Baseball’s New Strategy: Drop the Ball on Purpose

This year, in an attempt to clarify the difference between a catch and a transfer on plays around the base base bag, MLB informed teams that a clean transfer from glove to hand was now going to be a required element in making a legal catch. No longer could a player argue that the ball was dropped on the exchange between glove and hand in order to retire the lead runner in a double play attempt. To be credited with the first out, the player has to move the ball from his glove to his hand without losing possession of the ball. As an example, this play occurred last week.

Last year and for pretty much every year before it, that play is ruled an out at second base, as Zobrist received the ball into his glove before the runner got to the bag, and only dropped it when attempting to throw to first base for the second out. This year, that is not an out, and even after the Rays challenged the decision on the field, they were denied on appeal. The next day, MLB issued an official statement in the wake of the play:

“Umpires and/or replay officials must consider whether the fielder had secured possession of the ball but dropped it during the act of the catch. An example of a catch that would not count is if a fielder loses possession of the ball during the transfer before the ball was secured by his throwing hand.”

I think there’s a reasonable case to be made that, at second base, this interpretation of the rule makes decent sense. There is very little difference in time between when a second baseman or shortstop receives the ball and when they are taking it out of their glove to try and turn a double play; the best middle infielders make this move as close to one action as possible. It is very difficult for an umpire to determine in real time whether a ball was dropped on the catch or on the transfer, and we don’t to have every dropped ball at second base reviewed, so drawing a clear line on what is and what is not a catch should help umpires and reduce the need for future replays on dropped transfers at second base.

However, this rule isn’t just being applied to second base; it’s being applied everywhere, including the outfield. And the unintended consequences of defining an outfield catch as including the transfer of the ball from glove to hand have been on full display over the first few weeks of the season.

First, there was Josh Hamilton.

He clearly catches the ball in his glove before dropping it as he moves it from his glove to his hand. It is ruled a catch on the field, and the runner at second base returns to the bag in order to avoid a double play. Lloyd McClendon challenges the ruling, and during the video, the announcers spend most of the delay explaining to the viewers why this was a catch and will not be overturned; he had possession of the ball in his glove, and the drop didn’t occur until he tried to move it to his hand. However, the umpires did overturn the call, because under the 2014 definition, Hamilton’s transfer was considered part of the catch itself, and he did not retain possession of the ball through the transfer.

Then, there was Elliot Johnson.

This one is even more fun, because Johnson takes multiple steps after the ball enters his glove, crashed into the wall, and still maintains possession. He then spins to make a throw back into the infield but drops the ball while trying to retrieve it from his glove; the ruling is no catch, and on appeal, the ruling is confirmed. The fact that Johnson traveled with the ball in his glove is not enough to make it a catch; the play is ruled a hit because Johnson didn’t make the transfer cleanly, even though the transfer occurred after making several steps with the ball in his glove.

Finally, there was Dustin Ackley. Twice. In the same game.

On the first play, Ackley makes a sliding catch, then drops the ball as he stands up to make a throw. Seeing the apparent catch, Josh Donaldson turned and ran back to first base. Brandon Moss, the hitter, passed Donaldson on the bases, as he was able to watch Ackley drop the ball and continued running; once the ruling was made that it was not a catch, Moss was called out anyway for passing the lead runner.

On the second play, Yoenis Cespedes jogged off the field before reaching first base after he saw the ball land in Ackley’s glove. The Mariners picked up the ball, threw it in to first base, and Cespedes was officially retired 7-6-3.

At this point, it shouldn’t be too hard to spot the problem with using the same definition of a catch in the outfield as it is at second base; the drop at second base has no real impact on the runner’s decision making. The batter is sprinting down the first base line to try and beat out the double play, and probably will rarely even know the ball is dropped on the double play attempt. The runner going into second base is almost always sliding into the bag, and the dropped transfer does not result in the ball rolling far enough away for an advancement to third base. Until the play is over and the runners find out who is safe and who is out, they don’t really care too much about what the fielders are doing.

That is absolutely not true with runners and outfielders, however; the decision of whether to advance or return to base is entirely dependent on whether the outfielder is ruled to have safely caught the ball. Runners are taught to get enough of a lead off the base to maximize their potential advancement in case the ball is not caught while still retaining their ability to return to their previous base if it is. When the ball enters the glove, the runner returns to their prior base in order to avoid a potential double play. Only now, the ball entering the glove is no longer the determining factor of whether or not the catch was made; that is now the ball moving from the glove to the hand.

As we see in the Elliot Johnson play, a player can catch the ball in his glove, run in a direction for several steps, and still be ruled to have not caught the ball if he drops the ball on the transfer to his hand. This definition of an outfield catch opens up a huge can of worms, because this definition has now created the exact play that the infield fly rule was designed to eliminate.

Runners at 1st and 2nd, less than 2 outs, fly ball or line drive hit to left field. This is a pretty common occurrence in MLB; using Baseball Savant’s PITCHF/x search tool, I pulled up a list of 58 such plays from 2013. Using the even cooler only-plays-with-video tag, I found a fantastic example of a play where the left fielder now holds all power over the baserunners.

Mark Trumbo makes a nice little diving catch — okay, likely diving only because he’s Mark Trumbo, but still — on a line drive to left, and then, he gets up and throws the ball back in to the infield. The runner on second who had gone halfway has already beaten the throw back in, however, and is safely standing on second base. We can’t see it in the video, but we can safely assume the runner on first base had also turned his back to Trumbo and ran back to first base after he saw Trumbo come up with the ball in his glove.

Under 2014 rules, when given a chance to do that again, Mark Trumbo should immediately stand up and take a step or two towards the infield with the ball in his glove. The only reasonable decision the runners can make at that point is to return to their prior base, because any further hesitation will result in a sure double play. Once Trumbo sees the runners retreating, he should immediately drop the ball on the transfer, pick the ball up, and throw it in to a shortstop positioned close enough to the second base bag to tag the runner on second once he realizes he now has to try and advance, and then easily flip the ball to the second baseman covering the bag to force out the runner from first trying to move up for a second time in the same play.

It’s not a guaranteed double play, but with both runners needing to turn their backs to the left fielder once they’ve committed to the ball being ruled a catch, it is quite likely that a team can regularly turn a one out play into a two out play. And there’s basically nothing the offense can do about it. The runners cannot hold on the basepaths to make sure the ball is transferred cleanly; if they do, they’re going to be so far off from their original base that the resulting in throw in will beat them easily. They can shorten the length they advance on a ball that may or may not be caught — turning the game into more of a station to station contest in the process — but even still, it’s basically impossible for a runner to return to first base while still maintaining a visual on the left fielder at the same time. Once the left fielder has convinced the runner on first base to return to the bag, he can confidently drop the ball knowing that he essentially has a guaranteed out at second, and if they trick the guy on second into getting caught off base too, hey, free out.

In the Brandon Moss video, you see Donaldson get back to first base, realize something is going on, and yell “what happened?” He doesn’t know — can’t know — what transpired after he turned and headed back to first base. The outfielders can see everything, the runners can see very little, and the information asymmetry gives the outfielders a ton of power in the process.

So far, we’ve seen the umpires confirm that Elliot Johnson taking two or three steps was not enough to confirm a catch, but we don’t actually know how many steps an umpire would require before it was reasonable to rule it a catch regardless of what happened afterwards. If some enterprising team wants to test the rule, they should actually tell their left fielder that, on any play with runners at first and second and less than two outs, he should run the ball all the way back in to the infield, and then drop the ball only once he’s a few feet from the second base bag. I cannot imagine a Major League umpiring crew going along with a clearly planned exploitation of an unintended consequence, but a manager could make a pretty great argument that the rule says absolutely nothing about how far a fielder can travel before the result of the transfer becomes irrelevant.

Perhaps Major League managers aren’t going to want to upset the apple cart, knowing that the league will see the problem with the outfield catch definition and make a better clarification for the 2015 season. This is most likely going to be a one season nuisance than a long term problem, as everyone watching these plays can see the problems with this definition of a catch, and I can’t see any way in which anyone would support this definition staying in place. There is likely too much red tape to change the definition in season, so we’re probably stuck with this all year, but I don’t know that any manager is going to want to be the guy to embarrass the league on a big stage by teaching his outfielders to exploit MLB’s bad rule.

