How to make a manager mad

Baseball at its heart is a simple game. On offense you hit the ball, touch the bases and score runs. On defense you try to prevent the running of bases. Key in all of this is actually touching the bases. It is a necessary condition of the game – even on base awards.

Rule 5.06 (b)(4)(I) Comment (Rule 7.05(i) Comment in old format)

The fact a runner is awarded a base or bases without liability to be put out does not relieve him of the responsibility to touch the base he is awarded and all intervening bases. For example: batter hits a ground ball which an infielder throws into the stands but the batter-runner missed first base. He may be called out on appeal or missing first base after the ball is put in play even though he was “awarded” second base.

Yes, this applies even to home runs. Here was an interesting play over the weekend:

Batter hits a homer and then is ruled to have missed home plate on appeal. The Brewers had the play reviewed where it was ultimately decided home plate was touched.

Of interest to me was how the original appeal had to take place. The Giants manager came out and (I am guessing) asked to have the touch of home plate reviewed. It looks like the umpires told him he had to formally appeal first.

This makes sense. A call cannot be reviewed if a call had not been made. The Giants appeal was granted. That meant the Brewers had to challenge whether the base was touched.

Can you imagine how bad the batter would have felt if he lost a homer on a stupid mistake?

According to this awesome page at Retrosheet, this would have been the first lost HR due to a missed base since 1983!

Page 9 of RuleGraphics covers advancing and touching bases.

Strange Review Play

Here is a play that almost had a double review (MLB does not have it embeddable yet).

The batter bunts the ball and runs to first. He clearly beats the play, but the umpire calls him  out. It happens and this is why there is replay.

But upon further review it looked like the ball hit the batter near home plate. So, as the umpires are reviewing out/safe at first, Cubs manager Joe Maddon is wanting to get the front end of the play reviewed.

First things first, what would happen if the ball would have hit the batter. The way I read the rule, I think there is evidence to call him out.

The pertinent rules are 6.05(g) and 6.03.

6.05 A batter is out when—

(g) His fair ball touches him before touching a fielder. If the batter is in a legal position in the batter’s box, see Rule 6.03, and, in the umpire’s judgment, there was no intention to interfere with the course of the ball, a batted ball that strikes the batter or his bat shall be ruled a foul ball;

6.03 The batter’s legal position shall be with both feet within the batter’s box.

APPROVED RULING: The lines defining the box are within the batter’s box.

I will admit, this rule has confused me at times. I believe it is also different in both high school and college. As I read this, I see a fair ball touching a batter before touching a fielder. The first condition of 6.05(g) is met. The rule goes on to say if the batter is in a legal position in the box, the contact causes a foul ball.

6.03 defines a legal position in the box as both in the box. In this play, I think the batter has a foot in the air and out of the box. I see justification for calling an out.

The replay on the out/safe was overturned (as it should have been). Now, what about the batter’s box business. Turns out this is not reviewable. Here are the MLB replay rules.

From my reading it looks like only HRs, boundary calls, fair/foul that land past the corner umpires, force/tag, catch in outfield, certain base running plays, hit by pitch and home plate collisions are reviewable. Joe Maddon could not challenge the touch as being foul or an out (from what I read). That is a bit of a bummer because the ball certainly touched the batter. Either result would have been better for the Cubs.

I suppose the key question is why a play like this is not reviewable. The replay rules are constantly tweaked – this might be one that gets looked at in the future. But, in the end, as the rules are written, the umpires got this one right.

Page 39 of RuleGraphics covers the play where a ball strikes a batter.

Start the car

Instant replay is in its second year. The process is pretty well down pat now. But, I have rarely seen it to end a ballgame.

Check out this play:

I think it is funny how the players just stick around on the field knowing the replay is coming. In the end the umpire got this one right.

Stop and think about that for a minute. The umpire got it right in real time. This was a whacker where he had to watch the first baseman’s feet, the runner’s feet, the ball bouncing and then the glove all at the same time. The ball beat him by about 1/4 step. Umpire nailed it.

The bounce makes this a bit harder. Umpires listen for the sound of the ball entering the glove and watch the base. The bounce will often make the sound less pronounced. Again the umpire had a lot of things working against him and wound up making a great call.

Pretty entertaining to see an umpire take off the headset, say out, and then just start walking to the clubhouse.