Baseball is a unique sport filled with situations that you may only see once every few years, if at all. Umpires must be prepared to rule on these situations in real time, but we have our own expert to rely upon. Brandon Magee explains why blood on the mound caused Trevor Bauer to be lifted from the ALCS.
Baseball has been America’s national pastime for well over a century and a half. Yet it still provides long-time spectators events that they have never seen before – or will again. As baseball fans, we are well aware of the written and unwritten rules that govern the game. Sometimes, the game gets a bit bloody.
For the third game of the 2016 American League Championship Series between the Franconas of Cleveland and the Gibbons of Toronto, Trevor Bauer was named as the starting pitcher for the Cleveland nine. However, due to an accident with a drone a few days prior to the start, Bauer’s pitching hand was in less than ideal shape. Bauer was only able to garner two outs before his pinkie finger became a bloody mess, a mess that could not be stopped by any standard measures.
Rule 6.02(c)(7) of the Major League rulebook states:
The pitcher shall not:
Have on his person, or in his possession, any foreign substance.
As with many rules, this simple statement could be ambiguous. While one would assume Vaseline or a piece of sandpaper affixed to the finger would clearly be considered a foreign substance, would a band-aid or super glue to keep a wound from bleeding also be considered a foreign substance? Luckily, the rule book is littered with comments to expound on the meaning of the rules, and the 6.02(c)(7) clarification states:
The pitcher may not attach anything to either hand, any finger or either wrist (e.g., Band-Aid, tape, Super Glue, bracelet, etc.). The umpire shall determine if such attachment is indeed a foreign substance for the purpose of Rule 6.02(c)(7), but in no case may the pitcher be allowed to pitch with such attachment to his hand, finger or wrist.
The clarification states that the fingers and wrist must be clear of any and all attachments, and the rule made it impossible for Bauer to continue pitching once his wound opened up.
While Bauer was only able to earn two outs in a critical game three, manager Terry Francona masterfully utilized his pitching staff to shut down the Torontonians 4-2, placing Cleveland into an enviable 3-0 advantage in the series. They would go on to win in five games and advance to the World Series.