But I kind of want to see it happen for the sheer theatre of it all. Besides, people always say they want shorter games; giving defenses the chance to snuff out rallies by running the ball in and dropping it at the runners feet would ensure that innings end faster and everyone goes home sooner. That’s probably not how the league envisioned shortening games, however.

Most likely, we’re in for a year of weird plays like the ones from last week, where runners don’t know whether to advance or not, and teams get free outs when their fielders screw up. It’s not a good system, but it’s the system we have in 2014. MLB, give us a better system next year. Or even next month, if you can cut through the red tape fast enough to admit that this unintended consequence is not what you had in mind.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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Jason Kates
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Jason Kates
2 years 1 month ago

Wow. That’s a tough pill to swallow on some of those plays. Ackley’s were pretty instantaneous drops, but Johnson’s? Or Zobrist’s? Yikes.

I don't care what anyone
Guest
I don't care what anyone
2 years 1 month ago
tz
Guest
tz
2 years 1 month ago

Everybody find a way to get this column linked to.

Seriously, while I agree that the intentional drop would be a hilarious scene, I’d hate to have a playoff race (or worse, a post-season game) decided by this type of play.

bluejays49
Member
bluejays49
2 years 1 month ago

An “intentional drop” results in an out.

Nothing special would happen if someone tried it in a playoff race.

HeadhunterLA
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

You are correct, an intentional drop in the infield on a soft liner with runners on would surely be called an out. This is an entirely different animal and a really dumb rule interpretation decision. A smart outfielder on the play described could make it look entirely unintentional.

bluejays49
Member
bluejays49
2 years 1 month ago

It’s not really an entirely different animal.

The rules say “In establishing the validity of the catch, the fielder shall hold the ball long enough to prove that he has complete control of the ball and that his release of the ball is voluntary and intentional.”

If the release looks voluntary and intentional, it’s a catch.

To make it look unintentional, the outfielder would need to spend a couple seconds stumbling around in recovery of the drop. If they’re far enough from the infield (which they would need to be for the play not to be called an infield fly), there wouldn’t be enough time to turn the double play.

Nick O
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Nick O
2 years 1 month ago

Yeah,the outfielder would still have to make it look like losing the ball on the transfer happened organically, but that shouldn’t be too difficult with some practice.

Honestly, you wouldn’t even need runners on first and second to make this work. Pop up to the SS, SS catches the ball, batter turns around and jogs back towards the dugout, SS drops it on the transfer double play.

brendan
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brendan
2 years 1 month ago

@Nick O
I think the infield fly rule would be invoked for that case.

bluejays49
Member
bluejays49
2 years 1 month ago

Any type of drop that seems intentional results in a catch. And it’s easier than you guys think to determine intention.

This article’s title includes “on purpose.” That’s synonymous with “intentionally.” You cannot drop a ball on purpose and have it not ruled a catch.

Neil S
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Neil S
2 years 1 month ago

brendan: It wouldn’t be an infield fly. You need at least two runners in a force situation for an infield fly. If it’s just a runner on first? Nope.

Tim
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Tim
2 years 1 month ago

Intentionally dropping the ball implies having control of the ball, and if you have control of the ball it’s a catch. So the scenarios here are pretty implausible.

You might get the occasional situation like the Trumbo catch where an outfielder with incredible presence of mind could drop the ball while making the umpires think it’s unintentional, but if that comes up once or twice a year what are the odds it’s going to happen to a member of the very small percentage of outfielders who would do such a thing?

bdhudson
Member
Member
bdhudson
2 years 1 month ago

Did you read the rule? Nowhere in there does it describe intent. If you drop the ball on the transfer, the rule says it isn’t a catch. That’s pretty cut and dry.

Tim
Guest
Tim
2 years 1 month ago

That’s not the rule, it’s an MLB statement. This is Rule 2.00 (catch):

A CATCH is the act of a fielder in getting secure possession in his hand or glove of a ball in flight and firmly holding it; providing he does not use his cap, protector, pocket or any other part of his uniform in getting possession. It is not a catch, however, if simultaneously or immediately following his contact with the ball, he collides with a player, or with a wall, or if he falls down, and as a result of such collision or falling, drops the ball. It is not a catch if a fielder touches a fly ball which then hits a member of the offensive team or an umpire and then is caught by another defensive player. In establishing the validity of the catch, the fielder shall hold the ball long enough to prove that he has complete control of the ball and his release of the ball is voluntary and intentional.

The last bit makes it pretty obvious that an intentional drop is still a catch.

bdhudson
Member
Member
bdhudson
2 years 1 month ago

How would you even begin to prove intent if a player drops the ball during a transfer? It was pretty obvious that Johnson had control of that ball, but it was nullified by the drop on the transfer. If that’s all it takes, then that’s not very hard to fake.

LaLoosh
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

and it also says nothing about it being a catch only upon a clean transfer to the throwing hand. The league has apparently arbitrarily added that fun part this year.

This is complete anarchy and pretty much nullifies this entire season for me. I knew there was going to be some crazy replay results but I never in my wildest dreams thought they would actually redefine the most basic element of the game.

BOOOOO.

isavage30
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isavage30
2 years 1 month ago

I think for that reason a player who ran all of the way to the infield would be judged to have dropped it intentionally, but it would be pretty easy to see a scenario where intent is not known. If you watched those plays, any reasonably person would say Johnson had control of that ball, I mean, it was a matter of 2-3 seconds before he even went to take it out of his glove. But it was ruled a double, so clearly control doesn’t matter. On a fly ball to left field with runners on first and second where the left fielders has to come in, how hard would it be for him to catch it on the run, take three or four more steps to get closer to the infield, drop it, pick it up and fire it to 3rd and potentially get the runner on first before he can get to second.

Bill
Guest
Bill
2 years 1 month ago

Yes, and flopping is illegal in Soccer. How’s that working out for them?

TKDC
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TKDC
2 years 1 month ago

Nullifies the entire season? Do you think you might be overreacting just a tad, there, buddy?

Jason B
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Jason B
2 years 1 month ago

TKDC – you beat me to it. At least his reaction is in direct proportion to the infraction.

The Loosh: “Yegads! I got a hangnail!!” *Saws off arm at the elbow*

Anthony
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Anthony
2 years 1 month ago

At lower levels of baseball where I umpire, “secure possession” is regarded as the ability to make a baseball move after making the catch. This would mean the requisite demonstration of possession is established by the player’s ability to transfer the ball in this scenario.

Think of a snowcone catch, where the ball slips out as the player brings his glove to his hand. Even if the ball was secure in the glove, the player didn’t have control of the ball, since he couldn’t do anything with it.

A player could at any point in the process drop the ball and nullify the catch and confuse the runners, but this also happens when a ball looks like it was caught/trapped, and the fielder can try to trick the runner and umpire.

Sam
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Sam
2 years 1 month ago

the fielder shall hold the ball long enough to prove that he has complete control of the ball and his release of the ball is voluntary and intentional.

Looks like that should have been an OR. It would have covered the 2nd base drop on transfer, and the “whoops, this fell outa my hand” outfield catch.

If a fielder catches the ball, runs to the second baseman who then steals the ball from the fielder: No catch. Both cases aren’t met.

Tim
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Tim
2 years 1 month ago

Now if AJ Pierzynski gets moved to left field, it might be a worry.

Spit Ball
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Spit Ball
2 years 1 month ago

hah, tru da bro!

Terrible Ted
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Terrible Ted
2 years 1 month ago

I think the point is that it can happen at all. Not how often it may happen.

Chickensoup
Member
Member
Chickensoup
2 years 1 month ago

I had heard of this rule change and never considered the OF aspect of it. I’m surprised the umpires are calling it that way though. It’s clearly not the intent of the rule to allow a team to choose to drop the ball on the transfer and get extra outs. Another scenario would be a speedy guy on first base with a slow runner at bat in a close game. the outfielder can choose to “drop” on the transfer and get the speedy guy out at second leaving the offense with a slow guy unable to steal or unlikely to score on a double on first base. totally not the intention of the rulebook.

