Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Boston's Pesky Park Claims Umpire Jerry Layne, A's Rally

Fenway Park proved pesky Wednesday afternoon, as Umpire Jerry Layne suffered a hand injury and was forced to leave the game innings before the Oakland Athletics had the possibility of a potential rally-starting hit neutralized by a most eager of Boston fans.

Fan Touches Live Ball, Greg Gibson Rules it Foul
With the Boston Red Sox clinging to a 6-5 lead with two outs and a 2-2 count in the Oakland 9th, A's batter Jed Lowrie pounced on the deuces wild pitch, hurling a sinking line drive down the right field line and towards the fabled Pesky's Pole corner at Fenway Park. One of the smallest facilities in the Major Leagues, Fenway Park's right field spectator area nearly encroaches on the right foul line, offering a clearance of mere inches
Fan Interference at Fenway.
from line-to-wall. Replays indicate that during this critical play, a female fan in a blue Red Sox cap reached onto the playing field and contacted the ball while it was still in flight. 1B Umpire Greg Gibson ruled the play dead and the drive a foul ball, much to the dismay of A's Manager Bob Melvin, who came out to argue the call while Oakland broadcasters Glen Kuiper and Ray Fosse mused a perceived missed call. After Lowrie struck out to end the game, Kuiper and Fosse admitted that, "if she doesn't touch it, it's going to go foul."

Rule 2.00 INTERFERENCE (d) was modified over the offseason to read, "Spectator interference occurs when a spectator reaches out of the stands and over the playing field, or goes on the playing field, and (1) touches a live ball or (2) touches a player and hinders an attempt to make a play on a live ball." The purpose of this rules change was to clarify when a spectator is considered to have reached out of the stands.

Rule 3.16, which states 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" was not amended. Accordingly, it appears Gibson ruled that had the fan not interfered, the probable result of the play would have been a foul ball. Replays confirm Kuiper and Fosse's postgame analysis: had the fan not interfered, the ball would have landed in foul territory, the call was correct.

The Official Playing Rules Committee this offseason amended Rule 2.00 INTERFERENCE and several other OBR rules. Brian Gorman is the lone on-field umpire representative who sits on this committee, which includes Sandy Alderson (NY Mets, Chair), Sam Bernabe (Iowa Cubs [PCL]), Rod Carew (HOF), Gorman (MLBU), John McHale, Jr. (MLB), Terry Ryan (MIN Twins), John Schuerholz (ATL Braves), Bill Stoneman (Alumni) and Joe Torre (MLB). Gorman has not worked a regular season contest thus far in 2013.

Video: Spectator interferes with Lowrie's bullet down the right field line, precipitating the foul call (OAK)

Kuiper and Fosse mentioned that the umpiring crew's three-person mechanics may have contributed to what they perceived was a missed call. Earlier in the contest, the four-man crew was downsized due to...

Crew Chief Jerry Layne Injured, Leaves Game; Call-Up Estabrook Fills in at Home Plate
With one out in the top of the third inning on a cool afternoon, A's batter Derek Norris fouled a 2-1 90 mph fastball from Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester into the dirt, where it caromed and struck Layne in the left hand. As Layne conversed with crewmates Greg Gibson and Hunter Wendelstedt, Boston broadcasters Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo speculated that Layne may have sustained a fractured index finger, though test results as of yet have not been reported. 2B Umpire Mike Estabrook subsequently left the field and donned his plate gear while Layne completed the third inning. Estabrook took over behind the plate to begin the fourth inning.

Video: Layne injured and leaves game, Mike Estabrook pressed into plate service (BOS)

Wrap: Oakland Athletics vs. Boston Red Sox, 4/24/13


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