Saturday, July 6, 2013

Rule 7.08(a)(2): Bunt Double Play due to Abandonment

A batter's bunt in Miami sent Manager Mike Redmond out to argue after umpires ruled a double play in a sequence that could be both supported and refuted by the Official Baseball Rules.
Redmond disputes the call with Culbreth.

With none out and two on (R1, R2), Marlins batter Jacob Turner squared to bunt a 1-1 sinker from Cardinals pitcher Jake Westbrook, dropping the bunt in front of home plate and catcher Yadier Molina who raced to field the fair ball. B1 Turner, however, did not move, producing contact with Molina who eventually picked up the ball and threw to third base in advance of baserunner R2 Adeiny Hechavarria with R1 Jeff Mathis reaching second base.

After HP Umpire Fieldin Culbreth ruled Turner out for (a) interfering with Molina or (b) being tagged by Molina (see below for why the result of this play makes it clear the call was not interference), 3B Umpire Brian O'Nora ruled R2 Hechavarria out at third base on an assumed force play.

The double play call sent Marlins Manager Mike Redmond out to visit crew chief Culbreth, whose call along with O'Nora's may only be supported by one Rule (do you know which one?), regardless of the QOC of the umpires' judgment. One of the following OBR Rules pertains to this play while the others do not. What follows is an explanation of these rules and whether the specified rule was invoked and/or enforced on this play:

Rule 2.00 Interference, which specifies that offensive interference is an act by the team at bat which interferes with, obstructs, impedes, hinders or confuses any fielder attempting to make a play, the penalty for which is a dead ball, out and the return of all other runners to the last bases occupied at the time of (because we're speaking about a batter-runner) the pitch ("TOP"). If this was runner's interference, the return would be the last legal touch at the time of interference. Was not enforced as such and is accordingly not applicable.

Rule 7.09(g) specifies that in the case of a batter-runner's willful and deliberate interference with a batted ball or fielder in the act of fielding a batted ball with the obvious intent to break up a double play, both the batter-runner and the baserunner closest to home plate (in this case R2) shall be declared out. However, if this truly was a 7.09(g) invocation, R1 Mathis should have been returned to first base (he was permitted to remain at second base). Was not enforced as such and is accordingly not applicable.

Did R2 rely on O'Nora's call prior to abandonment?
Rule 7.08(e) is the classic force play and puts the runner out if he or the next base is tagged before he touches it after he has been forced to advance by reason of the batter becoming a runner. However, if a following runner (or the batter-runner) is first put out, the force is removed and the runner must be tagged to be put out. R2 Hechavarria was never tagged while the force was removed when B1 Turner was ruled out for having been tagged (again, we've excluded interference based on the above explanation). Therefore, Rule 7.08(e) does not account for the out here. This is certainly not applicable.

Rule 7.08(a)(2) puts a runner out if he leaves the base path, obviously abandoning his effort to touch the next base. PLAY. If a runner believes he is called out on a tag at first or third base and starts for the dugout, progressing a reasonable distance indicating by his actions that he is out, he shall be declared out for abandoning the bases. This rule applies, was enforced as such.

To conclude, B1 was ruled out on F2's tag while R3 was ruled out for abandonment under Rule 7.08(a)(2). The fact that U3 O'Nora employed an improper mechanic (ruled R3 out due to a Rule 7.08(e) force) would appear irrelevant and enter into a "Scott Rule" (Dale Scott's inadvertent foul ball mechanic in 2012 that led to a triple play and Bud Black's ejection arguing the misleading mechanic) type of situation.

In May, Angels Manager Mike Scioscia filed a protest after Culbreth's crew permitted the Astros to substitute a pitcher before that pitcher had fired a single pitch, in violation of Rule 3.05(b). After the Angels subsequently won the ballgame, rendering that protest null and void, MLB suspended Culbreth and sanctioned crewmates O'Nora, Adrian Johnson and Bill Welke for failure to enforce the rule.

