Thursday, April 19, 2018

Abandonment Call in Seattle Helps M's Turn Triple Play

For all the times we have discussed Official Baseball Rule 5.09(b)(2) regarding abandonment, rarely does such a play occur. Thursday's game at Safeco Field turned the tide, as 1B Umpire Brian Gorman ruled Astros batter-runner Evan Gattis out after he started for the dugout, apparently unaware of how many outs there were, thus indicating by his actions that he was out.

Gorman and Tripp Gibson signal Gattis out.
The Play: With none out and two on (R1, R2), Gattis hit a check-swing ground ball to Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager, who stepped on third base ahead of baserunner R2 Jose Altuve's arrival, and threw to second baseman Robinson Cano, who stepped on second base ahead of baserunner R1 Carlos Correa's arrival. Although Seattle seemed quite content with the double play, batter-runner Gattis, after touching first base, made a wide turn and began jogging toward Houston's dugout on the third-base side of the field. Seattle first baseman Daniel Vogelbach called for the ball, chased after, and tagged Gattis.

The Call: After progressing a reasonable distance toward the dugout with no indication that he intended to return to first base, 1B Umpire Gorman invoked Rule 5.09(b)(2) and declared Gattis out for abandoning his effort to run the bases; Vogelbach's tag occured after Gorman's declaration of abandonment (thus, the inning ended the moment Gorman ruled that Gattis had abandoned his effort, not when the tag was made). This would be important in determining whether a runner would have scored prior to the third out, as in a time play.

SIDEBAR: Abandonment in this situation triumphs over out-of-the-base-path rule 5.09(b)(1) because the three-foot base path rule ("He runs more than three feet away from his base path to avoid being tagged unless his action is to avoid interference with a fielder fielding a batted ball") requires Gattis' actions to be an attempt to avoid being tagged. Gattis' movement stems from abandoning his effort to touch the next base, as opposed to an attempt to avoid being tagged. By the time Gattis first becomes aware of a tag attempt and begins moving to avoid being tagged, he has already been declared out for abandonment.

Gorman's out call precedes Vogelbach's tag.
OBR 5.09(b)(2): Any runner is out when: after touching first base, he leaves the base path, obviously abandoning his effort to touch the next base.

The rule's comment elucidates the principle: "Any runner after reaching first base who leaves the base path heading for his dugout or his position believing that there is no further play, may be declared out if the umpire judges the act of the runner to be considered abandoning his efforts to run the bases. Even though an out is called, the ball remains in play in regard to any other runner."

And if all that weren't enough, the Rules Committee saw fit to include a case play to illustrate the concept of abandonment: "Runner believing he is called out on a tag at first or third base starts for the dugout and progresses a reasonable distance still indicating by his actions that he is out, shall be declared out for abandoning the bases."

We have discussed the issue of a game-ending situation relative to abandonment many times over.
Related PostWalk On - Bases Loaded HBP Abandonment Forces Extras (4/6/18).

Abandonment can occur during a home run.
KEEP IN MIND: This rule also applies to potential walk-off situations. If, during a potential game-winning home run, a baserunner cuts across the field instead of completing the base touch responsibilities (e.g., if R1 touches second, but then runs back to first to celebrate and makes no effort to run the bases), that baserunner would be out for abandonment. Unless there are two out (in which case the inning is over and no following runners may score), the batter-runner would still be permitted to score. This type of abandonment is important to know, because the timing of abandonment relative to a potential "passing a preceding runner" situation would dictate the batter-runner's ability to advance. A trailing runner, obviously, cannot be declared out for passing a preceding runner if such preceding runner has already been declared out for abandonment prior to the potential passing.
Related PostCase Play 2016-11 - Time to Pass a Runner [Solved] (9/16/16).

TELL THEM APART: Running more than three feet out of the base path to avoid a tag 5.09(b)(1) can be differentiated from abandonment 5.09(b)(2) by the runner's actions: if there is intent to avoid a tag attempt, the out is 5.09(b)(1). If the reason for the runner's movement is principally "I'm not running the bases anymore," the out is 5.09(b)(2). Keep in mind that until a runner actually passes a base to which the runner is headed, abandonment has not occurred and a trailing runner may declared be out for passing. This also applies to any batter-runner who has already touched first base (or run past first base without physically touching it sans appeal). If the BR hasn't yet touched first, he can be retired by simply stepping on the base with the ball. Unlike abandonment rule 5.09(b)(2), out-of-the-base-path rule 5.09(b)(1) does apply to a runner at all times, whether or not the runner has already touched first base.
Related PostO's Lodge Protest Over Runners Passing Rule Application (4/7/18).

Video as follows:
Alternate Link: Gorman gazes at Gattis giving up, rules retreating runner retired on relinquishment (SEA)


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