Baseball Rules Q: Happened today Pirates v. Marlins

Here’s the setup…Marlins are batting…one out and a runner on second.

The batter hits a line shot into the gap in left-center. The left fielder makes a miraculous catch and the runner barely beats the double play throw back to second. (Second base umpire makes the out call on the fly ball)

But wait. The Marlins manager comes out to argue the call and the umpires confer. After the conference, the umpires reverse the call and agree that the left fielder trapped the ball. They put the batter on first and the runner on second. Still one out.

My question: Why? Had the original call been correct, the runner would have scored and the batter been on second.

It seems that by correcting the call, the umpires placed the base runners in a position that they would NEVER have been under either call. What’s the rationale for that?

Was the runner by chance on his way back to 2nd when the outfielder “caught” the ball?

Unknown. We didn’t get a camera angle on that. I’m sure he was at least to third and waiting for the final call and hustled his ass back to second. The outfielder dove, rolled around, actually picked up the ball with his bare hand, and then made the throw.

A speedy runner could have been halfway to the plate, and even I could have made it back from third…

But that’s only if they were positive it wouldn’t be caught. If he attempted to go back to 2nd before the ball was caught, I don’t believe the ump would award him a base he wasn’t attempting.

There was a similar incident in a Mets game last week.
The umpire said “That’s no catch, and any time that we correct an error like that, we can put the runners wherever we think they should have gone.”

Though in this situation first and third made have made better sense, but that’s a judgment call by the umpire. If the runner was holding up at second, he may determine that he wouldn’t have made it to second on the trap.

Yeah, that sounds kinda weird to me. I would have thought the umpires would put the runner at third, at least. Leaving him at second just doesn’t seem right.

Rule 9.02© is the relevant rule, which gives the umpires discretion to place baserunners when they reverse a call. They are supposed to put them where they would have ended up if the final, revised call was indeed the original call (in this case, had they ruled ‘no catch’ on the original hit). Your description would seem to indicate the run scoring wouldn’t have been out of he question. I don’t have an issue myself with putting the batter at first, not assuming he would have legged out the double, but I’d also think he baserunner would have at least advanced to third.

But it’s the umpires’ discretion and their call, when you get right down to it.

I believe this is what happened. It sounds like the Marlins runner ran a little and then wasn’t sure whether to go back and tag or not. So his hesitation preceded the first call.
How does a modern baseball broadcast team not have a camera on each runner?

There may have been a camera, but it wasn’t shown on the replay.

But even assuming that the runner was standing halfway between second and third (and I say no way in hell, because he hustled to beat the throw back) you would have to assume if he got a safe call from the umpire, he trots into third easily, and the hustling batter stands up for a double.

Actually I saw this play also and it clearly seemed to be a catch. The left fielder was charging hard toward the infield, basically in the direction of second base. He is left handed so his glove hand was reaching across his body and the mitt was open towards the runner when he reached down about a foot or so from the ground and the ball clearly flew into his glove. At this point the fielder fell to the ground with his glove hand going to the ground ball-side first. What happened is after the “catch” the fielder used the ground to keep the ball in his mitt. There may be a shot of white as the glove approached the ground. We only saw that replay once.

I would assume that rather than wait and see if the ball came out of the glove the runner immediately returned to second base as it was not a very long throw from the outfielder to second at this point. He was probably standing on second when he first learned what the call was. Unfortunately the fielder had a problem getting the ball out of his glove and into his left hand without revealing that he used the ground to control the ball. This seemed to tip off the other umpires that the wrong call might have been made. We were never able to see if the ball was separated from his mitt for certain. IMHO if baseball had the NFL rule of incontrovertible evidence necessary for a decision to be overturned the batter would have been out. If the runner on second had made any move toward third the runner on first would surely have been entitled to second. The way the play occurred I don’t see how any runner could risk advancing

I’ve just watched this a few times on MLB.com. You need a subscription; i don’t think they included the play in the free videos.

First, i completely disagree with denquixote that we can’t be certain that the fielder dropped the ball. It’s totally clear from the replays that, while the ball goes into the glove cleanly, it drops out and lands on the ground as he’s sliding, and before has has control over it. Neither set of commentators was in any doubt at all about this, and the Pittsburgh commentators were, if possible, even more certain than the Miami commentators that it was no catch.

I took a few screen grabs of the end of the play. Here are four, in order:

1 2 3 4

Clearly not a catch, IMO, and i believe that even an NFL umpire, with the league’s “incontrovertible evidence” requirement, would have ruled it “no catch.”

So, where should the runner be placed? It’s true, as the OP says, that we don’t get a really good look at everything the runner did. I was incredibly surprised that they didn’t give us another angle on the runner’s actions during the play.

I did, however, take some screen grabs of what we did see, and in my opinion the runner was clearly headed for third base, even while hesitating to see whether the ball would be caught. The last instant that we see him, he is about half-way between the second and third base, and is still leaning and moving in the direction of third. We don’t see exactly when he turns around and heads back to second, but i believe that he was clearly heading for third for much of the play, and he was also close enough to third to have easily made the bag if he had known that the catch was dropped.

Here are some screen grabs of the runner’s progress while the ball was in the air. The last one shows the final glimpse we get of his head, and that’s all we were allowed to see.

1 2 3 4 5

I think the umpires should have put him on third.

All images can be seen in a single gallery here.