NEW YORK -- The "neighborhood play," a subject of much discussion earlier this season, came to the fore again at Citi Field on Monday night.
While neighborhood plays are no longer reviewable in most circumstances, umpires in the Braves-Mets game ruled that a play in the bottom of the ninth inning was not a neighborhood play, so they reviewed it. Upon review, the original out call on the Mets' Eric Campbell was overturned.
With the teams tied in the bottom of the ninth, the Mets' Juan Lagares dropped a sacrifice bunt attempt down the third-base line, hoping to move Campbell to second. Braves third baseman Chris Johnson charged, scooped and fired to shortstop Andrelton Simmons, covering second base, who stretched to receive the throw and quickly moved out of the way to try for a double play. Campbell was ruled out at second base while Lagares beat the relay to first.
Mets manager Terry Collins challenged the call at second, arguing that Simmons didn't keep his foot tethered to the bag through his catch.
After a brief discussion, the umpires decided to hand things over to replay review, and the call was overturned, granting Campbell second base. It was Collins' seventh overturned call of the season.
Typically, double plays involving a force play at second base cannot be challenged as long as it is deemed that the middle infielder was attempting to avoid a collision. Simmons lunged into a gray area, however, acting like a first baseman to receive the throw, mostly out of Campbell's running path.
"We reviewed the call because, in our judgment, we felt the throw took the fielder off the bag," said umpire Mike Everitt. "We judged that the throw took him off the bag."
"He's trying to complete the double play quicker. He's trying to gain an advantage," added umpire Tim Timmons.
Major League Baseball issued a statement after the game.
"The replay regulations allow umpires to determine if they considered a play to be a neighborhood play or not, based on a variety of factors," it read. "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."
Unsurprisingly, the two managers held different views of the decision.
"[The umpires] said [at first] they thought it was the neighborhood play, which you can't challenge," said Collins. "I just said, I don't think it was. I don't think you can say it's the neighborhood play on a bunt attempt or they're trying to get a forceout at second base knowing they're not really looking for a double play. He said he'll talk to the rest of the crew and get their opinion."
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez immediately argued the reversed call and was quickly ejected.
"It's one of the worst calls I've ever seen," said Gonzalez. "It's a bad interpretation, whoever interpreted it. That becomes a neighborhood play…nobody can tell me that that throw was pulled off the bag."
Despite the safe call, the Braves would hold the Mets scoreless in the ninth, sending the game into extra innings before losing in the 11th inning, 4-3.
"I think they got lucky that we didn't lose the game there," said Gonzalez. "It would have been an egg into somebody's face if we lose the ballgame in that inning because of that call."
Jake Kring-Schreifels is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less