Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Rule 7.09: Base or Batter-Runner Interference

A baserunner's interference call brought both managers out onto the field in San Francisco Tuesday night, creating the rare double-argument wherein both teams disputed the same play and call.

With one out and two on (R1, R2) in the bottom of the 6th inning of the Rockies-Giants game, Giants batter Brandon Crawford hit 2-2 curveball from Rockies pitcher Carlos Torres towards second base. As second baseman DJ LeMahieu attempted to field the high chopper, baserunner R1 Xavier Nady attempted to advance to second base, while the baseball remained loose following what appeared to have been minor contact between the two players. (Video: 2B Umpire Conroy rules interference, fielder's choice)

Tracy and Conroy discuss the play.   AP Photo
As Tracy argued with 2B Umpire Chris Conroy, claiming the Rockies should be awarded a double play based on perceived "intentional" interference, Bochy alleged the Giants should have escaped with a bases loaded, zero out situation for lack of willful interference. Who was right?

Conroy had ruled "simple" offensive interference pursuant to Rule 7.09(j), which states, in part, that when a runner fails to avoid a fielder who is attempting to field a batted ball, the runner is out and the ball is dead. Because, in the umpire's judgment, LeMahieu was in the act of attempting to field a batted ball, and he was the one player who was entitled to field this specific batted ball, Nady's failure to avoid LeMahieu constituted interference, the penalty for which places the guilty runner out, the batter-runner on first base and R2 must return to second base on the fielder's choice. Recall, a fielder has "right of way" priveleges in regards to a batted ball, meaning the onus is on the runner to avoid the fielder.

Contrary to baseball mythology, contact is not necessary for an interference call and who initiated contact is not necessary to determine legality. All that matters is whether the offensive player interfered with the defense whereby he failed to avoid the one fielder entitled to play the batted ball.

Pursuant to this and several following criteria, Tracy and Bochy were partially correct, while Conroy was right.

Rule 7.09(j) interference is one of 11 varieties of base or batter-runner interference as prescribed by Rule 7.09. The following list, with video where available, documents the other 10 instances of this interference:

7.09(a): After a third strike, the batter-runner hinders the catcher attempting to field a ball. (Video: Nyjer Morgan could have been called for interference for kicking a dropped third strike in Houston)
7.09(b): The batter or runner intentionally deflects the course of a foul ball.
7.09(c): With R3, the batter hinders a fielder from making a play at home. With two out, the batter is out. With less than two out, the runner is out. (Video: This sequence could have been ruled interference if the umpire believed the batter hindered the catcher from making a play at home [e.g., by at one point standing between the runner and the fielder])
7.09(d): The offensive team huddles around any base to which a runner is advancing to confuse, hinder or create difficulty for the fielders. (Video: If this hit is not a HR and the offensive team's gathering around home plate confuses or makes play difficult for the defense, the runner may be called out for interference)
7.09(e): Any batter or runner who has just been put out (or has scored) hinders/impedes a following play. Under 7.09(e), the runner who was prevented from being put out is declared out for the interference of his teammate. (Video: Ramirez called out due to batter AJ Pierzynski's interference / After making out, Carl Crawford runs right into an attempted throw, resulting in interference [Rule 6.06(c)])
7.09(f): A baserunner willfully and deliberately interferes with a ball or fielder with obvious intent to break up a double play; the batter-runner is also out (Video: Pablo Sandoval's willful interference results in double play).
7.09(g): A batter-runner wilfully and deliberately interferes with a ball or fielder with obvious intent to break up a double play is out; the runner closest to home plate is also out (Video: Diamond Demo introduces Carlton Fisk's interference no-call from the 1975 World Series, which would have been a double play if the umpire judged Fisk's interference to be intentional [MLB Network].
7.09(h): A base coach touches or holds the runner, physically assisting his advancement or return. (Video: Dave Anderson physically "guides" Michael Young back to third, resulting in game-ending out)
7.09(i): A base coach leaves his box and tries to draw a throw from the defense. (Article: Ed Montague ejects Larry Bowa for refusing to coach from the box)
7.09(j): A runner fails to avoid a player attempting to field a batted ball or intentionally interferes with a thrown ball. (Video: BR Matt Kemp out on interference after failing to avoid fielder Conger)
7.09(k): A fair ball touches a runner on fair territory before touching a fielder. (Video: Pedro Alvarez runs into batted ball and is out, ending the Pirates-A's game)


Anonymous said...

Looks like the runner was out of the way and fielder initiated contact trying to get the interference call.

