Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Joe West's Inning-Ending Base Touch Appeal Play

Umpiring fundamentals were on display Tuesday night in Chicago as 2B Umpire and Crew Chief Joe West taught a lesson plan of base touch appeal plays with an inning-ending double play during the Twins-White Sox game.

The Play: With one out and one on (R1), White Sox batter Leury Garcia hit a fly ball to Twins center fielder Jake Cave, who ran down and caught the batted ball for an air out as White Sox baserunner R1 Adam Engel prepared to scamper back to first base to tag up. While Engel did return to first base before a play could be made on him, the Twins noticed that Engel ran/slid past second base during the batted ball, and failed to retouch second base on his way back to first after the ball was caught.

Runner Engel fails to retouch second base.
The Call: Minnesota appealed through second baseman Jonathan Schoop that Engel failed to retouch second base and 2B Umpire Joe West was there to affirm the appeal, ruling Engel out for violation of Rule 5.06(b)(1), which states, "In advancing, a runner shall touch first, second, third and home base in order. If forced to return, he shall retouch all bases in reverse order, unless the ball is dead under any provision of Rule 5.06(c). In such cases, the runner may go directly to his original base."

The rule putting the runner out is 5.09(c), which 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."

Visit the following Related Post for a more in-depth discussion of when a runner is considered to have run "past" a base (and must therefore retouch it), but this discussion pertains to umpiring responsibility.
Related PostPast or Prior - Deciding When a Runner Has Passed a Base (7/1/17).

Mechanically Speaking: The rule and call are rather elementary for most officials, but what I want to discuss here are the mechanics: specifically what our second base umpire does and what he puts himself in position to see.

Even with a ball in CF, West watches R1.
Notice that in a crew of four with a runner on first, 2B Umpire Joe West is working on the infield grass (Deep B or Deep C are the typical "in" positions for a 2B Umpire, and that's where West starts from). With West positioned inside, he knows he won't be leaving the infield to rule on any batted balls hit to the outfield and, accordingly, he has no responsibility as to Garcia's fly ball. But he does have a responsibility for runner R1 Engel's touch of second base, and watches the runner intently as Engel slides past second base and fails to retouch the bag on his way back to first base.

West knows this is a violation of Official Baseball Rule 5.06(b)(1) and a potential appeal play pursuant to 5.09(c), and West keeps silent while remaining ready to rule on the appeal as soon as Minnesota executes it, which comes in the form of an appeal during the play—remember, the ball doesn't have to be returned to the pitcher prior to an appeal, but at the professional level, appeals must be executed during a live ball.

Little answers Engel's rules question.
Pick Up Your Crewmate: Finally, 1B Umpire Will Little is approached by a perplexed Engel and without missing a beat, explains precisely what West called and what the relevant rule is. Even if it's not your play, a good crew member is ready to explain a routine rules-related call made by a partner, as long as, naturally, the call is rather rudimentary as it was here.

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: West locks in and focuses on R1 Engel's base touch movements (CCS)


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