Saturday, June 30, 2012

Rule 4.09: How A Team Scores and the Time Play

The objective of each team in baseball is to win by scoring more runs than the opponent (Rule 1.02). To accomplish such a feat, the bat & ball sport is unique in that, unlike football, basketball or hockey, a team's status as offensive or defensive does not change during each half inning—no interception may be returned for a touchdown, turnovers are not converted for two points the other way and one-timers cannot deflect all the way back for an own goal, though Jose Canseco might have found a loophole.

Rule 4.09 specifies how a team scores:
One run shall be scored each time a runner legally advances to and touches first, second, third and home base before three men are put out to end the inning. EXCEPTION: A run is not scored if the runner advances to home base during a play in which the third out is made (1) by the batter-runner before he touches first base; (2) by any runner being forced out; or (3) by a preceding runner who is declared out because he failed to touch one of the bases.
The following approved ruling clearly delineates the principle established in 4.09: "One out, Jones on third, Smith on first, and Brown flies out to right field. Two outs. Jones tags up and scores after the catch. Smith attempted to return to first but the right fielder’s throw beat him to the base. Three outs. But Jones scored before the throw to catch Smith reached first base, hence Jones’ run counts. It was not a force play." The aforementioned scenario is also known in umpiring circles as a Time Play.

What is a Time Play and how is it manifested?
A Time Play occurs when a preceding runner has an opportunity to score during a play in which a subsequent runner or batter-runner commits the third out of an inning. Umpires must be vigilant as to the possibility of a Time Play, which generally may occur during a play that begins with a runner in scoring position and two out. Most Time Plays result from a runner approaching home plate as a play is made on a subsequent runner at second or third base.

Test Yourself: Examples: 1, 23, 4

Read on for the answer key.

Example 1 (Video): During the 9/26/09 Mets-Marlins game, with two out and a runner on second base (R2), batter B1 hit a ground ball into left-center field, B1 retired at second base prior to R2 reaching home plate. No run.

Example 2 (Video): During the 6/1/12 Orioles-Rays game, with one out and the bases loaded, B1 hit a fly ball to center fielder F8 who threw into second base as all runners tagged. Prior to the runner from third, R3, touching home plate, the runner from first, R1, was retired at second base. No run.

Example 3 (Video): During the 6/29/12 Mets-Dodgers game, with runners on first and third base (R1, R3)—and assuming one out as the video description incorrectly indicates—B1 hits a fly ball to F8, who catches it on the fly as R1 and R3 tag. As R3 runs home, the third baseman F5 cuts off F8's throw, firing to the second baseman F4, who tags R1 for an [inning-ending] double play barely after R3 touched home plate. Run scores.

Example 4 (Video): During the 5/9/12 Giants-Dodgers game, with two outs and runners on first and second base, B1 hits a sinking fly ball to F8, who fields the ball on a bounce and throws behind R1, who had rounded second base. Replays indicated F4 applied the tag on R1 prior to R2 touching home plate. No run.


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