Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Type A: BR Overbay Obstructed on Ground Ball to Infielder

In an obstruction play tailor-made for umpire school, Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School Vice President and 2B Umpire Hunter Wendelstedt explained to Mariners Manager Eric Wedge the nuances of MLB Rule 7.06(a), also known as Obstruction Type A, following an overturned out-to-safe (via obstruction) call in the bottom of the 4th inning of Tuesday's Mariners-Yankees game.

Overbay is obstructed by Hernandez.
With one out and one on, Yankees batter Lyle Overbay hit a 2-1 fastball from Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez on the ground to second baseman Robert Andino, who threw to first baseman Kendrys Morales as Overbay collided with Hernandez, who had stopped short of first base to allow Morales to receive the throw, for an apparent groundout as called by 1B Umpire Alan Porter.

Replays indicate that Morales caught the ball and jabbed first base with his right foot mere fractions of a second before Overbay's collision with Hernandez, which hindered, impeded and prevented Overbay's opportunity to touch first base.

After umpire consultation spurred by a brief Joe Girardi argument, Wedge received an initial explanation from crew chief and HP Umpire Jerry Layne before Wedge angrily stormed towards umpires Wendelstedt and Greg Gibson to demand further explanation, Wendelstedt repeatedly informing Wedge that Overbay was obstructed by virtue of Hernandez standing in the baseline and between Overbay and first base.

OBR Rule 2.00 [OBSTRUCTION] defines the aforementioned as "the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball and not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner."

OBR Rule 7.06(a) obstruction states:
If a play is being made on the obstructed runner, or if the batter-runner is obstructed before he touches first base, the ball is dead and all runners shall advance, without liability to be put out, to the bases they would have reached, in the umpire’s judg- ment, if there had been no obstruction. The obstructed runner shall be awarded at least one base beyond the base he had last legally touched before the obstruction. Any preceding runners, forced to advance by the award of bases as the penalty for obstruction, shall advance without liability to be put out.
As batter-runner Overbay was obstructed before touching first base (due to the obstruction, he never did touch first base), Overbay was awarded one base beyond the last legally touched (HP + 1 = 1B).

Rule 7.06(b) obstruction, which does not apply here, states:
If no play is being made on the obstructed runner, the play shall proceed until no further action is possible. The umpire shall then call “Time” and impose such penalties, if any, as in his judgment will nullify the act of obstruction.
Accordingly, it is important to note that Type B and not Type A obstruction specifies the "nullify the act of obstruction" penalty wherein an obstructed runner may, at the umpire's discretion, be awarded one or more bases, be directed back to a base or may even be declared out if he was put out during play.

Type A is very clear, awarding at least one base to an obstructed runner. Type B is the "nullify the act" rule.

Furthermore, the MLB Umpire Manual specifies three distinct cases of Rule 7.06(a) and Rule 7.06(b) obstruction wherein a batter-runner is obstructed before reaching first base. They are:
Case 1: (a) Ground Ball to Infielder: Though "it appears that the infielder will have an easy play on the ball," "Time" is called immediately and the obstructed batter-runner is awarded first base.
Case 2: (b) Pop-Up or Line Drive to Infielder: Act ID'd ("that's obstruction"), but the ball is kept alive. If the pop- or liner is caught, the batter is out; if not, the batter-runner is awarded first base ("Time").
Case 3: (b) Any Ball Hit to Outfielder: Similar to (b), the ball is kept alive. If caught, batter is out; if not, the batter-runner is always "protected" to at least first base and more if the umpire judges accordingly.

The Overbay-Hernandez play was an instance of Case 1 and, pursuant to both OBR rule and MLB interpretation, was correctly ruled Type A obstruction, Overbay awarded first base and R1 forced to second.

Video: On what MLB.com calls "defensive interference" (?), Overbay is awarded first base (NYY)

28 comments :

Gil Imber said...

Here's an obstruction question for the crowd: I have always interpreted obstruction to mean you protect a runner to where he would have reached, in your judgement, had no obstruction occured. However, I have seen local umpires interpret the line in 7.06a that says "The obstructed runner shall be awarded at least one base beyond the base he had last legally touched before the obstruction" to mean he MUST be advanced, even in a situation where he is obstructed while retreating to a base. Examples would include a pickoff throw to first, runner is obstructed going back to first, umpire awards runner second, or runner overruns second on a hit, is obstructed running back to second, umpire awards runner thrid base. I personally have always disagreed with this interpretation, but I wanted to see what everyone else's opinion was.

Gil Imber said...

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130515&content_id=47597580&vkey=news_min&c_id=min -- How about this? Hawk commending an umpire! THE WORLD IS COMING TO AN END!

Gil Imber said...

The theory is that, in Type 'A', since a play is being made on the runner, the obstruction is automatically penalized so umpires do not have to guess if the runner would have made their base. Too many factors.

In Type 'B', umpires are given the latitude to make no award if they feel one is not warranted.

Gil Imber said...

It would be difficult for me to imagine a situation in which obstruction would be called on a pick-off play at 1B since F3 would be making a play on the ball and there isn't likely going to be another defensive player in the way.

In the case of overrunning 2B, I could see awarding the runner 3B if he overran the bag and somehow F6 got in between him and the bag while F4 was attempting to tag him out, or vice versa, although I could understand the confusion in determining whether to awarded 2B or 3B as the sentences in the rule would be contradictory in this case; however, I would interpret "obstructed runner shall be awarded at least one base beyond the base he last legally touched" as a requirement to award 3B in this situation, even if my judgement told me he was attempting to retreat back to 2B.

Gil Imber said...

