Oct. 5 Torre, Reliford, Kellogg, Holbrook postgame interview
THE MODERATOR: To my immediate left is Joe Torre, Executive VP of Baseball Operations for Major League Baseball, Charlie Reliford, Umpire Supervisor, Crew Chief Jeff Kellogg and Sam Holbrook.
Q. Sam, what did you see there?
SAM HOLBROOK: I saw the shortstop go back and get underneath the ball where he would have had ordinary effort and would have caught the baseball, and that's why I called the infield fly.
Q. When you have six umpires, is the left field umpire, should he make that call or should the third base umpire make that call?
JOE TORRE: I think Charlie should speak to that. He's the umpire.
CHARLIE RELIFORD: He's the umpire that should initiate the call.
Q. Joe, can you describe the process that went on with the protest, and what the review was?
JOE TORRE: Right, I talked to Frank Wren, and I talked to Freddy after the game, and you know it's a little unusual circumstances based on the one game playoff, so as far as 24 hours and waiting for a written report, practicality, it just didn't make sense. So I spoke to them, asked them what they were basing their protest on, and I ruled basically to disallow the protest based on the fact that it was umpire's judgment call. And you really can't not that you can't protest, but you can't uphold a protest based on that.
JOE TORRE: Yes, right. And I made it clear to them that because of the situation with a one game playoff, it makes no sense to wait the 24 hour thing.
Q. Joe, you managed for a long time. Was that a good call? Was that the right call?
JOE TORRE: Well, it's umpire's judgment. I'm not going to sit here and I watched that video a number of times, and I can just ask you to watch the video a number of times and see when Sam called for the infield fly to see where the players were positioned, and I think you can make a judgment on your own.
Q. Is there a difference making that call starting from third base or left field? What is the process there?
SAM HOLBROOK: As far as being a different perspective starting in the infield.
SPEAKER: It's all judged on what the fielder does. Once that fielder establishes himself and he has ordinary effort on the ball, that's when the call is made. So it wouldn't matter whether it was from third base or on the line out there. But, again, it's all based on what the fielder does, that's what I went on, and that's what I read.
JOE TORRE: I was just called off here. I was just informed that Frank Wren has dropped the protest. And the question I was asked in the back of the room of me and I had said to you to look at it, it looked like to me it was an infield fly to make the call. I didn't want to try to sidestep the answer.
Q. It looked like an infield fly to you?
JOE TORRE: It did. When I gave an answer I'm thinking I'm saying it sounds like I'm trying to sidestep it. But, again, it's a judgment, and that's why I had to make a decision on based on the protest.
Q. Sam, when you saw it again, were you as confident of the call as you made it the first time?
SAM HOLBROOK: Absolutely.
Q. And for Jeff, how close were you to having an incident where this game was going to be forfeited?
JEFF KELLOGG: Well, that wouldn't have been my job to take care of. I would have had to communicate with these guys.
Q. Were you concerned?
JEFF KELLOGG: I was concerned that once we went back into our positions it may happen again, but fortunately it did not happen.
Q. When you guys gathered, can I ask what did you see, what did you see? Did that conversation take place?
SPEAKER: Not really. The guys came in, and every guy to a "T" agreed with the call. Everybody was on the same page.
Q. Sam, you said you saw a replay. When did you see the replay, after the game or somehow during that delay?
SAM HOLBROOK: After the game in the locker room.
Q. Joe, I think you said the time of this the reason you couldn't do anything or it becomes difficult?
JOE TORRE: No, I was saying the normal protest is a written report within 24 hours. But because of the one game playoff, I think we sort of had to make sense and make a decision based on common sense. 24 hours in a one game playoff is a little bit tough to have to put people through and wait when that's why I talked to Frank Wren and Fredi to find out what they were protesting. From what I heard, my side of it was they were protesting something that was umpire's judgment call, and so I ruled there and then. But I wanted to let him know after the game that I was disallowing the protest based on the fact that it was umpire's decision, umpire's judgment. I was just informed that Frank dropped the protest.
