Saturday, January 18, 2014

UEFL Series: Baseball Rules in the Real World (Fourth Out)

MLB fans suffer from lack of rules knowledge, this is no secret—though so do members of the media, players and even managers/coaches. According to a 2013 rules quiz, out of 10 true-or-false questions, fans averaged a score of 3.7 out of 10, the media 4.4, players 5.5, and managers/coaches 6.6. Leading the pack was Brad Ziegler of the Arizona Diamondbacks with a perfect score (10/10), followed closely by David Ross and John Farrell of the Boston Red Sox with a 9/10 score.

At the bottom of the leaderboard was ESPN's Aaron Boone, who somehow managed a one-of-ten score on the 10 question, two-option (true or false) exam.

The Red Sox are one of a small number of MLB teams that consult a rules expert for such matters, which may very well explain their better-than-average scores. Boone allegedly does not reach out.

The 10-question test posed 10 hypothetical scenarios that, for the most part, were not based on reality and did not previously occur during professional games.

Umpires go through much scenario-based training such that when a rare or odd situation occurs, making the proper call is second nature. For instance, Jim Joyce talked about his obstruction call to end a World Series game for the first time in baseball history as completely instinctual. For the fans, perhaps rules education based on specific situations and scenarios would be more appealing if they were actually rooted in reality. The UEFL presents a new series, Baseball Rules in the Real World, that attempts to do just that. We begin with "Failed Fourth Out," featuring a game-changing play from April 12, 2009.

In an effort to persuade clubs and fans alike towards education, the UEFL presents real world concerning plays and situations that did take place in baseball and, at times, cost teams an out, run or even a win entirely because of a lack of rules knowledge or recognition. This Baseball Rules in the Real World series will encompass Ask the UEFL as historically rules-related plays are presented and analyzed. Feel free to comment with plays you would like to see on real world.
R3 Ethier hustles to score as R2 freezes.

For the rules rookies amongst us (welcome and congratulations for choosing to better yourselves!), Team A refers to the offensive team, Team B the defensive team, PU the plate umpire and U1/U2/U3 the first/second/third base umpire. B1 is the batter and/or batter-runner, R1 is the runner that starts the play on first base, R2 at second base and R3 at third base. F1 is the pitcher, F2 the catcher and so on.

Ethier Scores on Double Play to Tie Game at 1 ("Failed Fourth Out," April 12, 2009 [Video]).
Situation: We begin with "Failed Fourth Out." With one out in the top of the 2nd inning of a 1-0 ballgame, R2 Juan Pierre and R3 Andre Ethier, B1 Randy Wolf hit a line drive to F1 Dan Haren. R2 and R3 were running on contact, so as F1 Haren caught the liner for the inning's second out, both runners were far off their respective bases. F1 Haren threw to F5 Felipe Lopez, who casually strolled to R2 Pierre and nonchalantly applied the tag for the third out of the inning. During the interim, and prior to F5's tag of R2, R3 Ethier, who never broke stride, touched home plate. Lopez kept the ball and returned to the Arizona dugout. After the inning's end, Dodgers bench coach Bob Schaefer and manager Joe Torre met with PU Larry Vanover to discuss the play (the scoreboard erroneously showed a 1-0 Arizona lead). After consultation with U3 Charlie Reliford, the Dodgers were credited with a run, the score adjusted to a tie, 1-1.

Ruling: Correct call. R3's run scores because he touched home plate prior to the third out of the inning, because the third out was not a force out (Rule 4.09[a]).* This is a time play. To negate the run, Team B would have had to appeal R3's failure to tag up prior to Team B leaving the field ("For the purpose of this rule, the defensive team has 'left the field' when the pitcher and all infielders have left fair territory on their way to the bench or clubhouse"):
Appeal plays may require an umpire to recognize an apparent “fourth out.” If the third out is made during a play in which an appeal play is sustained on another runner, the appeal play decision takes precedence in determining the out. If there is more than one appeal during a play that ends a half-inning, the defense may elect to take the out that gives it the advantage. (Rule 7.10)
*Rule 2.00 (Force Play) defines such a play "in which a runner legally loses his right to occupy a base by reason of the batter becoming a runner." OBR goes on to give a very similar example of a play that does not qualify as a force out: "Not a force out. One out. Runner on first and third. Batter flies out. Two out. Runner on third tags up and scores. Runner on first tries to retouch before throw from fielder reaches first baseman, but does not get back in time and is out. Three outs. If, in umpire’s judgment, the runner from third touched home before the ball was held at first base, the run counts." This is what we have here.

The Dodgers went on to win the ballgame, 3-1, which means the failed fourth out may have played a significant role in LA's win.
Umpires: HP: Larry Vanover. 1B: Sam Holbrook. 2B: Dan Iassogna. 3B: Charlie Reliford (crew chief).

Wrap: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, 4/12/09


Post a Comment