Tuesday, April 4, 2023

More Runner's Lane Interference in Chicago & DC

After our first RLI play of the season in Seattle, you asked us to take a look at two (potentially three) other runner's lane interference no-calls in Chicago and Washington. In Chicago, we follow the umpire positioned well on the line to call the play, but was the call proper? In DC, we scout Rays batter-runner Manuel Margot's footwork as Nationals pitcher Trevor Williams' throw arrives as Margot's knee knocks the first baseman's mitt off of his hand.

To review, Official Baseball Rule 5.09(a)(11) governs RLI plays: "A batter is out when, 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." A runner who is legally within the lane the entire way to first base is allowed to exit the lane in the immediate vicinity of first base in order to touch the bag.

We also discuss the history of the runner's lane in baseball: why does it exist, anyway?

In the 1850s, baseball began its life with first and third bases centered over the foul lines.
In 1882 (NL) and 1884 (AA), a runner's lane was added in foul territory. 1B remained half fair & half foul.
By 1893, both leagues had moved first and third base to be entirely in fair territory.
The runner's lane remained and an exception was added to the rule allowing a runner to exit at first base.

Finally, we provide a request commentary critique on Milwaukee TV's broadcast remarks, which appeared to confuse the three-foot tag avoidance rule (out of the base path rule) with the runner's lane rule. Although the runner's lane is also three feet wide, these are different rules. Because this situation involved a thrown ball, the three-foot out of the base path rule does not apply.

Runner's Lane Interference, OBR 5.09(a)(11), applies on thrown balls to first base.
Out of the Base Path, OBR 5.09(b)(1), applies on tag attempts at any base (or between bases).

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: More Runner's Lane Interference discussion, history lesson, and pitch clock quirk (CCS)


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