Thursday, August 9, 2012

Galarraga Gaffe: Umpires Correctly Rule Balk over Sac Fly

Umpires, led by crew chief Angel Hernandez, correctly officiated a balk play during Wednesday's Nationals-Astros game, leading to some confusion from both teams as well as the MASN television broadcast.

MLB Umpire Angel Hernandez.
With one out and two on in the top of the 1st inning, plate umpire Hernandez ruled that Astros pitcher Armando Galarraga balked while delivering a 2-2 pitch to Nationals batter Adam LaRoche. Because, under pro rules, a balk alone does not cause the ball to become dead, LaRoche's subsequent swing and fly ball to center field kept play alive, baserunner R3 Bryce Harper scoring on an apparent sacrifice fly while R1 Ryan Zimmerman stayed put at first base.

However, after Hernandez and field umpires Ed Hickox, Chris Conroy and Mark Carlson met to conference and discuss the call, the umpires correctly administered prescribed penalties, awarding Harper home plate and Zimmerman second base, while keeping LaRoche at the plate, still with a 2-2 count.

As specified in the UEFL article, "Rule 8.05: It is a balk when—," a balk results in a one-base award for all baserunners unless more advantageous objectives are achieved. Because Harper advanced while Zimmerman did not and LaRoche was put out, the balk was enforced and the result of the play was discarded. Contrary to the broadcaster's depiction, balks are not akin to football penalties and may not be accepted or declined; balks are not subject to team choice or preference.

For those keeping score, Galarraga's precise infraction was of Rule 8.05(m), for Galarraga delivered from the Set Position without coming to a stop. As for LaRoche, he perhaps would have benefited from no balk call at all; instead of a sac fly and RBI, LaRoche subsequently struck out swinging.

In a related story, Bryce Harper is expected to take Thursday off after arguing with Hernandez over balls and strikes on Wednesday. Though Harper was not ejected and Hernandez indicated to a pool reporter that Harper was never close to being tossed, Washington skipper Davey Johnson suggested a poor throw later in the contest may have been caused by the dispute: "That's just a rookie mistake ... I think maybe he took his at-bat with him into the outfield."

Wrap: Nationals at Astros, 8/8/12
Video: Galarraga balks, scoring Harper and sending Zimmerman to second while keeping LaRoche at bat

26 comments :

Jim R. said...

The real "disservice to the fans" comes from know-nothing announcers who mis-explain the rules.

JeremyJ said...

This was a very difficult call to see in real time but Angel got it right. The announcers, however, have to be the worst announcers in history. How do you miss a plate umpire coming out of position and pointing before the ball is hit? What were they watching? And then for them to babble on for two minutes before finally arriving at what actually happened is ridiculous. I feel dumber for having listened to that...

Steve said...

"a balk results in a one-base award for all baserunners unless more advantageous objectives are achieved."

Close, except there is no advantage/disadvantage consideration. This implies there is a choice somewhere.

There is no choice when it comes to a balk. Either all runners advance, or the balk is enforced.

It is possible for a balk to be enforced and for it NOT to be the most advantageous solution.

Bases loaded, same sitch. DEEP Sac fly and R2 and R3 both score, and R1 goes to 3B. Balk must be enforced because Batter became a runner on the play and did not advance one base. So, all runners move up one and Batter returns to the plate with the same 2-2 count (no pitch).

Gotta love 8.05.

SJR said...

You'd think with FTP Santegelo being a former player that he would understand the balk rule. He actually thought the manager had a choice in the matter with a balk. Read the rule book before you criticize an umpire next time, you hack.

kickersrule said...

The funny thing is when they finally realize its a balk they dont even explain the balk rules correctly. Are there any annoucers out there that actually know all the rules?

SJR said...

Vin Scully might be it along with few other rare exceptions. Oh, and you know what would be interesting? Umpires as color commentators. Why not, obviously announcers think they can be umpires so let's try the other side of the coin.

tmac said...

