July 22, 2023

July 2023 Rules Question and Answer #2

Our Rules Expert answers questions on some of the most challenging questions around the game

July 2023 Rules Question and Answer #2

Play No. 1

QUESTION: Look at this video from a minor league game and tell me why the outfielder did not get credit for a catch after he carried the ball several feet. Instead, the batter was credited with a home run? Click on the link below.

ANSWER: This outfielder wasn’t credited with a catch because despite controlling the ball, he never met the transfer requirement by opening his glove with the intent to transfer. And since the ball never hit a foreign object or the ground, it remained in flight. So, the batter was credited with a home run when the ball went over the wall.

Play No. 2

QUESTION: I understand in a minor league game played in April, the defensive team recorded a triple play during an Infield Fly Rule situation. Can you explain what happened?

ANSWER: In a Midwest League High A game between the Great Lakes Loons (Dodgers) and the Dayton Dragons (Reds) on April 16, 2023, the Dragons turned their first triple play in franchise history in the first inning. Here is what happened.

With the bases loaded and no outs, Great Lakes’ Griffin Lockwood-Powell hit a pop-up to the right side. The umpires invoked the Infield Fly Rule, calling Lockwood-Powell out, but the pop-up was not caught and fell beyond the reach of Dayton second baseman Jose Serrano. 

Each runner advanced one base. The Dragons returned the ball to the infield and tagged the runner at second, who was standing on the base. There was confusion on the field. The umpires called the batter out, but they also called two Great Lakes runners out for abandoning their bases. The lead runner on the play scored on what was ruled a sacrifice fly. 

Ruleball Comments

  1. There is no reason why the umpires called two runners out for abandonment. Rule 5.09 (b) (1) and (2) Comment reads, “Any runner after reaching first base who leaves the base path heading for his dugout or his position believing there is no further play, may be declared out if the umpire judges the act of the runner to be considered abandoning his efforts to run the bases.”
  2. There is no evidence that any of the runners abandoned their bases in the above play.
  3. This was a flagrant misinterpretation of the Infield Fly Rule and the runner abandonment rule.
  4. The batter was properly called out when the IFR was invoked, but the runners were at liberty to advance at their own risk which they apparently successfully did.
  5. There was no need for the runners to tag-up because the ball was not caught.

Play No. 3

QUESTION: In one of our minor league games (Extended Spring Training Intrasquad), there were runners on second and third, and the batter had a 3-0 count. The opposing pitcher got called for a “no stop” balk, which was a wild pitch “Ball Four.” All the runners including the batter advanced one base on the wild pitch “Ball Four.” We thought the batter’s at-bat should continue, because there were not runners on first, first and second, or the bases loaded when the pitcher balked. The home plate umpire allowed the batter to remain at first base. Should the umpires have allowed the batter’s at-bat to continue (because of where the runners were at), or were they correct in allowing the batter to remain at first base?

ANSWER: The umpires made the correct decision because all runners, including the batter-runner, advanced one base on the “Ball Four” wild pitch. After a no stop balk, the pitch is allowed as an opportunity for the batter to acquire at least first base; if such opportunity is not exploited, the balk is enforced. In the above play the batter took advantage of his opportunity to run to first base, on the “Ball Four” wild pitch. If he remained at home plate, only the runners on second and third would be allowed to advance one base from their position on the bases at the time the pitch was delivered because of the balk, and the batter would remain at bat with a 3-0 count.

Rule 6.02 (a) (13) Penalty reads, “When a balk occurs the ball is dead, and each runner shall advance one base without liability to be put out, unless the batter reaches first on a hit, an error, a base on balls, a hit batter, or otherwise, and all runners advance at least one base, in which case the play proceeds without reference to the balk. The word  “otherwise” in the rule, can also include a wild pitch or passed ball, and catcher’s interference as long as the batter-runner and all runners advanced one base.  

In a non- “Ball Four” wild pitch situation, you are correct that the batter can reach first base on a “Ball Four” balk if the batter-runner forces ALL runners to advance one base.

Play No. 4 

QUESTION: There’s a runner on third and one out when the batter hits a ground ball to the first baseman. The runner on third breaks for the plate. The first baseman fires home in an attempt to retire the runner. Is the batter-runner required to avoid the throw to the plate?

ANSWER: The batter-runner is not required to avoid the throw to the plate, but he cannot intentionally interfere with the throw. In my opinion, by getting in the line of the throw before the first baseman releases the ball, the batter-runner may force the first baseman to take a step to clear a throwing lane. By doing so, the batter-runner is buying time for the runner on third to score. If the first baseman stepped on the base to retire the batter-runner before throwing home, the batter-runner would then be required to avoid the throw home because he was now a retired batter-runner. The Runner’s Lane interference call only involves throws going to first base. It does not pertain to throws to the plate from first base.

Play No. 5

QUESTION: Can a fielder make a legal tag with just the laces of his glove?


Play No. 6

QUESTION: Are players allowed to wear white gloves?

ANSWER: No. If a pitcher is wearing a white glove it can be a distraction to the batter because of the white baseball. If a fielder is wearing a white glove it can cause confusion in trap plays.

Play No. 7

QUESTION: The score is tied 3-3 after three innings when it begins to rain heavily and doesn’t stop for several hours. Is this a rained- out game that must be played over or a suspended game with all statistics at that point counting?

ANSWER: A game shall become a suspended game that must be completed at a future date if the game is terminated for weather even if it is not a regulation game. If it is a regulation game and the game is called while an inning is in progress and before the inning is completed, and the visiting team has scored one or more runs to tie the score or take the lead, and the home team has not retaken the lead, or it is a regulation game that is called with the score tied, it is a suspended game.  See rules 7.02 (a) (5) and (6).

Play No. 8

QUESTION: The batter runner was replaced by a pinch-runner after being awarded first base on a walk. However, the batter runner never touched first base before being replaced by the pinch-runner. If the batter runner does not touch first base when being pinch-run for and the defensive team appeals the play, is the batter-runner out? And if the umpire calls time, does it play a role?

ANSWER: The batter-runner must touch first base unless “Time” is called for any reason before he touches the base. If the umpire calls “Time” because of a substitution, injury etc., the batter-runner is not required to touch first base. A team can make a substitution any time the ball is dead. Rule 5.10 (a) reads, “A player, or players, may be substituted during a game any time the ball is dead.” A common situation is when a batter gets hit by a pitch and is removed from the game before he goes to first base. The batter-runner is not required to touch first base.

Rich Marazzi

Rules consultant/analyst:  Angels, D’backs, Dodgers, Nationals, Orioles, Padres, Phillies, Pirates, Red Sox, Rangers, Royals, Tigers, Twins, White Sox, Yankees, Bally Sports, YES, and NBC Sports Chicago.  

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