Joe Torre admitted today that the umpires did indeed err last night when they called Billy Butler's fly ball to left-center field a home run in the third inning of Kansas City's 5–4 win over the Yankees. Said Torre, who serves as the league's VP of baseball operations these days, to the Daily News:
"It was a missed call, but there was also a misunderstanding on the rule," Torre said. "He just missed it, but his interpretation was that the back fence was behind the wall and out of the ballpark. It certainly wasn't for a lack of doing his job, just a misunderstanding of the rule."
Not to pile on the umps here, but knowing and understanding all the relevant rules, including the ground rules of the stadium they're in, would seem to be an important part of the job. And none of this explains why first-base coach Mick Kelleher says the umps explained to him on Monday night that a ball had to clear the entire outfield wall — including the chain-link fence portion at the top — to be considered a home run. Either Kelleher is mis-remembering, or we're just as confused as we were last night.
Not that there's anything the Yankees can do about it, even now that the league has admitted that the umps got it wrong: Joe Girardi would have had to file a protest before the next pitch was thrown.