BILL JAMES ONLINE

It's a Simple Blown Call

October 31, 2019
 

 

 

It’s a Simple Blown Call

           

Regarding the Trea Turner play. . ..this is the rule:

 

5.09 Making an Out

(a) Retiring the Batter

A batter is out when:

(11) In running the last half of the distance from home base to first base, while the ball is being fielded to first base, he runs outside (to the right of) the three-foot line, or inside (to the left of) the foul line, and in the umpire’s judgment in so doing interferes with the fielder taking the throw at first base, in which case the ball is dead; except that he may run outside (to the right of) the three-foot line or inside (to the left of) the foul line to avoid a fielder attempting to field a batted ball;

Rule 5.09(a)(11) Comment: The lines marking the three-foot lane are a part of that lane and a batter-runner is required to have both feet within the three-foot lane or on the lines marking the lane.  The batter-runner is permitted to exit the threefoot lane by means of a step, stride, reach or slide in the immediate vicinity of first base for the sole purpose of touching first base.

 

 

            The umpire who called Turner out was Home Plate Umpire Sam Holbrook. 

 

            Here are some efforts to create links to video of the play, although links into and out of this site are not reliable:

 

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUK​Ewj-po20uMblAhVLL6wKHfU_D5sQtwIwAnoECAUQAQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DreniQG9mz3o&usg=AOvVaw38VQafxXggEfZNjyk9UmqP

 

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=33&cad=rja&uact=8&v​ed=2ahUKEwjs5paQssblAhVDF6wKHbwsA_IQFjAgegQIAxAB&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Fsports%2Fnationals%2Ftrea-turner-out-interference-call​-dave-martinez-ejection-world-series%2F2019%2F10%2F30%2F106abbf8-fa81-11e9-8906-ab6b60de9124_story.html&usg=AOvVaw1k-T4YnrCrLC24u4Y32aF6

 

read:https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/nationals/trea-turner-out-interference-call-dave-martinez-ejection-world-​series/2019/10/30/106abbf8-fa81-11e9-8906-ab6b60de9124_story.html

 

 

https://www.sportingnews.com/us/mlb/news/world-series-2019-umpiring-rules-dave-martinez-ejected-nationals-astros/1breoy2dozfxn1p3ganm6aqdbf

 

            It’s a simple blown call.   We’re going to wind up "fixing" a rule that doesn’t actually need to be fixed, which is OK; it’s better than what almost happened, which is that Sam Holbrook almost became Don Denkinger. 

            Many thousands of people, including Trea Turner himself, have misread the rule as if it said that the runner is out if he runs inside the line, which any right-handed hitter would naturally do.   That isn’t what the rule says.   What the rule says is that the hitter is out if he runs inside the line and in so doing interferes with the fielder taking the throw at first base, except that the batter-runner is permitted to exit the threefoot lane by means of a step, stride, reach or slide in the immediate vicinity of first base for the sole purpose of touching first base

 

             It’s not relevant whether he is inside the line or outside the line until the interference occurs, and it isn’t interference if the batter/runner (Trea Turner) is in his last step.   Not making that up; that’s what the rule says. 

            Check the video.  At the moment of conflict between the runner and the first baseman, Turner is (a) in the air on his last stride toward the bag, and (b) actually past the apex of his leap.  He is more than half-way through his last stride before he would reach the bag at the moment the ball reaches first. 

            It is simply a blown call; there is no other way to read the rule.  The rule does not actually need to be fixed; it’s perfectly clear the way it is written.   Three mistakes:

1)     The pitcher made a bad throw.  The pitcher threw the ball right at the bag, but in order to get the out he needed to throw it to the second base side of first base, so that the first baseman could catch it.  

 

2)     The umpire made a historically terrible call, and

 

 

3)     Joe Torre—who is a great man, but great men make mistakes, too—Joe Torre defended his umpire, which really was all that he could do under the circumstances, but he wound up insisting that the umpire had made the right call under the rules, which very clearly he did not.  Torre’s interview propelled the story to another level. 

 

 

 
 

COMMENTS (83 Comments, most recent shown first)

MarisFan61
Yes, although I think that here there's an unusually good prevalence of civility, as the internet goes.
Even the ones of us who are thought by most to be idiots are treated pretty nicely. :-)

BTW, it's more besides the anonymity that enables the incivility. I think it's also very much because of the absence of actual tangible human contact.

It's also the reason that I eschew (good word) contacts like texting and e-mail. When the other people are just dots on a page, it's not hard to essentially forget that there are other actual PEOPLE there; it can feel like "I" am the only actual being, and everything else is just those dots on a page, not any human things....
9:40 PM Nov 4th
 
steve161
There was a time when people of different opinions had civil discussions about them. Then the Internet came along, and with it anonymity, and it's been all downhill from there.
4:21 AM Nov 4th
 
MarisFan61
Mikeclaw: I've gotten the same treatment, on Reader Posts.
11:45 AM Nov 3rd
 
mikeclaw
77royals - I am bowing out at this point. You're not getting the drift of what I am saying, most likely because you're not trying. I am not even arguing the rule and the ruling with you at this point, just asking you to be more civil like everyone else in this discussion. Uouare the only one saying "everyone else is wrong here and I'm right" and then saying thngs like "get a life" and otehr insulting jabs. So I'll leave it at that.

As to your suggestion that I don't know the lane is located in foul territory ... I don't know where that came from, and I don't recall saying anything like that, but for crying out loud I've been a Triple-A official scorer for almost 20 years now. I think I know the fundamental layout of the playing field. But that wouldn't register with you because you've already decided that anyone who has a different perspective than yours in a moron.

Over and out.
7:43 AM Nov 3rd
 
steve161
FWIW and FYI and all that, Doug Glanville's take at The Athletic is that the call was correct according to the rulebook, but that it's a bad rule. Here is the article, which however is behind a paywall:

https://theathletic.com/1336629/2019/10/30/glanville-ive-despised-the-running-lane-rule-since-i-was-a-player-her​es-why-it-needs-to-change/

Money quote: "This is Major League Baseball — a fielder should not be rewarded for making a bad throw that takes his first baseman into the lane of a runner who is just running straight to the base. That is the fielder’s fault, and whether it is a terrible throw or poor footwork by the first basemen should not matter. Then you punish runners who are fast enough to make every play bang-bang?"