CWint
Guest
CWint
2 years 1 month ago

I was watching the Royals broadcast of the play on Zobrist’s “drop.” Royals color man, Rex Hudler, never did get it understood and vehemently disagreed with the umpire’s ruling. It makes for a pretty confusing situation for old baseball hands.

FWIW: I think that if you are going to call Zobrist’s transfer to the throwing hand a drop I don’t know how you can still allow the neighborhood play.

Reddickulous
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Reddickulous
2 years 1 month ago

Do not listen to the words coming out of Rex Hudler’s mouth! DOOOON’T DOOO EEEEET

Antonio Bananas
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Antonio Bananas
2 years 1 month ago

Rex Hudler also said “all these stat guys hate steals. Well if he steals second, he’s 90 feet closer, why is that bad?” not grasping that it’s not the steal, it’s that he may get thrown out. In other words, Rex Hudler has a malfunctioning brain.

Andy
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Andy
2 years 1 month ago

I don’t know a “stat guy” that hates steals. Does anyone?

jg
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jg
2 years 1 month ago

Someone should point him at the 2013 Red Sox as proof to the contrary.

joser
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joser
2 years 1 month ago

Stat guys don’t “hate” steals, but they do tend to hate decisions that reduce rather than enhance the likelihood of scoring a run (or several, if more than one is needed). And getting caught stealing can do that, so understanding the break-even point (particularly for the actual game situation) is crucial. Some managers seem to have real trouble with that, and that’s what stat guys hate. But when they do understand that, you may even find stat guys calling for more steals.

chuckb
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chuckb
2 years 1 month ago

Understand also that Rex Hudler just isn’t very bright.

Not Sure
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Not Sure
2 years 1 month ago

To be fair, he did spend most of his time between injuries diving headfirst into walls.

MikeS
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MikeS
2 years 1 month ago

I really hate it when the announcers don’t know the rules in any sport. Is it really to much to ask that they do?

Deelron
Member
Deelron
2 years 1 month ago

Agreed, except in this case the players don’t seems to know either, and it’s not exactly a McNabb/overtime situation here.

Robert Lee
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Robert Lee
2 years 1 month ago

You are contending that Rex does understand something? Other than that three cliches are better than two?

Jake
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Jake
2 years 1 month ago

The ability for managers to request replays on the neighborhood rule has really cut down on those this year.

Leighton
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Leighton
2 years 1 month ago

So, if the batter jogs off the field like Cespedes did, you could see a lot more triple plays in this fashion, as well.

Terrible Ted
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Terrible Ted
2 years 1 month ago

2015: Outfield fly rule.

Antonio Bananas
Guest
Antonio Bananas
2 years 1 month ago

underrated comment.

MikeS
Guest
MikeS
2 years 1 month ago

Definitely. Baseball hates to admit they were wrong so they would never just repeal the rule. They will add a layer on to it.

Russ
Member
Member
Russ
2 years 1 month ago

“Baseball hates to admit they were wrong so they would never just repeal the rule. They will add a layer on to it.”

I hate that comment… because it’s true.

joser
Guest
joser
2 years 1 month ago

While I agree, this is more of a sneaky interpretation (of a definition!) than a rule. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see the definition of a catch “updated” again for 2015.

David
Guest
David
2 years 1 month ago

I can’t imagine this is what they wanted from the rule, but a clarifying statement from MLB could’ve solved this problem by now so maybe it is. Maybe they were too stupid to foresee this problem, or too stubborn to “revise” the rule in-season, but those would be pretty ridiculous too.

nel
Guest
nel
2 years 1 month ago

Great piece. I hope MLB wakes up and fixes this problem! You obviously pointed out a glaring error in the league rules and unless the MLB wants to make the game cheaper, they should clarify this ASAP!!!!!!

Reddickulous
Guest
Reddickulous
2 years 1 month ago

I’d like to give a Gold Star to Ray Fosse, Oakland A’s fantastic broadcaster, for being the only TV guy here with any clue of this rule change.

Here you go, Ray. A shiny star. You’re great! *

Philip Christy
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Philip Christy
2 years 1 month ago

The irony of this was my favorite part of the article.

Wally
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Wally
2 years 1 month ago

He also picked up on the fact that at least one foul tip into the catcher’s glove then drop by the catcher on the throw was still being called an out. Somehow that play has escaped this new rule.

Squiddy
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Squiddy
2 years 1 month ago

So, wait – the “out” is not complete until the fielder transfers the ball to his throwing hand – no matter how long between the catch and the transfer?

If so, I’ll make it worse – assuming no outs, Trumbo catches the ball, never transfers it, jogs in towards the infield, until the batter heads for the dugout, then drops the ball, throws to the 3B, who steps on the bag, and begins a triple-play.

Or, an outfielder catches a routine fly ball to end a game, jogs back towards the infield and a full 30 seconds after the game has ended, drops the ball while transferring it. Is the batter now safe, even though he’s headed towards the clubhouse? Or is he out, for leaving the baseline?

Neil S
Guest
Neil S
2 years 1 month ago

Technically, it’s always been the case that an outfielder could catch the 3rd out, jog for a few seconds, and then drop the ball as, say, he trips over the mound – thus negating the 3rd out. It’s just never called that way.

Jake
Guest
Jake
2 years 1 month ago

Better yet, the outfielder catches the ball, jogs to the infield and “drops” the ball on the transer. Picks the ball up, tags the runner on second, steps on second and jogs to first for the unassisted triple play. Thus, reducing MLB to an advanced tee-ball league.

N8*K
Guest
N8*K
2 years 1 month ago

Let’s throw the replay element into the mix.
Let’s say Trumbo makes the catch and jogs in. The umpire signals catch before Trumbo makes it to the infield and drops the transfer. Trumbo continues to complete the double or triple play.

Is it reviewable to determine when the umpire signaled for the out? Does the fact that the umpire signaled an out matter?

Technically, the umpires should not signal that a catch has been made until the transfer has been made successfully.

sen fan
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sen fan
2 years 1 month ago

Technically the runner is out for leaving the basepath by then.

Peter 2
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Peter 2
2 years 1 month ago

I’m glad to see that MLB, far from learning from the pitfalls of instant replay in the NFL, has fallen prey to the exact same problem: endless definition, debate, redefinition, and controversy over what constitutes a “catch.”

joser
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joser
2 years 1 month ago

I’ve been saying this since they started with replay: Baseball waited 50 years to implement it, and then they managed to do it in most asinine way possible.

Wally
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Wally
2 years 1 month ago

Which isn’t surprising in the least

BDf
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

That’s so moronic. The only thing that matters is getting the call right. That is the purpose of playing the games, to get the calls right. The games don’t even *exist* if he calls aren’t as perfect as they can be. That’s people like you don’t understand, the weakness that leads you to be against replay.

Jon L.
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Jon L.
2 years 1 month ago

This is a travesty.

Jon L.
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Jon L.
2 years 1 month ago

The travesty is not that baserunners cannot know what to do in these absurd situations. It’s that Major League Baseball umpires are enforcing a rule that contradicts something that every 7-year-old kid in Little League knows: A catch is a catch.

Analogous rules:

If you stop at a stop sign, but then start going again, you’re charged with a traffic violation.

If you say hi to someone as you walk by and then continue on your way, it is ruled a violation of etiquette.

If you receive a package and later throw out on the box, you can collect the insurance on the missing delivery.

DL80
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DL80
2 years 1 month ago

I can only hope that to “throw out on the box” is some kind of crazy combination of vomiting on, and fighting with, said box.

chuckb
Guest
chuckb
2 years 1 month ago

Great example of a moral hazard.

There is a rule in the rule book prohibiting dropping balls on purpose. It’s an automatic out to protect the offensive team in exactly this case. But it seems that to enforce it in a case like this, an umpire or manager would have to prove intent. That’s very difficult to do, especially when the catch is something like Trumbo’s. If an outfielder’s able to make it look good so that the umpire isn’t convinced he dropped the ball on purpose, he’ll be able to turn this into an easy double play.