Russ said...

Bob Davidson ejected Jordany Valdespin for arguing a called third strike. He got a little more heated than the last few ejections, but he never even took his mask off and didn't do his token smirk.

Anonymous said...

Good call on the INT. All that R1 has to do is slow down a little or go around F4 and he wouldn't have been called out.

As usual, the announcers don't have a clue but try to convince all of the viewing public that they do. Then the rule is posted on the screen and they're oblivious.


Anonymous said...

Um...that doesn't look like Bochy.

Spence1222 said...

Gotta love the announcers in the Matt Kemp clip above saying he is still in the batters box. He has one foot squarely down in the middle of the plate. I will ask the question of baseball umps, as I am a softball guy, and in that sport you are deemed to be out of the box when you have at least one of your feet is in contact with the ground completely(not on a line) out of the box. Does baseball consider same, and if so Kemp was definitely out of the box

Anonymous said...

Careful... one of those Kemp play announcers is the current manager of the Boston Red Sox LOL. Yes, baseball is out of the box with one foot completely out, contact w/ ground. This is a great call by Iassogna.

red said...

I think this call is wrong. The fielder clearly leaned with his arm at the runner to initiate contact, which I would rule is not part of the attempt to field the batted ball. Since the fielder is therefore NOT in the process of trying to field the ball, 7.09(j) should not apply.

JeremyJ said...

This is an absolute judgement call. Did the fielder make contact with the runner? Yes, however, an umpire is allowed to judge that it was incidental contact, with no effect on the play. IMO the fielder knew he wasn't going to get it, and intentionally initiated contact trying to draw an interference call. There's no way I would have called this, simply because I don't think it affected the outcome of the play.

Anonymous said...

red @ 1:25: The fielder has already been interfered with before he sticks his arm out. He had to slow down and alter his course to avoid running into the runner as he charged the ball. The arm sticking out is irrelevant.

JeremyJ @ 5:02: Whether the fielder thinks he is going to get it or not is also irrelevant. The runner has to avoid him, and the fielder initiating contact has nothing to do with this call.

If some of you guys are umpires, I would hate to see what has to happen before you call interference or obstruction.


red said...

ok, I went back and watched it again a couple of times. The 2B runs several feet wide of the path of the ball, veering away from the ball and towards the runner. To me, that is sufficient to establish that he is not in the act of trying to field the ball. I stand by my conclusion.

LouOCNY said...

Absolutely interference - textbook, in fact. There's not a decent umpire in baseball or softball who would not call that.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Red (Obstruction)! Actually, when I first saw it LIVE, I thought it was interference, but after seeing the replay (which Conroy didn't have the luxury of doing at the time), I think the fielder was too far from the ball and thus can not be considered to be in the act of fielding. It would be one thing if the fielder was settling into his crouch to field the ball but it appears that he was still running to the ball to field it. Moreover, the fact that he attempted to draw the contact by "chicken winging" the runner as he was charging the ball makes me NOT want to give him the benefit of the doubt on the call.

Either way, this is a difficult judgment call to make in real time and a case could be made either way. The fact that I saw it while I was sitting in my lazy boy and DVRing the play over and over makes it a lot easier to make the right call ;)

Anonymous said...

Hardly textbook. Watch it again, you don't see the fielder veering towards the runner? Seeing it live it's hard not to call the interference. But on replay, there is no way it's interference.

Anonymous said...

Joe West called a quick pitch on a dodgers pitcher last night. It was interesting. Mattingly argued for a good while but wasn't ejected.

Anonymous said...

Anonymoust @ 1:19:
It is irrelevant that F4 is not in his "crouch" to field the ball. Charging the ball in order to make a play on it is considered "In the act of making a play". I would love to know what levels that you and "red" umpire at. Furthermore, the fact that you think this is not only not interference but also obstruction is completely laughable.

This is absolutely interference, and any competent umpire would call it. If any new umpires or fans are on here reading this, do not listen to these clowns.


Anonymous said...

Another interesting play took place Saturday in the Twins-Tigers game. With Casilla on 2nd, Denard Span hit a popup that basically came straight down on the 2nd base bag. R2 was standing on the bag and SS Peralta backed into him in an attempt to make the play but bumped into him and the ball fell behind the bag. 2B Umpire Brian O'Nora called R2 out for interference saying that he was obligated to avoid the fielder. Had R2 moved off the bag he likely would have been doubled off as the SS caught it right on the bag. I believe that they admitted the next day that they had missed the call.

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