Sunday, April 30, 2017

Case Play 2017-4 - Hurdling a Retired Runner [Solved]

A recently retired runner is guilty of interference upon hindering or impeding the defense's ensuing play after being put out. Having recently discussed diving over a fielder, we now turn our attention to hurdling over a runner.

Graveman tags two runners as Layne looks on.
The Play: With none out and two on (R1, R3), Angels batter Juan Graterol hit a ground ball back to A's pitcher Kendall Graveman, who tagged out Angels baserunner R3 Ben Revere in a rundown between third base and home plate, while trailing baserunner R1 Cliff Pennington attempted to advance to third base. After retiring Revere, Graveman then attempted to jump over the sliding Revere in an effort to tag out Pennington. Replays indicate that as Graveman began his jump, Revere completed his unsuccessful "pop-up" slide and accordingly began to stand, causing contact with the hurdling Graveman. Graveman's momentum allowed him to complete the play and successfully tag Pennington for a double play in front of 3B Umpire and Crew Chief Jerry Layne.

Is this interaction permissible contact?
Case Play Question: Assume Graveman was unable to complete the double play; that instead of rolling into Pennington, Graveman rolled past the trail runner without touching him. Note the retired baserunner Revere's contact with Graveman's undercarriage during the hurdling action. Based on Rule 6.01(a)(5) [see rules library, below], would the proper call on Pennington be "safe," due to no tag having been made, or "out," by virtue of Revere's actions after having been put out? If Pennington is to be declared out, would it still be interference had Revere not attempted to stand or "pop up," even if the same contact occurred?

Answer: Rule 6.01(a)(5) Comment granting the retired runner protection from interference by solely continuing to advance is interpreted as allowing the retired runner to continue to normally run the bases in the immediate aftermath of his retirement. For instance, the Wendelstedt manual specifies the precise case of a batter-runner who continues running to first base after being retired (say, on a caught bunt or a third strike that results in an out [e.g., a dropped third strike with first base occupied and less than two out]), and specifies that the retired batter-runner may be guilty of retired runner's interference if he interferes with the play being made back into first base while running outside of the running lane.

Retired (or just-scored) runner's INT.
It may help to considered the attached image of a runner colliding with a catcher. In April 2013, Marlins baserunner Juan Pierre scored on an RBI single by batter Greg Dobbs when the Mets unsuccessfully attempted to throw Pierre out at home plate, causing catcher John Buck to move to the third base line extended edge of the dirt circle in order to field the wide throw home. As Buck retrieved the ball and prepared to throw to second base in order to make a play on batter-runner Dobbs, already-scored runner Pierre crashed into him, preventing the play at second base. HP Umpire Jim Joyce ruled Dobbs out at second base for retired/just-scored runner Pierre's interference.

The distinction to make here is a retired runner completing his play or making a legitimate attempt to run the bases versus a retired runner moving unnaturally or along a part of the field that would not be a legal way to run the bases: for the retired batter-runner running to first base, that would be running outside of his running lane, and for the just-scored baserunner at home plate, that would be running into the catcher well away from home plate.

We obviously see many plays involving sliding runners going into bases that result in their retirement, and—assuming their slide doesn't violate any willful and deliberate, anti-collision, or slide rule interference clause—the resulting contact is generally legal and not retired runner's interference, even when it hinders the fielder's ensuing play on another runner.

In Anaheim and Case Play 2017-4, baserunner Revere legally slid into third base in an attempt to elude Graveman's tag. This is a legal running of the bases and itself is not cause for retired runner's interference. That said, if the umpire were to rule that Revere's attempt to rise while Graveman was in the process of hurdling what he thought was a player lying on the ground constituted an unnatural maneuver by the recently-retired baserunner: for instance, if the ruling was that Revere's movements were not in concert with a legitimate attempt to run the bases—or, obviously, if Revere's movements were judged to be an intentional attempt to interfere—then the proper call would be a double play due to retired runner's interference.

Official Baseball Rules Library
OBR 6.01(a)(5): "It is interference by a batter or runner when—Any batter or runner who has just been put out, or any runner who has just scored, hinders or impedes any following play being made on a runner. Such runner shall be declared out for the interference of his teammate."
OBR 6.01(a)(5) Comment: "If the batter or a runner continues to advance after he has been put out, he shall not by that act alone be considered as confusing, hindering or impeding the fielders."
Definition of Terms (INTERFERENCE [a]): "Offensive interference is an act by the team at bat which interferes with, obstructs, impedes, hinders or confuses any fielder attempting to make a play."

Video available via "Read More"
Alternate Link: Graveman completes athletic double play by jumping over Revere (OAK)


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