Chicago Cubs’ reliever Carl Edwards, Jr. was forced to revamp his delivery after working on it all Spring.
MLB.com’s Ben Weinrib described the delivery as having, “... an exaggerated pause and toe tap,” which MLB officials decided was illegal since, “by rule, pitchers are not allowed to take a second step toward home plate with either foot.”
Cubs’ skipper Joe Maddon told reporters at the time that his frustration stemmed from the fact that Edwards, Jr. had been using the delivery all Spring and wasn’t told until the end of Spring Training that it was illegal.
“You can’t hit the ground twice apparently, but for years the guys did the double pump, and their back foot will hit the ground twice,” Maddon said. “Pitchers that come set and their foot will tap, tap, tap, and then they’ll come set and pitch. There’s all that, so maybe they’re talking about after you start your delivery. I don’t know. It’s not bumming me out. It’s fine with Carl. It’s just that it took so long to get back to us.”
Here’s what Carl Edwards, Jr. was doing, via Rob Friedman (aka @PitchingNinja):
Carl Edwards, Jr., Mechanics (Rear view) pic.twitter.com/IW1DoqrqUu— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 2, 2019
So, when Maddon saw Nationals’ closer Sean Doolittle’s toe-tap pause in his delivery on Saturday night, he decided to let the umpires know he thought it was the same thing...
Sean Doolittle, Tap Move (protested by the Cubs). pic.twitter.com/zVCCD6cPgz— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 19, 2019
Maddon came out to complain, then, when Doolittle continued to do it, the manager filed an official protest.
Doolittle continued to use his delivery, which home plate umpire Sam Holbrook later said is not illegal, and worked a scoreless, 1-2-3 ninth in spite of the delays, locking down the save and a 5-2 win for Washington.
“I got nothing against Doolittle,” Maddon told reporters after the Cubs’ loss, as quoted by Chicago Tribune writer Mark Gonzales.
“He’s great. It’s the principle of it. I didn’t want that argument. I never thought it was illegal when Carl was doing that in spring training.”
“That’s exactly what Carl was told he can’t do,” Maddon explained. “And I was told it was an illegal pitch and he can’t do it, and I went up to Sam and I told him that and he said, ‘It’s in our judgement.’
“And I said, ‘There’s no judgement. If he taps the ground it’s an illegal pitch, period. There’s nothing to judge. You can judge whether he did it or not, it’s obvious that he did, if the four of you can’t tell that, then there’s something absolutely wrong.’ So that was my argument.
“And I said, ‘If you guys don’t clean it up, I want to protest the game,’ so we protested the game.”
Doolittle said he thought the Cubs’ skipper was playing mind games.
Doolittle believes it was a thinly veiled attempt by Joe Maddon to play a mind game and throw doo off his game. He thanks Maddon actually BC he pitched better after the delays— Byron Kerr (@masnKerr) May 19, 2019
“He thought he was tapping his foot, which in itself is not illegal,” Holbrook told Washington Post writer Jesse Dougherty, who spoke to the umpire as the pool reporter after the game.
“ ... and this all kind of stems from his pitcher being called on something that was a little bit different than what Doolittle was doing. So in our judgement, Doolittle did nothing illegal at all.”
“I’m not going to make any comment on it,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said after the win.
“They protested the game, obviously, but we’ll let the umpires handle that stuff. In my eyes, Doo was Doo.”
But it was the toe-tap, in particular, Martinez acknowledged, that Maddon was challenging.
“Yeah, that little hesitation, that really, for me, as long as you’re fluid to home, that’s no big deal.”
Will anything come of Maddon’s protest? Will Doolittle be able to continue using the same delivery going forward? Did you immediately run to the MLB Rulebook to read up on their rules on deliveries to figure out what was being argued about?
Is it disappointing to you, like it is to us a little, that all this jibber-jabber is distracting from the work Stephen Strasburg did against the Cubs and the Nationals’ relatively clean win in the second game of the three-game series. We’re ignoring the cross-ups between Stras & catcher Yan Gomes and sticking with “relatively clean” win...