Monday, August 15, 2022

Ask UEFL - Batter Awarded 3rd on Ball Kicked Out of Play

Reds batter-runner Jose Barrero wound up at third base on an infield ground ball to Cubs second baseman Zach McKinstry, whose throw evaded pitcher Kervin Castro with the baseball ultimately ending up out of play, leading to our Ask the UEFL question of why umpires awarded Barrero third base instead of second.

The traditional infielder-overthrows-first-baseman situation ordinarily results in the batter-runner being awarded second base, so an award of third might seem peculiar, but upon a review of the rules and play itself, the answer becomes clear.

What happened after McKinstry overthrew Castro (with Castro drawing a fielding error [Barrero credited with a single]) was that Cubs catcher Yan Gomes, in attempting to back up the throw, kicked the ball into the stands and out of play; after initially pointing toward second base, 1B Umpire Ryan Blakney motioned to third base while Crew Chief Marvin Hudson explained the call to both managers.

Official Baseball Rule 5.06(b)(4) is the relevant provision and states, "Each runner including the batter-runner may, without liability to be put out, advance..." OBR 5.06(b)(4)(G) is the relevant rule for this play: "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."

Furthermore, the MLB Umpire Manual provides the following interpretation which is absolutely crucial for this play: "If, in the judgment of the umpire, a fielder intentionally kicks or deflects a batted or thrown ball out of play, the award is two bases from the time the ball was kicked or deflected." The use of intentionally here is similar to its use in other rules/interps in that it does not mean that the fielder must have deliberately tried to kick the ball out of play, but only that the fielder deliberately tried to kick at the ball in order to touch it.

Because in this play, catcher Gomes appears to intentionally kick his feet at the ball, presumably in an attempt to block it from going out of play, this is ruled an intentional kick, even though Gomes' intention wasn't to kick the ball out of play. It is intentional because Gomes deliberately used his feet/legs to play the ball (e.g., it wasn't an inadvertent deflection).

Sidebar: Cincinnati's broadcast noted that Barrero cut across the infield grass during his base award. If Barrero failed to touch second base en route to his final position at third base, Chicago could have appealed at second for a missed base touch. Rule 5.06(b)(4)(I) Comment puts such a runner in jeopardy: "The fact a runner is awarded a base or bases without liability to be put out does not relieve him of the responsibility to touch the base he is awarded and all intervening bases."

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: BR Barrero gets third base on infield single overthrow kicked out of play (CCS)


Post a Comment