Anyone see the play tonight in the top of the 5th inning during the Braves/Pirates game? I think it deserves its own post.In the top of the 5th inning of the 5/24/11 Braves-Pirates game, with one on and two out, Braves batter Chipper Jones hits a fly ball to deep center field. A fan reaches over the wall and undoubtedly interferes with play. 2B Umpire Jeff Kellogg and his crew use instant replay to verify the interference and two base award, keeping R1 and third base. By rule, instant replay review may only be used on home run calls, and the decision regarding the placement of runners only applies to a home run call on the field being overturned by instant replay.
With a runner on first, Chipper Jones hit a long fly ball to right center. The ball fell in play but was interfered with on the way to the ground by a fan trying to catch it. The umpires went to the replays to determine whether or not the runner from first would come home on the play. However, based on the MLB rules in place, how was this allowed? MLB says that replays are only for homerun boundary calls. Since this clearly wasn't a homerun call, how was replay allowed? Does this mean that on a ground ball down the first base line that goes into foul territory then is touched by a fan can be replayed?
Instant replay will apply only to home run calls -- whether they are fair or foul, whether they have left the playing field, or whether they have been subject to fan interference. The decision to use instant replay will be made by the umpire crew chief, who also will make the determination as to whether or not a call should be reversed.
Any decision regarding the placement of runners, should a home run call be reversed, will be made by the crew chief. As is done in cases of fan interference, the crew chief will place the baserunners where he believes they would have been had the call been made properly.Discussion point: Undoubtedly, the umpires employed instant replay in accordance with these rules, but did the umpires really appear to use "the replays to determine whether or not the runner from first would come home on the play" or, rather, did the umpires simply use instant replay to confirm the call on the field of spectator interference as defined by Rule 2.00 INTERFERENCE (d)? Were the umpires proper in awarding the batter second base and awarding baserunner R1, from first base, third base? Rule 3.16 deals with spectator interference:
3.16 When there is spectator interference with any thrown or batted ball, the ball shall be dead at the moment of interference and the umpire shall impose such penalties as in his opinion will nullify the act of interference.