I could tell you a lot of stories about big leaguers who managed or coached who didn't know the rules. Here's an example of a guy who played 19 years in the big leagues in the infield and didn't know that an infield fly could be caught on the outfield grass. They don't know umpiring like we don't know how to teach pitching. There are some exceptions but not many.

Anonymous said...

I can't understand why a big league umpire in Hernandez had no idea what to do in that situation either? It's easy.. If the batter flies gets out or runners don't advance one base, enforce the balk call.

UmpsRule said...

A disservice to the fans?!?! After that utterly botched broadcasting exhibition (which was a total disservice to Angel Hernandez, by the way). It didn't take long for Santangelo's ignorance of the rules to insert itself into the game, did it? Yeah, Angel Hernandez calls a balk, gives your team a free run, and there you are with no clue what is going on and you have the gall to made a snide remark about him! I think I like SJR's idea, let's put umps in the broadcast booth, at least they know the rules!

Anonymous said...

Glad they had a AAA guy on the crew to help them out on the rule...

Anonymous said...

I bet Eddie knew the rule too, considering he goes over it every year in Daytona

Anonymous said...

Question for you guys. I think there is a rule that allows the manager to take an option, but I am not sure which one. He has to know he has the option, the crew will not offer the option unless he specifically request it. I am thinking maybe catcher's interference??

ANON = LMS1953

Anonymous said...

Tim welke has just tossed Joe giradri

UmpsRule said...

Welke just tossed Girardi.

Russ said...

Tim Welke has ejected Joe Girardi. He let him argue about a fair ball call for about 3 minutes and really didn't want to eject him since he never ejects anybody but Girardi wouldn't let up and was being an idiot. As much of a tough season as Welke has had this year, Welke got this call right. No doubt about it. Bob Davidson can be seen playing rodeo clown again. He did a pretty good job! Kind of like last year how Girardi's three ejections were against the Red Sox, all 3 of his ejections this year have been against the Tigers.

SJR said...

Unless each runner including the batter runner each advances at least one base, the manager of the offense has the option whether to take the result of the play or have the catcher's interference enforced; otherwise, the interference is ignored and play proceeds as normal. The classic example of when a manager would elect to take the result of the play is when you have a runner on 3rd (except with the bases loaded) and a sac fly is hit despite catcher's interference. Now the manager has the choice have accepting the play and keeping the run or having the interference enforced by placing the runner back on 3rd and the batter on 1st - probably he's going to take the run.

UmpsRule said...

Ah, beat me to it. Anyway, the Tigers telecast noted that all four Yankees coach ejections have come against Detroit. Interestingly, it was Bob Davidson calming things down.

UmpsRule said...

Beat me to it again!

Anonymous said...

Yes it is catchers interference where the manager, if aware, can take the result of the play.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Tigers fan, but Gerardi wasn't being an idiot, the umpire made a mistake. He signaled foul ball and then called it fair, causing the Yankee fielders to hesitate.

Another blown call.

Anonymous said...

You cannot protest this, welke said you cannot protest

Anonymous said...

Thanks. I guess that might be where the confusion arose over manager's option. The rule is clear, but at times hard to recall out of the blue when a relatively rare play occurs. Even the crew had to confer and protocol does not allow them to dig out a rule book from a hip pocket:

ANON = LMS1953

Russ said...

Well if it is true that Welke called the ball foul than fair, it would probably be incorrect based on the Dale Scott-Bud Black ejection giving a decieving signal. Welke's call of fair was defineately the correct one though. Girardi is playing the game under protest and I don't see any way he will win that.

umpire7 said...

A Balk is nullified when all runners including the batter runner each advance one base safely

Gil Imber said...

As an aside, the Welke-Girardi ejection is forthcoming. Much to review...

James said...

I would like to see FOX add an umpire in the booth for the National games. Like what they did for their NFL boradcasts with Mike Pereira.

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