Neil S
Guest
Neil S
2 years 1 month ago

Yes! I was going to point this out. Intentionally dropping the ball is an automatic out and a dead ball. So, we’ll surely see replays where the umpires have to determine intent, because intentionally dropping the ball makes way too much sense.

Craig Burley
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Craig Burley
2 years 1 month ago

Neil, it’s only an automatic out if an infielder does it, and only in certain situations (see below).

Pirates Hurdles
Guest
Pirates Hurdles
2 years 1 month ago

Yep, it can’t happen for this reason. Also, isn’t there a rule against anything that makes a “mockery” of the game?

I know any batter can be called out for this reason.

Corey
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Corey
2 years 1 month ago

This rule interpretation change makes a mockery of the game, can the umpires eject themselves?

prankmunky
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prankmunky
2 years 1 month ago

What blows my mind is that the announcers, managers and sometimes even the umps appear to be completely unaware of this rule change!

Lutz
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Lutz
2 years 1 month ago

How are these scored: Errors on the OF (and thus outs for the hitter regardless?)

Lutz
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Lutz
2 years 1 month ago

That can’t be it… Ackley has no errors this year.

But shouldn’t they be an error???

Jake
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Jake
2 years 1 month ago

In Ackley’s case, he has no errors because outs were recorded in both instances.

isavage30
Guest
isavage30
2 years 1 month ago

The Johnson play was ruled a double. I have no idea why

Jake
Guest
Jake
2 years 1 month ago

This was most likely purely a scorer’s decision. An error is defined, in part, as a play that should have been made with normal effort. My guess is that the scorer determined the length that he ran and crashing into the wall led to him dropping the ball, disqualifying the normal effort aspect of the play.

Bill
Guest
Bill
2 years 1 month ago

The only thing I could figure was that the scorekeeper thought the ruling was so ridiculous that it should, no must, have an equally ludicrous score keeping decision as icing on the cake. “The player made a good play, he shouldn’t get an error for it so, to hell with it, it’s a double or maybe a triple with a base running error. Is that a thing?”

Tom Cranker
Member
Tom Cranker
2 years 1 month ago

It’s especially funny that MLB will allow some rules, like this one, to be interpreted so strictly as to apply in even absurd situations like those you highlighted, but then they allow vague non-rules like the neighborhood play to exist.

Alec Denton
Member
Member
2 years 1 month ago

“base base bag”

Alec Denton
Member
Member
2 years 1 month ago

“we don’t to have”

Vlad Pipes
Member
Vlad Pipes
2 years 1 month ago

Since it isn’t a catch until the transfer is made successfully, does that mean that a player tagging up cannot leave base until he sees the transfer made? It seems like this rule creates a “Schrödinger’s Catch” situation, where the ball is in the glove, but we don’t know if it’s a catch or isn’t until the transfer is attempted.

fastatlast
Guest
fastatlast
2 years 1 month ago

No, because if he’s touching the base by the time the ball is in the glove, it’s either already been caught and the runner is free to advance, or it will ultimately not be caught (via drop on the transfer) and the runner is still free to advance– those are the only two outcomes.

isavage30
Guest
isavage30
2 years 1 month ago

No, because the runner isn’t necessarily going to be touching the base when the ball is caught. Unless it’s obvious the ball is going to be caught, and the runner thinks he can tag and advance, he would NOT normally be touching the base when it’s caught. The normal thing to do would be go about half way when the ball’s in the air, so you can get back to the bag or advance depending on the outcome. This creates a situation where that outcome is still in doubt after the catch

fastatlast
Guest
fastatlast
2 years 1 month ago

He/she was talking specifically about tagging up and when they can leave the base. They say so in their comment.

Vlad Pipes
Member
Vlad Pipes
2 years 1 month ago

OK thanks, this answers my questions. I didn’t know the rule was a runner could advance once contact was made with the ball. I thought it was on the catch.

Deelron
Member
Deelron
2 years 1 month ago

I second “Schrödinger’s Catch” to be the offical term for this situation.

Stromboli
Guest
Stromboli
2 years 1 month ago

Schrödinger’s Catch could be the biggest meme to happen to FanGraphs since the Corey Kluber Society.

Please Carson Cistulli, I’m begging you, run with this! Baseball has never needed your absurdist meme-making ability really at all, but certainly never more than now.

werthless
Guest
werthless
2 years 1 month ago

The leftfielder could run all the way to the infield before “attempting” the transfer and dropping the ball on purpose.

Manny Ramirez
Guest
Manny Ramirez
2 years 1 month ago

I have this down to a science.

Slacker George
Guest
Slacker George
2 years 1 month ago

Runner may tag up and advance as soon as the fielder makes contact with ball.

chuckb
Guest
chuckb
2 years 1 month ago

According to the rule book, a player can advance as long as he touches the base after the fielder first touches the ball. He doesn’t have to wait until the fielder secures the catch. This prevents him from deliberately bobbling the ball to prevent the runner from being able to tag up.

Andy
Guest
Andy
2 years 1 month ago

No, you can tag as soon as the outfielder touches the ball…probably because at some point a long time ago an outfielder juggled the ball on purpose.

Dave Cornutt
Guest
Dave Cornutt
2 years 1 month ago

There was in fact a 19th-century outfielder who specialized in exactly this… I’ll have to look it up tonight to come up with the name.

Vil
Member
Vil
2 years 1 month ago

excellent name

bluejays49
Member
bluejays49
2 years 1 month ago

From the rules: “Runners may leave their bases the instant the first fielder touches the ball.”

As soon as the fielder touches the ball, the runners can take off from their bases.

ReuschelCakes
Guest
ReuschelCakes
2 years 1 month ago

“Schrödinger’s Catch

Best Comment Of 2014 has been won, folks. Nothing more to see. You can all return to your homes.

bluejays49
Member
bluejays49
2 years 1 month ago

It’s wrong though. There’s no confusion on tagging up. You leave when the fielder contacts the ball.

Vlad Pipes
Member
Vlad Pipes
2 years 1 month ago

My question was more about whether the defensive team may appeal because a player left prior to the transfer being made. For instance an outfielder makes the catch, and a man on third tags normally and leaves as soon as it hits the glove, but before the transfer is made. Technically he left before it was an official catch.

Todd
Guest
Todd
2 years 1 month ago

The runner could leave the base as long as he has tagged up after the fielder first touches the ball. The runner is assuming a big risk not only if he decides to tag up on every fly ball just in case the fielder makes a catch but also if he tries to advance to the next base when the outfielder is holding the ball just in case the outfielder eventually drops the ball on the transfer, which would lead to a force play. This is why this rule puts the baserunners at a serious disadvantage.

Craig Burley
Guest
Craig Burley
2 years 1 month ago

6.05(l) provides that the batter is out if an infielder intentionally drops a fair fly ball or line drive with first base occupied before two are out. (This is the rule that chuckb is referring to)

I think the possibility that an outfielder will try this maneuver is small, but 6.05(l) should probably be extended to outfielders in order to eliminate this scenario.

bluejays49
Member
bluejays49
2 years 1 month ago

It’s already in the rules, there’s no need.

Part of the definition of a ‘catch’: “the fielder shall hold the ball long enough to prove that he has complete control of the ball and that his release of the ball is voluntary and intentional.”

A voluntary and intentional release results in a catch.

nomoredevil
Guest
nomoredevil
2 years 1 month ago

In the 1st & 2nd, less than two out situation, just have the OF job all the over to third before “dropping it.” Then scoop it up, step on third and throw to second.

bpdelia
Guest
bpdelia
2 years 1 month ago

This is great. It doesn’t even need to be this blatant. In the infield fly rule scenario the outfielder skills simply calmly get up and drop the ball on transfer then immediately throw to cut off. The big problem here is a ball cannot be called a catch in a timely manner. Honestly if I were a manager we’d be practicing this. It’s very easy to make this look unintentional and as opposed to the occasional fake line drive infield drop there is literally zero downside for the defense. Other than a crazy bad news bears type throwing disaster.

