Friday, February 12, 2021

Real World Rules - Teachable Moment Passes to Life

Nary one week after our recent Tmac's Teachable Moment for Passing Runners in Anytown, USA, a similar grand slam caper turned into a real life UEFL Curse as TMU found itself guilty of a base-running infraction against Cumberland in Georgia.

Play: With two outs and the bases loaded (R1 Mikal Mascarello, R2 Andrew Johnston, R3 Josh Johnston), Truett McConnell University batter Ethan Roberts hit what appeared to be a home run. Replays indicate that, similar to our Teachable, one runner stopped short of touching home plate before a following runner continued jogging and did touch home plate. In this case, it was R3 who failed to touch home plate as R2 followed by touching home plate to complete his own baserunning journey.

Analysis: Cumberland University's box score indicates Josh Johnston, TMU's runner on third base, was called out on appeal for failing to touch a base, but this cannot possibly be accurate under the NCAA/college ruleset pursuant to Rule 8-6-b, which, just like professional baseball's OBR, requires the appeal be lodged while the ball is live or (in this case) has been put back into play.

Thus, we know it was not an appeal. Here's what else it could be:

Runners Passing (Teachable)
: Under OBR 5.09(b)(9), a runner is out when—"he passes a preceding runner before such runner is out," so R1 is out for passing R2 even though it appears R2 caused the passing to occur ("A runner may be deemed to have passed a preceding (i.e., lead) runner based on his actions or the actions of a preceding runner"). There is no greater example of a runner passing another runner than when a lead runner fails to reach a base, only for a following runner to then arrive at and touch that same base.

Abandonment: Home plate provides a unique circumstance for abandonment since a runner is not obliged to stay on home plate, as they would at another base such as second or third. In this instance, a runner may be called for abandonment at home plate when the runner clearly starts for the dugout and the catcher would be required to chase the offensive player during a live ball.

Because the Cumberland-TMU play involved a dead ball, this portion of abandonment's interpretation does not apply.

Instead, we consult the MLB Umpire Manual (similar interpretation for NCAA), which states that an infraction has occurred (all else equal [e.g., assuming no runners other than R3 were entitled to home plate, as would be the case on a dead ball, one-base award]) only when R3 enters the dugout without having completed his base-running responsibility.

With no other runners, R3, by rule, still has the opportunity to correct his baserunning error prior to the first of either A) entering the dugout or B) the ball being put back into play, upon which the defense could appeal the missed base.

Naturally, in this situation, we know the circumstance of runners passing has occurred by virtue of R2 clearly touching home plate while R3's attempt to touch home plate, as it were, came up noticeably short. Thus, R3 had not yet abandoned his base-running responsibility at the time of R2 touching home plate, but R2's touch of home plate did constitute tangible confirmation that R2 had passed R3 on the bases; thus, R2 is out for passing and R3's run shall not count because in order for R2 to have passed R3, we must presume that R3 had not yet scored (e.g., R3 never made it to home plate). Thus, there is no fourth out appeal situation to be had.

In short, R3 is not out for abandonment solely because R2 passed him first, and R2's out was the final out of the inning. Because R2 passed R3 prior to R3 either entering the dugout or returning to complete the final (short) leg of his running of the bases, the third out of the inning caused by the runner passing precedes any potential abandonment or missed base touch situation.

Video as follows:

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Podcast - Tending the Taps with Tim Tschida

Retired MLB crew chief Tim Tschida joins The Plate Meeting podcast to talk about his time as a Major League umpire, his journey to the show, memorable games and ejections, and development of his distinctive strike call. Tschida also answers your questions in this in-depth interview and conversation.

The Plate Meeting Podcast is now in its third season and we hope the 2021 baseball year will prove more optimistic and healthy for all umpires, and feature more opportunities for traveling umpires to make use of our episodes while on the road.

Listen to this show by clicking the play button on the following player or by visiting the link, below. You can also download The Plate Meeting podcast through providers such as Apple Podcasts, Google, Spotify, and more.

Alternate Link: Episode 27 - Tending the Taps with Tim Tschida (CCS on Anchor).

MIN@CAL - Twins pitcher Joe Niekro is ejected by Tschida's crew for doctoring the baseball.
Frank Robinson takes on Mike Scioscia over illegal substance, Tschida as home plate umpire.

The Plate Meeting, a Left Field Umpire Podcast
is the official audio program of Close Call Sports, where we talk umpiring with umpires, including analysis or other conversation pertaining to plays, ejections, rules, and more.

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