|Official Business CEO Brian Hertzog|
It didn’t take too long to start receiving calls and texts about Monday's play [MLB Ejection 065 - Manny Gonzalez (1; Terry Francona)], and rightfully so, it was quite interesting. In the days that followed I read comments ranging from “Manny got this right!” to “This is a bad miss by Manny on a relatively ‘easy’ call.” Most seemed to be leaning toward that later thought process though. While there are plenty of RLI calls that I would consider “easy,” this is hardly one of them.
|RLI only can exist when B1 is not in his lane.|
First, we can establish that any part of Moreland’s foot that’s in contact with the line means that the stride he has taken is legal:
Rule 5.09(a)(11) Comment: The lines marking the three-foot lane are a part of that lane and a batter-runner is required to have both feet within the three-foot lane or on the lines marking the lane.
|Terry Francona did not like Manny's ruling.|
The next part of the rule that I’ve seen being contested is based on OBR’s interpretation of RLI that stipulates that it’s the fielder’s attempt to field the throw that’s protected by the rule rather than the actual throw from the pitcher. It seems that the misinterpretation here derives from the thought process that you need to protect F3 (Napoli) in this situation up until the time he would have been fielding the ball. This thought process isn’t necessarily invalid, as I’m sure the part of the rule being referenced here is as follows:
OBR 5.09(a)(11): In running the last half of the distance from home base to first base, while the ball is being fielded to first base, he runs outside (to the right of) the three-foot line, or inside (to the left of) the foul line, AND in the umpire’s judgement in doing so interferes with the fielder taking the throw at first base.The pesky part about that last sentence though… the word “AND.” For this play to be called RLI, Moreland needs to be running inside the foul line (and we established that he’s not) AND interfere with the fielder taking the throw at first base. If you don’t have Moreland running inside the foul line, then he isn’t in any illegal position where he could be interfering with the fielder taking the throw at first base. The throw hitting Moreland simply becomes… baseball. You need to satisfy the first part of the rule for the second part to be relevant to the play at hand.
The reason Napoli was unable to field the throw in this situation was not because Moreland prevented him from doing so with any type of illegal action. The reason was because the throw hit Moreland, but it was very much while he was in a legal position. Everything after the throw hits Moreland while he’s in a legal position is irrelevant.
|Yogi-ism: B1 is in the lane until he is out of it.|
You can’t penalize Moreland in this situation for something he hasn’t done yet… and you can’t protect Napoli in fielding a throw at first base if there’s no longer any throw to field. One more step by Moreland though, and this call takes on a whole new life. I guess it’s not as “easy” as it looks.
Brian Hertzog is the CEO of Official Business, dedicated to bridging the gap between Umpires and Coaching Staffs/Players by bringing an Umpire's unique knowledge of the game over to Player Development. Official-Business' goal is to bring an unparalleled level of respect into baseball by creating professional relationships between Coaching Staffs/Players and Umpires.
Hertzog is a 2006 graduate of the Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring (JEAPU) and spent the 2006-14 seasons in Minor League Baseball's Pioneer, Arizona Extended, South Atlantic, California, Arizona Instructional, Texas and Pacific Coast Leagues, serving as Texas Lg Crew Chief in 2011, PCL Crew Chief in 2014, 2014 PCL Championship Series Crew Chief, and the plate umpire for the 2014 Triple-A National Championship.