Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Ask UEFL - NY's Failed Dead Ball Appeal Distraction

During Monday's Mets-Yankees Subway Series, a first-inning attempted appeal play prompted confusion from both New York teams as Mets starting pitcher Max Scherzer's throw into center field when Yankees runner Anthony Rizzo took off toward second during an appeal of Andrew Benintendi's tagging up timeliness ultimately didn't count, leading Yanks manager Aaron Boone to seek an explanation from the umpires (and for some of you to seek an explanation from us!).

Here's why the appeal didn't count:

Although the too-long-didn't-read version is "the ball was dead," there's a bit more to it than that, so let's dive in.

We begin with Yankees batter DJ LeMahieu hitting a sacrifice fly to right field, allowing baserunner R3 Benintendi to score on a close play at the plate. As Mets manager Buck Showalter and company considered whether or not to request a Replay Review of HP Umpire Lance Barrett's safe call, umpires called "Time" and the ball became dead.

Although no challenge to the play at the plate was requested, the Mets felt that Benintendi may have left third base prior to right fielder Starling Marte's first touch of the fly ball, so the team from Queens set up to appeal at third base.
Relevant Rule: OBR 5.09(c)(1): "Any runner shall be called out, on appeal, when, after a fly ball is caught, they fail to retouch their original base before they or their original base is tagged."

Sensing the impending appeal, Yankees baserunner R1 Rizzo, perhaps worried that R3 Benintendi might have left early and that the appeal would be successful, took off for second base, sacrificing himself in the hopes of drawing a throw from Mets pitcher Scherzer, with the goal of goading the Mets into making a play on Rizzo so as to prevent the possibility of an appeal on Benintendi, since no appeal may occur once the defensive team has made a play or attempted play after the continuous action of the play-to-be-appealed has ended. A throw to retire (or in an attempt to retire) Rizzo qualifies as a "play or attempted play." Important to note: this "play or attempted play" rule is exclusive to professional baseball as high school and college rules state that the defense does not lose the right to its appeal if the offense initiates a play before the next pitch. The offensive "bait" play to prevent an appeal on another runner, thus, works in pro ball but not in high school/college.
Relevant Rule: OBR 5.09(c): "Any appeal under this rule must be made before the next pitch, or any play or attempted play."

Scherzer took Rizzo's bait, but threw the ball wildly into center field, enabling Rizzo to advance to third base...before the umpires ordered Rizzo back to first base, ruling that none of what just occurred actually happened. This is because HP Umpire Barrett never put the ball back into play by stating "Play" such that the entire sequence—Rizzo's advancement, wild throw into center field taking away the opportunity to appeal—occurred while the ball was still dead, meaning that none of it counted because under the professional (and NCAA/college) ruleset, the ball must be live during an appeal (in NFHS/high school, the ball can be dead during an appeal...runners can't advance during dead balls [unless it's a pre-existing base award from a live ball period] in all rulesets).
Relevant Rule: OBR 5.06(c): "While the ball is dead no player may be put out, no bases may be run and no runs may be scored, except that runners may advance one or more bases as the result of acts which occurred while the ball was alive."

Once play was reset, Scherzer took the rubber, batter Josh Donaldson entered the batter's box, HP Umpire Barrett put the ball back into play, thus making it live, the appeal was properly executed (Rizzo didn't try to draw a throw this time), and 3B Umpire Dan Merzel signaled "safe," ruling that Benintendi left third base in a timely manner after all.
Relevant Rule: OBR 5.09(c) Comment: "Time is not out when an appeal is being made."

tldr: the ball was dead | Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Rizzo's premature play during dead ball goads wild throw, but doesn't count (CCS)


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