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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Major League umpires, Fox network stumped by rule

The Red Sox are playing the Yankees right now, and for some reason, I'm watching. With a man on first in the bottom of the 3rd inning and one out, Alex Rodriguez was at the plate. The runner on first tried to steal second, and Rodriguez took the pitch for a called third strike. Rodriguez thought it was ball 4 and started to walk towards first base, and, in doing so, he made contact with catcher Victor Martinez. Martinez was unable to throw the runner out, so home plate umpire Jeff Kellogg correctly called the runner out for Rodriguez's interference. The announcer, Tim McCarver, explained to the audience that the umpire called interference on Rodriguez for the third out of the inning, and Fox went to a commercial. Everything was fine until they returned from the commercial:

Tim McCarver: "I was incorrect when I said that was interference. Interference, broadly put, has to do when a fielder interferes with a baserunner. Obstruction is when a baserunner interferes with a defender."

Then, Fox showed a replay, complete with audio, and the umpire actually said "That's obstruction!", pointed to Rodriguez, and called the third out.

So, is it interference or obstruction? Let's take a look at the rulebook:

"Offensive interference is an act by the team at bat which interferes with,
obstructs, impedes, hinders or confuses any fielder attempting to make a play.
If the umpire declares the batter, batter-runner, or a runner out for interference,
all other runners shall return to the last base that was in the judgment of the
umpire, legally touched at the time of the interference, unless otherwise
provided by these rules."

"OBSTRUCTION is the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball and
not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner."

So, not only does the apparent best baseball analyst in the world not know the rules, but neither does the home plate umpire. I suppose it doesn't matter since he got the call right, but when Tim McCarver decides to mis-inform his audience on national TV, it's pretty absurd there's nobody who works for Fox who cares enough to inform him of, you know, the actual rule.

1 comment:

Craig Mactavish said...

I had a call like this over the summer, but not on strike 3. The batter swung and stepped out of the box over home plate as a runner attempted to steal 2nd. I called the runner out. The batter's next pitch was ball 4. That manager brought a rule book the next inning telling me I was wrong and that the batter should have been out and the runner returned to first. Either way he would have had one out and a runner on first base. He did not get one call his way the rest of the game.