Runner Does Not Slide Heading to Second in Force Double Play Situation
Does a runner have to slide when going to second base to break up a force/double play?
The answer is “No.” Let’s look at the following play that occurred in the Pirates-Mariners game in Seattle on May 26, 2023.
In the top of the fourth, the Bucs had Jack Suwinski on first base with one out when Tucupita Marcano hit a ground ball to M’s second baseman Kolten Wong who threw to shortstop J. P. Crawford to start a 4-6-3 double play. After Suwinski was retired, he kept running through the base without ever sliding.
Crawford then threw to first. In the act of throwing, his arm made contact with Suwinski’s shoulder and his throw went into the stands. Marcano was awarded second base while Crawford was charged with an error.
M’s manager Scott Servais reportedly argued that a double play should have been called because Suwinski didn’t slide and therefore interfered with the throw. Second base umpire Marvin Hudson did not agree.
- I support the “no call” by Hudson in the above play. A runner is not required to slide when attempting to break up a double play.
- As long as the runner does not initiate contact with a fielder and impede him from making a play, there is no violation. However, if the runner doesn’t slide and collides with the fielder and impedes him from making a play, that would be illegal.
- Interference rulings are subjective and who knows if a different umpire would have ruled a double play in the above play. But I think most umpires would not rule interference in this play.
- Rule 6.01(j), sliding to bases on double play attempts, states that interference occurs, “If a runner does not engage in a bona fide slide, and initiates (or attempts to make) contact with the fielder for the purpose of breaking up a double play, they should be called for interference under this Rule 6.01.”
- Suwinski did not engage in a bona fide slide, but he did not initiate contact with Crawford while remaining in a direct path to the base. In my opinion, the onus was on Crawford to make a better throw by clearing a throwing lane for himself.
- The rule to get a double play here would be 6.01(a)(5) that reads, “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.”
- Suwinski did not hinder or impede the fielder after he was put out.
- The comment to the rule also states, “If the batter or a runner continues to advance or returns or attempts to return to his last legally touched base after they have been put out, he shall not by that act alone be considered as confusing, hindering or impeding the fielders.”
- The fact that Suwinski kept running is within the rules.
- If a runner does not make a bona fide slide when breaking up a double play, the batter-runner should also be called out. Under rule 6.01 (i), a bona fide slide occurs when: (1) A runner makes contact with the ground before reaching the base; (2) The runner is able to reach the base with both hand or foot; (3) The runner makes a bona fide attempt to reach and remain on the base while sliding; and (4) The runner slides within reach of the base without purposely altering his path for the purpose of initiating contact with the fielder.
- The roll block continues to be illegal. A roll block occurs when the runner makes initial contact with the fielder instead of the ground for the purpose of breaking up a double play.
- If a runner engages in an illegal slide but does not initiate contact with the fielder, there is no penalty.
- If a runner makes a legal slide and makes contact with the fielder, there is no penalty.
- Interference should not be called if a runner’s contact with the fielder was caused by the fielder being positioned in (or moving into) the runner’s legal pathway to the base.
- IMO, the best slide to break up a double play is the pop-up slide. But the runner must be sure his body is under control, and he doesn’t hinder or impede the fielder from making a play.
- To summarize, a runner does not have to slide when running to second base in a force/double play situation. It is only illegal if the runner initiates contact.
- Suwinski had no intention to remain on the base, but he wasn’t sliding and did not initiate contact with Crawford.
- Sliding through the base and initiating contact with no intention to remain on the base would be illegal.
- Sometimes players and coaches get the Pro rule confused with the NCAA rule that reads, “On any force play, the runner, in the vicinity of the base, must slide on the ground before the base and in a direct line between the two bases. It is permissible for the slider’s momentum to carry them through the base in the baseline extended.”
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