I'm not saying I agree with him, but I have a lot of respect for Glanville, and I don't really do him justice by only quoting one partial paragraph. His is the point of view of an outfielder who was also a fast runner, and it deserves consideration at least.
3:14 PM Nov 2nd
 
Guy123
Brock: that seems a plausible theory about the rule's origin. Trying to minimize collisions at 1B may be motivation as well (or certainly should be). The number of plays plus the ability of runners to run through the bag clearly creates far more potential for dangerous collisions at 1B than any other base.

In fact, I suspect one reason that the umpire's call on Turner initially seemed clearly wrong to so many fans (myself included), is that interference would not be called on the runner for a similar play at another base. In general, the rules obligate runners to defer to fielders on *batted balls,* but this is reversed on throws: fielders need to find a way to avoid the runner. If a throw hits a runner anywhere else, it's tough luck for the defense ("should have made a better throw"). There are arguably good reasons to treat first base differently, but the result feels wrong to some extent.
1:20 PM Nov 2nd
 
MarisFan61
To Mike137: You misread.
Didn't say the rule doesn't matter.
12:31 PM Nov 2nd
 
Brock Hanke
Thanks! I thought about the rule for a bit. I don't know when each rule was dated in baseball, but I can think of one serious reason for this rule. /suppose your batter bunts down the first-base line. Once he's past the bunt, he can arrange, if he's not hamstrung by any rule, to keep his body between the catcher or pitcher (whoever fielded the bunt) and the first baseman's glove.

And y'know, that kind of obstruction is exactly the kind of thing that Ned Hanlon's 1890s Orioles did. It's also the kind of thing that King Kelly did in the 1880s. In other words, the rule may mainly be there for an event (the bunt) that is seldom used any more. Although if you took the rule away, there would certainly be a severe increase in bunting.
11:14 AM Nov 2nd
 
Guy123
Brock: Good point. Using the lane would add only about 2.5 inches to the RH runner’s route.
9:52 AM Nov 2nd
 
Mike137
davidt50: "Why is the batter out for running in fair territory?"

He isn't.

davidt50: "all right handed batters run that way"

No, they don't. They sometimes run in the running lane. They sometimes run two or three feet on the grass, then veer toward the base at the last minute.

I think case could be made for including the dirt base path in the running lane. But there is surely some reason that was not done.

I am sick of hearing the excuse that running a certain path is "natural". Highly paid professionals should be capable of modifying their behavior so as to comply with the rules.
9:42 AM Nov 2nd
 
Mike137
MarisFan61: "Doesn't necessarily matter."

Claiming that the rule doesn't matter is going way too far.

MarisFan61: "It's reasonable to wonder what the rule seems to have been designed to address, what kind of situations it seems to make any sense for."

The rule is meant to minimize conflicts and to clarify calls on such plays. I am not going to bother to repeat myself yet again as to how.

MarisFan61: "I think you're stretching it for the sake of defending the position."

Nope. I was not stretching anything. It was mikeclaw who brought up the silly example of the throw from second.

MarisFan61: "Suppose the throw from the second baseman were WAY toward the home plate side of 1st base, so far toward it that it's clear he wouldn't be making the out at 1st base"

I suppose that case would not satisfy "in the umpire’s judgment in so doing interferes with the fielder taking the throw at first base".
9:34 AM Nov 2nd
 
77royals
mikeclaw, when you and the rest of the people who disagree with the call actually learn what the rule is, and apply the rule to what happen, then I'll stop saying anything.

But everything you have posted has been entirely wrong, or has nothing to do with the rule and what actually happened. All you are talking about is what you wanted to happen, not actually did happen.

As I said, stop playing would'a, could'a, should'a, and apply the rule to the fact.

That fact that you don't even know that the runner's lane is in foul territory just shows you aren't even trying.
3:59 AM Nov 2nd
 
Brock Hanke
I looked at the rule. The very first sentence seems to say that you only have to run within the two lines DURING THE LAST HALF OF YOUR TRIP FROM HOME TO FIRST. What that means is that a righty batter does NOT violate the rule by his normal strides towards first. The rule only applies to the last half of the trip. The righty runner has had lots of time to get into the lane.
3:40 AM Nov 2nd
 
Gfletch
davidt50, that's a great question, strongly implying that we simply get rid of the damn first base running lane. If the runner is in the way then let the players find a way to line themselves up to make an unobstructed throw.
2:29 AM Nov 2nd
 
davidt50
Why is the batter out for running in fair territory? Every other base has the runner in the basepath. It is a straight line, all right handed batters run that way, he wasn't interfering with the play, the pitcher made a bad throw. The catcher has to avoid the batter on a missed third strike, the first baseman has to avoid the runner when throwing to second, why give the fielder a clear path on a hit in front of home plate?
1:02 AM Nov 2nd
 
MarisFan61
Mike137: Please pardon that I'm doing to your post what you did to Mikeclaw's!
But it seems only right, plus too much fun to pass up. :-)


mikeclaw asked: "Does it matter at all that the throw is coming from halfway up the third base line?"

Mike137: Nope. The rule says nothing about where the throw originates....


Doesn't necessarily matter. This isn't the U.S. Constitution, it's the baseball rule book, and it's reasonable to wonder what the rule seems to have been designed to address, what kind of situations it seems to make any sense for.
And BTW they sometimes do that on the Constitution too.


mikeclaw: "If you look at the fielder, the first baseman and the runner, it's silly to suggest that Turner is in the path of the throw. It was a bad throw."

Mike137: The rule says nothing about the path of the throw. Or whether it is a good throw. It only has to be catchable without the interference.


Same answer as above.


mikeclaw: "What if it was a ground ball to the second baseman, and he threw toward the home plate side of first base? Is Turner interfering with that throw, too?"

Mike137: Conceivably, if were running far enough out of the base path. But not likely.


I think you're stretching it for the sake of defending the position.

Let me take Mikeclaw's question a little further and see if you'd still give the same answer (Watch it now! :-)
Suppose the throw from the second baseman were WAY toward the home plate side of 1st base, so far toward it that it's clear he wouldn't be making the out at 1st base, but the throw hits Turner and Turner knocks Gurriel's glove off.

All of what you said would still apply, and such a totally strict reading of the rule could still lead to what you've been saying.
WOULD YOU STILL??

If you say yes, I'd say you're taking it to the absurdly absurd.
If you say no, which I think you have to (no?), you're acknowledging that we don't necessarily look just to the strict wording of the rule. We use common sense about it.
10:39 PM Nov 1st
 
Mike137
mikeclaw asked: "Does it matter at all that the throw is coming from halfway up the third base line?"

Nope. The rule says nothing about where the throw originates.

When a catcher picks up a third strike that has rolled a little away from him, he steps into fair territory to make the throw to first. If he throws from foul territory and hits the batter in the running lane, the batter will be safe.

mikeclaw: "If you look at the fielder, the first baseman and the runner, it's silly to suggest that Turner is in the path of the throw. It was a bad throw."

The rule says nothing about the path of the throw. Or whether it is a good throw. It only has to be catchable without the interference.

mikeclaw: "What if it was a ground ball to the second baseman, and he threw toward the home plate side of first base? Is Turner interfering with that throw, too?"

Conceivably, if were running far enough out of the base path. But not likely.

How hard is it to understand that the rule is what the rule is, not what you think might be a better rule?
7:19 PM Nov 1st
 
GuillermoMountain
Also Guy, it defies logic to claim that Turner being in the lane would have improved Gurriel’s positioning. He’s watching and reacting to the ball, not the runner
6:08 PM Nov 1st
 
GuillermoMountain
Guy, since the base is only 15” wide and Turner’s left foot was on the outside portion, there aren’t a lot of other possibilities for where he lands on the bag. Any further to the right and he’s risking an ankle injury. There was literally nowhere else he could have arrived at the bag that wasn’t going to make the play even more difficult for the defense
6:04 PM Nov 1st
 
mikeclaw
77royals - A lot of people on both sides are making reasonable points, but you insist on being rude, telling anyone who disagrees with you that they are delusional and need to get a life. Stop that.

Question for everyone: Does it matter at all that the throw is coming from halfway up the third base line? If you look at the fielder, the first baseman and the runner, it's silly to suggest that Turner is in the path of the throw. It was a bad throw. What if it was a ground ball to the second baseman, and he threw toward the home plate side of first base? Is Turner interfering with that throw, too? We all know this rule, probably knew it since we played little league, but it always applied to a bunt or a roller up the first base line where the runner was unavoidably in the path of the natural throw. I have NEVER seen this rule come into play on a ball hit toward third.
5:58 PM Nov 1st
 
AJD600
If the runner exits the lane in order to touch the base, wouldn't he have turned towards second and thus be vulnerable to being tagged out even if he were safe initially?
5:02 PM Nov 1st
 
337
Another rule that shouldn't even exist, much less be quibbled over endlessly.

If a batter can lay down a bunt so close to the first base line that the catcher's (or whoever's) only throw is to the 2nd base side of the bag and the 1B man has to stretch to get it, then he's bunted perfectly and deserves a bunt single.

In the alternative, I suppose, he could throw to foul territory, making the 1Bman stretch into foul territory, too. This would be an exciting play to watch.

I don't get why the batter/runner has to leave a lane for the fielder to throw in at all.​
4:52 PM Nov 1st
 
77royals
GuillermoMountain

Once at the bag, the rule explicitly allows the runner to be where Turner was.

Guy123

When Turner hits the glove his foot has not yet touched first base.


And there we have the answer to the entire question. In black and white.

Every one playing 'would'a; should'a; could'a' needs to stop and play 'actually did' happen.

He interfered with the catch. He is out. The rulebook supports this.

What you want to happen is not the same as what actually did happen.

He's out. Good call. Read the rule book. Volunteer to umpire with your local Little League. Stop arguing about something that was right and that you can't change.

Get a life.



3:08 PM Nov 1st
 
Guy123
Guillermo: I can't possibly know (nor can you) where Trea would have crossed the bag had he used the runners lane. But it hardly matters, since the throw would have clearly beat him in that scenario, as you acknowledge. (And had Turner run in the lane and provided a larger "throwing lane," it's possible that Peacock's throw and/or Gurriel's positioning would have been better.)

And no, the rule does not "allow the runner to be where Turner was." It allows Turner to "exit" the runners lane, which he clearly didn't do. The rule provides a safe haven to a runner who is A (in the lane) or B (exiting lane on final stride), not one who is A, B, or "in a position similar to where he likely would be had he elected to run in the lane."
3:04 PM Nov 1st
 
GuillermoMountain
Guy, look where Turner's left foot touches the bag, slightly to the right of center. Hard to argue that running "in the lane" would have resulted in significantly different positioning on (over, if you insist) the bag. As for the argument that he would have arrived later, sure, maybe a fraction of a second later. But the rule doesn't exist to slow down the runner, it exists to keep the runner out of the fielder's way prior to his arrival at the bag. Once at the bag, the rule explicitly allows the runner to be where Turner was.
12:09 PM Nov 1st
 
Guy123
Guillermo: When Turner hits the glove his foot has not yet touched first base. It is very close, but I do think he would have been out had he not collided with the glove. As I said below, we can't be 100% sure. But since the contact occurs before the base (ie less than 90 feet from home) the umpire can't reasonably assume a counterfactual where Turner beat the throw.

IF Turner had used the lane and then turned to the base, would he have been in the exact same position anyway? No. More importantly, Turner would have arrived to the bag *later*, so Gurriel would have fielded the ball. (If using the lane didn't take more time, runners would do it!)

You say the throw was "errant." But the quality of the throw is irrelevant, as long as it was catchable. This is about the rules, not athletic justice. And it clearly was catchable. Doug Glanville explained this well at the Athletic. He was called out on a very similar play, and he hates the rule. But he acknowledges Turner was out under the rules. He explains it this way: "According to the rule, where the fielder was throwing from mattered little; it had everything to do with the first baseman. I was interfering with the first baseman. I was out of (and never in) the running lane, and therefore left it to the umpire’s interpretation that I had obstructed his ability to catch the ball. If I was in that lane, I would eliminate the interference consideration and safe would be safe, whether I beat it or he dropped that ball."
10:37 AM Nov 1st
 
gregvanv
I (a die-hard Indians fan) was at the Fryman game. I thought then, and I think now, the (non)call was incorrect and the Jim Evans quote, which I did not remember, is also flat out incorrect. That quote is not consistent with the rule.

