May 14, 2014 at 7:10 pm

Tony Paul

MLB Insider: Tigers' Chuck Klonke says it's time for fellow official scorers to get on same page

Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish, right, is consoled by teammates after a single by David Ortiz of the Red Sox broke up his no-hit bid in the ninth inning with two outs last Friday. Major League Baseball ruled Wednesday the no-hitter should have been ruled over in the seventh inning on an Ortiz pop-up that wasn't caught and was ruled an error. (Ronald Martinez / Getty Images)

Well, that was easy for Major League Baseball, awarding a hit Wednesday to Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz for a ball that was controversially ruled an error last Friday. It’s not fair to wonder if the league would’ve done the same thing had Rangers ace Yu Darvish actually finished off his no-hitter.

Rangers official scorer Steve Weller made headlines last week when he kept alive Darvish’s no-hitter by ruling an error occurred on a seventh-inning pop fly by Ortiz that landed between Rangers outfielder Alex Rios and second baseman Rougned Odor.

Clearly, the ball should’ve been caught. That’s not even debatable. Yet 99 times out of 100 — maybe even more often — it’s ruled a hit by the official scorer, because the ball never touches a glove. That’s how it’s always been, and we all know baseball loves its tradition almost as much as Augusta National members.

But Weller, after much deliberation, stunningly went against the norm and ruled an error — an apparent home-cooking call that preserved Darvish’s no-hit bid on a ball that did, however, end his perfect game hopes.

Fortunately, in the end, it didn’t matter much. The baseball gods took over, with Ortiz (again) singling cleanly with two out in the ninth inning.

“I’m always kind of on the edge of my seat maybe after the fifth inning when a guy has a no-hitter,” said Chuck Klonke, who’s been scoring Tigers games since the 1980s, sweating through many bids by some big Tigers arms. “Because the last thing I want to do is become the story.”

That’s exactly what happened with Texas’ Weller, and why most parties agree, it’s time for MLB to put its foot down and help set some strict guidelines for such plays.

Apparently, some folks tried at this offseason’s meeting of official scorers. Elias Sports Bureau had some reps there, as did the Players Association and MLB. And word is, everyone rightly agreed that on a play like Friday night’s, if the ball should be caught and an out recorded, an error would be the proper call.

Nothing was settled in stone, and Klonke, hasn’t been told by any suits to change his ways. So he’d have a hard time calling it an error — even though he believes that’s the most correct ruling.

“Just because of the precedent,” he said. “That doesn’t mean I want to. You almost feel like you should.”

MLB sure would help Klonke and Co. out by changing the protocol league-wide, and making an official declaration, one way or another. That way everybody’s on the same page. Let’s please not wait for one more official scorer to go rogue, heeding the suggestions of some, and thus earn himself mountains of bad press. That’s not fair, not to guys making 150 bucks a game.

There’s one problem scorers face on such a play, though, if the procedure is altered: Who gets the error if nobody ever touches the ball? In the Rangers’ case, it went oddly to Rios, even though he was further from the ball than Odor. That’s why there remains a push to create a “team error,” a movement that’s been going on for decades with still no resolution.

Klonke, one of three Tigers official scorers, is among those not so sold on the idea. He points out it could lead to home club scorers protecting individual players’ statistics.

“They’re afraid that would be a cop-out for scorers,” said Klonke, who along with Ron Kleinfelter and Dan Marowski helps make up one of the fairest official scoring teams in the sport.

“And to a certain extent, it probably would.”

New York, New York

Clearly, Curtis Granderson should’ve never left New York for … uhhh … New York.

Granderson, now with the Mets, had quite a homecoming to Yankee Stadium, where he feasted on its cozy dimensions for four years — and had a pair of home runs in the first two games of this week’s Subway Series.

Scoreboard: That’s two homers in two games at Yankee Stadium, and one in 19 games at his new home, the much-more-spacious Citi Field.

Granderson, 33, of course, downplayed homecoming — a very wise move, since he made enough waves over the offseason when, after leaving the Yankees to sign a four-year, $60 million contract with the Mets, he declared that real New Yorkers were Mets fans. Ouch.

“Just another step to where I am trying to get to. The fact you get some positive results is a good thing,” Graderson, batting just .205 in his first tour of the National League, told the New York Daily News. “It doesn’t really matter that it happened here.

“I looked forward to coming here, spent a long time here. So it was nice.”

From homer to the House?

Diamondbacks right-hander Josh Collmenter has taken an interest in politics, so much so the Michigan native isn’t ruling it out as a possible post-baseball career path.

“It’s something I’ve looked into,” Collmenter, 28, told MLive in a recent conversation. “I’ve met with Sen. (John) McCain a few times and I try to stay abreast of all the political topics. I’m doing my due diligence as an American citizen. It’s something I wouldn’t mind doing.”

For now, he’ll stick to baseball.

He’s become a valuable hybrid in Arizona, splitting time between the rotation and bullpen, after spending all of 2013 as a reliever. In 10 outings this year, he’s 1-2 with a 3.89 ERA and 1.224 WHIP.

Around the horn

The Braves on Wednesday unveiled mockups of their new proposed ballpark, to open in 2017. And why not? I mean, Turner Field’s been open since way back in 1997. To be fair, that stadium was built as the main venue for the 1996 Olympics. The new park will be built more to the Braves’ specifications.

… Few injuries are as upsetting as the Tommy John surgery Marlins young ace Jose Fernandez will need. The guy is so damn good, and is everything that’s right with the game — particularly with his interaction with fans. Plus, he was helping make baseball relevant in Miami again. This is a big void for baseball.

Three up …

1. Tigers No. 5 starter Rick Porcello is 6-1 and on his way to an All-Star appearance. It’s a continuation from the tremendous progress he made in 2013.

2. Instant replay is working, and helping teams win games they rightfully should. And it takes no longer than the old manager arguments used to.

3. Is there a better model in baseball than the Athletics? They win with no money, a landfill of a stadium — and now a bevy of pitcher’s injuries.

… Three down

1. What the heck happened to the American League East? It entered Wednesday with just one team over .500, and it’s not looking like a fluke.

2. The Rays have lost seven of their last 10 and are an unbelievable six games below .500. It’s early, but that’s no World Series contender.

3. Poor Kendrys Morales. While there’s lots of talk about where fellow qualifying-offer victim Stephen Drew will land, there’s barely a peep about Morales.

Diamond digits

2 — Home runs by Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera that have turned deficits into leads in the ninth inning or later, according to Elias Sports Bureau — Tuesday’s, and one on May 27, 2012.

2 — Pitchers who had to pinch-run in Triple-A Toledo’s 3-0 loss to Syracuse on Wednesday, because of a short bench. Those whose numbers were called: Jose Ortega and Derek Hankins.

5/15/2009 — Ryan Raburn and Brandon Inge both hit grand slams in a 14-1 win over the A’s. It was the first time the Tigers hit two slams in one game since Jim Northrup hit a pair June 24, 1968, according to BaseballReference.com.

He said it

“A couple of coaches took a bite and didn’t like what they saw and threw the rest away. I was in a rush, so I ended up putting it away. ”

— Ryne Sandberg, Phillies manager, complaining he got food poisoning from a burger from Shake Shack at Citi Field. Mets second baseman Lucas Duda made a similar complaint.

tpaul@detroitnews.com
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