Q. After you made the call and the play played out and the ball dropped. Was there anywhere moment of second guessing for you after you saw the way the play played out and the crowd's reaction?
SAM HOLBROOK: Absolutely not.
Q. And after the crowd reacted like they did, what goes through your mind? Is there a personal safety as far as did you take that into concern at all, your personal safety for both umpires?
SAM HOLBROOK: Yeah, when cans are flying past your head, yeah, a little bit. But I think it was safety for everybody, not just us, but for everybody on the field.
Q. Joe, good call, bad call, there are going to be a lot of people that take it as a controversial call. They're going to say it shows why baseball needs more replay. If you had more replay, wouldn't an Infield Fly Rule not be covered by what could be replayed?
JOE TORRE: Yeah, I mean, I had asked this at the All Star break. I said what do you want replayed, because there's been an outcry for replay. To me, it's always the play that happened yesterday. That's what people want replayed, whether it's a tag at the plate, coming off the bag at first, whatever it is. We're certainly looking at expanding replay, but we're trying to make sure if we do expand it through the technology that it makes sense for baseball. But, again, baseball has been played a long time, and I'm not looking to hide from this. But the fact that because there is a controversy, baseball has been controversial for a long time. The fact that if I'm a manager and I'd go out there and yell too, if I'm sitting over there at first base because the first base dugout where Fredi was, you know, that's not the best seat in the house when you're trying to see if that was the right call or the wrong call. But I think controversy is part of what we do because the game is not perfect, the players make errors, hitters strike out, especially the home team wants certain things to go certain ways. I mean, there was a lot of booing earlier when Jeff called the interference going to first base. But anybody who saw the replay on that certainly knew he made the right call. Then they were booing after that based on anything that Jeff did. He called a strike or he called a ball but that's always been the game.
Q. You said you ruled then and there, during the game, on the phone?
JOE TORRE: I talked to Jeff Kellogg during the play stoppage because of the unique situation with the one game playoff. I think he just was curious how to handle the protest. In looking at the rule where you have 24 hours to make a written report, and the circumstances, I think just didn't make sense for that to take place. So after the game, I made sure I talked to both Frank Wren and Fredi to let them know that I was disallowing it, but I wanted to make sure they heard it from me that I was disallowing it and sort of circumventing not circumventing the rules, but because of the situation, it made more sense to do it that way.
Q. Baseball is the only pro sport that adds officials for post season play. Is it worth it to do that?
JOE TORRE: Well, you figure you get more coverage. We just feel it's the right thing to do. I think the more eyes you can put on something, especially in regards to like traps in the outfield but I think Charlie can probably speak to it better than I. He's an umpire, and he knows when you're running around and trying to rotate and do different things, whether you're a four offer six man crew, you look at different things.
CHARLIE RELIFORD: Joe's right, first it increases our coverage of the trapped balls in the outfield, which stops our infield umpires from having to rotate as much as they normally would which gives us better coverage. Plus the umpires are facing two teams for the series. And if you'll notice as you watch during the season, the umpires change cities after a series. Because we normally don't like the team in the same series to see the plate umpire more than once. So not only do we get better coverage, but it allows us to have a different plate umpire for every game of the series.
Q. Given that you've had the judgment call playing at least some role in the game. What kind of scenario could you envision that would take this Wild Card to a three game series even out of the one and done stuff?
JOE TORRE: To me for years I thought that the Wild Card team didn't have any disadvantage. Let's put it the other way. I didn't think there was enough emphasis to win a division. Now I think winning the division, I think we all witnessed it down the stretch how important it was for teams to win every game to try to win the division. It's not the fact that, oh, we're in the playoffs, we don't have to worry about it. I like the one game playoff. It's a Game 7 for me. This is an exciting game tonight. I'm sorry about the controversy. It's certainly not something we ever plan on, but two out of three, a number of different reasons I don't like the two out of three. I guess you have to stick an off day in there somewhere. You wind up having the teams that win divisions wait five or six days before they play, and I know that is certainly not what we want to do. All hands on deck. I think it's an exciting format, myself.