I think a case could be made that Fryman's "violation" did not begin when he was hit with the ball, it began when his chosen path prevented Knoblauch from reaching out to receive the throw earlier.

From personal experience (sorry Mick, my friend), I personally was somewhat responsible for my first baseman getting a broken arm when he tried to reach around/through the runner to receive a bad throw I made. I think we need to provide the fielder covering first the safe opportunity to receive a throw that is coming up to him along the first base line.
10:14 AM Nov 1st
 
Mike137
And here is a piece from the time citing that call, among others, as evidence that MLB should only have the best umps in the post season; advice that MLB has since taken.

https://www.sfgate.com/sports/jenkins/article/Postseason-Deserves-Best-Umpires-Game-2-marked-3317068.php
9:39 AM Nov 1st
 
TJNawrocki
If Turner had run to the right of the foul line, it would have changed the outcome of the play: The umpire would have ruled him safe, even if he interfered with the throw.

Turner was not out simply because he ran in fair territory. He was not out simply because he interfered with the throw. He was out because he did both.
9:38 AM Nov 1st
 
GuillermoMountain
Guy, how is it incorrect to argue that contact between a fielder and a runner who is essentially on the base does not constitute obstruction? The throw was errant; the runner was in the way only because the throw was poor. What would a baserunner have to do to avoid obstructing the fielder in that situation? Slide? Miss the base entirely? The answer is certainly not "run in the specified lane": if Turner had previously been to the right of the foul line it would not have changed the outcome of the play; the throw still would not have been catchable.
9:34 AM Nov 1st
 
Mike137
Here it is:

https://www.nytimes.com/1998/10/08/sports/baseball-league-championship-series-hands-on-hips-the-yankees-give-one-away.h​tml

"Jim Evans, the umpires' crew chief, explained to reporters that it didn't matter that Fryman was running on the grass, or that the ball hit him when he was in fair territory. The base is in fair territory, Evans said, and Fryman must be in fair territory when he touches it."

So it seems that one of the two calls was a bad call (or non-call).
9:32 AM Nov 1st
 
Mike137
JimPertierra: "I would love to look again at the infamous Chuck Knoblauch/Travis Fryman play from game two of the 1998 LCS to see where Fryman was when he was plunked by the throw on his sac bunt to see how much that play differs."

Good catch. Here is the video. You have to scroll down to 'Knoblauch argues a call mid-play'
https://www.mlb.com/news/most-controversial-postseason-moments

Very similar. Two small differences: It looks like Fryman may have already reached the base when the interference occurred and it looks like the Yankees might have been able to keep the run from scoring if they hadn't stopped to argue. I wonder if the league gave an explanation afterward.

This is not evidence that the call is rarely made since the Yankees obviously expected the call to be made.


9:24 AM Nov 1st
 
Guy123
evanecurb/Marris: Again, what is the evidence for the claim that this is a rarely-enforced rule? If that were the case, we should all be able to remember many examples of runners being hit by throws or colliding with first basemen and yet being called safe at first. I can't recall seeing that happen, certainly not with any frequency. Again, I agree this is a strong argument against the out call, but only IF it's true. The fact that no one making this argument provides a shred of evidence, though, leaves me with serious doubts....

I'm also baffled by the suggestion that Turner may not have interfered with the catch. His body hit the glove and literally knocked if off the first baseman's hand. Short of a full-on collision, what more evidence of interference could you possibly ask for? Saying that Turner had a right to be in that location because it was his final stride is a different -- though still incorrect -- argument. But saying he didn't impede the catch is just a fantastical notion.
8:54 AM Nov 1st
 
JimPertierra
I would love to look again at the infamous Chuck Knoblauch/Travis Fryman play from game two of the 1998 LCS to see where Fryman was when he was plunked by the throw on his sac bunt to see how much that play differs. They ruled no interference from Fryman running down the line. The opposing manager - Joe Torre
Best/Jim
8:38 AM Nov 1st
 
TJNawrocki
A lot of people are pretending that Turner was called out because he ran inside the baseline, which is what I assume the half-step-traveling NBA analogy is getting at. But he was actually called out for running inside the baseline AND interfering with the throw. Both conditions are necessary for the out call to be made.

If you can find examples of runners in the regular season who ran inside the foul line AND interfered with the throw to first base, but were nevertheless called safe, then the NBA analogy would hold. But by rule, Turner is not supposed to be called out just for running in fair territory.
8:22 AM Nov 1st
 
TJNawrocki
Test
8:19 AM Nov 1st
 
MattGoodrich
I think it was the right call. It wasn't terrible, certainly wasn't "historically terrible". I do acknowledge there is some ambiguity in the rule, allowing for different interpretations.

To the LesLein/Leonard Koppett suggestion: that is what many recreational softball leagues do. First base is a double base - half in fair territory for the fielder, half in foul territory for the batter. In such a league, this would be an easy call - batter is out.

8:09 AM Nov 1st
 
gregvanv
Chuck — my take — it may be easier said than done to execute what you suggest, AND you have to count on the umpire to call it according to the rule (which is iffy).

But yes; the purpose of the rule is to provide a throwing lane. If you use that throwing lane and hit the runner with the throw (unless it happens at the instant the batter performs his proper exit from the running lane), he should be out, and any other runners returned to their original bases.

I’d be willing to bet some catcher(s), somewhere, has done it. He likely doesn’t even have to move to create the situation, he just has to throw it in the right spot.

I myself have thought about doing this in the right situation (I’m a pitcher, not a good one), but I do not have confidence that the umpire will call it according to the rule.

I’ve played hundreds of games and I don’t remember it ever being called on my team while on defense. I myself as a RH batter did have it called against me once as a runner (correctly). I lined one off the pitcher, which bounced off him toward the first base line, and I was trying as hard as I could to get to first base using the most direct path.
3:35 AM Nov 1st
 
chuck
Just imagining a situation here: men on 1st & 2nd, no out, righty batter up. He puts down a bunt and proceeds to run up the first base line, but (as with many right-handed batters) not inside the runners' lane. The catcher fields the bunt on the 1st base side, positions himself so that the bunter-runner is between himself and the 1st baseman, then proceeds to hit the bunter in the back with the throw. This would have the added benefit of returning the runners to their bases and negating the sacrifice.

