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MLB Postseason Riddled with Rules Controversies

Why Didn’t Dusty Baker Protest Follow-Through Interference?

Did Yankees Gary Sanchez Violate a Rule on the Final Out of the Game?

Was that Interference on Carlos Correa that Allowed the Winning Run to Score?

 

Expert Rules Analysis Here

CONTROVERSY #1

In the most important game played by the Nationals all year long could the loss have been prevented by better knowledge of the rules? Let’s review at what happened.

In Game 5 of the Cubs-Nationals NLDS, Fifth Inning, Runners at 1B and 2B

Cubs, Javier Baez at the plate and he swings and misses at an 0-2 slider from Max Scherzer. The ball gets away from Nationals’ catcher, Matt Weiters (passed ball) and rolls to the backstop. Weiters throws to 1B in an attempt to retire Baez on the uncaught third strike but overthrows the first baseman for an error that produces an unearned run as Jason Heyward goes to 3B and Baez ends up at 2B.

However, on the follow-through of his swing, Baez’s bat touched Weiter’s face mask. According to the baseball rules, this is called follow-through contact. It is not a form of interference.

Watch the play here: https://www.mlb.com/video/russell-scores-on-an-error/c-1862903183?tid=6479266

OFFICIAL RULE

BACKSWING (FOLLOW-THROUGH) HITS CATCHER

Rule 6.03(a)(3) [former Rule 6.06(c)]:

If a batter strikes at a ball and misses and in the umpire’s judgment unintentionally hits the catcher or the ball in back of the batter on the follow-through or backswing while the batter is still in the batter’s box, it shall be called a strike only (no interference). The ball will be dead, however, and no runner shall advance on the play. If this infraction should occur in a situation where the catcher’s initial throw directly retires a runner despite the infraction, the play stands the same as if no violation had occurred. If this infraction should occur in a situation where the batter would normally become a runner because of a third strike not caught, the ball shall be dead and the batter declared out. This interpretation applies even if the catcher is in the act of making a throw to retire a runner. That is, if the batter is in the batter’s box and his normal backswing or follow-through unintentionally strikes the catcher or the ball while the catcher is in the act of throwing, “Time” is called and runners return (unless the catcher’s initial throw retires the runner).

Here is what home plate umpire Jerry Layne commented about the play as reported by the Washington Post:

“Backswing interference is a play where a guy is stealing or there’s a
play being made a runner hindering the catch,” Layne said afterward. “It
was a wild pitch and went past him. That is no longer in that
particular description, in my judgment. In my judgment, the passed ball
changed the whole rule around to where, in my judgment, it had nothing
to do with everything. Therefore, it didn’t have any effect on it. In my
judgment.”

“When the ball gets past him, all right, in my judgment he didn’t
have any more opportunity after he had a chance to field the ball,”
Layne said. “There was no further play that could have been made on it.
The graze of the helmet didn’t have anything to do, in my judgment, with
anything at all, with that particular play. I understand, it’s pretty
much my judgment. I got together and found everybody was in agreement.
That’s what we went with.”

“If you look at the replay, it’s clearly gone past him,” Layne added.
“That’s where we were in our discussion and the judgment. Now, if it was
right there in front of him, we’d have a different night.”

EXPERT ANALYSIS – RICH MARAZZI

Rules consultant:   Red Sox, Blue Jays  Rays, Tigers, Royals, Mariners, Dodgers, Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Reds, Brewers and the White Sox and Reds TV announcers

Back Swing Interference Non-Call Effects the Final Score

Take what happened in last night’s deciding Game Five of the 2017 NLDS when the Cubs and Nationals met at Nationals park. A violation occurred that was not subject to video review that included a rule misinterpretation that the Command Center failed to address, most likely because of the replay protocol.

In the top of the fifth inning the Cubs had Jason Heyward on second and Addison Russell on 3B with two outs when Javier Baez missed an 0-2 pitch that got by Nationals’ catcher Matt Wieters. Weiters chased the ball and threw wildly to 1B. Russell scored from 3B, Heyward reached 3B and Baez ended up on 2B.

Wieters then argued with plate umpire Jerry Layne that he was hit in the mask by Baez’s backswing.  Layne huddled with the other umpires but the call remained despite the fact that Layne said he saw the bat make contact with the catcher’s mask as did other umpires.

