Monday, May 14, 2018

Twins Turn Two on Ian's Retired Runner Non-Interference

When the Official Playing Rules Committee changed the recently-retired runner's interference rule over the offseason in response to Boston's protest of an INT no-call against Yankees baserunner Matt Holliday, we pondered how long it would take for such a quirky play to occur again.

Recently retired runners may return to a base.
Well, it just did when R1 Ian Kinsler retreated and slid into first base as the Twins attempted to turn a double play with Angels batter-runner Kole Calhoun arriving at first as Minnesota fielder Joe Mauer caught a return throw.

The Play: With none out and one on (R1) in the bottom of the 12th inning of Saturday's Twins-Angels game, LA-of-A batter Calhoun hit a 1-1 offering from Twins pitcher Fernando Rodney on the ground to first baseman Mauer, who threw to shortstop Gregorio Petit to retire R1 Kinsler at second, who then threw back to Mauer in an attempt to double-up Calhoun at first base. R1 Kinsler, possibly under the mistaken assumption that Mauer had fielded the ground ball and then gone back to tag first base (which would have put out Calhoun and removed the force on Kinsler), returned and slid head first back into first base as shortstop Petit's return throw arrived in Mauer's mitt and Calhoun's foot arrived at the first base bag.

Three players came together at first base.
The Call: 2B Umpire Larry Vanover casually ruled Kinsler out at second due to the force and 1B Umpire David Rackley, most likely blocked out from observing Calhoun's foot on first base thanks to the diving Kinsler, declared Calhoun safe at first. Mauer, observing that batter-runner Calhoun had ventured to his left, into fair territory beyond first base, ran to tag Calhoun, to which 1B Umpire Rackley declined to declare Calhoun out; Minnesota Manager Paul Molitor challenged the play concerning Calhoun at first base, resulting in an overturned ruling.

Baseball amended its rule after this 2017 play.
History & Precedent: Last season, Yankees R1 Holliday did the same thing as Kinsler in extra innings at Fenway Park, sliding back into first base when batter Jacoby Ellsbury hit a ground ball to Red Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland, who threw to shortstop Xander Bogaerts to force out Holliday at second base, and back to Moreland at first as Ellsbury arrived at the base.

The only difference was that the Yankees-Red Sox play culminated with a protest after Holliday's slide prevented fielder Moreland from attempting to catch the ball, resulting in a fielder's choice with Ellsbury declared safe at first base by 1B Umpire Gabe Morales as Crew Chief Gary Cederstrom entertained Sox Manager John Farrell's argument (to no avail).
Related PostBoston Files Protest Over Odd Interference No-Call (7/15/17).

Another related play occurred in Anaheim in April 2017, when recently-retired runner R3 Ben Revere slid into third base after being tagged out in a rundown, causing fielder Kendall Graveman to fall as he attempted to hurdle the pop-up-sliding Revere, who had begun to stand up. Graveman, however, was still able to complete his attempted play, tagging out trailing baserunner Cliff Pennington to complete the double play.
Related PostCase Play 2017-4 - Hurdling a Retired Runner [Solved] (4/30/17).

Players and Rackley await a MIN decision.
The Rule: Farrell's protest was denied pursuant to Official Baseball Rule 6.01(a)(5), which states that 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."

Because of Farrell's protest, the Rules Committee amended the Official Baseball Rules during the 2017-18 offseason, inserting the following language into Rule 6.01(a)(5) Comment regarding recently-retired runner's interference (new language is underlined): "If the batter or a runner continues to advance or returns or attempts to return to his last legally touched base after he has been put out, he shall not by that act alone be considered as confusing, hindering or impeding the fielders."

Accordingly, Saturday's Twins-Angels play is legal and, had Replay Review not overturned Rackley's safe call at first base, would have otherwise stood: this is not recently-retired runner's interference; Kinsler's actions were within the rules.

SIDEBAR: When Mauer tagged out Calhoun, the only acceptable reason to declare the batter-runner out would be if he attempted to advance to second base. The "turn the wrong way" or "turn into fair territory" arguments are baseball myths—no such rule exists. The only relevant rule here is 5.09(b)(10), which states that the batter is out when: "He fails to return at once to first base after overrunning or oversliding that base. If he attempts to run to second he is out when tagged."

As for the possibility of a real-time appeal that Calhoun never touched the base, see the following:
Related PostOfficially Speaking - Hanley, an avid Hunter...of Outs (6/23/16).

And just because listening to broadcasters who don't know rules can be fun...| Video as follows:
Alternate Link: Twins turn two after review in case of acceptable retired retreat to base (MIN)


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