I don’t see how it’s possible for a team to avoid exploiting this. It will happen at some point. Obviously the jogging in scenario is absurd (though hysterical) but the simple calm drop on transfer is extremely likely.

Hell, the above videos are perfect examples. Ackley and McClendon both obviously are aware of the potential here now.

Jennifer
Guest
Jennifer
2 years 1 month ago

Wow Fave!

You wrote a long article about the reinterpretation without using “momentum” even once. Under the old interpretation as well as the new one a catch is not completed until the outfielder’s momentum has ended. So for example, the earliest Johnson could have been deemed making the catch is after he hit the wall and his momentum ceased.

Shirtless Bartolo Colon
Member
2 years 1 month ago

Wow Jennifer!

You wrote a medium-sized response that pales versus the awesomeness of your new nickname for Mr. Cameron.

Jennifer
Guest
Jennifer
2 years 1 month ago

Sorry that was a typo. I forgot the rule of rereading before posting is our friend.

Nickname Damur
Guest
Nickname Damur
2 years 1 month ago

And a fan of Fave is a Favian!

Tom
Guest
Tom
2 years 1 month ago

This new interpretation of what constitutes a catch is completely asinine and you cant have different definitions of a catch for infielders and outfielders. So now for every routine out at first base we have to wait and see if the first baseman throws the ball back to the pitcher cleanly? The umpire can no longer signal an instant punch out at first but rather has to wait to see if the transfer on the throw back to the pitcher goes cleanly? This nonsense has to be stopped immediately. As far as the transfer on a double play instant replay can only help in determining if the ball was dropped on the transfer if it is so challenged.

Jennifer
Guest
Jennifer
2 years 1 month ago

Tom — In your example the first baseman’s momentum had added and assuming he had control of the ball the catch was completed. Moreover, the new interpretation is directed at catch and transfer plays. There is no transfer Your hypothetical isn’t even a catch and transfer play.

Tom
Guest
Tom
2 years 1 month ago

Please define transfer play. Apparently control of the ball is now defined as a clean transfer from glove to throwing hand. In the videos above the ball was clearly controlled in the glove and only dropped on the transfer.

ed
Guest
ed
2 years 1 month ago

And there are plenty of plays where the 1B has to transfer the ball, like when there is a runner on base that was not out on the play he just completed.

I am not sure about this whole momentum thing

Jennifer
Guest
Jennifer
2 years 1 month ago

Wow Fave!

You wrote a long article about the reinterpretation without using “momentum” even once. Under the old interpretation as well as the new one a catch is not completed until the outfielder’s momentum has ended. So for example, the earliest Johnson could have been deemed making the catch is after he hit the wall and his
momentum ceased.

Tom — I have seen little that describes the new interpretation )but not MLB has seemingly taken the position the change is a clarification) nor have I seen the reasons for the clarificastion/change.

As best as I understand it the change was directed to plays that were being extended beyond merely catching the ball. In the past whether a catch was made was determined by when the momentum ended because the play was over. To me it is unclear as to whether if the momentum has completely stopped and another baseball play is attempted there would be a “no catch” unless rge transfer was completed cleanly, whether the rule extends the definition of “momentum to cleanly grasping the ball.

Consider the Johnson “no catch”. I’m a Tribe fan, have watched the play more than a dozen times and discussed it on a message board.

Clearly, a catch could not have been called until after he hit the wall. I’m less clear about why the umpire ruled as he did. Did Johnson’s momentum end at the wall? To me it appears it did but did the umpire agree? If he agreed then momentum was not the basis of his ruling and the catch and transfer rule applies on all catch and transfer plays regardless of whether momentum ended. On the other hand, the ruling might have been that his momentum had not ended when he started the throw.

The play gets further complicated because the ball appears to have shifted in his glove from when the ball first hit the pocket of his glove to when it was snow coned in his glove when he hit the wall. When he came off the wall we van’t tell whether the ball was fully grasped in his glove or was still moving. So the replay ruling could have been that there was not clear and convincing evidence he caught the ball.

I have not done any scrutiny of the other plays but my understanding is everyone of them involved a baseball play throw.

Bill
Guest
Bill
2 years 1 month ago

The lack of a transfer is only because no other baserunners are currently moving. There is nothing fundamentally different between a first baseman catching a ball on the bag and a second baseman making a catch on the bag. As Dave made clear, MLB is interpreting the rules to indicate that a catch isn’t a catch until the transfer is complete. So, by this reasoning, Tom is absolutely correct. The catch at first should not be called a catch until the transfer to the hand is complete. The Johnson play clearly shows that “momentum” has almost no bearing on the decision regardless of the rules. Johnson ran into a wall with possession of the ball. P doesn’t get more equal to 0 than that, yet the transfer was still, apparently, required.

Tom
Guest
Tom
2 years 1 month ago

By the way Jennifer the ball is always in play unless ruled a dead ball or time out is given or third out is recorded.

Tom
Guest
Tom
2 years 1 month ago

And here is another disaster scenario besides all the ones mentioned previously. Play at the plate, less than two outs, throw comes in from the outfield, cutoff lets it go through. Catcher catches ball dives and applies tag on runner trying to score, home plate ump punches runner out. Subsequently catcher jumps to his feet ball still in his glove and tries to throw out runner advancing from second to third, ball slips out of his throwing hand on transfer. The runner at home must now be called safe, sorry but anyone who does not think this is nuts should get their head checked. It will be game altering in a bad way.

Tom
Guest
Tom
2 years 1 month ago

Scenario applies if possession of ball is determined my the transfer.

Mike
Guest
Mike
2 years 1 month ago

Adam Eaton also made a catch and dropped the ball on the transfer, and I believe the play was challenged and reversed from catch to no-catch.

Owen
Guest
Owen
2 years 1 month ago

This isn’t the same situation and is much less likely to happen than the outfield examples in this article, but I am wondering if anyone could offer some clarification on another thought I had with regard to this “controlled with the throwing hand” clarification.

Say there is a runner on second with less than two outs. The batter lines a ball just to the shortstop’s left. He dives, catches the ball on the fly, and from his belly flips the ball from his glove to the second baseman to try to double the runner off. On the catch, the second baseman drops the ball. Since the original line drive was never controlled by the shortstop’s throwing hand, is the batter safe at first?

indyralph
Member
Member
indyralph
2 years 1 month ago

And yet, somehow, every single infield ground ball that I’ve seen this year, the runner has been called out when the throw enters the first baseman’s glove before the runner reaches first. Apparently the definition of a catch is already different depending upon the situation.

Joe Maddon
Guest
Joe Maddon
2 years 1 month ago

Thanks for the idea….
“Infielders you jus keep doing that thing where we get 4 outs to beat the replay system ok! Outfielders! New plan…”

Andrew
Guest
Andrew
2 years 1 month ago

My favorite part of this rule:

On a 3rd out, is it not a catch until the player throws the ball to a fan in the stands? Because up until THAT point, no official catch has been made, since the ball has not yet left the fielder’s glove… right MLB?

We gotta be consistent after all.

Tom Cranker
Member
Tom Cranker
2 years 1 month ago

What if the ball is dropped on the transfer to the fan? Gotta pick your fan carefully, make sure they’ve got a glove and don’t look too drunk

fastatlast
Guest
fastatlast
2 years 1 month ago

“Sorry little Timmy I can’t risk throwing you this ball, your fine motor skills are way too underdeveloped.”

RSF
Guest
RSF
2 years 1 month ago

And if he flips it into the stands with his glove, it is a two-base error.

Danny Salazar
Guest
Danny Salazar
2 years 1 month ago

Well, at least it wouldn’t be a home run…

RSF
Guest
RSF
2 years 1 month ago

Here’s an incredibly complicated, alternative rule for what constitutes a catch:

“A catch occurs when the motion of the ball comes to a stop in the possession of a fielder.”

