Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Rule 6.08(c): To Accept or Decline Catcher's Interference

Yankees Manager Joe Girardi declined an interference penalty during the Cubs-Yankees game in New York Wednesday afternoon, putting into play the rarely seen catcher's interference rule wherein the team elects to accept the play in lieu of the interference base award.

Classic CI: Ellsbury's bat hits Baker's glove.
While Yankees play-by-play man Michael Kay stated, "Now they're saying that Gardiner is going to score!...They're saying that Ellsbury is out?" before defeatedly admitting, "I'm lost...I don't know what just happened, I'm not going to try and fake it here—I have no idea," Cubs broadcasters Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies sat in momentary silence and listened to home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, who was wearing a microphone as he discussed the play with Girardi. Only then did Kasper conclude, "He'll take the run instead of the base, something you don't see that often." Added Deshaies, "If you've got a chance to take the run, then absolutely."

In the 5th inning, with one out and one runner on third base, Yankees batter Jacoby Ellsbury hit a 0-0 curveball from Cubs pitcher Jason Hammel softly on the ground to Hammel, who tagged Ellsbury as he ran towards first base and R3 Brett Gardner jogged through home plate; however, Ellsbury's bat had been impeded by Cubs catcher John Baker's glove, the contact qualifying as catcher's interference as defined by Rule 2.00 [Interference], which states, "Defensive interference is an act by a fielder that hinders or prevents a batter from hitting a pitch." The most common defensive interference is catcher's interference wherein a catcher's glove prevents a hitter's bat from completing its natural swing.

Fortunately, to avoid confusion, the Major League Baseball Playing Rules Committee in 2013 deleted the last sentence of Rule 2.00, which at the time stated, "On any interference the ball is dead." As the Committee noted in its Summary of Rule Changes for 2013, deleting this sentence was necessary in order to account for cases where interference does not result in an immediate dead ball. Among the examples listed was catcher's interference.

That brings us to Wednesday at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, where the Baker-Ellsbury catcher's interference penalty would have awarded B1 Ellsbury first base while sending R3 Gardner back to third base with one out (catcher's interference, where the penalty is accepted, is a dead ball).

Instead, Girardi wanted his run and sacrificed Ellsbury to get it—by declining the penalty, Girardi elected to take the play: B1 Ellsbury out on the unassisted putout to the pitcher and R3 Gardner safe at home, the RBI to Ellsbury. Two out.

Catcher's Interference is the rare instance where a managers are empowered to make a decision like their football coaching counterparts—to accept or decline the penalty. Rule 6.08(c):
[The batter becomes a runner and is entitled to first base without liability to be put out (provided he advances to and touches first base when] the catcher or any fielder interferes with him. If a play follows the interference, the manager of the offense may advise the plate umpire that he elects to decline the interference penalty and accept the play. Such election shall be made immediately at the end of the play. However, if the batter reaches first base on a hit, an error, a base on balls, a hit batsman, or otherwise, and all other runners advance at least one base, the play proceeds without reference to the interference.
Rule 6.08(c) Comment addresses the specific case of a manager declining the interference penalty and accordingly instructs the umpire to keep the play alive, akin to how Obstruction B does not immediately kill the play: "If catcher’s interference is called with a play in progress the umpire will allow the play to continue because the manager may elect to take the play."

Notice plate umpire Reynolds allowed the play to continue through to its completion (though he almost came close to killing it prematurely), which provided Girardi with the opportunity to weigh his options and then strategically decide to decline the interference and accept the play as is.

Video: Catcher's interference penalty is declined as Girardi prefers his Yankees score the run (NYY)


Lindsay said...

Are you sure he was arguing the balk no call and not balls and strikes? There was a questionable called strike during Amarista's at bat that the dugout got pretty upset over.

Lindsay said...

Another call that should have been overturned...

Lindsay said...

During the second game tonight Len Kasper referenced a story from Joe Girardi's days as a Cubs catcher where an opposing batter hit a home run but hit Girardi's glove in the process and said that the manager declined the interference and took the result. Your rule provided above says that should not have been allowed, was the rule different then or was the umpire in that situation just wrong?

Lindsay said...

Anyone else think Catcher's Interference should be Catcher's Obstruction seeing as it's a defensive mistake?

Lindsay said...

When "on any interference the ball is dead" remark was struck from the book in 2013, it removed one of the [many] documented errors and inconsistencies in the Official Baseball Rules. The option to decline the CI penalty was available back then as well, the wording of OBR simply made it more confusing to parse the rules and resolve the conflict.

Lindsay said...

One of the few things in FED that make sense.

Lindsay said...

this call was 'ALMOST' blown by cubby killing the play- the arms made it about half way up.

Lindsay said...

I don't think Cubby was the PU there…regardless…yes, his arms started to come up.

Post a Comment