Odd play at the plate

This is an older play but I just came across it. The ball gets away from the catcher and the runner on third attempts to score. The pitcher covers home, gets the ball and tags the runner behind his back. Take a look.

The play was awesome especially given the context of the game (tied in extra innings). I would like to also give some kudos to the umpire. These plays are tough to get locked into because of the adrenaline of the moment.

In this play, the umpire calmly gets to the perfect spot on the field (third base line extended). He gets himself set – not moving at all when the play happens. He leans in to get a good look.

Then at the end he does not rush his call. Wild pitches usually wind up with a safe runner. But, the umpire did not let this or the odd tag by the pitcher sway him. Just a great example of home plate mechanics.

Like a punch to the gut

Here is a play that is making the rounds today.

Well, that escalated quickly. The catcher was clearly trying to get an interference call. Should the umpire have granted the interference?

Rule 6.06 (c)

6.06 A batter is out for illegal action when—

(c) He interferes with the catcher’s fielding or throwing by stepping out of the batter’s box or making any other movement that hinders the catcher’s play at home base.

EXCEPTION: Batter is not out if any runner attempting to advance is put out, or if runner trying to score is called out for batter’s interference.

One of two things have to happen to gran interference here. Either the batter has to step out of the batter’s box (did not happen) or he has to move to hinder (did not happen…the batter did not move).

The batter did not hinder the catcher as much as the catcher hindered himself. The umpire made a good call on this one.

I should not laugh at the batter’s pain, but the look of terror and confusion after he got whacked is sort of funny. He is probably wondering how the catcher did not get thrown out of the game.

Just an odd play. Page 42 of RuleGraphics covers Batter’s Interference. Check out our website for ordering information and samples.




The real problem with replay

A lot of umpires are dead set against replay. They rave about changing the game, the human element and other arguments. They might kick me out of the union (expression, I don’t think amateur umpires have a union), but I seriously don’t mind replay.

If I am on the field and legitimately kick one, I feel it in my soul for weeks. Knowing a call could change the course of the game I am fine with the mantra of “get it right”.

In my mind though, I do have one small issue with replay. Here is a play that brings it up:


Umpiring author, rules guru and overall legend Carl Childress has a mantra that a simple play deserves a simple call. In other words, if the ball beats the runner to the base by 30 feet, that runner is out. Don’t go looking for trouble by saying his foot got under the glove a millisecond before the tag.

I think all involved in the game are fine with this approach. The announcers in this clip are fine with the out. Heck the offensive team does not seem too bothered by the original out call.

The clip does not show it, but this call was overturned on replay. The catcher in waiting for the runner (who sort of went slow and slid at the last minute) did not get his glove down.

What is this going to cause in the future? Certainly more plate contact. This catcher is now either going to drop a knee once he has the ball (he cannot do it before or it would violate Rule 7.13) and take a hit. Or, he is going to run up the line and tag the runner hard i the chest.

At this point readers are probably thinking eliminating some replays due to safety is hooey. Except they already do it! The “neighborhood play” is not subject to review. This is where the pivot man on the double play cheats a bit when taking the first throw. His foot might sneak off second a moment before he catches the ball.

Why is he doing this? Safety. If review was used all the time to uphold the front end of double plays, there would be a lot more contact.

So how do you execute this change – I don’t know yet. I am just the idea man.

A simple play deserves a simple call.

Home Plate collisions are on page 59 of RuleGraphics.

Catcher Brain Freeze

Often when reading the rules, I gloss over certain ones thinking “no way this will happen in a game”.

Prime example are the rules covering detached player equipment. Rule 7.05 (a-e) outlines the penalties for touching a ball with detached equipment. They are as follows:

  • 4 bases if the ball is over the fence
  • 3 bases for a batted ball
  • 2 for a thrown ball
  • 1 for a pitch – this one is not in there but is covered by interpretation manuals

When thinking of detached equipment the mind races to either a) catching the ball in a hat or b) throwing a glove at the ball. Both are illegal – so I am sorry to say that Madonna’s catch in A League of Their Own would have resulted in three bases along with some crying in baseball.

Even though those two instances are the first to come to mind, it is not actually the one that happens most often at the major league level.

Check out this box score from a game in 2010 between Seattle and Oakland.  A play in the 8th inning is described as this “Double/Bunt (Bunt to Weak 3B); Buck to 3B”. Seems harmless enough except it was not really a bunt double.

The catcher actually scooped up a rolling ball with his mask. An account of the incident is here. Yes, most of the time when I see this infraction it involves the catcher using his recently removed mask to touch a ball.

By now astute readers have read the description of the play, seen the outcome in the box score, and re-read the penalties above and realized something is not jiving. Touching a batted ball with detached equipment should be a 3 base award. I honestly don’t know what happened that night, but if I am on the field the batter gets 3rd. I would probably get a pretty heated discussion with a coach as well.

Detached equipment is covered on page 33 of RuleGraphics.