  • MLB Umpire Manual, “if a back swing infraction occurs in a situation where the batter would normally become a runner because of a third strike not caught, the ball shall be dead and the batter declared out.”

Therefore, Baez should have been declared out and Russell’s run should have been nullified. Layne and the umpiring crew ignored what is written in the MLB Umpire Manual. Whenever an offensive player hinders or impedes the defensive player from making a play, you have grounds for interference. Wieters was certainly hindered and impeded from chasing the ball the moment he was struck in the mask by Baez’s bat.

  • In my opinion, Dusty Baker should have protested the game based on a rule misinterpretation that had an adverse effect on the outcome of the game his team lost, 9-8.
  • And it’s unfortunate that the umpires at the Command Center would not intervene since, in my opinion, there was a rule misinterpretation.

 

CONTROVERSY #2

Yankees Catcher, Gary Sanchez places Live Ball into his Pocket on the Last Play of the Game.

Game 5 of the ALDS ended when Aroldis Chapman fired a fastball past the Indians’ Austin Jackson for a called strike three. But because Yankees’ catcher, Gary Sanchez, never tagged Santana after the pitch popped out of his glove, the play was still alive. Sanchez ran to the mound to congratulate Chapman and tucked the ball into his pocket. If Jackson had realized that he was not called out and tried to run to 1B, the Yankees would have been forced to make a play on him to end the game. If Sanchez retrieved the ball from his pocket and threw wildly to 1B, Carlos Santana would have scored from 2B and the Indians would have brought the tying run to the plate. As it turned out, Jackson left the dirt area behind home plate and was called out for abandonment.

View the play here: http://m.mlb.com/news/article/258318606/yankees-aroldis-chapman-seals-trip-to-alcs/?game_pk=526481

Here is how rule expert Rich Marazzi sees the play:

Sanchez Places Ball in Pocket Before Game Ends

The Yankees and Indians played the deciding Game 5 of the ALDS at Progressive Field on Wednesday night. The Indians were batting in the bottom of the ninth trailing, 5-2. Austin Jackson was at bat with a 1-2 count and Carlos Santana on second base when Aroldis Chapman delivered the final pitch of the game that was called “strike three” by umpire Jeff Nelson.

The ball popped out of catcher Gary Sanchez’s mitt and fell to the ground while Jackson argued the call with Nelson.  At that point Sanchez had not made a legal catch of the pitch and the ball was alive and in play.

The game had not ended. After Sanchez picked-up the ball, instead of tagging Jackson or throwing to first base, he ran to the mound to congratulate Chapman and while doing so, foolishly tucked the ball in his pant pocket.

Several have asked if Jackson and Santana should have been given an automatic base award because the ball found its way into Sanchez’s uniform.

The answer is no.

Sanchez placed the ball in his pocket which would not meet the standard of a lodged ball that is thrown or batted into a player’s uniform. The rule book covers batted or thrown balls that become lodged, but what Sanchez did is not addressed. Therefore, in my opinion, the Official Baseball Rules give tacit approval for a player to do this.

I once saw an infielder conceal the ball in his pocket in hope of pulling off the hidden ball trick. The stunt was not executed because the runner was alert. But the umpires did not penalize the defensive team for the attempted ruse.

However, Jackson should have run to first base. The moment he exited the dirt circle around the plate, the game ended.  

 

Controversy #3

Carlos Correa wins ALDS Game 2, but was his Pop-Up Slide Illegal Interference?

The Astros won with a walk-off victory in Game 2 of the ALDS when Jose Altuve scored on a Carlos Correa gap shot to right center field. With one out in the home ninth inning, Jose Altuve reached 1B on a bae hit. Carlos Correa followed with a drive into the right filed alley. It was cut off by Aaron Judge, who threw to SS Didi Gregorius at 2B. As Gregorius spun and fired to the plate Correa slid into 2B, popped up and made contact with Gregorius. The throw was wide and the winning run scored.

 

Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi came out to argue interference. Correa did appear to make contact with Gregorius. Did Girardi have a case for interference? No, a pop-up slide is perfectly legal and the “no call” for interference was correct. Smart coaches teach their players to utilize this effective base running tool to break up double plays, too.

 

See the play here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygYrrics0xs

 

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