Home plate umpire Tim McClelland examined the bat, and after a discussion with the other umpires, including crew chief Joe Brinkman, called Brett out for having too much pine tar on his bat. Brett, of course, flipped out having to be restrained by manager Dick Howser, among others. Brett's "out" was the last out of the game and the Yankees were declared 4-3 winners.
The Royals filed a protest with MLB and the case was heard by AL president Lee Mc Phail. As we know, very seldomly does a protest in an overruling of a decision made on the field. But, in this case, McPhail, though acknowleding that the rule had been broken, reversed the umpires decision. He also requested that the rule be clarified since, in his interpretation, it was not intended to be used this way. The rule was put in place to not give hitters an advantage by having a better grip on the bat. It gave the hitters no advantage when it comes to hitting a pitched ball.
With the play being reversed, the game was concluded over three weeks later. Martin, thinking the game being resumed was a mockery of the game, decided to play LHP Ron Guidry in CF and 1B Don Mattingly at 2B, showing he did not take it seriously. The conclusion of the game went without much of a whisper with the Royals holding on for a 5-4 victory.
Personally I think Mc Phail was correct in reversing this call by the umpires. As we all know, it is unlikely a protest will result in the reversal of an umpire's decision unless it is misconduct on the umpire's part. Though the umpires were not being melicious in this case; there was a misunderstanding of the rule, which was cleared up.
What some people have difficulty understanding is how pine tar on the bat is much different than having a corked bat, or in some cases, a player using performance enhancing drugs. Though the pine tar may enhance the grip, players are expected to be able to tightly grip the bat as they swing. Obviously, a pitcher using a foreign substance on a baseball provides an unfair advantage to a pitcher. A batter is given no advantage by having extra pine tar on a bat. Since then, there has been no objection to the amount of pine tar on a bat, but there has been instances where pitchers have used pine tar as an illegal substance either on their gloves or on a baseball.
Two other interesting tidbits regarding this incident. It was Yankees coach Don Zimmer's idea to object to the pine tar on Brett's bat. And Royals RHP Gaylord Perry actually tried to steal the bat in the clubhouse, before getting caught by a guard. Hopefully the YES network or the MLB network would replay this game, one of the more interesting games in the recent (last 30 years) history of the sport.