CHICAGO -- Cubs manager Joe Maddon was ejected in the seventh inning of Chicago's 3-2 win over the Nationals on Friday after Willson Contreras was ruled out on an interference call. The game was tied, 2-2, at the time of the ejection.With Kyle Schwarber on first, Contreras dropped down a
CHICAGO -- Cubs manager Joe Maddon was ejected in the seventh inning of Chicago's 3-2 win over the Nationals on Friday after Willson Contreras was ruled out on an interference call. The game was tied, 2-2, at the time of the ejection.
With Kyle Schwarber on first, Contreras dropped down a bunt and appeared to beat it out for a single, as third baseman Anthony Rendon's throw sailed over Contreras' head and into foul territory in right field.
First-base umpire Nick Mahrley waved his hand to signal interference on Contreras, who was advancing to second. When Maddon realized what was happening, he charged out of the dugout toward home-plate umpire and crew chief Bill Miller.
Maddon put on quite the display, and his argument with Miller went on for a while. He wasn't ejected until he took off down the first-base line and into foul territory in an attempt to demonstrate why it was a bad call.
Now officially ejected, Maddon was standing in the grass near the first-base coaching box, where he imitated Nationals first baseman Matt Adams stretching for the throw. "In this situation, he interfered with the first baseman's ability to catch the ball," Miller said after the game. "Because he was running inside fair territory, he was not running in the lane."
Rule 6.05(k) reads: "A batter is out when in running the last half of the distance from home base to first base, while the ball is being fielded to first base, he runs outside (to the right of) the three-foot line, or inside (to the left of) the foul line, and in the umpire's judgment in so doing interferes with the fielder taking the throw at first base, in which case the ball is dead."
Contreras, Miller said, was not called out for interference because he was inside the foul line but because, in doing so, he impeded Adams' ability to catch the throw from Rendon.
Maddon said he knew which rule the umpires were enforcing there, but he thought Rendon's throw was so off-target that Contreras' path to the base had no impact on the play. Rendon's throw, as Maddon saw it, was going to be errant either way.
"Regardless of whether he was inside the line or not, that throw was so far off inside, it had nothing to do with the baserunner," Maddon said. "There's no judgement [in the rule], it's cut and dry, and I think that's the inappropriate part of the rule."
Miller, however, said there is some judgement when it comes to that rule, but his example of an uncatchable throw to first base was much more extreme than what happened.
"If [Rendon] would've thrown the ball over everybody's head," Miller said, interference would not have been called. But "as long as the throw is somewhere in the same neighborhood, the guy has to be in the lane."
Part of Maddon's displeasure was situational, considering that without an interference call, the Cubs would have had runners on second and third with nobody out instead of one out and Schwarber on first. With the score tied, that could end up changing the outcome of the game.
The Cubs ended up making the most of it. Ian Happ and Addison Russell followed up with singles, and Anthony Rizzo drew a bases-loaded walk to give his team the lead.
Still, Maddon said, just because the Cubs ended up scoring doesn't mean he is OK with the umpire's ruling.
"For me, [if] you make that much of an errant throw and you get rewarded for it," Maddon said, "there's something wrong with that method."
Matthew Martell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago.