Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Dropped Third Strike Interference Clearly Hinders F2

Much has been made of an uncaught third strike that bounces off the batter and away from the catcher—is this interference? This Ask the UEFL article reviews Official Baseball Rule 6.01(a)(1) and answers that question with a play from Milwaukee in which umpires ultimately ruled interference.

Play: With less than two out and a runner on third, Brewers batter Trent Grisham swung and missed at a 1-2 breaking ball from Padres pitcher Trey Wingenter. The ball bounced off the dirt and off of catcher Francisco Mejia, back toward Grisham as he took off for first base. Replays indicate that as Grisham ran toward first, he accidentally (unintentionally) kicked the loose ball with his left foot, causing the ball to bound away from Mejia, who after scrambling to retrieve the ball, threw poorly to first base, allowing a runner to score from third base.

The crew convenes to discuss the INT call.
Call/Rule: Originally no-called by HP Umpire Tom Woodring, Crew Chief Jerry Meals convened his crew and Woodring ultimately ruled Grisham out for interference pursuant to OBR Rule 6.01(a)(1), which states, "After a third strike that is not caught by the catcher, the batter-runner clearly hinders the catcher in his attempt to field the ball. Such batter-runner is out, the ball is dead, and all other runners return to the bases they occupied at the time of the pitch."

Analysis: This is the correct call, for the interference standard here is whether the batter-runner "clearly hinders" the catcher. In this case, the hindrance is fairly obvious, as the batter inadvertently kicked the ball significantly away from the catcher such that he was "clearly" hindered. This also is a great use of crew consultation to get the call right.

Note that 6.01(a)(1) Comment supports this position: "If the pitched ball deflects off the catcher or umpire and subsequently touches the batter-runner, it is not considered interference unless, in the judgment of the umpire, the batter-runner clearly hinders the catcher in his attempt to field the ball."

INT creates a dead ball situation.
Because the catcher was hindered, and interference pursuant to OBR 6.01(a)(1) results in a dead ball, Grisham was properly ruled out on the play. The dead ball at the moment of interference kills the play at that time, which is another way to say that the subsequent action of the catcher throwing wildly to first base never officially happened (since the ball was already dead prior to his throw).

Gil's Call: This play was the intent of MLB's rules change several years ago for 6.01(a)(1): It is interference because the batter—albeit accidentally—kicked the ball away from the catcher after having struck out and become a runner. In my opinion, this is "clearly" hindrance.

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Dropped K3 INT scenario in MIL (CCS)


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