Thursday, July 25, 2019

Obstruction in Chicago - Fielder Must Avoid Runner

1B Umpire Chris Segal's obstruction call during Thursday's Twins-White Sox game in Chicago perturbed some Minnesota media after MIN infielder Jonathan Schoop's botched rundown of Adam Engel resulted in an automatic base award, by rule the proper call, instead of an expected out.

The Play: With the bases empty in the bottom of the 3rd inning, White Sox batter Engel hit a ground ball to Twins third baseman Luis Arraez, who momentarily bobbled the ball, leading Engel to try and advance to second base. Arraez, however, recovered quickly and threw to second baseman Schoop ahead of Engel's arrival. This spurred Engel to retreat toward first base as Schoop pursued. As Engel neared the first base bag, Schoop threw to first baseman Miguel Sano as Engel changed direction and began to run back toward second base, interacting with Schoop, whose attempt to vacate Engel's pathway came up a bit short.

The Call: 1B Umpire Segal motioned "Time" and ruled obstruction, Type A (type 1), as there was a play being made on the runner at the time of the obstruction; Segal awarded Engel second base. Pursuant to Rule 6.01(h)(1), "If a play is being made on the obstructed runner, or if the batter-runner is obstructed before he touches first base, the ball is dead...The obstructed runner shall be awarded at least one base beyond the base he had last legally touched before the obstruction."

The Explanation: This edition of Commentary Critique gives credit to the Chicago White Sox broadcast team, which correctly portrayed the fielder's responsibility to avoid the runner in this situation. Once the fielder (Schoop) throws the ball, he is no longer involved in the play and must ensure he does not hinder, impede, interfere, or otherwise obstruct the runner's attempt to navigate the bases.

As the broadcast additionally states, this is not an "out of the base path" issue because there is no tag attempt on the runner at the time he runs into Schoop. The fielder must vacate for benefit of the runner and even if the runner initiates contact, it is obstruction because the fielder has broken a rule by not yielding the right of way to the runner (unless the runner unreasonably goes above and beyond by chasing the fielder in order to initiate illegal contact...this is clearly not the case here).

It does not matter if the runner would have otherwise been out in the rundown...obstruction A kills the play and mandates a base award. OBS A is strict with little wiggle room.

Finally, the runner creates his own base path and the base path should not be confused with the baseline (the baseline is the direct line between two bases; the base path only applies when a tag attempt is made on the runner and is the line between the runner and base he is attempting to reach).

Predictable Sidebar: The fact that first base umpire Segal made this call couldn't dissuade an unhappy Minnesota media from taking a potshot at 3B Umpire Angel Hernandez as the attached image illustrates. Not because Hernandez did anything during this play (he had nothing to do with the call, being at least 100 feet away when it was made), but simply because he exists and has sued the league based on what he believes, a cardinal sin in the eyes of many a fan.
Related PostBallad of Angel Hernandez - An Umpire's Controversy (10/9/18).

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Ump Segal calls Obstruction A in Chicago, awarding runner 2nd base (CCS)


Post a Comment