Sunday, April 28, 2024

Aaron Judge's Slide Into 2B - Was it Interference?

After Brewers shortstop Willy Adames' throw hit Yankees baserunner Aaron Judge's raised arm during a slide into second base, umpires opted against calling interference ruling the New York runner did not intentionally act to break up a double play in contravention of the rules. After the game, Crew Chief Andy Fletcher released a statement saying it was interference after all and that the call had been missed on the field. Here's what the rule says.

Official Baseball Rule 6.01(a)(10) pertains to interference and states it is interference when "[the offensive player] fails to avoid a fielder who is attempting to field a batted ball, or intentionally interferes with a thrown ball," while OBR 6.01(a)(5) which directly applies to this play states, "Any batter or runner who has just been put out, or any runner who has just scored, hinders or impedes any following play being made on a runner. Such runner shall be declared out for the interference of their teammate."

This language mirrors the definition of terms: "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."

The intentionally interferes with a thrown ball phrasing appears elsewhere in the book as well (OBR 5.09(a)(13) explicitly puts the following runner out if a preceding runner interferes; while OBR 5.09(b)(3) puts a runner out for intentionally interfering with a thrown ball), but notably not in OBR 6.01(a)(5). Instead, the standard is lower—"simple" interference, whether or not it is actually intentional.

Obviously, intentional interference is always illegal and the intent of the retired runner can provide a clue as to whether said runner has violated the rule.

As for Judge, his action in deliberately raising his arm (one might even say willful and deliberate) and then dropping it into the path of the throw as the fielder threw the ball appears to constitute interference by a retired runner, an observation echoed by the acting Crew Chief for this game after the final out.


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