Sunday, December 16, 2018

ABL Ejection - Stewart Howe (Lim/Korea [HP Collision])

HP Umpire Stewart Howe ejected Geelong-Korea 2B Jong-Hyuk Lim (home plate collision/illegal contact; QOCU) in the bottom of the 3rd inning of the Auckland Tuatara-Geelong-Korea game. With one out and two on (R1, R3), baserunner R3 Lim attempted to steal home on throw from Tuatara catcher Taka Kaneko's to shortstop Taylor Snyder, Snyder catching Kaneko's throw in front of second base and returning the ball to F2 Kaneko as R3 Lim arrived at home plate. Replays indicate Kaneko tagged the runner well in advance of home plate and, in doing so, legally blocked the runner's access to home plate by virtue of Kaneko possessing the baseball prior to the runner's arrival, and that R3 Lim ran into the catcher, resulting in injury.* At the time of the ejection, Geelong-Korea was leading, 1-0. Geelong-Korea ultimately won the contest, 3-0.

*Rule 6.01(i)(1) pertains to the baserunner's responsibility during a home plate collision situation and states, "A runner attempting to score may not deviate from his direct pathway to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher (or other player covering home plate), or otherwise initiate an avoidable collision." 6.01(i)(1) comment states, in part, "The failure by the runner to make an effort to touch the plate, the runner’s lowering of the shoulder, or the runner’s pushing through with his hands, elbows or arms, would support a determination that the runner deviated from the pathway in order to initiate contact with the catcher in violation of Rule 6.01(i), or otherwise initiated a collision that could have been avoided...

"If a catcher blocks the pathway of the runner, the umpire shall not find that the runner initiated an avoidable collision in violation of this Rule 6.01(i)(1)."

Is R3 legitimately trying to reach the plate?
Replays indicate R3 ran toward the foul territory side of the baseline and remained rather upright such that he did not lower his shoulder or push through the catcher, as in 6.01(i)(l) Comment. R3 also stepped on home plate, or by his actions, indicated an attempt to reach home plate.

Gil's Call: I don't believe the runner has deviated from his direct pathway to to the plate to initiate an avoidable collision. The runner has made an effort to touch the plate, kept his shoulder upright, and has not pushed through with his arms, hands, or elbows. The catcher legally blocks the runner's path by virtue of possessing the baseball. This is a legal collision and the runner is out for having been tagged while off his base.

To review, under OBR, this likely is not a 6.01(i)(1) violation on the runner's behalf and, even if it were, is not an automatic ejection using the code under which MLB/MiLB abides. ABL guidelines may vary, which may explain the basis for this ejection.

NFHS/NCAA Rules Differences: That said, this may be deemed malicious contact under the NFHS/high school ruleset, which does carry the penalty of ejection. Obviously, the Force Play Slide Rule (FPSR) does not apply here as this was not a force play. NCAA/college Rule 8-7 pertains to collisions and states, in part, "If the defensive player blocks the base (plate) or base line with clear possession of the ball, the runner may make contact, slide into or make contact with a fielder as long as the runner is making a legitimate attempt to reach the base (plate). Contact above the waist that was initiated by the base runner shall not be judged as an attempt to reach the base or plate." If the contact is flagrant or malicious, the runner is ejected from the game.

Wrap: Auckland Tuatara vs. Geelong-Korea (ABL DH Game 2), 12/15/18 | Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Howe ejects Lim after legal home plate collision on cut-off caught stealing (ABLTV)


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