Sunday, May 29, 2022

Ask UEFL - Base Award Breakdown (On Second Glance)

In this Ask the UEFL, we take a play from the Double-A Mississippi Braves vs Pensacola Blue Wahoos game in which umpires awarded bases on an overthrown ball that became unplayable, a call that might not be as obvious as one might have thought on first glance.

Discussion Play: With two out and one on (R1), Mississippi Braves batter Trey Harris hit a soft ground ball to Pensacola Blue Wahoos catcher Paul McIntosh, who threw wildly to first base and down the right field line, where the ball became unplayable as it rolled into the on-field bullpen.

The Call: 1B Umpire Raul Moreno called "Time" to signal the ball was out of play and after conferring with crewmates James Jean (3B Umpire & Crew Chief) and Macon Hammond (HP Umpire), the crew awarded the batter-runner Harris second base and awarded baserunner R1 Andrew Moritz home plate.

The Rule: Official Baseball Rule 5.06(b)(4)(G) is what first comes to mind and states that the batter and runners shall advance "Two bases when, with no spectators on the playing field, a thrown ball goes into the stands, or into a bench (whether or not the ball rebounds into the field), or over or under or through a field fence, or on a slanting part of the screen above the backstop, or remains in the meshes of a wire screen protecting spectators. The ball is dead. When such wild throw is the first play by an infielder, the umpire, in awarding such bases, shall be governed by the position of the runners at the time the ball was pitched; in all other cases the umpire shall be governed by the position of the runners at the time the wild throw was made."

QOC: Thus, BR should get second base (which is what happened) and R1 should get third base (which is not what happened, right? Wrong. Upon closer examination, we see that either a bullpen player/coach or ball attendant fielded the live ball in foul territory, meaning we now have to refer to a different rule to determine base awards, which is precisely what this crew did by conferring.

The Unintentional Intentional Interference Rule
: OBR 6.01(d) states that in the case of unintentional interference with a person on the playing field, the ball remains alive and in play, but in the case of intentional interference, the ball is dead and penalties are imposed to nullify the act of interference. The rule also spells out what is meant by the word intentional: "The question of intentional or unintentional interference shall be decided on the basis of the person’s action. For example: a bat boy, ball attendant, policeman, etc., who tries to avoid being touched by a thrown or batted ball but still is touched by the ball would be involved in unintentional interference. If, however, he kicks the ball or picks it up or pushes it, that is considered intentional interference, regardless of what his thought may have been."

If the interference is unintentional, the ball remains alive and in play.
If the interference is intentional, the ball is dead & penalties imposed to nullify the act of interference.

Thus, because the person in the bullpen picked the ball up, 1B Umpire Moreno ruled not a dead ball due to thrown-out-of-play, but instead called intentional interference (no mind-reading necessary here as it would be for "intentionally throwing at the batter"), the penalty for which is as follows: "If the interference is intentional, the ball shall be dead at the moment of the interference and the umpire shall impose such penalties as in his opinion will nullify the act of interference."

This allowed the umpires to place the batter-runner at second base, ruling he would have achieved that base had interference not occurred, and to award lead runner R1 home plate, ruling he would have advanced and scored had interference not occurred.

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Unintentional INT by person authorized to be on field in AA (CCS)


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