KC Royals rival Chicago White Sox comeback hopes ended on umpire's controversial call

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While KC Royals fans celebrate a winning 2024 team, the 2023 team memory still stings. On paper, that team was one of the league's worst this decade. It seems that the AL Central consistently has a terrible team in the standings. In 2024, that representative seems to be the Chicago White Sox. The South Siders picked up their league-leading 36th loss Thursday night, but how they lost is far worse.

KC Royals fans, and baseball fans in general, hate endings like Thursday's.

Chicago trailed the Baltimore Orioles 8-2 entering the bottom of the ninth. Former KC Royals pitcher Jonathan Heasley pitched a clean eighth inning, coming back out for Chicago's 8-9-1 hitters. But, two walks and two hits later gave the White Sox another run and two baserunners with no outs. Suddenly, Chicago was in striking distance and maligned outfielder Andrew Benintendi at the plate. He shrunk the margin for error with an infield flyout, giving Chicago two outs with two on, trailing 8-6. There was still some hope.

But suddenly, third-base umpire Junior Valentine pointed at Chicago's Andrew Vaughn, who stood on second base. Valentine signaled the confused Vaughn out due to an accidental brush with Baltimore's Gunnar Henderson, while Henderson ran from behind Vaughn to catch the popfly. The game ended on that note, with the broadcast capturing the roar of displeasure from the 15,843 spectators in attendance.

“He breezed by me. He uttered something like ‘get out of the way’ or something. And I was going back to the bag,” Vaughn said post-game. “I don’t know where he’s at. I don’t know what other decision, I would like an answer to that.”

According to Rule 6:01(a), the runner can be ruled out for impacting a fielder trying to make a play on a batted ball, whether it was intended or not. Valentine doubled down on his decision post-game.

“So there doesn't have to actually even be contact,” Valentine said. “If he hinders the fielder in the attempt to field a batted ball, intent is not required, and it's interference.”

The KC Royals may beat up on Chicago this year, but their outlook is pitiful.

Royals fans will not be sad to see Chicago rack up another loss, but the game's ending is more frustrating than anything. Umpires' impact on the game, whether for your team or against it, continues to be a talking point around MLB. Poor calls behind the plate are more noticeable and consistent from C.B. Bucknor and Angel Hernandez, but Valentine's call in the field is gutwrenching. Imagine Kansas City's postseason hopes dashed or a record-setting opportunity stolen late in the game, thanks to Thursday's call.

Chicago's season continues to decline, with little positive trends under new general manager Chris Getz. This call ended any comeback hopes Chicago had and added insult to injury for the White Sox team and faithful fans.

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