Following the current play, Redmond did not elect to protest the game, for under the confines of Rule 7.08(a)(2) and abandonment, the umpires technically made the correct call, even if an erroneous mechanic led to it.

Wrap: Miami Marlins vs. St. Louis Cardinals, 7/5/13
Video: Jacob Turner out interfering with Cards catcher Molina's attempt to play the ball, resulting in DP (MIA)

31 comments :

Gil Imber said...

I either don't fully understand the concept of the Scott rule or I
disagree that it would be applied in this situation. I don't see this play as 'an erroneous mechanic' but as an erroneous call. O'Nora never signaled out then changed the call to safe or no call. O'Nora declared R2 out and R2 left the field.



If an umpire rules
a runner out he is to immediately leave the field. We cannot assume
what action R2 would have taken had O'Nora made the correct call.
It's obvious that O'Nora incorrectly utilized the force rule to declare R2 out.



In my view, 7.08(a)(2) shouldn't even be mentioned in this situation as it only applies if a runner 'believes' he is out but isn't actually out. R2 was out because O'Nora declared him out, regardless if the call was correct or not, and R2 did not 'abandon' the base-path until after he was 'declared' out. By invoking 7.08(a)(2) in this situation we set a precedent that (1) if an umpire incorrectly rules a runner out, (2) that runner returns to the dugout, and (3) the manager comes out to argue to safe/out call and is ejected, then the QOC would have to ruled correct each and every time, even though the umpire got the call wrong.

Gil Imber said...

Neat case play...

Gil Imber said...

OK...I am confused.
If Cubby called the BR out on the tag, it eliminates the force, and the runner at third was clearly never tagged. O'Nora appears to call him out like it was a force play.
If Cubby calls him out for the interference, then the ball is dead and the runners return.
Little help, please....thanks.

Gil Imber said...

Okay, I think I get it now. B1 is out on the erroneous tag and R3 is out for abandoning his base....So the only mistake by the umpires here is the home plate tag call (it looks like the tag is made with the glove hand with the ball in the throwing hand!)....


I like Mike Redmond. I loved watching the hoopla unfold a few years ago between he and Tichenor when Tichenor was first called up and was a bit ... impetuous (I believe he tossed Gardenhire, Varitek, and Francona as well that game).

Gil Imber said...

Non-umpire here. I'm sorry but I don't understand this analysis. How can 7.08(a)(2) apply if he was in fact called out, even if erroneously? That means a runner is expected to know the umpire got it wrong and stay on his base even though he was called out.

Gil Imber said...

What we have is the following logic flow:



Call on field is illogical: B1 out + R2 out + R1 advances cannot happen unless 7.08(a)(2) is invoked. Not saying that was the rule applied here, but that is the only rule that could possibly explain the double play. What is more realistic is 7.08(e) was misapplied and never corrected and this could be a protest of a rules misapplication (not a judgment call). Unfortunately, Redmond did not protest so we won't know how that would have turned out.

Gil Imber said...

If B1 is out on the tag, R2 cannot be out on the force. Clearly interference of the intentional variety was not called as R1 advanced to second. Therefore, abandonment is the only rule that supports R2's elimination from the bases. Not that it's solid ground to stand on, but in this situation, that's the only rule that could possibly apply without finding that this crew again misapplied a rule.

Gil Imber said...

I nominate this post to be Exhibit A that Cubby's crew should use in their defense if MLB tries to suspend them for another botching of the rules.


The call is so messed up on the field - either O'Nora or Culbreth is wrong or potentially both. If the batter was never really tagged, Culbreth's wrong call made the batter stop running. If the batter was tagged, O'Nora's wrong call helped the runner of the field. Someone screwed up here and given Culbreth's call at the plate was first, I'd have to say it's the out call at third. Still something has to explain why the runner was out and, knowing it's definitely not a force play, it must be abandonment.


