result was the same. It may have taken an extra strike, but Granderson struck out for the fourth time.

Paraphrasing a term from basketball, Contreras summed it up thusly: "The ball never lies."
The only real victim was Davis, who then walked Grandal to put two aboard. But he recovered, striking out to end the inning. Davis didn't fret the extra time between pitches to Granderson.

"I looked at it a little bit [on the video board]," Davis said. "I was trying not to get involved too much emotionally and just stay focused."
Emotion undoubtedly arose from this unusual situation. But as it turned out, the tip/no-tip controversy was no tipping point in Game 4.