Thursday, August 16, 2018

Commentary Critique - Ball is Live After Missed Base

Welcome back to Commentary Critique, where we respond to a broadcaster's statement about the rules of baseball with book-supported analysis. In this edition, we listen to YES Network's summation about a runner's missed base during Thursday's Rays-Yankees game.

Appeal failure leads to Pham's advance.
The Play: With none out and two on (R1, R3), Rays batter Tommy Pham doubled to Yankees left fielder Shane Robinson, scoring Rays baserunner R3 Joey Wendle as R1 Jake Bauers attempted to advance to third base as Robinson's throw arrived in third baseman Miguel Andujar's glove. Bauers successfully slid to avoid Andujar's tag, failing to touch third base in the process, and continued advancing toward home plate, where he was ultimately tagged out by Andujar.

The Call: 2B Umpire Nic Lentz (3B Umpire Jordan Baker was in the outfield due to the rotation play, leaving Lentz to cover the play at third base) kept play alive and made no call until Andujar physically tagged Bauers, upon which HP Umpire Jerry Layne declared Bauers out and U2 Lentz called batter-runner Pham safe at third base.

Commentary Critique, Statement: As Yankees Manager Aaron Boone ("10% Boone") exited the dugout to argue the call, Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay surmised that the umpires should have declared baserunner Bauers out after he passed third and continued toward home plate without having touched third base.

Said Kay, "Once he takes off for home, the third base umpire should call him out and you can defend third against Pham. Instead you go into a full rundown that isn't needed, and that allows Pham to get to third."

Boone argues the call with Layne & Gibson.
Commentary Critique, QOC: This statement is inaccurate (QOCN). While advancing past a base without touching it is illegal, the defense must still put out the violative runner, either via a tag while off his base, or via claiming violation of the rules by virtue of an appeal. The ball remains live and "Time" shall not be called simply because a runner failed to touch a base. A runner is considered to have achieved a base when he passes it, whether or not he physically touches it.

Commentary Correction: If Kay's statement were to be accurate, it should have been, "Once he takes off for home, the third baseman should appeal to the umpire that the runner missed third base, which would allow him to defend third against Pham. Instead, the fielder goes into a rundown that isn't needed, and that allows Pham to get to third."

The Rule: Official Baseball Rule 5.09(b)(4) is the rule that describes how the Yankees retired Bauers during this play: "Any runner is out when—He is tagged, when the ball is alive, while off his base."

OBR 5.09(c)(2) states, "Any runner shall be called out, on appeal, when—With the ball in play, while advancing or returning to a base, he fails to touch each base in order before he, or a missed base, is tagged."

Diagram of when a runner passes a base.
This appeal procedure under 5.09(c)(2) references violation by the offense for failing to satisfy Rule 5.06(b)(1), which states, "In advancing, a runner shall touch first, second, third and home base in order."

This appeal can only be effected when the runner has run past the base and continued to advance or made no attempt to return to (re)touch it (e.g., overrunning first base without touching it...see references section below). Regardless of whether or not the runner has physically touched the base, said runner is considered to have passed a base "if he has both feet on the ground beyond the back edge of the base or beyond the edge of the base in the direction to which he is advancing."

Conclusion: In this case, R1 Bauers clearly runs (or slides) past third base without touching it. As previously stated, the ball remains live during the entirety of this play, whether or not an appeal is made.

Bauers briefly considers trying to touch third.
Once Bauers continues his advancement having failed to touch third base, the appeal may be executed by communicating to the umpire an intention to appeal while tagging the allegedly missed base. Had F5 Andujar tagged third base while holding the ball as R1 Bauers was running home, the proper call would be to declare Bauers out on appeal for missing third base. Obviously, the runner may be tagged out while standing off his base, as in Rule 5.09(b)(4), but this is not an appeal play unless the tagging fielder makes it clear to the umpire that he is appealing the runner's baserunning violation.

Why is this distinction important? If, with R1 and R3, there were two outs and R1 Bauers missed second base on Pham's hit to the outfield, and the defense successfully appealed that Bauers missed second base, then the appeal would result in both a force out and the third out of the inning, meaning that R3 Wendle's run would not count and the batter would not be credited with a hit.

Naturally, the defense could get both the third out via a standard 5.09(b)(4) tag and a fourth out via appeal (the fourth out would take precedence over the third out, thus becoming the official third out).

References: The so-called real-time appeal play is a rare, but quite practical occurrence in baseball.
Related PostRare Real-Time Appeal Retires Runner over Retouch Rule (6/15/17).
Related PostOfficially Speaking - Hanley, an avid Hunter...of Outs (6/23/16).
Related PostUEFL Series: Baseball Rules in the Real World (Fourth Out) (1/18/14).

Video as follows:
Alternate Link: Baserunner Bauers passes third without touching and is tagged out near home (NYY)


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