Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Solution for Case Play 2013-08: Wolf's Two Strike Strikeout

Case Play 2013-08 (Wolf's Two Strike Strikeout) is now final. Answer appears below.

To refresh, with one out and none on, B1 swings at and misses a 1-1 pitch, resulting in a second strike. B1, mistakingly under the belief that he has struck out, returns to the team dugout as PU declares an out. The scenario asked, "Does batter abandonment (1) appear within the rules and (2) govern this situation...Do umpires have an obligation to call the batter back to home plate if [the batter] mistakenly retreats to the dugout on a strike two pitch?"

Answer, Case Play 2013-08
In responding to the scenario, the following rule was properly identified and referenced: OBR Rule 6.02(c).

6.02(c) - "If the batter refuses to take his position in the batter's box during his time at bat, the umpire shall call a strike on the batter. The ball is dead, and no runners may advance. After the penalty, the batter may take his proper position and the regular ball and strike count shall continue. If the batter does not take his proper position before three strikes have been called, the batter shall be declared out."
The umpire has the discretion, but is under no obligation, to place the batter back in the batter's box.

To understand the language of Rule 6.02(d), it is necessary to grasp its history. Rule 6.02(d) was introduced to the minor leagues in 2005 as a "pace-of-game" experiment. The experimental procedure was adopted unchanged into the 2006 Official Rules, albeit as a provision that applies to the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (NAPBL), now more commonly known as Minor League Baseball. Accordingly, when pace-of-game became a point of emphasis at the Major League level in 2008, Rules 6.02(a), 6.02(b), 6.02(c) and 8.04 were emphasized as 6.02(d) did not exist at the MLB level.

In order to be adopted at the Major League level, the Players Association would have to approve the rule. Since 2006, the MLBPA did not approve or adopt Rule 6.02(d), so it remained a NAPBL rule.

The rule contains several key directives meant to quicken the pace of a game, for instance, a batter must keep at least one foot in the batter's box during his entire time at bat unless specific situations occur, such as (1) a swinging strike, (2) a pitch forces him out of the box [e.g., chin music], (3) "Time" is granted, (4) a play is attempted on a runner, (5) the batter feigns a bunt, (6) a wild pitch/passed ball occurs, (7) the pitcher leaves the dirt area of the mound after receiving the ball, or (8) the catcher leaves the catcher's box to give defensive signals.

Similar language in the Official Baseball Rules regarding provisions adopted by National Association Leagues includes 4.12(7)(8)(9), which pertains to suspended games and clearly apply to MiLB, but not MLB (e.g., mandating a regularly scheduled game be shortened to seven innings if a suspended game which is not yet regulation is continued prior to the regularly scheduled game). This rule is prefaced by, "National Association Leagues may also adopt the following rules for suspended games."

Also included is Rule 8.02(a)(2)-(6) Penalty (a), mandating a 10-game automatic suspension for a pitcher ejected for illegal action in doctoring a baseball ("In National Association Leagues, the automatic suspension shall be for 10 games"). When Joel Peralta was ejected for an illegal/foreign substance on his glove (pine tar), he was suspended only eight games (Ejection 074: Tim Tschida [3], 2012).

Rule 10.22(a) Minimum Standards for Individual Championships also makes the distinction between a "Major League" player and a "National Association player," as does Rule 1.16(b)-(c) ((b) double ear-flap helmets required in NAL; (c) single ear allowed in MLB). OBR clearly indicates that when mentioned by name, rules are exclusive to National Association or Major League play, as appropriate.

Accordingly, Rule 6.02(d)(i) [or any 6.02(d) variant] is not applicable as Rule 6.02(d) applies to National Association Leagues and not Major League play. Earlier this season, 2013 California League umpire of the year and "Doug Harvey Award" recipient Ron Teague ejected RockHounds batter Vinnie Catricala after calling two automatic strikes under the auspices of Rule 6.02(c)(d).

Rule 9.01(c) ("Each umpire has authority to rule on any point not specifically covered in these rules") is also not applicable as this scenario is specifically covered by Rule 6.02(c).

Batter abandonment makes a de facto appearance in Rules 6.02(c) and (d), though only 6.02(c) applies.

One Point Awarded (+1): Penwhale, Turducken.


Gil Imber said...

I didn't post in this original case play, but I disagree with the "answer" given.

The batter didn't refuse to get in the box. He lost the count and walked away. Abandonment doesn't apply until a BR touches first base.

There's no reason an umpire at any level shouldn't say, "That's two strikes, please get back in the box." Even if he walks towards the dugout. I think that putting 6.02(c) on this is figuring out a way to make what happened fit with a rule in the book -- I just don't think that this situation fits the spirit/intent or even the letter of that rule.

Gil Imber said...

I'm with RichMSN on this one.

It appears that Wolf applied 6.02(d), and since it only applies to MiLB, he should not have done so. As well, 6.02(c) cannot justify his actions. To 'refuse' to do something requires 'demonstrated willful intent', which Stewart was not given the opportunity to demonstrate as he was not advised to return to the box.

The statement posted "The umpire has the discretion, but is under no obligation, to place the batter back in the batter's box." is misplaced in the description. This statement applies to 6.02(d) (and is listed as such as '6.02(d)(1) Comment' in the OBR, which as stated above, does not apply to MLB. If 6.02(c) is going to be enforced then the umpire IS required to advise the batter to return to the box, as the only way the batter can 'refuse' to return to the box with 'willful intent' is if he has been told to do so.

We're not really learning anything when we just manipulate the rules to fit the actions of the umpire instead of stating that the umpire applied the rules incorrectly and then stating how they should have correctly been applied.

Gil Imber said...

I know I've been appeal-happy recently, but are case plays appealable? This is a clear misapplication of 6.02(d), which does not apply to major league play. 6.02(c) does not apply because of what rgoldar2 said.

Gil Imber said...

What I'd like to know (what the video didn't include), did Wolf use 6.02 ? Did he give any strike/out mechanic once B went to the DO? If he didn't give a proper mechanic then it looks like PU also lost the count or just didn't bother to give the proper mechanic.

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