Monday, March 15, 2021

Appeal Ends Spring Pirates Game - Mechanics Review

When 1B Umpire Roberto Ortiz ruled Pirates batter-runner Will Craig safe—then out—to end Sunday's Philadelphia-Pittsburgh Spring Training game, confusion reigned as Manager Derek Shelton briefly argued with Marty Foster. What was the call?

The play began with two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning of a game in which the Phillies led 6-5 when Craig hit a ground ball to Phillies third baseman Luke Williams, who threw high to first baseman Darick Hall as Craig arrived at first base, 1B Umpire Ortiz ruling the batter-runner safe as Craig tumbled past first base and up the right field foul line.

At this point, Phillies pitcher Jojo Romero motioned to Hall to tag Craig and, upon Hall's tag, Ortiz ruled Craig out to end the game, leading the broadcasters to speculate that "the umps said, had enough baseball for the day, basically...Reservations...Time to get out of here."

After all, what else could possess an umpire to rule a runner safe, only to call the runner out seconds later?

At first, BR is called safe.
The answer lies not just within Official Baseball Rule 5.09(c)(2) concerning appeal plays ("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"), but within the interpretation manual, which posits the following scenario.

Play: Batter-runner hits a ground ball and beats the play at first base but misses the bag.
Ruling: The proper mechanic is to call the batter-runner "Safe," indicating he beat the play. If the defense appeals by tagging the runner (or base) and appealing the runner missed first base before the runner returns to first base, the batter-runner would be declared out.

Accordingly, this appears to be precisely what happened here: Ortiz ruled Craig had beaten the play—timing-wise—at first base, but did not physically touch the base on his way by. As a result, Ortiz properly followed the mechanics guide by signaling the batter-runner "Safe" at first and only declaring Craig out upon a proper and legal appeal by the defense, as initiated by pitcher Romero's instruction to his teammate.

Important Note: The procedure for a batter-runner missing first base differs from the procedure for a baserunner who misses home plate. For the latter, the umpire is generally instructed to make no signal on the play until the runner either returns to touch home plate or an appeal is made. If neither of these two events occur, the run shall count. See the following article for more detail on the missed touch of home plate circumstance.


Post a Comment