Wednesday, April 9, 2014

New 2014 Rule Interpretation: Catch/Transfer Explained

"MLB changed the rule interpretation for catch/trap/transfer plays." "The ball must be controlled in the bare hand for a catch to be ruled." "MLB opened up Pandora's box on this interpretation change."

These are some of the UEFL membership's comments after five regular season plus two additional Spring Training catch/no catch calls were challenged and then confirmed via Instant Replay Review. All seven reviews resulted in "no catch" or safe calls.

MLB Replay Review 051: 3B Umpire Seth Buckminster's out call was overturned after Replay Officials determined Angels left fielder Josh Hamilton failed to catch a fly ball.

MLB Replay Review 050: 2B Umpire Phil Cuzzi's safe call was confirmed after Replay Officials agreed that Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist failed to possess and voluntarily release Yunel Escobar's lead throw in his attempt to complete a double play.

MLB Replay Review 046: 2B Umpire Jordan Baker's safe call was upheld after he ruled that Rangers SS Elvis Andrus failed to complete his catching process in a similar manner to Zobrist.

MLB Replay Review 026: 2B Umpire Kerwin Danley's safe call was confirmed by video replay after the analysis determined Tigers 2B Ian Kinsler did not catch his feed, as in Reviews 046 and 050.

MLB Replay Review 012: 2B Umpire Dale Scott's out call was overturned after replay revealed that White Sox center fielder Adam Eaton dropped a fly ball prior to completing his catch.

Spring Training Review S-61: 2B Umpire Lance Barksdale's safe call was confirmed upon challenged replay: White Sox 2B Leury Garcia did not possess the baseball.

Spring Training Review S-20: 2B Umpire Chad Whitson's out call was reversed; Angels 2B Andrew Romine's bobble was not a transfer, but a failed [missed] catch error.

Thankfully, our friends at the Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School have stepped in, care of Umpire-Empire, to confirm what we all suspected: Yes, the rule interpretation has changed for 2014.

Rule 2.00 [Catch] provides that, "In establishing the validity of the catch, the fielder shall hold the ball long enough to prove that he has complete control of the ball and that his release of the ball is voluntary and intentional. If the fielder has made the catch and drops the ball while in the act of making a throw following the catch, the ball shall be adjudged to have been caught."

In 2013, the interpretation for "Legal Catch" held that if the fielder loses the ball after simply stopping the ball's momentum and making an effort to retrieve it with a bare hand, it could be ruled "on the transfer" and a catch.

For 2014, the following material was added:
In determining whether a fielder drops the ball “while in the act of making a throw following the catch” in accordance with Rule 2.00, the umpires will determine whether the fielder obtained possession of a ball in flight but dropped the ball while in the act of making a throw during the momentum of the catch. For example, if the shortstop, in an effort to turn a double play, throws to the second baseman, who drops the ball while in the act of drawing back his arm to make a throw to first base, the second baseman shall be adjudged to have had secure control of the ball and thus the ball shall be adjudged to have been caught by the second baseman. However, it shall not be adjudged to be a catch if, while in the act of making a throw during the momentum of the catch, the fielder loses possession of the ball in the transfer (e.g., flip from the glove) before he secures the ball with his throwing hand.
The Wendelstedt School emphasized the following:
The "flip" itself is not deemed a voluntary release, even though it may be a voluntary action. This is an update you will find in the 2014 Rules and Interpretations Manual. We have removed the exclusive interpretation offered for a number of year providing that it only be an attempted voluntary release. This is no longer the case. The release must be voluntary. Additionally, this interpretation has been merged with a tag of a base as well on the front end of a double play attempt. He must secure the ball in his throwing hand before it will be deemed secure possession was made.
Given these stringent definitions, interpretations and emphases, the five plays above do not qualify for legal catch status because the fielders in each of these plays attempting to make a throw during the "momentum of the catch" and lost possession of the ball in the transfer prior to securing the ball with the throwing hand.

Had this "momentum of the catch" been completed and the ball then lost, the correct ruling would have been a catch and dropped transfer (out). Baseball's "momentum of the catch" throw has been a vital component of the vaunted middle-infielders' double play procedure for quite some time so this new interpretation will require time and patience to get used to; however, the interpretation is clear: Without allowing the momentum of the catch to complete—securing firm possession of the ball in the glove—a fielder who loses possession of the ball prior to securing it in his throwing hand will be adjudged to have dropped the throw, resulting in a no catch safe call.


Lindsay said...

Well, I will definitely say I am not a fan of this. This now has essentially turned the glove into a tool to slow down the ball and no longer an object with which to control it.

The definition of a catch still reads...A CATCH is the act of a fielder in getting secure possession in his hand or glove of a ball in flight and firmly holding it; providing he does not use his cap, protector, pocket or any other part of his uniform in getting possession...
So if this is the new interpretation, why not take the words "in his hand or glove" and change it to just "in his hand". If this is all they are looking for, then this is what it should say.
Lastly, what about a flip out of the glove that is a throw? Or, an infielder intentionally letting a ball drop to the ground after making a catch with their glove for the last out of an inning? Will these not be deemed as voluntary releases anymore because the hand wasn't used in the process.
I think they tried to make it easier to call, but in the process made it foolish.
I am just not a fan of this at all.

Lindsay said...

Instant replay...the gift that keeps on giving. I'll let this thread marinate a little while then get to today's Replay Reviews.

Lindsay said...

It think this rule change removes all judgment. It is now quite black and white.

Lindsay said...

The play that no one has talked about but I saw today in a college game is the nobody on putout on the let's say ground ball to short... Shortstop throws to 1st baseman who fields the throw cleanly and in the process of attempting to throw the ball around drops the ball.... Is this no catch by this new rule... I would think that it is.... Can't WAIT til I see this in a MLB game and it's challenged.
On a side note when's the last time ANYONE saw a fielder have the ball firmly and securely in his throwing hand and then he lost it Backwards??? IN a professional game., no less.... this isn't football for crying out loud!

Lindsay said...

Wow - the new interpretation of this rule is not good...

The implementation of instant replay is already making the umpires look bad enough - this isn't making it any better!

Lindsay said...

There was an interesting related play in the Oakland / Twins game today. Two strikes on the batter, batter swings and ticks the next pitch into the catcher's glove, and as the catcher reaches into his glove to remove the ball, it falls out. Vic Carapazza calls it foul. The umpires get together, and the call is changed to strike 3.

Lindsay said...

What about this one earlier in the Tampa game? He drops the ball from his glove and still called an out.

Lindsay said...

With a runner on first , the batter hits the ball to short who throws the ball to second base . The second baseball has control of the ball in his hand or globe with his foot on second base at that moment the second baseman has a forceout any other action should not matter.

A catch is different and rule 2:00 the catch only applies to a batted ball. The fielder has to have control of the ball and release had to be voluntary and intentional so taking the ball out of the glove is not voluntary and intentional

Lindsay said...

He completed the momentum of the catch when he slammed into the ground so under the interpretation that is a catch

Lindsay said...

Most Likely the first baseman will have stopped the momentum of the original catch. This only really applies to a quick double play

Lindsay said...

Under the rule that is no catch... probally should be a catch though hopefully over time players will learn that they must transfer the ball cleanly

Lindsay said...

Even if the momentum was stopped, the rule requires "voluntary release" and in this case there was definitely no voluntary release.

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