Now, if the catcher's only play was that he had to quickly throw, and the runner was in the way, then of course the runner is interfering with that throw. But would the same interference be called if the catcher moved himself so as to CREATE that situation?
1:15 AM Nov 1st
 
gregvanv
I never really participate here, so be easy on me lol. Perhaps somewhat naively, I presume it is the goal to have (good) rules and that the rules we have should be enforced. Further that maybe even "bad" rules should be enforced because "badness" is in the eye of the beholder -- if the rule itself is "bad", it should be improved.

There seems to be several lines of thinking on this issue. For example:

A. The rule is bad. Leading some of those to the conclusion therefore should not be enforced.
B. The rule should not be enforced in a high stakes situation.
C. The umpire's call was bad, i.e., he/they did not apply the rule correctly. I believe this is Bill's thinking. While I would concede Bill is smarter than me and a superior "arguer", I simply cannot read the words in the rule and the words in his interpretation and reconcile them (e.g., the Rule 5.09(a)(11) Comment is not applicable in this instance because it is predicated on "exiting the lane" and he did not exit the lane, because he never entered it.)
There could also be other arguments why the call is bad, e.g., some may have said there was no interference proved by the fact the runner was hit by the ball. To me, that could just as well be proof that there was interference, i.e., the reason the ball passed the fielder was that he was interfered with. I've looked at the video several times, and I cannot say for certain whether the batter/runner affected the fielder's ability to make the play prior to his reaching the base. And not entirely sure that sequence makes a difference...
D. The umpire's call was correct.


I'm not attracted to A. (above) if it means we have a rule on the book that we are not going to enforce. (My speculative opinion is the rule was not intended for a ball that goes down the third base line, so I agree the rule is not as good as it should be.)

I'm not attracted to B. (above) either. It's a slippery slope to decide to overlook rules in high stake situations. The fact that the NBA might do it does not convince me its a good practice.

C. (above) I just don't see how declaring that simply it was a misapplication of the rule is correct. This situation is along the lines of what the rule was intended for, albeit I doubt it was meant for a ball hit down the third base line. And even though Bill mentions the throw was "bad", whether the throw was "bad" is not a factor in the rule.

My opinion is that D. (above) is not technically wrong based on my look at the video, so I could agree with the call on that basis.


11:08 PM Oct 31st
 
LesLein
Do what Leonard Koppett suggested and put a plate next to first base in foul territory. It could only be used by the batter/runner to reach first base.
9:26 PM Oct 31st
 
evanecurb
I was listening to a podcast out of DC on Wednesday in which the [biased, pro-Nats] hosts were trying to come up with an analogy of a technically accurate call in another sport that is very rarely called in-season but would never be called in a crucial moment of a postseason game. The analogy they came up with was this:

an NBA player, in the fourth quarter of a tight playoff game, is driving for the basket, He takes an extra half step, then is called for traveling.

Never happens.


7:54 PM Oct 31st
 
MarisFan61
In line with Mikeclaw's post and some others:
Another argument against the call that was made is that if the rule is to be seen that way, then any times there's a ball trickled down the 3rd base line and the fielder sees that he's probably not going to be able to get the ball to 1st base in time and even though the runner will already be at 1st base before it can be caught at 1st base, just hit the runner with the throw, no matter that it doesn't get there till the runner has hit the bag -- and he'll be out.

BTW, I think this is what the Euclideans call "reductio ad absurdum." :-)
Just take the idea and show how it leads to an absurdity.
7:54 PM Oct 31st
 
mikeclaw
Usually we have this discussion on bunts and squibs up the first base line, where the runner is directly in the line of the throw. In fact, I don't ever remember this being an issue before on a ball hit up the third-base line. This ball was 35-40 feet up the third baseline. Turner is nowhere near the line of the throw that should have been made. It's a bad throw. Look where the throw originates. It's crazy to suggest Turner ran where he did to interfere with the throw.

7:25 PM Oct 31st
 
MarisFan61
Good post.

I declare the below post as a game-set-match to anyone who thought it was clear on the other side.

And BTW, per the info in a number of the other posts here, there are game-set-matches that we could state to anyone who thinks it's clear on 'our' side, i.e. that the call was bad.
6:56 PM Oct 31st
 
bobburpee
Every righty running out a ground ball last night took the same path that Turner did. They all do. Have you ever seen a righty on a ball batted to the infield detour into the lane. It's unnatural.

Gurriel would have been in a better position to make the catch if he had stretched properly -- touching the bag with his non-glove foot.

I disagreed with the call because Turner has to touch the bag somehow and it shouldn't have to be with a lunge from the running lane, which nobody ever uses.
6:02 PM Oct 31st
 
evanecurb
I remember JC Martin. All Orioles fans should remember him. I also remember Al Weis and Ron Swoboda and Tommie Agee. -sigh-
4:18 PM Oct 31st
 
MarisFan61
There's a lot of "I don't see how" on both sides, by smart and well-informed people.

To me, that in itself says that there's no clear answer here.

As I said on Reader Posts, the only clear thing is that anyone who says it's clear is wrong. :-)

BTW, Tango, I don't agree that "If you can make a reasonable argument either way, whatever argument you do make is a political argument."

Many of us are arguing on principles that we believe, and, right or wrong, that's what I've been doing.
Here are mine:

-- The rule is fuzzy.
That's not political. I could be wrong, but it's just my pure judgment.

-- To the extent that it is arguably clear and not fuzzy, it is rarely enforced, which makes this essentially a Merkle's Boner type of situation.

-- As several others have said, the runner didn't interfere with the play being made.
As I said for the first thing, I could be wrong, but it's not political; it's a pure judgment on my part.

------------------

Bhalbleib makes a good point about righty vs. lefty hitters.
Of course I think it's a good point, because I made it too :-) (on Reader Posts).

It's one reason that the "lane" is hard to take seriously.

BTW, I don't know that this "lane" thing is ever an issue for a lefty hitter; if it is, that's rare.
If a lefty hitter runs in that lane, except in some kind of extraordinary situation that's inherently a violation, because he's going out of his way to make possible trouble.
But for a righty hitter, that's the natural path.
3:07 PM Oct 31st
 
Guy123
mikeclaw: I don't see how you can argue that Trea didn't interfere with the catch. He literally ran into Gurriel's glove! Suppose Trea hadn't been close to first base at all (he fell down coming out of the batter's box): do you seriously think Gurriel would have missed that throw? Of course not.

