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A confused San Francisco Giants fan tries to make sense of the neighborhood play

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Sep 3, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly (left) argues a call with umpire Chris Conroy (center) as second baseman Chase Utley (26) looks on during the sixth inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Like many of the San Francisco Giants fans I have talked to lately, I’m confused. Baffled. Befuddled. Bewildered. You get the picture. I haven’t got a clue. This isn’t about the San Francisco Giants, but it is about baseball, and about trying to make some sense of the rules…so, bear with me, ok?

Who would have thought that an adult of average (maybe slightly above, depends on who’s talking)  intelligence could be completely confounded by a simple baseball rule? If you ask me, though, the neighborhood play isn’t as simple as it sounds. The name itself inspires warm, homey-type feelings‒friendly and welcoming, like Mr. Rogers with his cardigan and sneakers asking “won’t you be my neighbor?” But the incident at second base Saturday night between Chase Utley and Ruben Tejada during the Dodgers/Mets NLDS game left me with just about everything but the warm fuzzies.

I had some questions about the whole “neighborhood play” issue. So I looked it up.

I found out it isn’t really the neighborhood play itself that is causing me‒and other perplexed fans‒to twist in the wind. It is the fact that the neighborhood play is an exception to the rule about reviewable plays that is causing my lips to chap.

Turns out, the neighborhood play is not eligible for replay review. It also turns out that looking for the answers did more to muddy the waters for me than make it drinkable. Here’s the deal: the neighborhood play is not eligible for the replay review, but the force play is reviewable. Boiling it down: if it’s part of a double play–no review. If it’s part of a force play/fielder’s choice–reviewable all day.

Boiling it down even further: if it is part of a double play that doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in H-E-double hockeysticks of being turned, it magically turns into a force out/fielder’s choice and the umps can review. That is, of course, after the ump has finished splitting a mighty fine hair with a pretty sharp scalpel right there on the field. It’s a judgment call–go ahead and toss some more mud in the water.

Next: The neighborhood play and the Dodgers

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