BREAKING: Bristol Tribune Columnist Sparks Controversary over the "Beerman" call

Early this morning the rumblings started. The first photos from actual play were emerging in virtual print as I, celebrated wiffle columnist Hugh Wifflerton, started to dig into the most controversial play of the weekend's season finale. I had smelled something rank about it early on and it was not just the stench coming from a bunch of hung-over wifflers filled up with chili.

For those that were safely snuggled away during the wee hours of wiffle, the first grand argument of Wifftober III ignited on a pop fly in the initial inning of action. J-Mac, the infamous manager from the Summer Classic of 07, was at the plate facing a struggling Claudio Chinmusic Frank. The bases were juiced and the Loggers had managed to hang only one out on the board.

You live to see wiffle moments like this.

J-Mac sent a fly into the stands behind the home team's dug-out as the Musical Chin crashed through beermen and whiskey sellers alike. Miraculously Claud emerged soaked in beer but holding the ball.

2 down. Bases still loaded.

But no, suddenly the Lagers raised a fuss claiming that J-Mac had called for a tag. It all seemed dubious as the Loggers stood dumbfounded until the Scottish rookie showed his inexperience in the craft of arguing a wiffle call. The young Lucky Charms, the farthest Logger from the play, stated quietly, "Yeah, um, I think I heard it." What seemed to simply be a fine hustle play by the would be Wiffler of the Year, quickly escalated.

Knowing the impact of the situation, but not knowing much else, the Loggers launched into an argument of epic proportions led by their locker room leader, El Guapo.

It traversed all sections of the field and was so lengthy that the teams had to stagger their involvement to save their players for later loud philosophizing. Finally, in what was billed as a concession by the Lagers, the play was deemed a do-over.

J-Mac strolled to the plate appearing upset and drifted a 2 run double, the first runs of the game. The Lagers taunted the beatdown Loggers with chants of karmic redemption, but perhaps karma still has a little left.

The Lagers were quick to ink their version of the day with Lonichiro specifically writing about the "Beerman" call as follows:

These, and many other salient points were bandied about at top volume until it was decided that it would be ruled a do-over -- a first in Lowball history-- costing the Lagers a run and depriving them of what would have been another first for Lowball, the first legitimate use of the Tag Rule.

NOTE: regardless of how many times the tag rule is used, no one will ever remember the previous uses. proof

The Lagers would go on to win a crushing 17-7 battle fueled by stingy defense, solid batting, and ample pitching prowess.

But it was this moment that defined the day, that set the tone, that would haunt the Loggers for 20 innings, and now may just haunt the embattled Commissioner for the entire winter.

For it never should have been. It was neither legitimate as indicated by the victors (who typically write history, unless the losers control the website) nor a simple judgement call. It was as black and white as the Holsteins shown at nearby Addison County Field Days.

This investigation led me from the depths of the interweb all the way to the office of Major League Baseball and I am left questioning everything that I hold to be dear and true in this world.

To explain we begin our journey in the rules section of LowBall as follows -

SACRAFICE FLY RULE: With a runner on third base and less than two outs, the batting team may try and score the runner on third base on a fly ball. As soon as the ball is hit, the offensive team can yell, “TAG” to activate the runner. If the fielder must catch the ball, throw the ball home within 3 seconds, and hit the backstop with one bounce or in the air, to prevent the tagged runner from scoring. If the ball misses or does not reach the backstop within one hop, the runner on 3rd scores. If it hits the backstop; the runner is out at the plate. All other runners will remain where they were. Defense will make the decision if “TAG” wasn't yelled soon enough or not loud enough.

I went to this section hoping to find a definitive answer to where a ball must be to constitute a sac fly opportunity. I was left with no answer one way or the other. It is interesting to note that the Loggers may have had a chance to argue the amplitude of the call had young Charms not blurted out an approval.

I continued reading until I hit the last line in the LowBall rule book.

Rules not stated herein, will follow the rules in accordance with Major League Baseball

Luckily I know some people at the MLB office and quickly located the appropriate rule.
MLB rule book under Section 10.08(d) Sacrifice Runs:

(d) Score a sacrifice fly when, before two are out, the batter hits a ball in flight handled by an outfielder or an infielder running in the outfield in fair or foul territory that
(1) is caught, and a runner scores after the catch, or
(2) is dropped, and a runner scores, if in the scorer's judgment the runner could have scored after the catch had the fly been caught.
Official MLB Rules: 10.00 The Official Scorer

Clearly for a run to score on a sac fly, it must be an outfield hit and this was most certainly not.

Instead of being down 2 with a single out, Claudio should have been tied up with 2 away. The difference on the stat sheet is marginal, but the difference in a pitcher's psyche can be massive. The Chin Musician, regulated by the Socialist regime to pitch set innings (editor's note: this is Hugh's view and does not necessarily reflect that of the Bristol Tribune), went on to give up a total of 8 or so runs, dramatically different from his dominance of the season.

It is one thing to have calls go the wrong way based on a judgement call, like where the ball hits on the backstop, that happens all the time and is very much part of the game. Now when a play, a highly influential play, is called contradictory to the stated rules, this is a very different situation.

Obviously credit goes to an awfully stingy Lager defense and some very lively bats. However, what first appeared to be karmic redemption in their favor may come back to haunt them through the winter.

It is good they chose "real" champagne as their celebratory beverage and left the High Life to the Loggers to fully enjoy the bitter taste of defeat.

Hugh Wifflerton writes the award winning "Eye on the Wiffles" column for the Bristol Tribune, covering the ups and downs of the LowBall league.


Member since:
28 July 2007
Last activity:
4 years 12 weeks

I, for one, never liked Wifflerton's columns in the Bristol Tribune.  I think he is a windbag and a blowhard and is just taking out his frustrations on real wifflers because his career was cut short.  The photos on the other hand are spectacular.  Highest praises to the admin for the pix.

Member since:
9 July 2007
Last activity:
6 years 50 weeks

Deflect and redirect, you are very well schooled in the arts of Wiffle argument, a crafty LowBall vet.