Sunday, September 11, 2022

Angel Hernandez's Stuck Ball Ruling in Mets-Marlins

When HP Umpire Angel Hernandez called "Time" to declare a Mets batter Brandon Nimmo's line drive to left-center field stuck/lodged beneath the Marlins outfield wall's padding, and thus out of play, we were asked two main questions. First, is this even a home plate umpire's call? And, second, what is the rule? Was the call correct or not?

With none out and none on, Mets batter Nimmo led off the game with an extra base hit to the gap. The Marlins outfielders had trouble retrieving the batted ball, and Nimmo hustled to third base for an apparent triple. But HP Umpire Hernandez had called "Time" because the reason Miami had a tough time fielding the ball was, according to the call, because the ball had become stuck beneath the padding on the warning track in the outfield.

Whose Call is It Anyway?
The second base umpire is positioned on the outfield grass to start plays with no runners on, and 2B Umpire and Crew Chief Chad Fairchild opted not to go out on the line drive into the gap, but to come in and take the baserunner into second base instead. The go-out vs stay-in criteria is whether or not the hit is a "trouble ball," that is a baseball that might be subject to interference, become a ground rule double, or another complicated boundary issue for which an umpire in the outfield would be beneficial.

Because U2 Fairchild came in and began tracking the baserunner and thus stopped looking at the ball in the outfield, 3B Umpire Shane Livensparger pitched in and watched the ball in the outfield, as his responsibilities for the baserunner hadn't yet begun. As for home plate, the plate umpire generally won't rule on outfield stadium boundary issues in crews that are not employing one- or two-person mechanics.

The rule itself is Official Baseball Rule 5.06(b)(4)(F) and states, "Each runner including the batter-runner may, without liability to be put out [the ball is dead], advance—Two bases, if a fair ball bounces or is deflected into the stands outside the first or third base foul lines; or if it goes through or under a field fence, or through or under a scoreboard, or through or under shrubbery or vines on the fence; or if it sticks in such fence, scoreboard, shrubbery or vines."

MLB has ruled plays like this "lodged balls" before, but as is usually the case with lodged ball plays, video is ultimately inconclusive and Replay Review accordingly ruled this "Call Stands" and thus New York manager Buck Showalter lost his early challenge. (plate umpires in 4 person crews...don't make this call unless it's absolutely necessary...especially if your league uses replay.)


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