Monday, May 6, 2019

Case Play 2019-1 - Modified Catch & Carry [Solved]

After HP Umpire Will Little called "Time" when Nationals catcher Yan Gomes stepped into the dugout while keeping his mitt and the ball on the playing field, Joe West's crew awarded Padres baserunner R1 Eric Hosmer second base and R2 Manuel Margot home plate, prompting a nearly 10-minute Replay Review when Nationals Manager Dave Martinez challenged the crew's decision to score baserunner R2 Margot.

The Play (Saturday): With one out and the bases loaded Saturday night in DC, Padres batter Hunter Renfroe hit a 1-2 slider from Nationals pitcher Matt Grace on a fly ball to center fielder Victor Robles for a sacrifice fly, Padres baserunner R3 Manny Machado scoring. Robles' subsequent throw to catcher Yan Gomes bounced off Gomes' mitt and toward the Padres' third base dugout, enabling baserunner R2 Manuel Margot to advance to third base and baserunner R1 Eric Hosmer to advance toward second base. Gomes, in an effort to keep the ball on the playing field and out of the dugout, caught the ball in his mitt, and kept his mitt on the playing surface, while running into the dugout with both feet to keep his balance, before exiting the dugout with ball in hand.

Catcher Hedges also played a wild throw.
The Play (Sunday): With one out and none on Sunday, Nationals batter Howie Kendrick hit a ground ball to Padres first baseman Hosmer, who threw wildly beyond first base, backed up by catcher Austin Hedges, who similarly attempted to save the loose ball from rolling into the opposing dugout. Unlike Gomes, however, Hedges placed his gloved hand in order to tap the ball, keeping the ball rolling freely along the warning track while he stepped into the dugout. Hedges then exited the dugout and, after placing a foot onto the warning track, retrieved the ball.

Gomes disagrees with decision to score R2.
The Call (Saturday): HP Umpire Will Little called "Time" and ruled that because Gomes left the field of play, the ball was dead. As a result, the umpires awarded R2 Margot home plate and R1 Hosmer second base, ruling that Hosmer hadn't yet reached second base at the time Gomes stepped out of play, while Margot had already achieved third base.

Replay Review Decision: Following Nats skipper Martinez's dispute with the crew's runner placement in awarding R2 Margot home (and R1 Hosmer second base), the Replay Official affirmed Margot's placement, but overturned Hosmer's status, instead placing Hosmer at third base, resulting in the rare Manager's Challenge that actually hurt the team requesting the review.
West and crew discusses the play.

So while this statistically is a Manager's Challenge that Martinez won by virtue of the overturned call, the result is a Pyrrhic victory: TSP increases, but the baserunner advances an extra 90 feet.

Case Play Question (Saturday): Given that Replay Review placed Hosmer at third base, was this the proper ruling (not necessarily runner placement, but was the one-base award from time of the dead ball proper?)? Is this a catch-and-carry, given that the fielder did not physically carry the ball out of play?

The Call (Sunday): HP Umpire Joe West ruled the ball live and in play as Nationals batter-runner Kendrick took second base on Hosmer's throwing error.

Case Play Question (Sunday): Was the Hedges play properly ruled a live ball? After stepping out of play, was Hedges entitled to return to the playing field and legally play the ball?

Answer: The first thing to notice about the OBR library is that 5.06(b)(3) refers to a catch of a fly ball. According to the Definition of Terms, "A FLY BALL is a batted ball that goes high in the air in flight." This is reinforced by the following: "A CATCH is the act of a fielder in getting secure possession in his hand or glove of a ball in flight and firmly holding it."

In other words, 5.06(b)(3) applies to batted balls, which these plays were not; the ball was thrown. By rule, this isn't a catch; it's a false catch, to play on the terminology.

Rule 5.06(b)(4)(G) states that runners, including the batter-runner, advance: "Two bases when, with no spectators on the playing field, a thrown ball goes into the stands, or into a bench..."

SIDEBAR: Another way you can tell 5.06(b)(3) applies only to a batted ball is that the batter is explicitly excluded from the base award. Why? Because the batter is out on the caught fly ball.

Because this wasn't a first play by an infielder, the runners are awarded two bases from the time of the throw (first play by an infielder would be two bases from time of pitch). On Saturday, that places R2 at home and R1 at third base. Thus, Replay Review in overturning the crew's placement of R1 at second base corrected far more than a judgment call—it fixed an incorrect application of the rules. Under no circumstances with a thrown ball going out of play would R1 be awarded one base.

As for the difference between Saturday & Sunday, the MLB Umpire Manual States, "A fielder is considered to be in the dugout—and therefore unable to make a valid catch—when the fielder has one or both feet on the surface inside the dugout."

It also states, "If a fielder, after making a legal catch on the playing surface, steps or falls into any out-of-play area at any point while in possession of the ball...the ball shall be dead."

This is where we take a surgeon's knife to the rule to piece together only what is applicable. On Saturday, catcher Gomes was considered in the dugout when he stepped into it. Because he retained possession of the ball while in the dugout, the ball was dead. On Sunday, catcher Hedges was no longer in possession of the ball when he left the playing field and stepped into the dugout. Similarly, he returned to the field by stepping out of the dugout and back onto the warning track before picking up the baseball, thus keeping play alive.

Official Baseball Rules Library
OBR 5.06(b)(3): "Each runner, other than the batter, may without liability to be put out, advance one base when—A fielder, after catching a fly ball, steps or falls into any out-of-play area."
OBR 5.06(b)(3)(C) Comment: "If a fielder, after having made a legal catch, should step or fall into any out-of-play area, the ball is dead and each runner shall advance one base, without liability to be put out, from his last legally touched base at the time the fielder entered such out-of-play area."
OBR 5.09(a)(1) Comment: "A fielder may reach into, but not step into, a dugout to make a catch, and if he holds the ball, the catch shall be allowed. A fielder, in order to make a catch on a foul ball nearing a dugout or other out-of-play area (such as the stands), must have one or both feet on or over the playing surface (including the lip of the dugout) and neither foot on the ground inside the dugout or in any other out-of-play area. Ball is in play, unless the fielder, after making a legal catch, steps or falls into a dugout or other out-of-play area, in which case the ball is dead. Status of runners shall be as described in Rule 5.06(b)(3)(C) Comment."

Videos (Saturday/Gomes & Sunday/Hedges) x2 as follows:
Alternate Link: Padres score two and advance a runner to third on reviewed sacrifice fly (SD)
Second Video: Hedges attempts to save a wild throw by batting the ball on the field (WAS)


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