Wednesday, April 6, 2016

New rule, controversy. Old rule, controversy

Two games Tuesday at least arguably turned on rule interpretations, one old, one new:

Old rule, Astros-Yankees: Houston's Carlos Correa, running to first base, runs well inside the baseline. Yankees pitcher Dellin Betances, trying to throw the ball past Correa, throws it into the outfield, The go-ahead runs scores, and Houston wins the game.

Dellin Betances fields, Carlos Correa runs inside the
baseline in the pivotal play of the Yankees opener Tuesday,
The Yankees are protesting the call, arguing that Correa was guilty of impeding the throw, but the ruling by umpire Dana DeMuth was that the throw was simply a lousy throw and Correa impeded nothing, and there is long-standing precedence for that ruling. Betances's play is to throw the ball into Correa's back:

“Do it,” the umpire said. “Throw it into the runner’s back. Because then what’s happening? He is impeding.”

(Quote from the Daily News story on the play.) It's akin to the interference noncall in a Red Sox-A's playoff series a few years ago. A Red Sox fielder got in Miguel Tejada's way; they bumped; Tejada jogged home and was thrown out, and the umps' ruling was that Tejada's lackadasical effort meant that he would have been thrown out regardless of the bump. You gotta be trying to make the play to get the call.


The pivotal pivot: Jose Bautista is the base runner, Logan
Forsythe the pivot man. 
New rule, Blue Jays-Rays: Tampa Bay tries to turn a game-ending double play, Base-runner Jose Bautista reaches out to grab at pivot man Logan Forsythe's back foot, and Forsythe throws the ball away, Two runs score. The Rays challenge the call, and the video crew in New York deem Bautista to have violated the Chase Utley rule. The play becomes a double play, the runs are taken off the board, and the Rays win.

The Jays are unhappy with the call, complaining that Bautista's slide was not dirty. And I'll agree, it wasn't Chase Utley dirty. It wasn't a rolling block. But ...

  • Bautista made no effort to stay on the base (note that he's past the base in the photo above) and
  • The swipe at Forsythe's foot probably counts as changing the route for the purpose of making contact, which is expressly forbidden in the rewritten 6.01 (j).

The field umpires said they had been instructed to limit their comments on the play to what the replay center told them. Presumably they aren't all that happy with the ruling either. But that's where all this started, with the umpires' collective unwillingness to make the judgment call the rule book granted them. Now the rule is specific and explicit. Bautista violated it.

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