Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Teachable - Blakney's Back-Tag & HP Umpire Fill

As 1B Umpire Marvin Hudson ran along the foul line into shallow right field, going out to follow a trouble fly ball, HP Umpire Ryan Blakney hustled to first base, providing key coverage when Rangers batter-runner Marcus Semien slid safely back to first on a close tag play. In this Teachable, tmac discusses this rotation wherein the first base umpire goes out and there may later be a play at first base.

Just as John Tumpane did during a 2019 game in Miami of Anaheim, Florida (see Tumpane's Late-Inning Rotation, 8/11/19), HP Umpire Blakney rotated to first base to fill Hudson's vacated position when the first base umpire left to pursue a potential play on the none out, none on batted ball to shallow right field. Succinctly, here are the relevant umpires' responsibilities for this play:

1B Umpire: The first base umpire's primary coverage area with the bases empty includes, roughly, the entirety of the outfield portion from the right field foul line to the right fielder (again, this is variable as player movement after the ball is hit may dictate actual primary calling responsibility).

When U1 Hudson detected the fly ball could be trouble into shallow right (catch/trap between Angels outgoing first baseman Jared Walsh and incoming right fielder Jo Adell)—along with a (slim) potential for a fair/foul decision, Hudson properly vacated the infield and moved into right field, parallel to the foul line. Once Hudson went out, he stayed out for the entire play (once you're out, don't come back in).

HP Umpire: Blakney's responsibility shifted to include first base safe/out and tags as soon as Hudson left the infield. Remember: once out, stay out, so once U1 went out, that removed U1 from the infield/baserunner side of things for the remainder of the play. This is thus the plate umpire's responsibility to back-fill or rotate to first base while U2 stays at second base and U3 at third. Blakney's safe call was upheld via Replay Review as LAA manager Joe Maddon lost his challenge.

Important Note: This is the mechanic when the bases are empty. With runner(s), the first base umpire going out will result in the second base umpire assuming responsibilities at first base, as the 2B Umpire is either working inside at the start of the play, or is working in a shallow position on the infield dirt or fringe. When the bases are empty, the 2B Umpire is too far in shallow center field to help at first base.

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Blakney back-fills at first base to nail a safe call (CCS)


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