Monday, July 4, 2022

Larry Vanover Back to the Future to Reverse Foul Call

When the crew convened and reversed HP Umpire Larry Vanover erroneously called "foul ball" shortly after Phillies batter Odubel Herrera hit a ground ball up the first base line, ruled fair by 1B Umpire David Rackley, many wondered about the old baseball officiating axiom prohibiting one from unringing a rung bell.

That is to say, as the NCAA rulebook puts it so elegantly in its Appendix E entitled "Getting the Call Right,"Some calls cannot be reversed without creating larger problems."

Of course, the NCAA book also explicitly includes the case of "changing a call of 'foul' to 'fair'" as one of its acceptable uses of an on-field conference to reverse a call. MLB operates under a similar principle which gives the umpires slightly more discretion.

: With none out and none on, Phillies batter Hererra hit Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright's 3-2 offering on the ground, up the first base line. The ball, having first impacted the ground near the left-handed batter's box (and near Herrera's right foot), traveled past first base in fair territory, as signaled by 1B Umpire Rackley. It was fielded by Cards first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, who looked in perfect position to jog to first base and easily retire Herrera.

Umpire Calls: While Rackley ruled the ball fair, HP Umpire Vanover called "Time" and ruled the ball foul, deeming that the batted ball hit Herrera's foot while Herrera was still in the batter's box. Sensing an incorrect call, the crew got together and ultimately determined that the ball did not hit Herrera's foot, opting to overturn Vanover's original "foul ball" call and call a fair ball instead, further ruling Herrera out based on the premise that had the ball been called exclusively fair from the beginning, Herrera would have nonetheless been retired at first base.

Official Baseball Rule 8.02(c)
: In order to get to this point, the crew used OBR 8.02(c), which states, in part: "If the umpires consult after a play and change a call that had been made, then they have the authority to take all steps that they may deem necessary, in their discretion, to eliminate the results and consequences of the earlier call that they are reversing, including placing runners where they think those runners would have been after the play, had the ultimate call been made as the initial call."

OBR 8.02(c) would have also allowed umpires to disregard interference or obstruction, failure of runners to tag up on a catch/no catch call reversal, runners passing or missing bases, etc.: the sole judgment as to the final call is what the umpires believe would have happened had the final call been made in real-time.

After breaking with his crew, Chief Vanover explained the overturned call to Phillies interim manager Rob Thompson, before explaining in a more brief setting to Herrera. Tmac breaks down the situation handling component as well as the process of reversing a call pursuant to the baseball rules.

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Crew Vanover reverses original foul call to fair, invoking OBR 8.02(c) (ESPN)


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