Thursday, April 25, 2013

Batter's Interference Ends Ballgame: Reviewing Rule 6.05(g)

As HP Umpire Paul Emmel ruled Brewers batter Martin Maldonado out for batter's interference to end Milwaukee's nine-game winning streak via a 2-1 defeat to the San Diego Padres, Brewers Manager Ron Roenicke—who you recall was ejected by Gary Darling the night before—ran out to argue the out call, words echoed by Brewers broadcast analyst Bill Schroeder (now where have we heard that name before?).

To begin the analysis of this play, consider Schroeder's factually inaccurate remarks:
And both feet have to be out of the batter's box in order for Maldonado to be out...both feet have to be out, not just one...the foot was in the air, but not out of the confines of the batter's box.
Out for interference, Rules 6.05(g), 7.09(k)
Not surprisingly, FS San Diego easily accepted Emmel's call.

Emmel ruled Maldonado out under the auspices of Rule 6.05(g), which states that a batter is out when:
His fair ball touches him before touching a fielder. If the batter is in a legal position in the batter’s box, see Rule 6.03, and, in the umpire’s judgment, there was no intention to interfere with the course of the ball, a batted ball that strikes the batter or his bat shall be ruled a foul ball;
Ah yes, one of those rules that cross-references another rule. Rule 6.03 simply states, "the batter's legal position shall be with both feet within the batter's box." The attached approved ruling allows for the lines defining the batter's box to be "within" the box. In other words, the batter's legal position shall be with both feet within or extending no further than the outer edge of a line defining the batter's box.

The MLB Umpire Manual further states Rule 6.03 applies when a batter assumes a batting stance, while Rule 6.06(a) is the box position rules reference for when a batter hits a ball. 6.06(a) states that a batter is out for illegal action when "He hits a ball with one or both feet on the ground entirely outside the batter’s box." Accordingly, 6.06(a) allows for a batter to hit a ball when (1) either foot is in contact with the line, but otherwise extends out of the box; and (2) either foot is in the air above dirt fully outside of the batter's box as this is legal as long as the batter's foot doesn't touch the ground.

So what of Rule 6.05(g) and batter's interference by virtue of being touched by a fair ball? The rule cross-referenced, after all is 6.03, not 6.06(a). Why the discrepancy?

Recall that upon hitting fair ball, the batter becomes a runner; his time at-bat is over (Rules 6.04 and 6.09).

Therefore, as a runner, Rules 6.03 and 6.06(a) become irrelevant—except for the specific case of Rule 6.05(g) interference, wherein Rule 6.03—and not 6.06(a)—is referenced as the foul ball exemption.

Accordingly, Emmel correctly declares Maldonado out, as he is not in a legal position within the batter's box, as defined solely by Rule 6.03, when a fair ball touches him. Rule 7.09(k), "a runner is out when a fair ball touches him on fair territory before touching a fielder" confirms the ruling as the batter had become a runner by virtue of hitting the fair ball.

Video: Padres snap Milwaukee's win streak via offensive interference to end the Brewers' 9th inning
Related: Rules 6.05(g) & 6.05(h): Batted Ball Batter's Interference
> Example 1 contains a case of a bunter still squared and legal within the box when struck (no interference);
> Example 1A similarly contains a depiction of compliance with the Rule 6.03 exemption to 6.05(g);
> Example 2 depicts accidental contact with a baseball while outside of the box, this is interference;
> Examples 6 (foul ball) and 7 are also relevant to the adjudication of this particular play.


Lindsay said...

Tough to see either way. I am not sore how RR was so positive that "there is no way he was out of the box". I doubt Emmel would have made the call if he was not 100% sure. But I could be wrong. -)

Lindsay said...

It really Boggles my mind how bad the Brewers announcers are

Lindsay said...

After looking at all the replays, I'm certain this is not a good call; but a GREAT call! The ball definitely was in fair territory and Emmel made a perfect call, pointed to the touch, and sold the heck out of it.

Colin talked about games going too long today on ESPN. Maybe--just maybe--players and managers need to hear this concern and for the good of the game need to do their part to speed things along. Roenicke, had this not been the end of the game, would be out there arguing something he simply could not have seen any better than Emmel; which is to say he would be wasting everyone's time. I'm really starting to get tired of the world where everyone gets to argue just because they don't like a decision. Here's a new one...$100 every time you step out of the dugout other than for an injury or coaching action. Pretty soon manager's wives will be helping clamp down!

Lindsay said...

I'm sorry but that's ridiculous. A coach has a right to argue a play. Some times the arguments can be dumb but not always. You can't just point to this one situation and all of the sudden say coaches shouldn't be allowed to leave the dugout.That punishment does not fit the crime in the slightest bit.

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