Monday, September 11, 2023

Ball Boy Interference & Non-Bona Fide Slide Violation

Umpires awarded Dodgers runner Mookie Betts home after a ball boy interfered with a fair ball in Miami while Replay Review called a bona fide slide rule violation on Reds runner Christian Encarnacion-Strand in Cincinnati in this edition of Ask CCS.

Ball Attendant Interference
With baserunner Mookie Betts on first base, Dodgers batter Freddie Freeman hit a line drive down the right field line in Miami, ruled a fair ball by 1B Umpire John Libka. But before Mookie could round third base, the Marlins ball boy in right field fielded the fair ground ball and threw it into the stands, resulting in a dead ball pursuant to Official Baseball Rule 6.01(d), entitled "Unintentional Interference."

OBR 6.01(d) states that if a non-uniformed person authorized to be on the playing field (e.g., ball attendant, security guard, etc.) intentionally interferes with a live ball ("intentional" meaning the action was voluntary, not that the intent was to commit interference per se), "the ball shall be dead at the moment of the interference and the umpire shall impose such penalties as in their opinion will nullify the act of interference."

After consultation with 1B Umpire Libka, 2B Umpire DJ Reyburn, and perhaps most importantly (for the angle), 3B Umpire Angel Hernandez, HP Umpire and Crew Chief James Hoye placed Betts at home, ruling that had interference not occurred, Betts would have scored.

Bona Fide Slide Rule Violation Leads to 9th Inning Double Play
In Cincinnati, Reds batter Tyler Stephenson hit a ground ball to Cardinals shortstop Masyn Winn in the bottom of the 9th inning, with Winn throwing to second baseman Tommy Edman as Reds baserunner R1 Christian Encarnacion-Strand slid into second base. Edman's throw to first base came after Stephenson arrived, but St Louis challenged the play, alleging that the runner's slide into second was violative.

The four criteria of OBR 6.01(j) pertaining to bona fide slides on force plays are that
1) the runner begins their slide before reaching the base;
2) is able and attempts to reach the base with their hand or foot;
3) is able and attempts to remain on the base after completion of the slide;
4) slides within reach of the base without changing their pathway to contact a fielder.

Upon review, the Replay Official ruled that R1 failed to satisfy criterion three of the bona fide slide rule, in that the runner failed to remain on the base after completion of the slide. Accordingly, replay overturned 2B Umpire Mark Carlson's no violation call and imposed the illegal slide penalty, which in this case is a double play with batter-runner Stephenson declared out at first in addition to Encarnacion-Strand's force out at second.


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