Aug 252010

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel

August 24 Philadelphia Inquirer

“Begin with this: Ryan Howard says he tagged Michael Bourn. That would make this existential debate about where baselines do and do not exist quite moot.

“I know I did,” Howard said after the Phillies‘ 3-2 loss to Houston. “He knows I did, too.”

Bourn played coy, saying: “That’s between me and Ryan. He was asking me questions, and we were talking about playing video games.”

Two hours and 37 minutes of baseball at Citizens Bank Park yielded merely confusion Monday. In the Phillies’ coaches’ office, pitching coach Rich Dubee leaned back in his chair, closely inspecting the rule book.

Across the hallway, a group of Phillies sat in the clubhouse awaiting an explanation from the umpiring crew. There was none – crew chief Sam Holbrook declined comment.

Charlie Manuel, ejected by umpire Greg Gibson for the second time this season, was baffled by this: Two different explanations for what he thought were identical plays.

Let’s say this: If the Phillies miss the postseason by one game, they will remember this night. Forget about the call; Jayson Werth’s inexplicably being picked off second base following an intentional walk and Wilson Valdez’s failed bunt in the ninth were dreadful gaffes, too.

But the game turned on a disputed call in the eighth. Bourn scored the eventual winning run after he reached base on a bunt up the first-base line. Howard fielded the ball on the grass. He made a diving attempt to tag the speedy Bourn, whose foot touched the grass in foul territory. Gibson called Bourn safe, and Howard and second baseman Chase Utley immediately protested.

Manuel was quick to emerge from the dugout, and he, too, disagreed as the sellout crowd chanted “Charlie! Charlie! Charlie!” He was ejected minutes later.

After a sacrifice bunt and a strikeout, Carlos Lee hit a broken-bat flare to left field that scored two former Phillies – Jason Michaels (who led off the inning with a pinch-hit single) and Bourn.

Now this is where the abstract begins. Manuel argued Bourn was out of the baseline. (Howard said he never told the umpires he tagged Bourn, saying it was irrelevant because Bourn was out regardless.)”

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