MLB rule 7.10 talks about appeal plays, which I take to be the little ritual most commonly seen when the fielding team appeals that a runner left his base too early on a caught fly ball. The fielding team gets the ball to the pitcher, they wait for the next batter to appear in the box, then the pitcher tosses the ball to a fielder standing on the base from which the runner left early. If the umpire agrees, he will call the runner out “on appeal”.
My wife and I were discussing this, and we were looking at two scenarios:
[li]Runner on first and second, no outs. Batter hits a fly ball to the outfield, runner at third leaves early, ball is caught and both runners try to advance. Ball is thrown toward the plate, cut-off and thrown to the third baseman to make a play on the runner arriving from second. In the act of making a play on the runner, the third baseman has the ball in his glove and is touching third base. Is the runner who scored out automatically, or must the fielding team go thru the appeal play to record the out and erase the (illegally obtained) run?[/li][li]Runner on first, who is being held on by the first baseman. Batter hits a screaming line drive down the right-field line that the first baseman dives for and catches in fair territory. In the act of catching, his momentum causes him to roll over the base before the runner can return and tag up. By the time the first baseman gets to his feet and attempts to double off the runner by tagging the base, the runner is back on first. In the typical “double-off” scenario, no appeal is necessary, but I’m wondering if the umpire has to judge the intent of the first baseman in touching the bag on such a play; if the touch was inadvertent, does it count in doubling-off the runner?[/li][/ol]
A few points to consider: Rule 7.08(d) says a runner is out if “(h)e fails to retouch his base after a fair or foul ball is legally caught before he, or his base, is tagged by a fielder. He shall not be called out for failure to retouch his base after the first following pitch, or any play or attempted play. This is an appeal play;” (emphasis mine). Rule 2.0 covers the definition of the word “appeal”: "An APPEAL is the act of a fielder in claiming violation of the rules by the offensive team. "
IMHO, then, the runner is not out in either scenario. Has anyone ever seen plays similar to this in an MLB game, or know of a ruling on similar plays?