Thursday, July 1, 2021

CHC-MIL Runner's Lane Interference No-Call Analysis

In this Ask the UEFL, we consider a possible runner's lane interference play in Milwaukee after Brewers batter-runner Tyrone Taylor collided with Cubs first baseman Patrick Wisdom, no-called by HP Umpire Jeremie Rehak.

You'll recall that Official Baseball Rule 5.09(a)(11) requires several elements for RLI:
> Ball is being fielded to first base.
> Batter-runner fails to run within 45' lane.
> In doing so, interferes with fielder taking the throw.
> Throw could have otherwise reasonably retired runner.

Additionally, if the runner entered the lane legally and ran within it or on the foul line the entire length of the 45' lane, the runner is allowed to exit the lane "in the immediate vicinity of first base for the sole purpose of touching first base."

Did OBR 5.09(a)(11) apply here and if so why didn't Rehak call Taylor for interference?

First and foremost, we establish that (1) the ball was being fielded to first base by virtue of pitcher Jake Arrieta's throw to first baseman Wisdom. Second (2), batter-runner Taylor failed to run within the lane. Third (3), although Wisdom failed to catch the throw, was this due to illegal hindrance from Taylor? Your mileage may vary. Fourth (4), because the throw glanced off Wisdom's mitt, he likely would have otherwise been able to catch the ball and retired the runner (reasonable).

So the only question is whether Taylor impeded Wisdom in catching the ball. If your answer is yes, this is runner's lane interference. If no, this is a no-call.

We also look at Rehak's positioning on this play. It's critical that the play begins with a runner on third base because that means Rehak has to stay point of plate (or thereabouts) in anticipation of a potential tag play: tags at home are more important than potential RLI at first. Only when Rehak reads Arrieta's commitment to first base does he shift to first baseline extended.

Unfortunately, that's too late as the runner is already nearing their last stride to first base. With no definitive knowledge as to whether the runner was legal prior to this last stride, the umpire errs on the side of granting Taylor last stride exit protection (which Taylor was not entitled to, but would have required seeing the totality of the play to judge).

Discussion question: Could the first base umpire have helped here? Does it matter when the expected call appeared to be a no-call, with Cubs manager David Ross not arguing the no-call and the broadcast appearing not to pick up on the potential for RLI.

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Runner's Lane Interference No-Call in Milwaukee - Analysis (CCS)


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