These are some of the UEFL membership's comments after five regular season plus two additional Spring Training catch/no catch calls were challenged and then confirmed via Instant Replay Review. All seven reviews resulted in "no catch" or safe calls.
MLB Replay Review 051: 3B Umpire Seth Buckminster's out call was overturned after Replay Officials determined Angels left fielder Josh Hamilton failed to catch a fly ball.
MLB Replay Review 050: 2B Umpire Phil Cuzzi's safe call was confirmed after Replay Officials agreed that Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist failed to possess and voluntarily release Yunel Escobar's lead throw in his attempt to complete a double play.
MLB Replay Review 046: 2B Umpire Jordan Baker's safe call was upheld after he ruled that Rangers SS Elvis Andrus failed to complete his catching process in a similar manner to Zobrist.
MLB Replay Review 026: 2B Umpire Kerwin Danley's safe call was confirmed by video replay after the analysis determined Tigers 2B Ian Kinsler did not catch his feed, as in Reviews 046 and 050.
MLB Replay Review 012: 2B Umpire Dale Scott's out call was overturned after replay revealed that White Sox center fielder Adam Eaton dropped a fly ball prior to completing his catch.
Spring Training Review S-61: 2B Umpire Lance Barksdale's safe call was confirmed upon challenged replay: White Sox 2B Leury Garcia did not possess the baseball.
Spring Training Review S-20: 2B Umpire Chad Whitson's out call was reversed; Angels 2B Andrew Romine's bobble was not a transfer, but a failed [missed] catch error.
Thankfully, our friends at the Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School have stepped in, care of Umpire-Empire, to confirm what we all suspected: Yes, the rule interpretation has changed for 2014.
Rule 2.00 [Catch] provides that, "In establishing the validity of the catch, the fielder shall hold the ball long enough to prove that he has complete control of the ball and that his release of the ball is voluntary and intentional. If the fielder has made the catch and drops the ball while in the act of making a throw following the catch, the ball shall be adjudged to have been caught."
In 2013, the interpretation for "Legal Catch" held that if the fielder loses the ball after simply stopping the ball's momentum and making an effort to retrieve it with a bare hand, it could be ruled "on the transfer" and a catch.
For 2014, the following material was added:
In determining whether a fielder drops the ball “while in the act of making a throw following the catch” in accordance with Rule 2.00, the umpires will determine whether the fielder obtained possession of a ball in flight but dropped the ball while in the act of making a throw during the momentum of the catch. For example, if the shortstop, in an effort to turn a double play, throws to the second baseman, who drops the ball while in the act of drawing back his arm to make a throw to first base, the second baseman shall be adjudged to have had secure control of the ball and thus the ball shall be adjudged to have been caught by the second baseman. However, it shall not be adjudged to be a catch if, while in the act of making a throw during the momentum of the catch, the fielder loses possession of the ball in the transfer (e.g., flip from the glove) before he secures the ball with his throwing hand.The Wendelstedt School emphasized the following:
The "flip" itself is not deemed a voluntary release, even though it may be a voluntary action. This is an update you will find in the 2014 Rules and Interpretations Manual. We have removed the exclusive interpretation offered for a number of year providing that it only be an attempted voluntary release. This is no longer the case. The release must be voluntary. Additionally, this interpretation has been merged with a tag of a base as well on the front end of a double play attempt. He must secure the ball in his throwing hand before it will be deemed secure possession was made.Given these stringent definitions, interpretations and emphases, the five plays above do not qualify for legal catch status because the fielders in each of these plays attempting to make a throw during the "momentum of the catch" and lost possession of the ball in the transfer prior to securing the ball with the throwing hand.
Had this "momentum of the catch" been completed and the ball then lost, the correct ruling would have been a catch and dropped transfer (out). Baseball's "momentum of the catch" throw has been a vital component of the vaunted middle-infielders' double play procedure for quite some time so this new interpretation will require time and patience to get used to; however, the interpretation is clear: Without allowing the momentum of the catch to complete—securing firm possession of the ball in the glove—a fielder who loses possession of the ball prior to securing it in his throwing hand will be adjudged to have dropped the throw, resulting in a no catch safe call.