Bill
Guest
Bill
2 years 1 month ago

Shut up Abner, we don’t won’t any of your old timey “rules”. Baseball has move beyond your stupid simple rules.

chri521
Member
2 years 1 month ago

Agreed this is pretty insane MLB. What’s to stop a fielder from “juggling” the ball the whole time running toward the infield and then deciding whether to catch it or “drop” it to get at least a double play? Ridiculous.

B N
Guest
B N
2 years 1 month ago

New undervalued asset: juggling outfielders.

B N
Guest
B N
2 years 1 month ago

I predict that Oakland will have four of them by midseason.

bluejays49
Member
bluejays49
2 years 1 month ago

Here’s what: If he drops it, it would look “voluntary and intentional” and would thus be considered a catch.

This rule makes perfect sense and has been in place for decades. Good to see that MLB is finally enforcing it.

John Choiniere
Member
2 years 1 month ago

I know many many people have made the same point you did here, but I’m arbitrarily choosing yours to respond to. The issue is NOT with the voluntary and intentional part of the rule. That makes perfect sense, and shouldn’t result in any of this absurdity. If the rule stopped there everything would be fine. The issue is in the specific example they’ve chosen to illustrate a non-catch. An outfielder can catch the ball, hold it for long enough to establish control of the ball *in his gloved hand*, release it from the glove voluntarily and intentionally, but drop it with his non-gloved hand, and because of the example given by the rule, it’s a non-catch. All criteria stated in the original rule are met, but the interpretation being enforced by the example MLB gives adds a successful transfer to the list of requirements. That’s how this could be exploited, and that’s how such absurdity is happening.

Ben
Guest
Ben
2 years 1 month ago

This should make sacrifice flies interesting. Outfielder runs in towards IF, runner can’t go because he’s not sure if it’s an out yet, because once the outfielder gets close tot he infield he might muff the transfer, but he might not.

Captain Tenneal
Guest
Captain Tenneal
2 years 1 month ago

Once the OF touches the ball, you are free to tag up. Sac flies won’t be affected. Only plays where the runner is unsure or definitely does not want to advance can fall into this trap.

nick
Guest
nick
2 years 1 month ago

Better: catch the “game ending” outfield fly, but don’t take the ball out of your glove. Head back into the clubhouse, set your glove in your locker and go out to dinner. The game doesn’t end until the next day, when you take the ball out of your glove.

Dave Cornutt
Guest
Dave Cornutt
2 years 1 month ago

What if it’s getaway day?

Shane Tourtellotte
Member
2 years 1 month ago

Ah, MLB, you’ve done it again. You finally pieced together an expanded replay system that went some measurable distance toward fixing a problem in baseball. In the very same off-season, you minted a new interpretation of the rules that goes and breaks baseball all over again.

I cannot help thinking of the NFL’s infamous “tuck rule.” The rule goes against everything that common sense tells us is happening, but it’s there and it’s enforced like any other. Considering how long it took the NFL to rewrite the “tuck rule”–I think it finally go changed just a couple years ago–who knows how long it will take MLB to admit its own mistake.

And if Joe Maddon hasn’t instructed the Rays in at least four separate methods of exploiting this rule by the end of the week, everything the sabermetric community has ever told me about him is wrong.

James
Guest
James
2 years 1 month ago

Nobody ever realizes this but the tuck rule is a good rule, it was just incorrectly applied during that Raiders-Pats playoff game.

The tuck rule was designed to say if a QB pump fakes and the ball comes out of his hand unintentionally it’s an incomplete pass and not a fumble. That makes perfect sense.

However, Brady had completed his ‘tuck’ by the time he lost possession, and therefore it should have been a fumble.

Woody Harrelson
Guest
Woody Harrelson
2 years 1 month ago

You see why the NFL and MLB are doing this replay nonsense right? For MLB it started earlier with the strikezone graphic rectangle.

The Man wants the sheep to believe they themselves can look at clips of video to see what happened and confidently make conclusions.

We’re all being programmed into thinking we’re proficient at video analysis.

It’s all leading to fake doctored videos showing alien UFOs attacking people and cities. A fake alien false flag attack to rejuvenate the arms manufacturers and galvanize the sheep into acquiescing to even more control and less freedom. Once the fiat currency Monopoly system is about to implode, the aliens will come to replace the terrorists.

Military aircraft will attack civilian targets and later doctored video shot with shaky mobile phones will be planted. Who will be able to argue with the experts who claim that the videos are authentic and were not doctored with SFX? Who will argue with the relatives of the victims? It will be easier to believe aliens are attacking us than the government.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
2 years 1 month ago

Aahh, Woodrow. How far you’ve come from playing that dim yet lovable bartender at Cheers…

ReuschelCakes
Guest
ReuschelCakes
2 years 1 month ago

“The Man wants the sheep to believe they themselves can look at clips of video to see what happened and confidently make conclusions.”

Was this concept – “seeing” I’ll call it – at risk prior to MLB’s instant replay?

Breezy
Guest
Breezy
2 years 1 month ago

This would be so easy to pull off for an outfielder (as an ex-OF myself), especially in left. Catch the ball, go to transfer, drop the ball right in front of you, and throw to third. Replay seems to have opened up and caused more issues than it’s solved. Most casual fans don’t realize that every rule in baseball was created by very smart logic or exploits of old rules (infield fly, dropped third strike, transfers, etc.) I don’t understand why they wouldn’t just do the thing that makes the most sense in making dropped transfers catches and not reviewable. When you have to start defining gray area that has been accepted forever, it’s going to be very difficult to use and understand. Eventually this will be exploited just like the infield fly with the same situation and there will be more stupid rule changes like this one.

Moonraker
Guest
Moonraker
2 years 1 month ago

I’m not sure what’s weirder, the new rule, or the fact that nobody seems to know it exists in those first two clips.

TangoAlphaLima
Guest
TangoAlphaLima
2 years 1 month ago

Somebody tell Ned Yost about this. The Royals have been metaphorically dropping the ball all season, it only makes sense that they literally start dropping the ball to improve.

Satoshi Nakamoto
Guest
Satoshi Nakamoto
2 years 1 month ago

I hate the new replay system. Replays for whether its a Homerun or not? Fine.

Replays for every single close play? Boring and huge break in game rhythm.

Get rid of it!

LaLoosh
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

Yeah, I knew there would be some crazy “interpretations” occasionally but had no idea it would be this insane on a daily basis. Bud Selig has presided over some really bad changes to the game in 20 yrs but this is by far the worst yet.

This challenge system has to go. Seeing teams stand around esp on 3rd out calls while a manager comes out and farts around for 20 seconds while waiting for a thumbs up/down before issuing a challenge is horrendous. They should have left it to a 5th video official in every stadium to clarify any close call and take the strategy angles for the managers out of it.

AK7007
Member
AK7007
2 years 1 month ago

That would imply that the intention was to get calls right, and not to limply placate fan complaints about umpiring.

ed
Guest
ed
2 years 1 month ago

I like the ny thing better. A fifth travelling umpire in the crew would have too much buddy time to be a good judge whether or not to overturn a call.

But yeah, have the manager come out and argue, while he does this, the 5th umpire can look at it in ny and say stands or overturned.

Aidan
Guest
Aidan
2 years 1 month ago

This has happened three times to the A’s – in addition to the two plays form yesterday, it happened in Oakland last weekend when Almonte made a running catch in center, dropped it on the transfer. Result was FC, out at second b/c Donaldson had already returned to first. On the two plays in which a FC resulted, the difference in outcome was negligible – an out resulted though the base runners at first base changed. Didn’t affect the outcome of the game so not a big deal. As outlined above however, such plays could significantly affect the outcome of the game.

What I want to know, is WHY the change in rules this year? What possible purpose does it serve? Anyone?

Satoshi Nakamoto
Guest
Satoshi Nakamoto
2 years 1 month ago

To eliminate the need to challenge and review all turning double play drops on transfer?

Aidan
Guest
Aidan
2 years 1 month ago

Makes sense for the infield DP’s, though I’m fixated on the outfield catches / drop on transfer.

ed
Guest
ed
2 years 1 month ago

it doesn’t even need to be as complicated as the situation outlined in the article.