Now, you *could* argue that Turner would have been safe at first even if Gurriel had caught the throw. It's very close. But I don't think we can reasonably expect the ump to somehow compute the outcome of this counterfactual in real time, without the benefit of slow-motion replay. We can't ever know for sure, and since the reason we can't know is that Turner hit the glove, it seems reasonable to presume interference.
2:08 PM Oct 31st
 
tangotiger
I agree with those that if Turner was called safe, no one would have complained.

In other words, he's probably out on the letter.
He's probably safe on the spirit.

If you can make a reasonable argument either way, whatever argument you do make is a political argument.

I don't have much of an opinion on the play, other than enjoying the dissection of the play. For example, Turner beat the ball. And Gurriel was not in a good position to stretch to catch that ball (if you remove Turner from his line of sight). In other words, you can argue that Turner was safe before a putout could have been made.

Or, you can read the intent of the rule to make sure to give wide latitude to the FIELDERS, and so, needing to remove the batter-runner from fair territory. But then with the "throw in rule" of saying "oh yeah, base is in fair territory, so at the very last step, he can come back in... but he has to be in foul territory before doing that". I mean, that's technically how the rule is written.

When a rule is spelled out like that, there's little wiggle room for the umpire to rely on "spirit of rule". The intent of the rule is to help the fielders, with a tiny safe harbor for the runner. NOT the other way around.

2:00 PM Oct 31st
 
Mike137
Guy123 wrote: "It's obviously true that there aren't a lot of runner interference calls at 1B. But what's the denominator here? What we care about is how often interference is called *when the runner obstructs the play.*"

That is spot on. I am sure we have all seen plenty of plays where the runner ran outside the lane and was not called out. But I can't say I have ever seen a play where the runner interfered with the *catch* and was not called out. That does not mean I have never seen it, only that I never understood the rule well enough to take note of the distinction. Now that I understand the rule, I will take note of that.
1:55 PM Oct 31st
 
shthar
At least Trea wasn't carrying the bat with him.


1:53 PM Oct 31st
 
bhalbleib
So, I won't argue one way or the other on whether it was interference the way the rule is written, I think the weight of the argument is for defenders of the umpire's call, but what I like to point out is that the rule is inherently unfair to RH batters given where they are when they hit the ball (in comparison to LH batters). The rule asks RH batters NOT to run in a straight line to first base, which is pretty much against human nature (or even instinctual animal nature, kind of doubt rabbits take a hard step to the right on their way to the briar patch when chased by a dog or fox).
1:48 PM Oct 31st
 
mikeclaw
Guy -
He is out under the rule because "in the umpire's judgement" he interfered, and the umpire's judgement is not irrational. I disagree, however, with his judgement, and I don't believe that mine is irrational either. As Bill point out, the runner's last stride is allowed to be straight to the bag, which is where Turner is.

Again, as I and another power suggested simultaneously, if the play had been called safe to begin with, I do not believe the Astros would have complained or protested because it is a pretty routine play. Watching it over and over, it just looks like a guy running real hard to first base like we see all the time.

It could have been called either way. I would have called him safe.
1:35 PM Oct 31st
 
dtandy
Does no one remember J C Martin, 1969?
1:33 PM Oct 31st
 
77royals
mikeclaw

Two instances where you mock people simply for disagreeing with you. That doesn't add to the conversation in any kind of productive way.

Neither does you telling other people how they are supposed to think.

Buy inside of calling me out for my opinions (and facts), why don't you add something to the conversation?

Why don't you describe the events and calls to us, instead of worrying about what someone else said.

You're complaining about a comment someone else made, but not providing any analysis at all. Give it a try. Maybe you'll be the one to convince someone the call was wrong.

It wasn't. It was entirely correct. Based on facts and actual events that happened on the field.

Not on rainbow mist and unicorn farts.
1:12 PM Oct 31st
 
GuillermoMountain
Turner was already descending in his last stride to first base, when the throw arrived. His route to the bag should be irrelevant as the route was complete by the time the play was made. This is where I see the interpretation to be incorrect: his route was irrelevant because it had no bearing on the outcome of the play. The misplay made by the Astros was not caused by anything Turner did on the way to the bag, it occurred when Turner was essentially already on the bag.
1:03 PM Oct 31st
 
Guy123
The only case for a blown call that seems plausible to me is made by evanecurb:
"The rule is rarely enforced." If true, then arguably norms should trump the letter of the law in guiding umpires' decision. But is it true? It's obviously true that there aren't a lot of runner interference calls at 1B. But what's the denominator here? What we care about is how often interference is called *when the runner obstructs the play.* Runners don't successfully interfere with catches at 1B very often. So is this rule enforced 10% of the time? 40%? 75%? If someone has data, I'd love to see it. But it seems to me this claim is simply being asserted without evidence.

mikeclaw: Bill said the throw was directly to the bag, not "the wrong side." If Turner had used the runner lane and then veered into fair territory only enough to step on first, it seems very unlikely he would have hit Gurriel's glove. (But whether or not that's true, Turner is still out under the rule.)
12:58 PM Oct 31st
 
StatsGuru
In the Mad Game of Basebrawl, interference was not only allowed, it was encouraged!

https://usualgangofidiots.tumblr.com/post/32947887184/headsplitopen-al-jaffees-all-time-great
12:49 PM Oct 31st
 
mikeclaw
Personally, I do think it is a blown call. The key phrase in the rule, to me, is "in the umpire’s judgment in so doing interferes with the fielder taking the throw at first base." I've watched the play over and over, and I don't believe Turner's positioning is the problem for Gurriel - the throw, as Bill points out, is to the wrong side of the bag. If Turner had been called safe on the field, I don't believe the Astros would have complained or protested.
12:35 PM Oct 31st
 
evanecurb
If the call had not been made, the Astros would not have objected. Just my opinion, but that's how I viewed it at the time, and that's how I see it at the moment. I appreciate the specificity with which royals77, tangotiger, and others have explained why it was a good call. I think that, technically speaking, they may be right. I still think it was a bad call. The rule is rarely enforced, and when I've seen it enforced, it was always on a throw from home plate (dropped third strike) or a ball up the first base line. This ball was toward the third base side, and the batter/runner was not in the line of a good throw. You can call the out, be technically correct, and still be out of line with standard practice.
12:34 PM Oct 31st
 
MarisFan61
P.S. Correction/Clarif: He didn't get hit by the ball till after reaching and stepping on and passing the bag.
12:24 PM Oct 31st
 
MarisFan61
Bear: He didn't get hit with the ball.
12:18 PM Oct 31st
 
mikeclaw
Good for Gfletch for pointing that out. And while we're at it ... royals77 ...

