Saturday, June 17, 2023

A Circus Play in LA as Giants-Dodgers Run Rules Gamut

Perhaps most known for a circus play in the 11th inning featuring Casey Schmitt's dropped fly ball, Jakob Junis' wild throw, and baserunning blunders by Michael Busch and Mookie Betts, Friday's Giants-Dodgers game in LA ran the rules gamut for umpire David Rackley's crew, with a light failure during live play and a balk vs "starting from scratch" vs disengagement issue scattered about a game that begin with Dodgers rookie pitcher Emmet Sheehan throwing six no-hit innings before being pulled for a bullpen that gave the game away.

In the bottom of the 5th, the stadium lights went out during JD Martinez's fly ball double off the left field wall, preventing Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford from catching left fielder Michael Conforto's relay throw as Dodgers baserunner Betts scored and Will Smith rounded third base, 1B Umpire Chris Segal looking exasperated as the lights went out. Although the stadium lights were shut off due to a trigger-happy operator incorrectly assuming Martinez's fly ball was a home run, this nonetheless falls under the light failure part of the rulebook.

Official Baseball Rule 5.12(b)(2) states the ball becomes dead when an umpire calls "Time" and that an umpire may call "Time" during live play "when light failure makes it difficult or impossible for the umpires to follow the play." Although the rule does not specify how to remedy the situation, elastic clause OBR 8.01(c) ("Each umpire has authority to rule on any point not specifically covered in these rules") allows umpires to use their discretion to resolve the issue of light failure during play. In this case, R3 Betts scored prior to the lights going out (or, at least, prior to Crawford receiving the throw) but had R1 Smith, on third base, attempted to run home as a result of Crawford dropping the ball, the most likely outcome would be to call "Time" and place Smith back on third base.

In the top of the 8th, Giants batter Mike Yastrzemski requested "Time" from HP Umpire Nate Tomlinson as Dodgers pitcher Tayler Scott appeared to prematurely stop his motion from stretch to come set. Although this could have been a start-stop balk call, OBR 5.04(b)(2) Comment, if the umpire deemed Yastrzemski's time request caused the pitcher to stop, states, "Both the pitcher and batter have violated a rule and the umpire shall call time and both the batter and pitcher start over from “scratch.”"

Finally, in the bottom of the 11th, the entire crew got involved on a wild play when Dodgers batter Betts hit an infield pop fly that was dropped by Giants third baseman Schmitt, thrown wildly past first base and to the outfield wall in foul territory by pitcher Jakob Junis, and resulted in Dodgers baserunner R3 Michael Busch being tagged out beyond third base as a baserunning blunder led to a rundown.

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Giants-Dodgers Pride Night game also featured an all-inclusive test of baseball's rules


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