Billy hamilton is on first. shallow fly to any outfield spot.

The outfielder better drop it on the transfer. its the right play. Now you can force Hamilton fairly easily and you are better off with the slower runner.

Dave Cornutt
Guest
Dave Cornutt
2 years 1 month ago

Somebody is going to get a triple play out of it eventually. Consider: Runners at first and second, nobody out. The batter blisters a line drive that is caught by the 2B. The runners have a split second to decide and they both dive for their bases. Only the 2B “drops” the ball as he prepares to throw to the SS covering 2nd. Now the runners are forced. He picks it up and throw to 3B to start an around-the-horn triple play. The runners are all frozen and can’t do a thing, and the batter probably gave up when the 2B caught the line drive.

pft
Guest
pft
2 years 1 month ago

“What I want to know, is WHY the change in rules this year? What possible purpose does it serve? Anyone?”

Reduces the number of calls that are overturned, now umpires just have to see if the ball drops to the ground and not judge if the fielder caught it or not

Law of unintended consequences

Jengajam
Guest
Jengajam
2 years 1 month ago

Won’t this rule eliminate the sacrifice fly entirely? An outfielder should just never “complete” his catch until he walks to the infield, and runners will have no choice but to stay on their bases, even if there’s no force play.

If this were interpreted as “making a mockery of the game,” that would make things even worse because outfielders now have to run toward the infield while transfering the ball as slowly as possible, without looking intentionally slow, in order to let their momentum carry them as close to the infield as possible.

Captain Tenneal
Guest
Captain Tenneal
2 years 1 month ago

Sac flies (or runners tagging and going to 3rd) are one of the few things not affected. Once the OF touches the ball you are free to tag up. This was so OFers couldn’t just juggle the ball in to freeze baserunners. The new rules eliminates the need to even bother juggling it, but SF are protected just the same. The runners in danger are the ones who DON’T want to advance, but are forced to when the ball is dropped.

Stefan
Guest
Stefan
2 years 1 month ago

Sacrifice Flies don’t change…they’ve always been that as soon as the fielder touches the ball the runner is free to leave the bag (otherwise OFers could have juggled the ball in the old system to make that deep fly ball into a shallow fly ball).

dmoas
Guest
dmoas
2 years 1 month ago

I vehemently disagree that they can’t change it this season and now. They seemed to have added in this early into the season, they can damn well fix it too. And if I’m a MLB manager, I sure as fuck would exploit it and make a full of the league if they’re too damn stubborn to do so. And the earlier they do it, the better. You don’t want the play offs or the World Series decided by this. At all.

Satoshi Nakamoto
Guest
Satoshi Nakamoto
2 years 1 month ago

Agreed. The sooner a manager and his outfielders exploit this the better.
Force mlb to fix it immediately.

Llewdor
Guest
Llewdor
2 years 1 month ago

Why just a few steps? The LF should run all the way to third with he ball in his glove, and then drop it on the transfer.

phoenix2042
Guest
phoenix2042
2 years 1 month ago

Here’s a question: If a catch is not officially made until the transfer, what happens at first base on a groundout? Does the first baseman have to take the ball out of his glove before it’s a catch? If so, and according to this definition, it is so, then infield singles should skyrocket with all that extra time.

N8*K
Guest
N8*K
2 years 1 month ago

To your point, on a grounder thrown to first, does the first basemen need to transfer the ball before the runner touches first? Or is the out retroactive to when the first basemen initially touches the ball, provided he makes a successful transfer?

ed
Guest
ed
2 years 1 month ago

well, from the play at first in the yankee red sox game, we know that its not when the ball passes into the glove, so the rule isn’t when it first makes contact.

I don’t know the answer

pft
Guest
pft
2 years 1 month ago

Yet on another play 1t 1B just a few days earlier they said the opposite and did not overturn the call because they said its when the ball passes into the glove and not when it makes contact that counts.

Two people who attended similar meetings over the winter, and told when the ball is ruled to be caught and given 2 different answers. Two reviewers with different interpretations.

If umps and MLb don’t know their own rules, how can they get it right?

They obviously have no quality system in place or independent auditors

McExpos
Guest
McExpos
2 years 1 month ago

This rule change alone makes me ecstatic that Raul Ibanez didn’t retire at the end of last season. Even when he catches the ball, he may not catch the ball.

james wilson
Guest
james wilson
2 years 1 month ago

Replay has hurt football and now it is going to hurt baseball. And what is baseball if we spend the entire season without a player or manager putting the hate on an umpire? Everybody is getting along so swell that it’s disgusting, worse than going to a hockey game and not seeing a fight break out.

sickcoyote
Member
sickcoyote
2 years 1 month ago

This is going to hurt the value of groundball pitchers

Pumpsie Green
Guest
Pumpsie Green
2 years 1 month ago

MLB has to adjust for the possibility of gamesmanship, but beyond that I love the new rule and the offence it creates. Hitters can’t Cespedes their way to the dugout on a fly ball, and it puts more pressure on the defence. Every base runner (and coach) needs to force a throw on fly balls, and with those infield plays we’ll see more runners and more scoring. I like it – encourages offence and defense at the same time, discourages laziness, keeps everyone on their toes. Enhances the value of responsible fielders and good base runners.

Aidan
Guest
Aidan
2 years 1 month ago

I tend to disagree. Incidents like Cespedes giving up quickly aside, when a base runner (i.e., not the batter) sees that the ball is caught – in the fielder’s glove and that fielder appears to have control – the base runner may need to haul ass and return to the base from whence he came to avoid being doubled up. He can’t reasonably look over his shoulder to see if the fielder drops the ball on the transfer.

ed
Guest
ed
2 years 1 month ago

even if he is looking over his shoulder, or at the alert base coach, he may not have enough time to stop, turn on his heel and advance to the next base

Wally
Guest
Wally
2 years 1 month ago

Which was exactly what happened to Donaldson. Moss hit a ball that looked like it was headed for the gap, Donaldson was on first, and was going to try to score on a double. But a good play resulted in a catch after he was around second and we know the rest. So, he was over aggressive given the new rule. Now, runners have to wait that much longer to commit to advancing or going back, so it takes aggression on the basepaths, at least by all runs not the batter, out of the game. If you’re the batter and you don’t have anyone to pass on the base paths, sure just keep running on lazy fly balls and hope a panicy-fielder muffs the throw, but how is that different than before anyway?

Dave Cornutt
Guest
Dave Cornutt
2 years 1 month ago

I agree that it will hurt offense rather than help it. In more cases the runners will have to stay close to their bases instead of going halfway on a fly ball to the outfield. If the ball isn’t caught, this could mean the runner has less opportunity to advance. We could see a rash of runners at 1B only making it to 3B on doubles. And it will just about eliminate triples with a runner 1B or 2B — the runner will have to hold and the batter won’t have the opportunity to advance to 3B.

Dan
Guest
Dan
2 years 1 month ago

I don’t know if this rule is any different as it applies to outfielders. There was a similar play that happened last year with Daniel Nava:

http://m.mlb.com/video/v28306233/bosdet-nava-talks-dropped-flyball-call-vs-tigers/?c_id=mlb

Uninterested Cat
Guest
Uninterested Cat
2 years 1 month ago

I heard once that runners can tag up as soon as a fielder touches the ball, even if the fielder doesn’t catch the ball until later. This is supposedly to prevent fielders from purposely juggling the ball to hold the runners.

However, I’m having trouble finding this in the MLB rulebook; online sources say the rule is there for various other levels of baseball.

joser
Guest
joser
2 years 1 month ago

I was sitting in a bar during the Hamilton play, and the guys on the stools next to me all agreed that there was no way that was anything but a catch. The sound was off, so we were going strictly on our own memories of how baseball has always been played. Then, having nothing else to do during the video review, and this being the 21st century, I pulled my Nexus 7 out of my pocket and looked up the definition of the catch in the official MLB rules. When I got to the sentence endings “…his release of the ball is voluntary and intentional” I couldn’t believe it and read it out loud. None of us knew that the definition had been changed, so we were completely confused about whether this was just one of those things that baseball had always just done differently than the rules actually state.

ed
Guest
ed
2 years 1 month ago

hamilton’s realse was voluntary and intention, as were ackley’s 2, and the others. they just missed the ball with their bare hand. they have every intention of releasing the ball.