Joe Torre, this is why the umpiring crew got this play right! Though seriously, that's a low blow - you make a bad call, the runner relies on it, and then you say "nah, you're really out for abandoning your attempt to reach the next base." It does fit within the rules, however, and I guess that's what's important when it comes to MLB deciding whether to suspend an umpire or not.


Though in a way I see this abandonment defense similar to a lawyer defending a person who clearly committed a crime.

Gil Imber said...

Abandonment is also not applicable here. An umpire error like clearly calling out the incorrect runner (as was the case here, if it occurred) is grounds for the umpires to correct the situation. That being said, the umpires did ultimately get the play correct though, just not for the reasons stated previously. According to the video, the tag was not legally made on the BR at the plate area. This made the runner from second forced at third. He was correctly called out. Then the ball was thrown to first base where it was tagged, ultimately putting out the BR.

Gil Imber said...

Could you imagine if this happened on the old Joe West/Angel Hernandez/CB Bucknor crew? I think the only thing saving Culbreth/O'Nora here is reputation. The mechanic of out is clearly wrong, but I think they get a pass because these guys are considered upper tier, I mean O'Nora had a World Series last year.

Then again, I don't think this would ever happen with a Joe West crew because the cowboy as maligned as he might be, is probably the best rules umpire in baseball.

Gil Imber said...

Umpires never got together here so I'm pretty sure we don't have a reversed call. Would be pretty poor show for Fieldin to change the call all by himself. That said, assuming B1 was never tagged, PU's call, just like U3's call in the other theory, put B1 in jeopardy because he stops running immediately. If the call was wrong and reversed, that'd be one thing, but with no crew conference, that's not what happened.


Furthermore, you have PU clearly calling the guy out and yet U3 seems to miss the call suggesting he plain old didn't see the out call at home plate. We all know no MLB umpire would call a force play at third if he knew his partner called the batter out at home, so I think O'Nora just didn't see Culbreth call the out.


But with no reversed call, we're looking at B1 out on the tag and R2 out for...nothing... so I guess by default it has to be because he abandoned and returned to the dugout.

Gil Imber said...

Bill Welke has ejected Mike Redmond for arguing an out call at home. Looked like Redmond had a legitimate beef.

Gil Imber said...

Well I'm glad you found a set of rules that support the calls made on the field, however that is so clearly NOT what was called!

This could have been really bad if the skipper hadn't let it them off the hook and as an umpire watchig this video makes me nauseous.

Gil Imber said...

"Not that it's solid ground to stand on, but in this situation, that's the only rule that could possibly apply without finding that this crew again misapplied a rule."


Unfortunately, I think this hits the nail on the head, unfortunate because I do believe the crew (1) failed to make the correct call here and then (2) failed to correct the situation afterwards. If Bud Selig were to ask why you have two outs here, the crew only could respond with "abandonment." Otherwise, it's a rule misapplication and another fine and suspension.

Gil Imber said...

IMO, this is shameless use of the abandonment rule. 9.02(c) should have be
invoked.

9.02(c)...If the umpires consult after a play and change a
call that had been made, then they have the authority to take all steps that
they may deem necessary, in their discretion, to eliminate the results and
consequences of the earlier call that they are reversing, including placing
runners...

U3 called R2 out on the force. That call has to be eaten
and fixed.

Gil Imber said...

I thought this webpage was supposed to be an objective look at these calls, not "find a rule afterwards to support the result . . . "

Gil Imber said...

hmm? I'm new to using this site. Is the CCS finding (abondonment) the official MLB reasoning or is just CCS's reasoning for the umpire's final decision?

Gil Imber said...

Gil,

I am a LONG time admirer of your work and the UEFL. I have been around since the Left Field Corner. But this is crazy. So if I call a runner out at first on a bang-bang where he was actually safe and then he walks into the dugout..the call is right because of abandonment?.

