Friday, April 8, 2022

Manny Machado Runs Into, Interferes on Opening Day

It took Padres batter Manny Machado all of four innings into Opening Day for an infield collision, this one ruled interference by 1B Umpire Dan Bellino, eventually mirrored by HP Umpire Larry Vanover as an infield pop fly fell untouched to the ground.

The Play: With two out and two on (R1, R3) in San Diego's top of the 4th inning vs Arizona, Machado hit a 1-1 offering from Diamondbacks pitcher Sean Poppen for a fly ball along the first baseline. As D-backs first baseman Christian Walker ran in to field the falling fly, Machado ran directly into him in foul territory—coincidentally in a trajectory that would have taken Machado into the runner's lane [not to complicate matters...the runner's lane is irrelevant for this play]—ultimately resulting in a ball that fell untouched onto the ground in fair territory before bouncing foul.

The Call
: 1B Umpire Bellino immediately signaled interference while HP Umpire Vanover mirrored the call after the play had concluded. As Bellino subsequently explained to Padres manager Bob Melvin, Machado was declared the third out as a result of the interference, the ball becoming dead and the inning thus over.

The Rule: Official Baseball Rule 6.01(a)(10) states, "It is interference by a batter or a runner when—They fail to avoid a fielder who is attempting to field a batted ball...The umpire shall call the runner out in accordance with Rule 5.09(b)(3) (former Rule 7.08(b))." OBR 5.09(b)(3), in turn, states the runner is out if that offensive player "hinders a fielder attempting to make a play on a batted ball." Mechanics-wise, this brand of interference can be called immediately when it occurs.
Related Teachable MomentTmac's Teachable - Runner's Interference (5/3/19).

NCAA and NFHS agree ("A runner is out when—[the runner] interferes with a fielder who is attempting to field a batted ball" [NCAA 8-5-d] & "Any runner is out when—[the runner] hinders a fielder on their initial attempt to field a batted ball" [NFHS 8-4-2g]).

OBR 6.01(a)(10) Comment clarifies that the fielder has the right of way on batted ball situations, but that only one fielder is entitled to this protection: "if two or more fielders attempt to field a batted ball, and the runner comes in contact with one or more of them, the umpire shall determine which fielder is entitled to the benefit of this rule, and shall not declare the runner out for coming in contact with a fielder other than the one the umpire determines to be entitled to field such a ball."

Finally, "such 'right of way' is not a license to, for example, intentionally trip a runner even though fielding the ball"

Conclusion: In turn, BR Machado is out for interfering with F3 Walker | Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Machado Runs Into Walker on Opening Day, Interferes (ARI)


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