Sunday, March 14, 2021

Cleveland-Giants Play Without Umpires - Scrimmage ?

When Saturday's Cleveland-San Francisco game in Arizona's Spring Training officially ended with the home Giants leading 5-4 after the third out in the top of the ninth inning, Chief Doug Eddings and his umpire crew walked off the field as both teams stuck around to play the bottom of the ninth, despite the score. Was this the right call?

This philosophical discussion has nothing to do with an actual play, but concerns whether a sports official is obliged to give a team an extra half-inning, period, or quarter even if the game, technically, has ended. After we finish chuckling at Giants radio broadcaster Jon Miller trying to make heads or tails of a game officiated without umpires in which a batter walks after Ball 5, we can get down to business.

Although we don't know the specifics of the MLBUA-MLB agreement, for officials affiliated with the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO) or similar organization, the answer is technical, yet of potential legal consequence. The following, however, is not legal advice but simply an op-ed regarding the issue of officiating a non-sanctioned or non-rules compliant game or fraction thereof.

NASO's membership benefit guidebook published via Referee Magazine, as pertains to Insurance and the Sports Officials Security (SOS) Program presently provided through American Specialty Insurance & Risk Services, Inc., states on page 7 that general liability insurance coverage exists for claims of damages and injuries (including libel or slander) "during sporting activities that are organized by recognized sports organizations, leagues and associations or by another formally organized entity (i.e. local park department) where the rules of a recognized sanctioning body are followed..."

The key phrase, thus, is "where the rules of a recognized sanctioning body are followed."

And if the rules state that a regulation game ends when the home team is leading upon the visiting team's third out in the top of the ninth inning, if the rules are to be followed, the on-field officials' role is, generally, to leave the field without officiating any further unsanctioned play. For reference, Official Baseball Rule 7.01(1) states, "A regulation game consists of nine innings, unless extended because of a tie score, or shortened (1) because the home team needs none of its half of the ninth inning or only a fraction of it, or (2) because the umpire-in-chief calls the game."

If a player, coach, participant, or official were to get hurt during an unsanctioned event or an extra inning played in contravention of the rules, such as Cleveland-SF's bottom of the ninth inning with the home team ahead, the question of insurance coverage eligibility can get complicated and, for the sake of liability and personal security, is not a headache any official should have to experience.

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: CLE-SF Play Sans Umps - The Scrimmage Question for Sports Officials (CCS)


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