There was nothing pretty about how the New York Mets won their first home game of the season – but they got to celebrate the absurdity anyway.
We can set the scene with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning and Michael Conforto at the plate. New York had rallied back from a 2-1 deficit to tie the game thanks to a home run from Jeff McNeil earlier in the inning.
Then with three runners on and two strikes in the count, Miami Marlins pitcher Anthony Bass threw a pitch that should have struck out the batter to leave the Mets with a single out.
It seemed like Conforto got caught looking on a slider and that the rest of the game would be in the hands of Mets slugger Pete Alonso, who was set to bat next.
MICHAEL CONFORTO GETS HIT BY A PITCH AND THE METS WIN IT 3-2!!!!! pic.twitter.com/R1QdgiRQJ5
— SNY (@SNYtv) April 8, 2021
Instead of making an effort to get out of the way like MLB rules dictate, Conforto did the exact opposite. He essentially leaned over the plate to take one for the team by sticking out his elbow.
That may go against the rules but the deception worked and he got a game-winning RBI.
The craziest aspect about all of this is that based on his hand motion, home plate umpire Ron Kulpa sure looked like he was about to call a third strike.
Kulpa then changed his mind, instead opting to signal for the hit by pitch.
the worst part is Kulpa starting to ring him up, acknowledging it’s a strike, and then calling the HBP as if the fact that the ball was in the strike zone wouldn’t perhaps be a hint that Conforto wouldn’t be getting hit without leaning into it???pic.twitter.com/Tm3waCXfSk
— Céspedes Family BBQ (@CespedesBBQ) April 8, 2021
By doing this, Kulpa essentially acknowledged that this pitch was over the plate, which would arguably make it impossible for the ball to hit the batter without him illegally throwing himself into the line of motion.
But that clearly did not matter because even after the umpires conferred, while Conforto and his teammates were celebrating the victory on the field, they ultimately stuck with the call.
Marlins manager Don Mattingly was told the crew was only able to review whether or not the ball hit Conforto, which it technically did. As such, then, nothing could be done and the game was officially over.
If what Conforto did was intentional, it may have been strategic and it got New York a win for the first time with fans to witness since the COVID-19 shutdown. But it also certainly broke even the most basic Little League code of ethics, which isn’t something you want to mess around with.
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