Sunday, October 18, 2020

Teachable - Postseason Manny's Head Over Heels

When Tampa Bays RF Manuel Margot leaped to catch an inning-ending fly out during Game 2 of the Astros-Rays ALCS, he wasn't the only man who sprinted to make a play. Enter umpire Manny Gonzalez, fresh off his first-career ALCS plate assignment, who ran from his position as the right field umpire to officiate Margot's jump over the foul territory wall at Petco Park.

With two out and two on in the top of the 2nd inning, Astros batter George Springer hit a 1-1 sinker from Rays pitcher Charlie Morton on a fly ball to right field where outfielder Margot attempted to make a catch, diving into the spectator area while catching Springer's fly ball in flight for the third out of the inning.

Gonzalez hustles to see the play.
While our rules exercise here simply asks what would have happened had Margot completed this play with just one (or none) out and runner(s) aboard [the answer involves Rule 5.06(b)(3)(C) ("Each runner, other than the batter, may without liability to be put out, advance one base when—a fielder, after catching a fly ball, steps or falls into any out-of-play area") and, more pointedly, OBR 5.06(b)(3)(C) Comment ("If a fielder, after having made a legal catch, should step or fall into any out-of-play area, the ball is dead and each runner shall advance one base, without liability to be put out, from his last legally touched base at the time the fielder entered such out-of-play area"), the primary purpose of this Tmac's Teachable Moment is to highlight the right field (or first base during regular season) umpire's responsibility.
Manny waits before making a call.

During this play, RF Umpire Gonzalez sets himself on the right field foul line, as the first consideration is fair/foul. As Margot locates the ball and runs into foul territory, our umpire's responsibility—the determination of fair/foul almost certainly decided as the latter—shifts to catch/no catch.

When Margot tumbles over the wall and out of play, Gonzalez sprints to the corner to see fielder Margot emerge with the baseball in his glove. Satisfied as to the completed catch, Gonzalez signals the out.

Notice that Gonzalez doesn't give an "out" mechanic prior to confirming that Margot actually has the baseball. On an out-of-play boundary catch/no catch situation, regardless of zero/one/two outs, the immediate outcome is largely the same: the call will either be "out [catch]" or "foul."

Angel Hernandez called a similar play.
Both of these calls will result in "Time" and a dead there's no reason to rush the call.

Time will be out either way and waiting a few seconds to confirm the call in one's mind won't hurt the game. Find the ball and then make the call. If the catch doesn't end the inning, enforce OBR 5.06(b)(3)(C) by moving the Houston runners up a base and scoring that run from third.

In this situation, with two outs, there is no so-called penalty or remedy to prescribe, but with fewer than two outs, the call is consequential because, with a runner on third base, catch/no catch is the difference between a run scoring and a simple foul ball.

TTM sponsored by OutWestOfficials.
For instance, Angel Hernandez officiated a similar play during the 2012 Baltimore-New York ALDS at Yankee Stadium, only in that game, outfielder Nick Swisher did not catch the ball. Hernandez waited, actually leaned into the stands to look for the ball amidst the scrum of Yankees fans, and emerged with a safe call.

As the General Instructions to Umpires section of the rulebook states, "Wait until the play is completed before making any arm motion."

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Teachable Moment as Manny Gonzalez waits to find an out call (CCS)


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