April 11, 2022
George Brett is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. He is one of the best pure hitters you could ever see but Brett's on-field accomplishments are overshadowed at times by his one at-bat on July 24, 1983. That is the game Brett had a home run against the Yankees taken off the board when the Yankees challenged that Brett's bat had too much pine tar on it, more than the rulebook allowed. Umps famously measured the bat across home plate then signaled Brett out which then saw him charge the field screaming at umpires for making such a call.
The clip of that moment can be found easily and Brett is forever famous for that as much as he is for almost hitting .400 in 1980.( He hit .390). Even George Brett was talking about the latest pine tar moment almost 40 years later involving the UCF Baseball team in a Sunday game at Memphis.
UCF had a 2-0 lead when freshman catcher Andrew Sundean launched a three-homer. As Sundean rounded the bases and his team celebrated a now 5-0 top of the first lead, Memphis Head Coach Daron Schoenrock asked umps to check Sundean's bat. In college baseball, bats that will be used in a series or tournament must pass inspection and a small sticker is placed on the bat indicating the bat has been approved. Now, what a player does with the bat after it's approved is one of the odd mysteries in college baseball.
Schoenrock may have been upset that after beating UCF 6-1 on Friday his team got run-ruled on Saturday and lost 13-3 in seven innings and he just saw his team fall down 5-0 in the top of the first Sunday. Sundean is a 6-6 freshman who wasn't even expected to play much for UCF this season but injuries created an opportunity and he has made the most of it. Sundean is batting .533 and has 21 hits in 38 at-bats. He has an 11 game hitting streak and is just in a zone.
But Schoenrock wanted the bat checked and umpires picked up the bat and began studying its barrel by the time he touched home plate. Then, the bats was measured to check how far up the barrel there was pine tar. Just like umps did that day at Yankee Stadium in 1983, umps laid the bat across home plate and then after a brief conference, ruled Sundean out and placed runners back at second and third and 5-0 UCF was back at 2-0.
UCF coach Greg Lovelady came out to argue and questioned if umps had properly applied the rule as it's written in the rulebook. His argument appeared to be going nowhere and Lovelady's emotions had him shouting at the Memphis dugout for even challenging the bat. He got heated and the now famous video shows Lovelady yelling at the Memphis dugout and umpires and then had to be restrained and then was ejected. Memphis starting pitcher Blake Wimberly got tossed when he and Lovelady exchanged words. More emotions heated up as benches emptied and after a couple of pushes and finger pointings things calmed down.
By then, two of the four umps took Sundean's bat and left the playing field area. Where did they go? To find the college baseball rulebook. Turns out Lovelady was correct that the umps were not applying the rule properly. If the bat was deemed to have too much pine tar on it, the bat should have been removed but the home run still counts and the player is warned. The initial call to take the home run off the board was wrong. After reading the rulebook, the umps agreed there was one option, correct their mistake and since the game had not restarted, the Sundean home run was put back on the board and UCF had its 5-0 lead back.
They went on to score 10 runs in the top of the first that featured all those runs, a coach and opposing team's pitcher getting ejected, fans/parents of players almost getting into a fight in the stands and umps changing a call after reading the rulebook. After all of that, UCF's first batter hit a home run off the new pitcher. No one challenged the bat of UCF's Ryan Taylor.
The video of the play and Lovelady's outburst went viral quickly and by the time the game ended had more than 100,000 views on line and was the buzz of the baseball world the rest of the day and night. Even George Brett chimed in on twitter when he said "Did not think anyone used pine tar anymore."
I asked Andrew Sundean, the catcher who started all of it with his home run, if the ump apologized for getting the call wrong when he went out for the bottom of the first to warm up the pitcher. Sundean said, "Not really, he just said that was a crazy start the game, wasn't it." Yes it was Andrew, yes it was...
Notes: In the last nine weeks, Scottie Scheffler has won four times and finished 7th in five of the six tournaments he has played since winning the Phoenix Open on February 13th. Despite his double bogey on the 18th and final hole, Scheffler was dominant in winning his first major and green jacket. Scheffler was the number one ranked player in the world before coming to Augusta and strengthened his position with this weekend's performance...Tiger had a weekend to forget, but he gave fans some magic on Friday and Saturday and Woods has committed to play in the 150th Open Championship which will be played at St. Andrews. Woods has not ruled out playing in next month's PGA Championship to be played at Southern Hills in Tulsa. Do you know who says Southern Hills is one of his favorite golf courses to play? Scottie Scheffler...The Magic finished another "rebuild" year and finished 22-60. More on this season later in the week, but if you enjoyed a season where a team lost 60 of 82 games, maybe you are a positive person. Or maybe you are numb to the team losing. If the team's goal was to lose enough games to get a draft pick, then mission accomplished, I guess...Frank Vogel is reportedly out as Lakers' coach after Adrian Wojnarowski(WOJ) posted a tweet Sunday. Many are angry that Vogel should not learn that he will not be back via a tweet from a member of the media. If you are still wondering how/where Woj learned the news, then you don't understand who runs the Lakers. Klutch and LeBron made the decision some time ago and Woj knows who you appease when you want to keep sources happy...The Miami Herald's Barry Jackson tweeted this Saturday about Miami's spring football practice: "Cristobal stopped practice today because some things, including tempo and player speed between drills, were not to his standards. Practice resumed after stern, loud address from Mario. Unlike past years, nothing is allowed to slide.". That's all I needed to hear. Miami will win the national championship by four touchdowns now because of that....
Final note: On the flight back from Memphis last night, the guy across the aisle to my left grabbed the drink menu after the stewardess suggested that because of the short flight be ready to order your drink quickly. Who looks at the drink menu options? You either know what you want or don't want anything. By the way, he ordered a regular coke.