In this the Summer of Alex, Houston Astros third baseman, All-Star Game MVP, ESPYs attendee and Albuquerque native Alex Bregman seemingly has been in the middle of everything.
As of Wednesday night, “everything” included a measure of controversy.
The problem for Bregman, who was standing on third with an apparent leadoff triple: Replays showed a spectator clad in an orange Astros jersey having his own Steve Bartman moment, extending his glove over the railing and into the field of play enough for the ball to glance off it. That changed its trajectory slightly at the moment Parra was reaching up to attempt the catch.
Bregman was incredulous, hands over his head after the video replay and decision ruled him out.
The fan, who presumably would have wanted Bregman to stay at third and then score, given his Astros attire, was escorted out of the ballpark by security. So was Bartman in that 2003 National League Championship Series game in Wrigley Field in Chicago. The big difference — Bartman’s reach for a popup that left fielder Moises Alou tried to catch was ruled on the fans’ side of the wall separating the field of play from the seats.
For a ball in play, the relevant part of Major League Baseball rule, 6.01(e), reads in part: “If spectator interference clearly prevents a fielder from catching a fly ball, the umpire shall declare the batter out.”
Still, “there is no possible way you can say the left fielder jumping backwards into a wall is guaranteed to make the catch,” Bregman said after Wednesday’s game. “We’re up 2-1 at the time. I’m at third base. We need a fly ball to the outfield to get me in and it’s 3-1. It’s horrible.”
The transcription of the same quote, tweeted late Wednesday by Chandler Rome, Astros beat writer for the Houston Chronicle, included several profanities along the way.
Alex Bregman was seething.
On his triple that was overturned by a fan interference call. pic.twitter.com/PKrhwL7m8i
— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) July 26, 2018
Early Thursday morning, Bregman also had a terse Twitter reply for Adam Bagni, Phoenix TV anchor, who concluded by Bregman’s words that he didn’t know the rule and tweeted that he was “foolish 4 ripping ump.”
Bregman’s reply, which garnered more than 4,000 “likes” by Thursday afternoon: “Actually I do know the rule. I was saying that there is no way that you can say for certain he was going to catch that after slamming into the wall before the fan touched it. Go back to doing the weather for channel whatever. Why did you tag me? You want followers?”
Actually I do know the rule. I was saying that there is no way that you can say for certain he was going to catch that after slamming into the wall before the fan touched it. Go back to doing the weather for channel whatever. Why did you tag me? You want followers?
— Alex Bregman (@ABREG_1) July 26, 2018
Young Alex, his parting words for Mr. Bagni aside, seemed to be parsing the words “clearly prevents a fielder from catching a fly ball” and making his case in a way that might elicit a smile from attorney-father Sam.
That wasn’t the only lowlight of a rough night for Bregman and his relationship with the authorities. He struck out on a full-count check swing to lead off the ninth inning against Rockies reliever Wade Davis. Bregman appeared to have held up, at least to the ESPN radio announcers calling the game nationally.
Meanwhile, former Albuquerque Isotope Raimel Tapia spectacularly scored the tying run by alertly advancing from third base when Houston third baseman J.D. Davis sprinted toward the Astros dugout and tumbled over the railing as he caught Nolan Arenado’s foul pop. Then Charlie Blackmon’s homer in the ninth won it in walk-off fashion.
Also meanwhile, fellow Albuquerque native Mitch Garver went 4-for-6 with a homer and five RBIs in Minnesota’s win over Toronto. Two nights earlier, Garver had three hits in a victory.
Garver came into Thursday hitting .270 for the season, .356 over his last 15 games, .325 for his last 30. The eventual rewrite of the 2018 season may discuss how this was the year the former La Cueva Bear and University of New Mexico Lobo emerged as an everyday major league catcher.
But it’s harder to get noticed for a sub-.500, midmarket team. With Bregman inevitably in the spotlight that his powerhouse, reigning World Series Championship team draws, that’s clearly not the case.