Monday, May 31, 2021

Retired Batter's Run to 1B Ruled Interference - Dutch Lg

This Ask the UEFL question brings forth a play from Honkbal Hoofdklasse (KNBSB), the Netherlands' Major League Baseball equivalent, when the Curaçao Neptunus faced the Hoofddorp Pioniers and a batter, retired after an uncaught third strike, was called for interference, nullifying a run for the home team.

Play: With none out and two on (R1, R2) in the bottom of the 6th inning, Pioniers batter Jair Bogaerts swung at and missed a pitch that bounced away from Neptunus catcher Gianison Boekhoudt. Unaware that with first base occupied with less than two out, the batter is automatically out on an uncaught third strike, Bogaerts ran toward first base and catcher Boekhoudt attempted to throw him out. Boekhoudt's throw hit retired batter Bogaerts in the back.

Call: As the home plate umpire extended his right fist to declare Bogaerts out, the first base umpire called "Time" and called Bogaerts out, either for runner's lane interference or, more probably, retired batter's interference. As a result of the interference and dead ball created by it, the umpires declared R2 Randolph Oduber out for the interference of retired teammate Bogaerts, and placed R1 Denzel Brooks on second base.
Rule: Official Baseball Rule 6.01(a)(5) states it is interference when—"Any batter or runner who has just been put out, or any runner who has just scored, hinders or impedes any following play being made on a runner." OBR 6.01(a)(5) Comment adds, "If the batter or a runner continues to advance or returns or attempts to return to his last legally touched base after he has been put out, he shall not by that act alone be considered as confusing, hindering or impeding the fielders."

OBR 6.01(a)(3), as a matter of reference, declares, "Before two are out and a runner on third base, the batter hinders a fielder in making a play at home base; the runner is out."

Though the ordinary penalty for interference prescribing that all runners shall return to the last base legally touched at time of interference, the rule also states, "In the event the batter-runner has not reached first base, all runners shall return to the base last occupied at the time of the pitch."

OBR 5.09(a)(3) declares the batter out when—"A third strike is not caught by the catcher when first base is occupied before two are out."

Finally, RLI Rule 5.09(a)(11) states that the batter is out 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."

Putting it Together: Putting all of that together, we can surmise that the batter was out at the moment of the third strike, regardless of whether it was caught by the catcher.

Then, with two out, the retired batter ran toward first base as the catcher retrieved the ball and looked toward the plate umpire for a ruling on the batter. Perhaps taken aback by the plate umpire's delayed out mechanic, the catcher nonetheless threw to first base and when the first baseman was unable to field the throw due to the retired batter's presence, the first base umpire called "Time" and declared the retired batter's teammate attempting to score (R2) out for the retired player's actions.

Analysis: First and foremost, we would like to see our plate umpire signal that the batter is out immediately upon the uncaught third strike. Did the catcher get confused because the umpire didn't have a fist up when the catcher first turned to look for a call? No matter the answer, the question is avoided with visual mechanics upon the out's occurrence, before the ball gets away from the catcher.

That said, OBR 6.01(a)(5) Comment declares that continuing to advance is not alone an act that merits an interference call. The question, however, is whether the retired batter did something in addition to simply running to a base that hindered or impeded the defense. Remember, however, we cannot have runner's lane interference because we don't have a batter-runner. This is either retired player's interference or a no-call.

If deemed interference, the proper outcome is a dead ball with both batter and R2 declared out for the retired batter's interference, and, as in OBR 6.01(a) Penalty, remaining runner R1 shall returns to the last base at time of pitch, as the batter-runner has not reached first base (which, naturally, is impossible, since there is no batter-runner as the batter was already retired).

If no-called under the spirit of OBR 6.01(a)(5) Comment, R2 scores, R1 wind up at third base, and the batter is out due to the uncaught third strike with first base occupied and less than two out.

Wrap: Curaçao Neptunus vs. Hoofddorp Pioniers Baseball, 5/29/21 | Video as follows:


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