Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Kruk Hawks Joe as Crew Calls Backswing Interference

When HP Umpire Vic Carapazza and Crew Chief Joe West enforced the proper penalty for backswing interference (Rule 6.03(a)(3) Comment) during Tuesday's Phillies-Nationals game, Philadelphia broadcaster John Kruk expressed frustration, disgust, and, most notably, a thorough lack of understanding or regard for the Official Baseball Rules.

The following sequence describes what happens when the momentum of a batter's backswing (OBR/NCAA) or follow-through (NFHS) carries the bat behind his back and inadvertently makes contact with the catcher behind him as the catcher attempts to make a play.

Note: In high school (NFHS), backswing denotes pre-pitch bat movement (e.g., when the batter is first getting set in the box) whereas follow-through denotes post-pitch movement.

The Play
: With one out and one on (R2), Phillies batter Alec Bohm swung at and missed hitting a 2-0 fastball from Nationals pitcher Daniel Hudson as Phillies baserunner R2 Roman Quinn attempted to steal third base. After receiving the pitch, Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki attempted to throw Quinn out at third base, with Quinn sliding into the base ahead of third baseman Brock Holt's tag, eliciting a safe call by 3B Umpire David Arrieta.

Crew Conference: Immediately thereafter, Suzuki and Nats Manager Dave Martinez appealed to HP Umpire Vic Carapazza about potential backswing contact as replays indicate that Bohm's bat appeared to make contact with Suzuki's leg during Suzuki's throw to third base. After crew consultation with Carapazza, Arrieta, and 2B Umpire Junior Valentine, Crew Chief Joe West signaled for Quinn to return to second base and explained his ruling to Phillies skipper Joe Girardi, thus enforcing the penalty for backswing interference, as in Official Baseball Rule 6.03(a)(3) Comment:
If a batter strikes at a ball and misses and swings so hard he carries the bat all the way around and, in the umpire’s judgment, unintentionally hits the catcher or the ball in back of him on the backswing, it shall be called a strike only (not interference). The ball will be dead, however, and no runner shall advance on the play.
Accordingly, West's crew made the correct call—dead ball strike, return the runner to the base initially occupied at the time of the pitch—but that didn't stop Kruk from expressing a Hawk Harrelson-esque exasperation...just as color analyst FP Santangelo on the Nats broadcast properly cited the rule.
Related PostCase Play 2016-9 - A Backswing on Strike 3 [Solved] (8/26/16).


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