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Joe Torre: Umpires Whiffed On Home Run Replay Against Yankees

Joe Girardi

(credit: Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) – The phantom home run should have been a double.

Joe Torre, Major League Baseball’s executive vice president for baseball operations, said Dana DeMuth’s crew, working the Yankees at Royals game Wednesday night, made a mistake on a call on a home run by Billy Butler.

“There really was a misunderstanding, and I’m not trying to pick my words here, as to what the ground rule represented,” the former Yankees manager said Thursday after two days of owners’ meetings concluded at the Otesaga Hotel. “Obviously, from what went on he was very sure that that ball was a home run ’cause it hit that back fence, which is out of the park.”

Butler’s ball appeared to strike the upper railing of a second wall behind the left field wall before bouncing back onto the field. Umpires ruled it a home run but went in to look at a review after talking to Yankees manager Joe Girardi.

Girardi argued again briefly when they returned and confirmed the designated hitter’s 15th home run. Replays showed the ball hitting the padding below the railing and bouncing up toward the front row of fans before coming back onto the field.

“I figured he knew the rules,” said Girardi. “The reason I didn’t protest is I believed the umpire.”

DeMuth ruled the hit a home run even after the video review. It should have been a double.

“Joe could have protested immediately, but I’ve been around a long time. I don’t think baseball would uphold the protest,” said general manager Brian Cashman. “I would be shocked if Major League Baseball upheld a managerial protest.”

Long after the game ended, major league umpire supervisor Steve Palermo led the entire crew out to the wall and could be seen pointing at the spot the ball hit.

The ballpark’s rule is that the ball must go into the stands for it to be a homer.

Palermo told The Associated Press on Thursday that “it was a misunderstanding of the ground rules. What they thought was, wasn’t.”

Torre added: “Dana feels very badly about it. It’s certainly not from lack of knowing what the heck to do. He is very astute in knowing the ground rules.”

DeMuth had all day to think about it.

“He (DeMuth) has an off day today and all day to think about it,” said Torre, a former manager of the Yankees. “It’s something that shouldn’t have happened.”

The Royals survived a harrowing ninth and held on for a 5-4 victory over the AL East leaders.

“Unfortunately, it’s a one-run game and it affected the outcome,” Torre said. “I can empathize with Joe. This was very unusual. This umpire has worked three years’ worth of games in this ballpark and was under the assumption that that fence, which is literally behind the wall, was a home run because it was out of the ballpark.

“I guess they’ve had some questions since the ballpark was renovated a few years ago,” Torre added. “Now, for sure, it won’t be a problem anymore.”

The Yankees did not protest and would have had to lodge one before the next pitch, Torre said.

Girardi now wishes he filed a complaint.

“Of course you do. But when two separate umpires with different accounts tell you that, ‘No, that’s a home run,’ I believe them,” Girardi said. “Maybe I don’t need to be so trustworthy next time.”

Should MLB punish the umps? Does the replay system need tweaking? Sound off in the comments below…

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)