May 4, 2020

Pop-Up Chaos: Interference? Obstruction? Infield Fly? You Be the Umpire

Pop-Up Chaos: Interference? Obstruction? Infield Fly? You Be the Umpire

Leave it to Rich Marazzi to find quirky plays that make you scratch your head. This is a report similar to those that Marazzi sends to his MLB team clients. It is a great example of how difficult it is to umpire at game speed when several things go crazy on the same play. Watch the video,  then you make the call.

The Dodgers hosted the Marlins on Aug. 26, 2012.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Dodgers had Adrian Gonzalez on second base and Andre Ethier on first with one out when Luis Cruz hit a soft fly between home and first.

Marlins’ catcher Rob Brantly made an attempt to catch the ball but missed. The ball bounced in fair territory before settling in foul territory.

Ethier was called out for interfering with Marlins’ first baseman Carlos Lee and Cruz remained at bat.

The umpires -Tony Randazzo (plate) Todd Tichenor (IB) Brian Gorman (2b) and Bob Davidson (3b) huddled to discuss the play.

How would you have handled this play?

Was Ethier properly called out or should Lee have been charged with obstruction?

Should Cruz have remained at bat or should he have replaced Ethier at first base?

Should the Infield Fly Rule have been called?

View the video here:



Marazzi Expert Analysis

The umpires got it right.

It was Ethier’s responsibility to allow Lee to make the play. The runner cannot impede the defensive player. The runner must locate the fielder and relinquish the space he needs. Ethier was called out for interference and the runner on second base remains there.

Because the ball was a foul ball, the batter remains at bat after the interference. You can’t give the batter the base on a foul ball. If the ball remained in fair territory, Ethier would be out for interference and Cruz, the batter, would replace him at first base.

The Infield Fly Rule became a factor in this play but apparently it was never called because the umpires judged that the ball could not have been caught by an infielder with ordinary effort which is umpire judgment. If the IFR was called and the catcher touched the ball in fair territory, then Ethier and the batter would have both been out. But the ball never touched the catcher before going foul. Therefore, if the IFR was invoked, it would have to be rescinded. Ethier would still be out but Cruz would remain at bat.

Don't strike out!

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