No, this is not a bunch of people who understand the rule and a bunch of people saying "The call is wrong because I want it to be." People, including Bill, are offering reasonable interpretations of the rule and the play and you are just waving your hand at them and saying "nope, nope, just wrong." You're doing what you accuse them of doing.

Also, look I don't want to see the use of a second bag at first base either, but your comment "why don't we use a big soft ball so no one gets hurt" is gratuitous. The people suggesting a second bag are doing so because they believe it might simplify an occasionally tricky situation - not for some politically correct whiny thing.

Two instances where you mock people simply for disagreeing with you. That doesn't add to the conversation in any kind of productive way.
12:00 PM Oct 31st
 
bearbyz
Basically the rule says if you run outside the baseline and the ball hits you are out. He ran outside the baseline got hit with the ball, so he was out. However, it took me three times to read the rule to understand that.


12:00 PM Oct 31st
 
Gfletch
thedanholmes: "I fully suspect you'll block/ban me."

Come on, that's just aspiring to martyrdom. Nobody cares and Bill James doesn't care if you disagree with him. I've enjoyed your comments here and on Reader Posts. I don't understand why you would think that Bill will "...block/ban..." you.
11:30 AM Oct 31st
 
thedanholmes
This is "defend Pete Rose no matter what" all over again, Mr James.

"There is no other way to read the rule"? The rule is a judgment call for whether the runner interfered.

There's a reason so many people are puzzled at your behavior on social media and even in your writings the last decade: it's this 1000 percent "my way or you're stupid" view you have on several subjects. For someone who has found success, you are derailed frequently to bicker (rigidly) with many people.

I fully suspect you'll block/ban me. Because lord help us if someone has a different opinion on a subject. It's not that you have strong opinions --- it's THE WAY you confront (eagerly) the people who have the opposing view.


11:17 AM Oct 31st
 
77royals
So right now, I see three or four of us giving definite descriptions of why Turner was out, along with the actual rules being copied in, to include myself with a lot of umpiring experience who has made this call more than once.

And a bunch more who are refusing to accept the call for the outstanding reason of "I don't want to".

Someone made a great point in the Readers Section.

Wanting something to be true just because you want it to be true is not the same thing as it actually being true. (paraphrasing)
11:14 AM Oct 31st
 
tangotiger
Bill:

It's tough to get into a discussion when you say: "there is no other way to read the rule".

As other commenters below have done, and other who have posted elsewhere, there ARE other ways to read the rule. It might sound too much about reading the rule literally, but there are other ways to read the rule.

www.closecallsports.com/2019/10/world-series-interference-blame-rule.html

***

To review, here's the first professional rules interpretation from Wendelstedt (Evans agrees, as do all codes): "A runner that is running the entire distance outside of the running lane will not be protected if he interferes with a play at first base, even if it is in his last stride or step to the base. In order to be protected, this last step must be when he first exits the running lane" (recall that in order to exit, one must first be within).

For illustration's sake, here's Evans: "A runner who has advanced the entire distance from home plate to first in fair territory making no effort to run within the lane is not extended the same leniency as the runner who runs in the lane as required and then cuts into fair territory near the base to touch it."

***

10:59 AM Oct 31st
 
Gfletch
The key point here is that is impossible for the runner to interfere with a throw when he is doing nothing except try to step on first base. All these other technical arguments are trumped by that simple observation.
10:55 AM Oct 31st
 
evanecurb
Not really related, but a good story nonetheless: Ken Burkhardt blew a famous call at home plate in game one of the 1970 World Series, calling Bernie Carbo out at the plate on a phantom tag by Elrod Hendricks. In the late 1970s, I was playing division 3 baseball and Burkhardt umpired one of our games. I was the only guy on our team who knew who he was but I certainly remembered him from that controversial play.

Fast forward to the mid 1980s: I was at an Orioles-Rangers game in Arlington, Texas, sitting in the first row seats by the Orioles bullpen. I struck up a conversation with O's coach Elrod Hendricks. I told him I had seen Burkhardt umpiring a college game a few years earlier. Elrod's response: "Was he sober?"
10:32 AM Oct 31st
 
wovenstrap
As far as I can tell, the only purpose of the lane is to clarify what is supposed to happen in a play like the one involving Turner. If it doesn't get invoked during that play, then it's unclear what they are doing there. That is not true of the foul poles.

The runner and the fielder sharing the same bag on a bang-bang play has been a problem for a long while. The rules say the runner is supposed to run in the lane, i.e. in foul territory but then has to make a last-second adjustment to hit the bag in fair territory. Adding the runner's bag solves that problem.

That's my final word on the subject. Thanks, Royals77
10:24 AM Oct 31st
 
77royals
The rule does need to be tweaked

No, it doesn't. It does exactly what it is supposed to do. The failure of people to understand the rule is the failure of the people, and not the rule

they should either add the softball bag

No. It's baseball. Not major league baseball. I guess next you'll suggest the use a big , soft ball so no one gets hurt

or erase the lane from the field

Why? For the love of Richie Scheinblum, tell me why? The reason it was put in place is still in place today. The play with Trea Turner. Why not take the foul poles down because no one ever hits them.
10:17 AM Oct 31st
 
wovenstrap
Bill's interpretation is inseparable from the lane having no meaning. Erase it.
10:11 AM Oct 31st
 
wovenstrap
The word "exit" complicates everything. Turner was never in the lane so there is no sense in which he could be said ever to "exit" it. Having said that, I think Bill's reading is better than most and captures the essential thing, which is that the ump should not have made the call.

The rule does need to be tweaked and they should either add the softball bag, or erase the lane from the field, or both.

