Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Interference Ends Tigers' 8th vs Phillies - Whose Protection is it Anyway?

After Phillies 3B Esteban Quiroz failed to catch a two-out fly ball vs Detroit, 2B Umpire Matt Brown called Tigers baserunner Eddys Leonard out for interference, ruling that the runner illegally hindered the fielder attempting to field a batted ball. But with three Philadelphia infielders in close proximity appearing to track the fly ball, was 3B Quiroz the correctly protected fielder or was this another player's ball?

Official Baseball Rule 6.01(a)(10), which puts a batter or runner out for interference if they "fail to avoid a fielder who is attempting to field a batted ball," also states, "if two or more fielders attempt to field a batted ball, and the runner comes in contact with one or more of them, the umpire shall determine which fielder is entitled to the benefit of this rule."

Although the "comes in contact with" portion of this rule might suggest contact is required for such a call, this is another instance of a misleadingly-worded rule. The definition of interference states, "Offensive interference is an act by the team at bat which interferes with, obstructs, impedes, hinders or confuses any fielder attempting to make a play." Body contact is not required (though it often helps toward getting this called).

Replays indicate 3B Quiroz was joined by two teammates in the immediate vicinity of the falling fly ball and 2B Umpire Brown determined that this fielder was the one protected—do you agree?

Had the umpire not protected 3B Quiroz, we theoretically could have seen an Obstruction 2/B call out of this, presuming the umpire also determined that the fielder hindered the runner's attempted advancement.

But in the end, with 3B Quiroz protected, the interference call ended the inning. Credit Tigers batter Parker Meadows with an infield single.


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