Tuesday, August 30, 2022

MiLB Ejection - Umpire's Safe Call Sparks Dispute

A Minor League ejection in Jersey Shore led to the ejection of BlueClaws manager Keith Werman, courtesy 1B Umpire Jacob McConnell after a safe call during Brooklyn Cyclones batter JT Schwartz's infield single.

Play: With one out and one on (R3), batter Schwartz hit a 1-2 pitch on the ground back to BlueClaws pitcher Dominic Pipkin, who lunged in an attempt to tag a diving Schwartz, ruled safe by 1B Umpire McConnell, who was positioned inside, toward the middle infield, which is where the field umpire ordinarily will stand in a two-person umpire crew with a runner on third base and one out.

Questions: After speaking with Werman, McConnell met with HP Umpire Trevor Mathews to discuss the play, as Mathews by virtue of his position at home plate may have possessed new information relative to Schwartz's baserunning.

Consideration 1, Runner's Lane Interference: The first by rule question to ask is whether batter-runner Schwartz could have been guilty of a runner's lane interference violation, as replays indicate a foot may have exited the lane prematurely. However, seeing as no throw was made to first base, and Official Baseball Rule 5.09(a)(11) [RLI] requires as a prerequisite, a "throw at first base," we have no RLI simply because there was no throw to make RLI a possibility for this play.

Consideration 2, Out of Base Path
: The second question is whether batter-runner Schwartz ran/slid more than three feet away from his base path to avoid being tagged. OBR 5.09(b)(1) states "a runner's base path is established when the tag attempt occurs and is a straight line from the runner to the base they are attempting to reach safely," so under this criterion, it would appear Schwartz did not violate the three-foot out of the base path rule. This part of the play, for what it's worth, is where HP Umpire Mathews' input is most valid, as Mathews' angle up the line provides a wonderful view for a potential deviation (had this play been eligible for RLI, Mathews would have responsibility for that call, as well).

Consideration 3, Tag Attempt: That leaves us with the question of whether the fielder actually tagged the runner. Replays suggest this did not occur, leaving the umpires to keep their original ruling of "safe" which led to the ejection of BlueClaws skipper Werman.

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Umpire McConnell tosses Jersey manager Werman over safe call at first base (NJ/CCS)


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