Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Tracking Umpires During Runner's Lane Interference Play

Thanks to Staten Island (Atlantic League)'s press box wide camera angle and field overview, we were able to keep tabs on all three umpires during a recent runner's lane interference sequence vs Lancaster.

Play: With a runner on first base and less than two out, the umpiring crew of three is configured such that the third base umpire is working inside, on the infield grass. The batter bunts a ball in front of home plate, where it is fielded by the catcher and thrown to the first baseman. The thrown ball hits the batter-runner in the back and bounces away from first base.

Rule: A brief reminder is that RLI is listed in Official Baseball Rule 5.09(a)(11): The batter is out if—"in running the last half of the distance from home base to first base, while the ball is being fielded to first base, they run outside (to the right of) the three-foot line, or inside (to the left of) the foul line, and in the umpire’s judgment in so doing interfere with the fielder taking the throw at first base, in which case the ball is dead." There are further provisions and exceptions, but none apply here.

HP Umpire
: After the batter bunts the ball, the plate umpire signals the ball fair while stepping onto the foul line between home plate and first base. Upon observing the thrown ball strike the runner, the plate umpire calls "Time" and rules the batter-runner out for runner's lane interference.
Analysis: This is a textbook case of runner's lane interference and the mechanics for such a play.

1B Umpire
: After the ball is bunted, the first base umpire moves into position to officiate a potential out/safe play at first base—on the tag, the throw, etc. When the plate umpire signals "Time", the first base umpire mirrors the "Time" mechanic in order to amplify the plate umpire's declaration of a dead ball. 
Analysis: The first base umpire properly signals "Time" to mirror his crew-mate while withholding any "out" call, as runner's lane interference is the plate umpire's call to make, given that the plate umpire was in position and called "Time" to make it.

3B Umpire
: Starting inside, this third base umpire has opted to work in Deep B position—a few meters to the first base side of second base, and physically closer to home plate, on the edge of the infield grass.
Analysis: The peril of starting in the Deep B position in a crew of three is that the third base umpire has responsibility for the existing baserunner R1's potential advancement to third base, in addition to a play at second. Thus, starting on the right field side of second base, as opposed to the left field side as in Deep C position, could potentially threaten the umpire's ability to attain an optimal angle to officiate a potential play at third base. This is a personal preference, as even prior to the batted ball, U3 working inside will take all stolen base attempts/tags at second.

Other than this, the primary responsibility for this call lies with the home plate umpire, who puts on a clinic for how to officiate this type of a play.


Post a Comment