With one out and two on (R1, R2) in the bottom of the 6th inning of the Rockies-Giants game, Giants batter Brandon Crawford hit 2-2 curveball from Rockies pitcher Carlos Torres towards second base. As second baseman DJ LeMahieu attempted to field the high chopper, baserunner R1 Xavier Nady attempted to advance to second base, while the baseball remained loose following what appeared to have been minor contact between the two players. (Video: 2B Umpire Conroy rules interference, fielder's choice)
|Tracy and Conroy discuss the play. AP Photo|
Conroy had ruled "simple" offensive interference pursuant to Rule 7.09(j), which states, in part, that when a runner fails to avoid a fielder who is attempting to field a batted ball, the runner is out and the ball is dead. Because, in the umpire's judgment, LeMahieu was in the act of attempting to field a batted ball, and he was the one player who was entitled to field this specific batted ball, Nady's failure to avoid LeMahieu constituted interference, the penalty for which places the guilty runner out, the batter-runner on first base and R2 must return to second base on the fielder's choice. Recall, a fielder has "right of way" priveleges in regards to a batted ball, meaning the onus is on the runner to avoid the fielder.
Contrary to baseball mythology, contact is not necessary for an interference call and who initiated contact is not necessary to determine legality. All that matters is whether the offensive player interfered with the defense whereby he failed to avoid the one fielder entitled to play the batted ball.
Pursuant to this and several following criteria, Tracy and Bochy were partially correct, while Conroy was right.
Rule 7.09(j) interference is one of 11 varieties of base or batter-runner interference as prescribed by Rule 7.09. The following list, with video where available, documents the other 10 instances of this interference:
7.09(a): After a third strike, the batter-runner hinders the catcher attempting to field a ball. (Video: Nyjer Morgan could have been called for interference for kicking a dropped third strike in Houston)
7.09(b): The batter or runner intentionally deflects the course of a foul ball.
7.09(c): With R3, the batter hinders a fielder from making a play at home. With two out, the batter is out. With less than two out, the runner is out. (Video: This sequence could have been ruled interference if the umpire believed the batter hindered the catcher from making a play at home [e.g., by at one point standing between the runner and the fielder])
7.09(d): The offensive team huddles around any base to which a runner is advancing to confuse, hinder or create difficulty for the fielders. (Video: If this hit is not a HR and the offensive team's gathering around home plate confuses or makes play difficult for the defense, the runner may be called out for interference)
7.09(e): Any batter or runner who has just been put out (or has scored) hinders/impedes a following play. Under 7.09(e), the runner who was prevented from being put out is declared out for the interference of his teammate. (Video: Ramirez called out due to batter AJ Pierzynski's interference / After making out, Carl Crawford runs right into an attempted throw, resulting in interference [Rule 6.06(c)])
7.09(f): A baserunner willfully and deliberately interferes with a ball or fielder with obvious intent to break up a double play; the batter-runner is also out (Video: Pablo Sandoval's willful interference results in double play).
7.09(g): A batter-runner wilfully and deliberately interferes with a ball or fielder with obvious intent to break up a double play is out; the runner closest to home plate is also out (Video: Diamond Demo introduces Carlton Fisk's interference no-call from the 1975 World Series, which would have been a double play if the umpire judged Fisk's interference to be intentional [MLB Network].
7.09(h): A base coach touches or holds the runner, physically assisting his advancement or return. (Video: Dave Anderson physically "guides" Michael Young back to third, resulting in game-ending out)
7.09(i): A base coach leaves his box and tries to draw a throw from the defense. (Article: Ed Montague ejects Larry Bowa for refusing to coach from the box)
7.09(j): A runner fails to avoid a player attempting to field a batted ball or intentionally interferes with a thrown ball. (Video: BR Matt Kemp out on interference after failing to avoid fielder Conger)
7.09(k): A fair ball touches a runner on fair territory before touching a fielder. (Video: Pedro Alvarez runs into batted ball and is out, ending the Pirates-A's game)