Please retract this post

Gil Imber said...

UEFL Mission: "to objectively track and analyze umpire ejections and their corresponding calls, with great regard for the rules and spirit of the game."

This call is seemingly illogical; with B1 ruled out at the plate, there is no force at third and with no tag, the umpires have to explain why R2 is out. I'm certainly not making a QOC value judgment on this play; however, by rule, only abandonment can explain why R2 is out. That fits the technical rule, but in terms of spirit of the game... that type of a call likely doesn't fit. The other option, of course, is a missed rules application.



It's unfortunate Redmond did not protest the game and base the protest on a misapplication of 7.08(e) [the force rule]; though shaky, I don't believe this crew actually ruled abandonment which lends credence to the rules misinterpretation theory. However, all else equal, I'm not sure many pro managers would actually think of filing a protest for that precise reason because the team-oriented rules education simply is not there.

Gil Imber said...

I don't understand your logic that "by rule, only abandonment can explain why R2 is out." That logic fits only if you presume they followed a rule rather than your admitted other option that there was "a missed application of the rules." That presumption undercuts the UEFL Mission to be objective. Yet, you claim "This rule applies, was enforced as such." With due respect, you can't have it both ways: an objective analysis AND a presumption that they enforced a rule in a situation that makes no sense in order to say they "technically" got it right. Common sense indicates they misapplied the rules. If you don't want to make that conclusion, fine. But don't draw the opposite conclusion and claim it is an objective analysis.

Gil Imber said...

I think we are all of the mindset that the call was wrong here but assuming the umps would have to explain themselves, objectively speaking, abandonment does apply. I get the analysis--it's very abstract, in a vacuum and logically solid. But like Gil said above, what likely happened is a failure to properly apply the force out rule.

Gil Imber said...

This is a sad day for UEFL. I say this as an admirer.

Gil Imber said...

Anyone want to bite on the theory that Fieldin was wrong to call B1 out because the tag was made with the glove while the ball was in the other hand? If so, then U3 and U1 were applying correct mechanics and the double play was the right result.

Gil Imber said...

Let me see if I understand this then. We know it was botched in reality. What is being done is to find what the crew might use as a defense or see which rules MIGHT apply and break down if it is even possible for those to apply.


I see nothing wrong with that exercise assuming we all agree that the play was kicked.

Gil Imber said...

I think (but have not really studied the film) the tag was a 2-handed thing with the ball in the throwing hand. Think of pushing someone with both hands as if you are surprised they are right in front of you. That is my theory on the tag.

Gil Imber said...

Correct. I picked this exercise up in a camp setting. You are given a call made during an actual game—it may be right or not—and the exercise is to explain the call to a coach, manager or supervisor. The only stipulation is you cannot change the call made on the field and must explain the call in some fashion other than "I kicked it."

Gil Imber said...

That is actually an awesome exercise. I might have to start doing that with my high school umpires.

Gil Imber said...

Abandonment applies if the runner THINKS they are out (but were not called out), and then leaves the vicinity of the bag. It does NOT apply if the runner is CALLED out, and reacts accordingly.

Gil Imber said...

Thanks for the clarification. That addresses my objectivity concerns, But what is the benefit of explaining an obviously "kicked" call to a coach by some means other than simply admitting "I kicked it." Doesn't that just cost the umpire his credibility? Is the goal of the exercise really to teach the umpire to come up with some other explanation?

Gil Imber said...

I believe the goal is to exercise critical thinking rather than real-world practicality.

Gil Imber said...

The exercise, to me, forces a demonstration of the rest of the rules...and logical ways to eliminate them.


From a practical perspective, if you were on the field for this call then you know you cannot tell the manager that comes out "yep, interference".


One of the biggest problems I have found with rules knowledge is understanding the rules and the purposes of the rules which then inhibits reasonable application in funky situations.


This is, it seems, a rules knowledge exercise.

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