Voluntarily. Intentionally. yet, poorly.

Ride the Apocalypse
Guest
Ride the Apocalypse
2 years 1 month ago

Honestly, I think this is already making a mockery of the game. In theory, it may seem reasonable. But in practice, it is just an unfathomably dumb adherence to the “letter of the rule.”

Please, change it ASAP.

Phantom Stranger
Guest
Phantom Stranger
2 years 1 month ago

These new interpretations have made a complete mess of the replay system in place. Every game I watch now is filled with the manager waiting around the field, hoping to see a signal from his dugout on whether to challenge or not.

They need to add a penalty for a team that challenges a call and loses it. Possibly an extra out or something to that effect.

frozen
Guest
frozen
2 years 1 month ago

Easy fix: If the outfielder drops the ball on the transfer, everyone moves up a base and is safe.

RSF
Guest
RSF
2 years 1 month ago

Easier fix: when a player clearly catches the ball, call it a catch.

pft
Guest
pft
2 years 1 month ago

I have seen 2 plays where the transfer was made cleanly, only to have the player drop the ball in the act of throwing. Andruws in a play at 2B and in the OF (can’t remember who). in both cases the ball was well in hand, but as they extended their arm to throw the ball slipped out. I did not consider either case to be a drop on the transfer, but a drop after the transfer.

I think we are seeing bias from umpires who look for reasons not to overturn calls and make their buddies look bad. This is what Farrell meant by adding a different human element.

Blowing a call on replay, as opposed to blowing a bang bang play is infinitely worse since it calls into question the integrity of the game and umpires. Incompetence can be forgiven, lack of integrity can not be

Adam
Guest
Adam
2 years 1 month ago

So if a first baseman receives a throw on a force play at first, but he doesn’t transfer the ball to his throwing hand until he has left the bag this would mean that he didn’t complete the catch while on the base. Correct? Would this mean that on such plays the runner should be safe even without requiring the fielder to drop the ball, because the catch was not made while on the base?

Michael
Guest
Michael
2 years 1 month ago

If the out isn’t made until the outfielder transfers the ball to his other hand, no outfielder should ever transfer the ball to his throwing hand until he’s done running around tagging everything and everybody. Forces should still be in play around the bases. Then at the end, though the batter has run through first base, he is out when the transfer is made. And if any of the baserunners made it to the bag they were forced to before being tagged by the outfielder with the untransferred ball, they would suddenly then have to return to their original base, which they wouldn’t be able to do before being doubled off.

This wouldn’t work with baserunners who aren’t forced, but otherwise every flyout should either end the inning or clear the bases. Great new rule!

Hank
Guest
Hank
2 years 1 month ago

No.

Shrewd Cat
Guest
Shrewd Cat
2 years 1 month ago

I don’t remember this being a problem in baseball so why did they change the interpretation? To fix a problem that didn’t exist.

Also with this situation with managers talking to the umps to buy time so their video guys can signal to the manager whether to challenge- simple- put a time limit on making a challenge- maybe a 10 second limit on the end of the play. Cricket does a similar thing.

Satoshi Nakamoto
Guest
Satoshi Nakamoto
2 years 1 month ago

Good lord, another play involving this play.

Mariners at Rangers.

Brad Miller hits a come backer to the pitcher and the pitcher throws to homeplate and JP Arencibia. But JP goes to transfer to throw to 1st base but never controlled the ball, and his foot was off the plate.

laugh my ass off. Laughingstock. Over a century of history. Going down in flames.

BenRevereDoesSteroids
Member
BenRevereDoesSteroids
2 years 1 month ago

But JP goes to transfer to throw to 1st base but never controlled the ball, and his foot was off the plate.

The foot off the plate part was what really got me about that play. His foot was dragging across home plate with the ball in his glove, and then he bobbled it AFTER his foot came of!

The other part about this, was that the review took like 3 minutes, and then Ron Washington came out to argue the call and got ejected! So much for eliminating arguments with the umpires!

Landon
Guest
Landon
2 years 1 month ago

What got me about the play tonight was that JP never actually dropped the ball. He catches it with his foot on home plate, takes a step forward, bobbles the ball in the transfer, and then snags it with his bare hand out of the air. So JP still “transferred” the ball, he just didn’t do it cleanly with zero bobbles. But by the time the transfer is complete he is a few feet in front of home plate, and replay rules the runner safe. It didn’t matter that me made the “catch” with his foot on the plate.

So MLB is essentially saying that the catch isn’t made until the transfer process is completed. Going by the same definition, if a 2nd baseman catches a ball, touches 2nd, then steps off the bag to make the transfer before throwing to first, the runner should be safe at 2nd. Why? Because by the time the catch was completed he was off the bag.

This rule has fundamentally changed the game and has to go.

Frank
Guest
Frank
2 years 1 month ago

In my attempts to learn more about baseball from reputable sources such as this site and others I was informed well before this year that a clean transfer to the non-glove hand was required before a catch is considered a catch. Though it was presented as an archaic novelty that no one really cared about.

Dave Cornutt
Guest
Dave Cornutt
2 years 1 month ago

Transfer to the other hand, per se, has never been the rule and I’ve never seen it called that way. The effective rule, especially for outfielders, has always been that the fielder had to demonstrate control of the ball. Traditionally, this was done by one of two means: either holding the ball in the glove (a lot of outfielders will hold up the glove with the ball visible to show that they have it), or by taking the ball out of the glove with the other hand. If the bare hand has a grip on the ball, even for a moment, that was enough to demonstrate control.

Apparently that’s not the rule anymore. It seems that, in a situation where there is a throw to be made, you have to make the throw before the catch is ruled a catch. That was never the rule before. In fact I recall the rule book (which I don’t have access to at work) having a note specifically saying that a drop in the act of preparing to throw does not invalidate a catch. The problem we have now, in addition to the obvious silliness, is that there is now an extended period where the ball is neither caught nor not caught, and the baserunner with a force on him is in a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t situation. And yes, I can guarantee that right now there are managers and coaches and fielders working on how to exploit that. A lot of baseball’s rules are a tightly interlocked web, and if you tinker with one thing, it can have all kinds of unintended side effects.

Stu
Guest
Stu
2 years 1 month ago

Where is the petition to get this changed. It worked for 100 years just fine. Why add confusion to something so simple? Crazy

Umpire Weekend
Guest
Umpire Weekend
2 years 1 month ago

Put one on change.org

Satoshi Nakamoto
Guest
Satoshi Nakamoto
2 years 1 month ago

Bud Selig needs to go.

James F
Guest
James F
2 years 1 month ago

Hold on. I thought this only applied to DROPS…

What happened with the Ranger’s game last night with JP Arenciba? He never dropped the ball, but bobbled it on the transfer. Safe????

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/tex/rangers-manager-ron-washington-ejected-after-call-is-overturned-monday?ymd=20140414&content_id=72085396&vkey=news_tex

This makes ZERO sense.

Brendan Burke
Guest
Brendan Burke
2 years 1 month ago

He still lost possession of the ball, though it did not hit the ground.

noah
Guest
noah
2 years 1 month ago

Why should Trumbo walk only one or two steps? He should run the ball all the way back to the infield — to third base. Then he should try to transfer the ball and drop it at the 3B’s feet. Then the 3B should pick it up, tag third and throw to second. Sure-thing double play. And not a catch under the transfer rule as currently articulated.

Garth
Guest
Garth
2 years 1 month ago

Can some team please sign Jim Abbott and play him in the field to really put this rule to the test?

Neezer
Guest
Neezer
2 years 1 month ago

so would this not be a catch now?

JK
Guest
JK
2 years 1 month ago

This is spot on. Well done.

Nelson Kushner
Guest
1 year 7 months ago

Great post, thank for the interesting read.

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