Monday, April 4, 2016

Bona Fide Force Play Slide Rule Applied for First Time

The force play slide 'Utley' rule was applied for the first time on Opening Day in Atlanta. The following photographic and rules analysis illustrates why this call was made.

Force Play Slide Rule at second in Atlanta (Video). With none out and a runner on first base, Braves batter Hector Olivera hit a ground ball to third base, resulting in a throw to second baseman Daniel Murphy ahead of baserunner R1 Nick Markakis and onto first base after B1 Olivera's arrival. 2B Umpire Paul Nauert ruled Markakis out at second base, and Olivera out at first base for the illegal actions of his teammate. This is the correct ruling. OBR Rule 6.01(j) states that, "If a runner does not engage in a bona fide slide, and initiates (or attempts to make) contact with the fielder for the purpose of breaking up a double play, he should be called for interference under this Rule 6.01." There are four criteria to consider when judging whether a slide is "bona fide" (green/red coloring indicates whether Markakis satisfied or failed to satisfy the criterion):
1) The runner begins his slide and makes contact with the ground before reaching the base;
2) The runner is able and attempts to reach the base with his hand or foot;
3) The runner is able and attempts to remain on the base after completion of his slide; and,
4) The runner slides within reach without changing his path to initiate contact with a fielder.

To review, Markakis began his slide and contacted the ground prior to reaching second base. He was able and attempted to reach second base with his hand. He was unable to remain on the base after completing his slide. He slid within reach, but changed his path to initiate contact with the middle infielder. Therefore, this is not a bona fide slide and interference was properly called.

SIDEBAR: "Bona Fide Slide" is a reviewable play and Braves Manager Fredi Gonzalez considered challenging the play, but ultimately decided not to after consulting with his video replay coordinator. Chase Utley himself, because of whom the rule is believed to have been crafted, violated the so-called "Buster Posey" rule regarding home plate collisions in San Diego during the Dodgers-Padres Opening Day game by initiating a roll-block on the catcher; however, he was tagged out and declared out for that reason.

For more information on the bona fide or force play slide rule, click here to visit the UEFL University's discussion and analysis of FPSR Rule 6.01(j).

You can submit close, controversial, or quirky plays to be featured as part of the UEFL Rules Review by sending a tweet to @UmpireEjections or @Gilimber on Twitter, or by posting a reply here or on the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League Facebook page.


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