Monday, March 2, 2020

Case Play 2020-1 - Home Plate Standoff & Brawl

A runner attempting to score fails to touch home plate as the catcher misses his tag; it's happened before, but in this Toledo-Alabama State game, it will spark a fight and ejections.

The umpire initially withholds the call—signaling neither safe nor out—and waits for a tag or touch. Yet it soon becomes apparent that neither player is budging: a stalemate and standoff ensues with the catcher not wanting to cede his position, wary of trailing runners attempting to advance, while the runner who passed home plate without touching it doesn't want to run into an out.

Eagle eye sidebar: Notice the on-deck batter's location relative to the leading runner after he passes home plate, but before he is declared safe or out.

What's the Call? Is this an appeal play? In this situation, both the preceding and trailing runners are ultimately declared out via tag when both runner slide toward home plate (the fielder then unnecessarily tags the first runner for a second time, which incites a benches-clearing brawl), but should the preceding runner have been declared out prior to the odd sequence at home plate?
Remember, while this is a college play subject to the NCAA rulebook, we are looking for a response that falls under the professional level's Official Baseball Rules code, as well as the college ruling. This video comes to us from @FoulPoleSports.

Rules Library
OBR 5.09(b)(1): "Any runner is out when—He runs more than three feet away from his base path to avoid being tagged unless his action is to avoid interference with a fielder fielding a batted ball. A runner’s base path is established when the tag attempt occurs and is a straight line from the runner to the base he is attempting to reach safely."
OBR 5.09(b)(12): "In running or sliding for home base, he fails to touch home base and makes no attempt to return to the base, when a fielder holds the ball in his hand, while touching home base, and appeals to the umpire for the decision."
OBR 5.09(b)(12) Comment: "This rule applies only where runner is on his way to the bench and the catcher would be required to chase him. It does not apply to the ordinary play where the runner misses the plate and then immediately makes an effort to touch the plate before being tagged. In that case, runner must be tagged."
MLB Umpire Manual Interpretation [Runner Misses Home Plate]: "In such cases, base path rules still apply to the runner."
NCAA 8-6-4: "A runner shall be called out on specific appeals that occur as a result of a base runner error when—The runner does not touch home plate and does not make an attempt to touch it. The fielder may touch either the runner or home plate."

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Catcher-Runner Standoff Leads to Brawl - College Baseball Case Play (FPS/CCS)


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