Friday, April 16, 2021

Gimenez Puts Out Eaton - Tmac & Gil Debate

White Sox batter-runner Adam Eaton pushed Indians shortstop Andres Gimenez after 2B Umpire Bill Miller called Eaton out on a tag play, alleging that Gimenez illegally forced him off of second base to create the out. In our debate, Gil says safe & tmac says out. What's the rule?

Play: With one on and none out, White Sox batter Adam Eaton hit a ground ball to Indians right fielder Josh Naylor, who threw to third baseman Jose Ramirez as Tim Anderson slid into third base and back to shortstop Andres Gimenez as Eaton slid into second base, ruled out by 2B Umpire Bill Miller.

Rule: As a reference point, we consider the Official Baseball Rules' definition for overslide/oversliding ("the act of an offensive player when his slide to a base, other than when advancing from home to first base, is with such momentum that he loses contact with the base") and the MLB Umpire Manual's approved interpretation: "If in the judgment of an umpire, a runner is pushed or forced off a base by a fielder, intentionally or unintentionally, at which the runner would have otherwise been called safe, the umpire has the authority and discretion under the circumstances to return the runner to the base he was forced off following the conclusion of the play."

Considerations & History: As we reviewed during the 2020 World Series when Dodgers batter-runner Max Muncy slid into second base and Rays shortstop Willy Adames, several questions help toward solving this puzzle: Did the runner have body control that would have enabled him to undoubtedly remain on the base if not for the fielder's actions? Did the runner push the fielder off-balance first or did the fielder on his own volition push or force the runner from the base? Perhaps the most famous instance of this type of play was Kent Hrbek lifting Ron Gant's foot off of first base during the 1991 World Series.

Remember, the MLBUM interpretation states the fielder's actions may be either intentional or unintentional, but the underlying question is whether the fielder's actions were caused by the runner or not. If so, we might have incidental contact, but if not, we might have a situation where this interp could apply.

Finally, as this play concluded with a benches-clearing incident, we consider Eaton's post-play shove of Gimenez. Could further disruption to the game have been prevented by the umpire getting in between the players or is the "new normal" to let players have at it and sort out the trouble afterward? With replays clearly indicating Eaton continuing to argue with Miller during the unsportsmanlike event, could Miller's refraining from entering the fray have saved an escalation between Eaton and Miller?

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Tmac & Gil Debate Eaton's Slide, Gimenez's Tag & Potential Pushing (CCS)


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