Mild-mannered Paul Konerko is normally not in the middle of any heated controversies. Thats usually reserved for the combative A.J. Pierzynski, especially when the White Sox play the Los Angeles Angels.
See: Game 2 of the 2005 American League Championship Series.
But Friday night, the slow-footed captain was the cause of a major dispute in the first inning.
And heres a first: it actually had to do with his running.
Ive really never caused many problems on the bases, quipped Konerko, a lumbering slugger whose baseball speed has the look of a tortoise or snail.
But there he was drawing the ire of Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who felt Konerko ran inside the baseline on his way to first base on a ground ball with the bases loaded, forcing the throw by catcher Chris Iannetta to pull Albert Pujols off the bag.
Replays showed that Konerko was guilty as charged. I guess I was running a little bit on the inside, Sox captain admitted to CSN. But according to crew chief Dana DeMuth, Konerko in no way interfered with the play at first. The catcher threw wild.
Still, that didnt stop Scioscia from putting the game under protest, a cause only magnified after the White Sox proceeded to score 4 runs that inning after the controversial play. The Angels lost the game 8-6 in 10 innings.
Were filing with the league, and I think its a very clear case in our favor, Scioscia said following the game.
However, the White Sox think otherwise.
I get what Scioscia is trying to say, Robin Ventura told reporters Saturday. But I dont see it affecting what happened on the play. Iannetta yanked it.
Would Ventura be surprised if the league rules that the game will have to be replayed from that play forward?
Id be surprised. Correct.
But while Konerko acknowledged that he is not fully innocent, he says there have been others who have taken a much more scenic route on the basepaths, like Monday against the Twins.
I dont think I was the worst youve ever seen, Konerko said. We had a play in Minnesota a couple nights ago that I promise you Brian Dozier was way worse than I was on a bunt late in the game when we got walked off that night. I think the way most umpires treat it is if the ball doesnt hit the guy, then theres no call made. Well just see what happens, I guess. Its a good win for now. Well see how it shakes it out.
As for the rule itself, its Rule 6.05 (k). Yeah, that one.
It states: In running the last half of the distance from the home base to first base, while the ball is being fielded to first base, he runs outside (to the right of) the three-foot line, or inside (to the left of) the foul line, and in the umpires judgment in so doing interferes with the fielder taking the throw at first base, in which case the ball is dead; except that he may run outside (to the right of) the three foot line or inside (to the left of) the foul line to avoid a fielder attempting to field a batted ball.
Konerko might have a Ph.D. in hitting, but not MLB rule-making.
Im not sure how many people, even good baseball people know that rule, Konerko said. I dont even know what the rule actually says, so a lot of guys dont know. Sometimes you just get on the short end of something. All you can hope is that those types of plays just kind of even out and you just kind of leave it at that.
Considering these appeals rarely go through, maybe Scioscia should too.