Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Vigilant Kellogg Eyes a Spring Hidden Ball Trick

Official Baseball Rule 8.00 concludes with General Instructions to Umpires, including guidelines for where an umpire should and should not go, what an umpire should and shouldn't do, and a review of the umpire's primary responsibility: to be in position to see every play.

A hidden ball trick in the Spring.
Sure, a byproduct of following umpiring's #1 golden rule is to get the call right, but even the rulebook itself acknowledges that baseball is a game officiated by humans: "Most important rule for umpires is always 'BE IN POSITION TO SEE EVERY PLAY'" - in all-caps, just like that. Again, the most important rule is not to get the call right, but to be in position to officiate.

The General Instructions also bring us to a Spring Training hidden ball trick, where 1B Umpire Jeff Kellogg teaches us that it's never too early to see something unusual. The hidden ball trick is, well, not exactly a trick, but a hope that the offensive team loses track of where the ball is, all while the ball remains alive and in play.

We've discussed restrictions about the hidden ball trick before (namely Rule 6.02(a)(9)'s prohibition that the pitcher cannot "stand on or astride the pitcher's plate" without the ball - in 2017, MiLB Umpire Ryan Wilhelms ejected Buies Creek Manager Omar Lopez over such an "on or astride" debate), but Kellogg's is rather simple, and touches on another key aspect of the General Instructions: "Keep your eye everlastingly on the ball while it is in play."
Related PostMiLB - Wilhelms Ejects Lopez on Hidden Ball Trick Play (5/4/17).

Angel Hernandez calls Juan Uribe out.
SIDEBAR: This play is similar to the August 10, 2013 play wherein Rays infielder Evan Longoria took custody of a baseball after a sacrifice fly and, while the ball remained live, walked behind third base where Dodgers runner Juan Uribe casually chatted with 3B Coach Tim Wallach. As soon as Uribe took his foot off the base, Longoria tagged him with the ball and 3B Umpire Angel Hernandez, having kept his eye everlastingly on the ball, called Uribe out. The play even fooled the FOX Sports broadcaster Eric Karros, who initially posited the crew had made a "bad call" on a leaving-early appeal, before returning from commercial break and complimenting Hernandez for his "great job" in calling Uribe out.
Related Video: Juan Uribe falls victim to trick as 3B Umpire Angel Hernandez stays alert (8/10/13).

Kellogg's Spring Play: After receiving a pickoff throw, first baseman Miguel Cabrera fakes a throw back to the pitcher while baserunner R1 Ehire Adrianza rises to dust himself off, having slid safely back into first base on the initial throw. As soon as Adrianza steps off the base, Cabrera applies the tag, Kellogg - who has been watching the entire time, as he should - calls the runner out, and the hidden ball illusion is complete.

Video as follows:
Alternate Link: It's never too early for a hidden ball trick (MIN)


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