Thursday, April 22, 2021

The Strict Scrutiny of Runner's Lane Interference in LA

Los Angeles lost a potential baserunner Thursday night when Dodgers batter-runner Luke Raley failed to run within the runner's lane, HP Umpire Tony Randazzo's interference call awarding the San Diego Padres an out in the 5th inning of a one-run ballgame as 1B Umpire Todd Tichenor explained to a confused Raley what his crew mate had called.

As we have discussed with runner's lane interference (RLI) Official Baseball Rule 5.09(a)(11)—"A batter is out for interference when—In running the last half of the distance from home base to first base, while the ball is being fielded to first base, he runs outside (to the right of) the three-foot line, or inside (to the left of) the foul line, and in the umpire’s judgment in so doing interferes with the fielder taking the throw at first base, in which case the ball is dead"—the interpretation of this rule is fairly strict.

As long as the batter-runner is not within the runner's lane at the moment of hindering the fielder taking the throw (which includes getting hit by the baseball), the call must be interference as long as the otherwise-fully compliant batter-runner has not exited the lane in the immediate vicinity of first base for the sole purpose of touching the base, and as long as the throw could still reasonably retire the runner if not for the batter-runner's illegal act.

Thus, Randazzo, having observed Raley running to the left of the foul line well in advance of the "immediate vicinity" of first base, ruled the play runner's lane interference, the consequence for which is a dead ball, out, and any runners on base (had there been any) forced to return. San Diego ultimately won the contest, 3-2.

For more in-depth analysis of runner's lane interference, including a history of the RLI rule and potential flaws therein, see the following article.

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Randazzo calls LA's Raley out for RLI at Dodger Stadium (CCS)


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