Saturday, April 19, 2014

Baseball Rules Series: Replay's New Normal (Fourth Out)

MLB's Instant Replay Review introduced a new fourth out to the game, a false fourth out of sorts, as exemplified during the Braves-Mets game Friday night. The Rays, for instance, ran "fourth out" drills during Spring Training practices, but this marks the first false fourth out situation to arise during a regular season affair.

Umpires Hoberg, Wegner, Hallion & Cooper.
With two out and one on in the bottom of the second inning, Mets batter Travis d'Arnaud hit a 3-2 slider from then-no-hitter hopeful Braves pitcher Aaron Harang on the ground to second baseman Dan Uggla, who threw to first baseman Freddie Freeman as d'Arnaud arrived at first base, ruled out by 1B Umpire Eric Cooper. Sensing a challengeable play at first, F3 Freeman quickly wheeled and fired the ball to third base, where F5 Chris Johnson and Mets baserunner R1 Lucas Duda converged upon the hot corner, Duda tagged while off the base for a potential fourth out, as ruled by 3B Umpire Pat Hoberg.

After the play, Mets Manager Terry Collins visited Cooper to discuss the close play at first base and to consider using his challenge; however, as Hoberg mechanized, Duda was the "fourth out" at third base and, had Collins challenged and the out call at first been overturned via Replay Review, Duda would have become the official third out of the inning attempting to advance to third base.

The challenge, however, would have the very real-world effect of breaking up Harang's no-hit bid.

Replay Review-inspired fourth out situations join the already-in-existence appeal play fourth out in which an appeal on a baserunner made after the "third out" of the inning is recorded will have the effect of superseding the real-time third out and instead become the official third out. For instance, with one out, R2 and R3, B1 hits a line drive caught on the fly by F1. R2 and R3 were running on contact and have no hope of getting back to their bases to tag. Seeing this, F1 casually throws the ball to F6, who slowly strolls over and tags second base for the third out of the inning (R2 retired). R3, however, never stopped running and touched home plate prior to F6's touch of second base. If the defensive team appeals R3's violation at third base, R3 becomes the third out of the inning in order to cancel the score. If the defense doesn't appeal R3's violation, R3's run counts. This situation occurred during a Dodgers-Diamondbacks game and is documented in the UEFL Series: Baseball Rules in the Real World (Fourth Out).

Wrap: Atlanta Braves vs. New York Mets, 4/18/14
Video: With two out, after a close play at first, 1B Freddie Freeman gets a fourth out just in case (ATL)


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