September 17, 2022

Runner’s Lane Interference Controversy

Umpires miss interference call, but the play in not reviewable

Runner’s Lane Interference Controversy

The Cubs and Mets played at Citi Field on September 13, 2022. In the top of the fourth, the Cubs had runners on first and second and no outs when Michael Hermosillo, facing Jacob deGrom, laid down a sacrifice bunt that was fielded by James McCann. The Mets’ catcher fired to first baseman Pete Alonso. But the ball hit Hermosillo and Alonso was unable to complete the play. Hermosillo ran the entire distance between home and first out of the Runner’s Lane, but plate umpire Laz Diaz had no call.  When the play ended, Franmil Reyes advanced to third, Ian Happ went to second, and Hermosillo stayed on first. The Cubs subsequently scored two runs that inning in a game they would win, 4-1.

Mets manager Buck Showalter wanted an explanation from Diaz and first base umpire Hunter Wendelstedt why interference was not called on Hermosillo but got nowhere.

Ruleball Comments

  1. From where I sit, this was a classic Runner’s Lane interference play. Hermosillo should have been called out and the runners should have been returned to their original bases.
  2. Hermosillo ran the entire distance out of the 45-foot long, 3-foot wide Runner’s Lane and interfered with the fielder (Alonso) who was taking the throw.
  3. In such plays, there must be a throw made and it shall be a quality throw which is umpire judgment. If you removed the batter-runner from the play, there was no doubt that Alonso could have easily fielded the throw.
  4. The call is primarily the plate umpire’s call, but the first base ump can also help.
  5. BTW-notice that Alonso playing square to the base came close to colliding with Hermosillo. If he was in the stretch position, he would have had a much better chance of making the play. I know I’m in the minority on that point. But the right-handed batter-runner is going to get to first base as quickly as possible and is not going to shift into the Runner’s Lane which slows his approach to the base. If right- handed first basemen would make that play from the stretch, or step out and catch, on late developing plays on balls hit in the catcher’s area, it would widen the Runner’s Lane for the batter-runner; it would keep the right-handed first baseman’s glove out of harm’s way, and increase the chance for the putout.

 

Rich Marazzi

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

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