The out happened before the OBS. And yeah, it does make a difference.

Gil Imber said...

Overbay was already out before obstruction. Incorrect call

Gil Imber said...

Wrong. Obstruction happened before contact, Overbay slowed down to try and avoid hitting King Felix. Doesn't matter that Overbay would be out with no obstruction, the penalty has to be enforced. I mean the applicable rule is cited above, doesn't get any easier than that

Gil Imber said...

There is no way this was obstruction. The batter-runner was retired well before there was any hindrance.

Gil Imber said...

This is absolute text obstruction. Obstruction before 1st base automatically awards BR 1st base. Overbay was cleary hindered, even if he was "technically" retired before there was actual contact. Don't forget - there does NOT need to be contact to constitute obstruction. Overbay had to slow down and alter his path due to Hernandez standing in front of first base. My only question is - why the heck didn't Alan Porter call this right away?

Gil Imber said...

Watch the replay. Overbay absolutely did not slow down or alter his running in any way prior to being retired.

Gil Imber said...

Although it is not relative to an ejection, I challenge your determination that obstruction is the correct ruling in this instance.

Gil Imber said...

Actually, it doesn't make it difference...as the BR must be allowed to touch first base without obstruction, whether or not the out was made before contact with the out of place fielder. The whole purpose of the rule is to take the judgement out of the umpires hand as to whether the BR would have made it first without making contact with the fielder or if he would have made it to first without having to slow down in order to avoid the fielder.

This is made evident in the first sentence of the rule for Type A..."or if the batter-runner is obstructed before he touches first base"

Gil Imber said...

Doesn't matter if he slowed down or what the timing of the contact was...he must be allowed to make it to 1B without being impeded.

Gil Imber said...

You've got to be kidding me. Case 1 which is an OFFICIAL RULE INTERPRETATION by MLB says that even though the infielder has "an easy play on the ball," obstruction A is still the correct call. It's black and white, case closed. This is obstruction and was correctly called.

Gil Imber said...

Crew Chief Jerry Layne and Hunter Wendelstedt stated the following in regards to this call, referencing the aforementioned Rules 7.06(a) and the Umpire Manual interpretation that any time such obstruction happens on the batter-runner before he achieves first base, the ball is dead and obstruction A is the call:

Layne: Any time the runner is obstructed before first base, the ball is dead. He’s awarded first base, and any runner that could be forced is awarded [his base]. That’s why [Wells] was given second base. What had happened was when they went to field the ball, the pitcher and the first baseman were going toward the bag. There was a second there when neither one of them knew who was going to cover, in my opinion. I don’t know that, but that’s what it looked like. But the person that didn’t receive the ball, which was the pitcher, obstructed the runner going to first base. Per that rule, any time it happens before first base, the ball is dead. That clarifies it. Eric [Wedge] said it didn’t happen before first base, and that’s what the discussion was about.

Wendelstedt: We have a clarification in the baseball rules interpretation manual. Only one fielder can be in the act of fielding the ball. Now that fielder [in this case] was the first baseman. So that’s where the obstruction came in because there were multiple fielders fielding the [throw]. Now there’s a couple of different kinds of obstruction. But on the type of play like this, which was a ground ball, it doesn’t matter if the runner is 89 feet away when he gets obstructed or if he’s one inch away. If he is obstructed before first base, the ball is dead and he is awarded first base.

Read more here: http://blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners/2013/05/14/umpires-explanation-for-the-obstruction-call/#storylink=cpy

Gil Imber said...

See my comments above regarding Layne and Wendelstedt's explanation of the play in which the umpires confirm the explanation given above.

Gil Imber said...

WOW. What a call. Not even sure whether he was safe or out. Gil, we need an article on this!

Gil Imber said...

There's no penalty on the defense if a runner makes it to the base he already acquired.

Gil Imber said...

Hahaha. Looks like Hawk gets it wrong again! He tagged him twice before he got his hand in. The sad part about it is that Jordan actually made a nice adjustment and was in great position to see the tag(s)...but he Didn't see them and apparently neither did Hawk!

Gil Imber said...

I think the Umps comments were entirely too nice to Wedge. I don't understand what he didn't understand or why he didn't immediately the rule on obstruction when it was called.
It seems to me that by the MLB level, the managers should know these rules as well as anybody. Look at how Scoscia helped himself last week knowing the rules.

Gil Imber said...

Although this one sometimes doesn't look like it make sense, those umpires have it exactly right. In any case in which a runner is obstructed while they are making a play on him, the automatic penalty is 1 additional base from the last base legally touched. It's not up to interpretation or judgement at that point. Similar to an overthrow to a dead ball area has a defined penalty, so does this. The case in which you see this the most is in a rundown. No judgment necessary, if you have obstruction and an attempted play on the runner, call "time" and award one base.

Gil Imber said...

Interesting play today in Cardinals- Mets game. What do you all think? Did Wegner make the right call. Even though Ankiel was rewarded the double, the Mets commentators certainly though that Wegner missed it. http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=27171247&topic_id=&c_id=mlb&tcid=vpp_copy_27171247&v=3

Gil Imber said...

I'm not quite sure what you saw, but I saw two 'missed' swipes.

Gil Imber said...

Where in the rule does it say that's relevant?

Gil Imber said...

It looks like an incorrect call to me...I would interested in hearing Wegner's explanation as to what it was he saw.

Gil Imber said...

I think he might have thought it bounced off one of the empty seats.

Gil Imber said...

In Federation (High School) you MUST have POSSEION of the ball to block the base leagally.

Gil Imber said...

If you were watching a High School game then that is the correct interpretation. Or a game where they are using HS rules

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