As already chronicled in this space, the Angels played Thursday night's game against the Astros (an eventual win for the Angels) under protest because the Astros were allowed to make a pitching change even though the current pitcher had not yet faced a batter. That, almost everyone will recall, is against the rules.
But there are the rules of merest mortals and then there are Bo Porter Rules. Please allow the Astros' first-year manager to explain why he did what he did, courtesy of MLB.com's Brian McTaggart ...
“My understanding of the rule, and I was fortunate enough last year to sit in with [Nationals manager] Davey [Johnson] when they changed the rule of a pitcher having to face a batter. But at the same time, if you have to pinch-hit for that batter, you now have the right to bring in another pitcher. Technically, Wesley came in to pitch the batter that was scheduled to hit [Shuck] but he pinch-hit for the batter that was scheduled to hit. Which, from my understanding of the rule, you can bring in another pitcher to face the pinch-hitter.”
Changed the rule? What's that you say? What Porter's saying is ... the opposite of correct. As Matt noted Thursday night, here's the very plainly stated official rule on the matter at hand:
(b) If the pitcher is replaced, the substitute pitcher shall pitch to the batter then at bat, or any substitute batter, until such batter is put out or reaches first base, or until the offensive team is put out, unless the substitute pitcher sustains injury or illness which, in the umpire-in-chief's judgment, incapacitates him for further play as a pitcher.
There's no room for alternative parsing there, even though Porter claims the rule was changed last season while he was a member of Davey Johnson's staff in Washington. Bulletin: It was not. Of course, the greatest mystery of all is what the umpiring crew -- tasked, of course, with knowing and enforcing the rules -- let Porter get away with it.
Anyhow, Porter is a likable guy and seems to have brought the right tone to the deep-rebuilding Astros (see, for instance, this post by our own Danny Knobler on Porter's relentless positivity), but some explanations -- this one especially -- are better left to the darkened corners of the imagination.
Of course, since there's now a #BoPorterRules hashtag going strong on Twitter, perhaps all of this was worth it.
(Wink of CBS eye: Hardball Talk)