According to the rules of the new instant replay system, the neighborhood play at second base is not reviewable. It's about safety more than anything. Infielders "cheat" and leave the bag early while turning a double play all the time just to avoid the oncoming runner. They've been doing it for years and MLB understandably decided to make it a non-reviewable call.
On Monday night, the umpiring crew in the Braves-Mets game used the replay system to overturn what appeared to be a neighborhood play at second base. Long story short: Chris Johnson threw to second for the force out on Juan Lagares' bunt attempt, but Andrelton Simmons came off the bag a split second too soon when receiving the throw. Mets manager Terry Collins came out and spoke to the umpires before they went to the replay system. Here's the video:
Needless to say, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez was livid after the call was overturned and he was eventually ejected. MLB issued the following statement after the game:
"The replay regulations allow umpires to determine if they considered a play to be the neighborhood play or not, based on a variety of factors. Some of the factors they consider are the throw and if the player receiving the ball is making the turn. Umpires might consider whether it was an errant throw or if a player receiving a throw who is not at risk of contact made an effort to touch the bag."
Umpire Mike Everitt told reporters that they "reviewed the call because, in our judgment, we felt the throw took the fielder off the bag. We judged that the throw took him off the bag." Fellow umpire Tim Timmons added Simmons was "trying to complete the double play quicker. He's trying to gain an advantage."
So, in English, the umpires determined this was not a neighborhood play, and that Simmons did not come off the bag to avoid the runner. He came off the bag to catch the ball a little sooner and gain an advantage while attempting to turn the double play. Looking at the video, I think I buy that. Whether they properly used the replay system is another matter.
Gonzalez was not happy, as you can imagine:
Fredi G. on the ninth-inning reversal: "That might be the worst call or interpretation I have ever seen." #Braves— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) July 8, 2014
Something tells me this isn't the last we'll hear about this. MLB has been quick to adjust and clarify the rules for the new instant replay system (as well as the new blocking the plate rules) this year, so they might make another change after this.
The Braves managed to escape that ninth-inning jam despite the overturned call. The Mets eventually won the game in extra innings.