Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Case Play 2015-01, A Base Coach's Helping Hand? [Solved]

A base coach and runner collided for Case Play #1 of the 2015 UEFL season. The play in Texas occurred in the bottom of the 1st inning of the Angels-Rangers game. With one out and runners on first and third, Rangers batter Prince Fielder hit a 0-0 fastball from Angels pitcher Matt Shoemaker on a line drive to center fielder Mike Trout as R3 Leonys Martin Scored and R1 Adrian Beltre passed third base. As R1 Beltre rounded the bag, 3B Coach Tony Beasley put his hands up to signal Beltre to stop and return to third base. Beltre's momentum then carried him into Beasley and the two made contact before Beltre reversed course and return to third base as Angels shortstop Erick Aybar poised to throw. Angels Manager Mike Scioscia discussed the play with 3B Umpire Dan Iassogna, who ruled the event a legal play.

Case Play Question 2015-01: Was this a legal play? Why? If not, what is the proper call and how shall the next play proceed (number of outs, runner placement, etc.)?
Participation in this discussion is worth two points for UEFL owners. (This is technically the second CP of the 2015 UEFL season. The first was our ABL Case Play in November 2014. Points for the ABL play will be added alongside those awarded for 2015-01.)
NOTE: A relevant play, also involving the Rangers at third base, occurred vs. Minnesota in 2010.

Case Play Answer 2015-01: Rule 7.09(h) states that interference occurs when "In the judgment of the umpire, the base coach at third base, or first base, by touching or holding the runner, physically assists him in returning to or leaving third base or first base." For the penalty of interference, the baserunner may be declared out. There are two main questions to be answered when it comes to Rule 7.09(h): First, did contact occur (A: Yes). Second, did 3BC physically assist R1 in returning or advancing? The key question as to this second criterion, as eluded to in the responses, is if, in the mind of U3, this contact assisted the runner in returning to third base.

According to Wendelstedt Umpire School Chief of Instruction Brent Rice, "When determining this, the following should apply: If the contact is unintentional, the umpire should require a higher level of proof that the contact assisted the runner. If the contact is intentional, the umpire should enforce the penalty. By his own actions, the base coach is telling you he is assisting him."

Video evidence suggests the contact between R1 and 3BC was unintentional, which thus would require that higher level of proof Brent referenced. In U3's mind, assistance was not proven to that higher standard, making this play legal and not interference.

Thanks to all participants, each of whom shall receive two points for discussion of this play.

Wrap: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim vs. Texas Rangers, 4/13/15
Video: Beltre aggressively rounds third base and runs into coach Beasley, acting as a stop sign (TEX)


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