If the lane doesn't mean anything, stop painting it on the field of play.​
10:10 AM Oct 31st
 
Guy123
Mike137 makes the key point, in my view: "In effect, when the runner chooses to run outside the lane he takes upon himself the responsibility of avoiding the ball and the first baseman." Runners almost always choose to give up the safe haven of the lane, since it requires (slightly) longer routes to 1B while the odds of interference happening are very low. Turner wins that bet at least 99% of the time. But this time, he lost.....
10:00 AM Oct 31st
 
77royals
"This interpretation of the rule would effectively mean that no interference is possible within about 6 feet of the first base bag, as the runner will invariably be in his last step (or sliding) at that point."

If he is in the running lane.

That is clearly spelt out in the rule.

Turner wasn't in the running lane. He was somewhere in the next county.


10:00 AM Oct 31st
 
Guy123
it isn’t interference if the batter/runner (Trea Turner) is in his last step
This interpretation of the rule would effectively mean that no interference is possible within about 6 feet of the first base bag, as the runner will invariably be in his last step (or sliding) at that point. The problems with this view include: a) it isn't what the rule says, b) it violates the spirit of a rule that mainly protects the ability of the defensive team to make a play on this type of hit, and c) if the intent were to rule out all interference calls close to the 1B bag, that would be easy to specify in the rules (but it isn't).
9:55 AM Oct 31st
 
77royals
Thanks, TJ.

Another point. People keep saying he should have been safe because he would have beaten the throw.

Common parlance, but it reality, he has to beat the catch.

But as I keep telling people, he couldn't have beaten the catch, because he interfered with it.

It can't be a catch until it is, or it isn't. A ball in the air is a throw. A ball hitting the glove is a catch or a non-catch, depending on the outcome.

But until the ball actually hits the glove, no one can determine whether or not he could have beaten it.
9:47 AM Oct 31st
 
Mike137
"In running the last half of the distance from home base to first base, while the ball is being fielded to first base, he runs ... inside (to the left of) the foul line"

Turner did that.

"and in the umpire’s judgment in so doing interferes with the fielder taking the throw at first base"

Turner did that too. So he was correctly called out.

"The batter-runner is permitted to exit the three foot lane by means of a step, stride, reach or slide in the immediate vicinity of first base for the sole purpose of touching first base."

But that is not what Turner did, so that part of the rule does not apply.

Bill wrote: "At the moment of conflict between the runner and the first baseman"

The rule says nothing about the "moment of conflict". The rule does not say that it is interference if he hit by the ball or contacts the fielder while outside the running lane. It does not say that contact during the last step does not count. It says that if he runs out of the lane and then gets in the way, he is out. That is what happened.

That is how the umpires association described it: "The runner is only allowed to EXIT the lane to touch 1st base. Turner was NOT IN THE LANE when he stepped towards first BASE and interfered with Guriel so he was NOT afforded the protection the lane provides."

In effect, when the runner chooses to run outside the lane he takes upon himself the responsibility of avoiding the ball and the first baseman.
9:46 AM Oct 31st
 
TJNawrocki
Yeah, 77royals is right. Bill's explanation here reaffirms that the umpires made the right call.

What the rule says is that the hitter is out if he runs inside the line and in so doing interferes with the fielder taking the throw at first base,

Which is exactly what Turner did.

except that the batter-runner is permitted to exit the threefoot lane by means of a step, stride, reach or slide in the immediate vicinity of first base for the sole purpose of touching first base

Which Turner did not do.

It’s not relevant whether he is inside the line or outside the line until the interference occurs, and it isn’t interference if the batter/runner (Trea Turner) is in his last step. Not making that up; that’s what the rule says.

Nah, the rule doesn't say that.

9:33 AM Oct 31st
 
77royals
"Rule 5.09(a)(11) Comment: The lines marking the three-foot lane are a part of that lane and a batter-runner is required to have both feet within the three-foot lane or on the lines marking the lane. The batter-runner is permitted to exit the threefoot lane by means of a step, stride, reach or slide in the immediate vicinity of first base for the sole purpose of touching first base."



Turner wasn't exiting the lane. He was never in the lane.

When the runner is in the running lane, for the above to happen, he has to turn in towards the field (to his left).

Turner is clearly turning towards foul territory (towards his right).

Turner's back was to the pitcher's mound. I'm not sure how anyone can think he wasn't out of the running lane and in the field (which is not allowed, and he clearly did not have both feet inside the lane)

This caused the fielder to not be able to catch the ball.

That is interference.

By rule, the batter is out.

I don't care about Torre, or any explanation he gave, or anything said by anyone after the game.

The umpires made the right call. It was upheld during review.

A non-umpire like Torre trying to explain this when he's not an umpire didn't make any sense, and neither did Torre. But it doesn't change the rightness of the call.



Rule 6.01(a) Penalty for Interference Comment: A runner who is adjudged to have hindered a fielder who is attempting to make a play on a batted ball is out whether it was intentional or not.

*** Turned did this







If, however, the runner has contact with a legally occupied base when he hinders the fielder, he shall not be called out unless, in the umpire’s judgment, such hindrance, whether it occurs on fair or foul territory, is intentional.

*** Turner was not legally occupying a base

If the umpire declares the hindrance intentional, the following penalty shall apply: With less than two out, the umpire shall declare both the runner and batter out. With two out, the umpire shall declare the batter out.
If, in a run-down between third base and home plate, the succeeding runner has advanced and is standing on third base
when the runner in a run-down is called out for offensive interference, the umpire shall send the runner standing on third base
back to second base.
This same principle applies if there is a run-down between second and third base and succeeding runner has reached second
(the reasoning is that no runner shall advance on an interference play and a runner is considered to occupy a base until he
legally has reached the next succeeding base).

9:01 AM Oct 31st
 
bjames
Re-reading this, I was maybe a little too kind to Joe Torre, which is a characteristic flaw of mine; I am often too kind. Anyway, it is Torre's job, as I understand it, to supervise the umpires, and make sure that they get things right. He was placed in a difficult position, in that he had to give an interview before he had time to sleep on it and fully review the evidence.

That said, if it is his job to supervise the umpires, then it is his job to see that they get things right. It is NOT his job to cover their ass. What he was doing here was covering their ass. It would have been better, I think, if he had said "I haven't had time to thoroughly review the play, and I won't comment until I have." Then, having reviewed the play, he should have admitted that the umpire got it wrong, rather than leaving public to believe that the rulebook required an indefensible outcome.
7:39 AM Oct 31st
 
 
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