Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Interference & Illegal Slides

“Throw it into the runner’s back. Because then what’s happening? (The runner) is impeding (and he is out)."
That quote is not from a disgruntled Yankees fan, nor is it from Joe Girardi or anybody else within the Yankees organization. This quote, which is essentially telling players to throw the ball at another player, comes from Dana Demuth.

Dana Demuth is the umpire crew chief from yesterday's game, and was also the home plate umpire during the controversial play in which Betances threw a Carlos Correa ground ball into right field, allowing the go-ahead run to score for the Astros.

To be fair, Demuth is not condoning any sort of violence between players. The issue is that the rule regarding interference is about judgment. An umpire during this type of play has to ask himself, "did the player interfere with the thrown ball, or was is just a bad throw?"

In this case, Mr. Demuth judged that Dellin's throw was just a bad one, and no matter where the runner was the result was going to be an error. Therefore, it was not interference, and the Astros scored and went on to win the game.

The lesson to be learned from the play, and from the words of Dana Demuth, is for players to just make a good throw. If the ball doesn't hit the runner, then the play can be made as normal. If the ball does hit the runner, assuming he's out of the baseline (as Correa was yesterday), interference will be called, the batter/runner is out, and the play is dead... no run scored.

Now, how can I talk about a rule and not at least touch on the "Chase Utley" rule, which was in full force yesterday?

You mean this isn't normal?

As a basketball official I have first-hand experience with this sort of thing.

What happened to Ruben Tejada last year, which prompted this new rule, is not something Major League Baseball ever wants to see again. I think we all can agree that we don't want to see a player get injured. By "injured" I'm not talking about a player getting a bruise from a hit by pitch, when I say "injured" I'm talking about something that keeps a player from returning to the game right away.

Something had to be done, and that something was not going to be hidden in the back of the rule book. It was going to be carried out to a tee, and players were going to be made aware of it right away.

So officials like myself are instructed to strictly enforce a rule, and I'm guessing the same was done to MLB umpires.

This is just another case of "don't hate the player, hate the game". Those fans that are up in arms over the new rule should take their gripes to the people that make the rules, not the people that enforce them.

4 comments:

  1. My opinion is that Betances made a bad throw. At 6'8", he should have been able to create a better angle. It was not going to be that close of a play. I had a bigger issue with the thigh high pitch that caught 4 inches of the plate being called a ball instead of strike 3. As far as the Bautista slide, the slide was clean until he intentionally grabbed Forsythe's ankle. That is no different than Arod's glove slap a few years back. Bush League!

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  2. I still have scars from playing 2nd base. The first thing a 2nd baseman has to learn is to protect yourself at all times and know who is on 1st base! Never turn your back to the runner as Tejada had done, make the play that is there and get the hell out of the way.
    The second thing is to learn how to throw a low bridge to 1st base...a sidearm throw to 1st is low enough to get the runner to duck and not get to your legs.
    If one is dumb enough to forget any of those laws, it is his own problem.

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    Replies
    1. So you're saying players getting scars is tradition?

      Sorry, I don't buy that.

      There was a time when batters didn't wear helmets, too. Should we get rid of helmets, because if a batter is too stupid to duck then that's his problem?

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    2. One never has to buy into anything I say, that is your choice.
      I am saying many of the better players play with their talents without bothering to learn the basics of the game.
      There are many examples of this; Tejada tried to make a play that wasn't there to be made. In trying to do so he turned his back to the runner and got hurt. The slide was a good takeout slide but, with his back turned he could not react properly to the slide.
      Last night I saw Didi cross the bag (on the outside of the bag) and throw side arm to 1st. Did anyone see the runner go down short of the bag and Didi? That is a basic throw to keep runners off of you.
      As far as helmets go, they are a step up from disaster, with the speed of many fastballs today (and back in the day also) would be stupid! One need not have all the body armor that guys use today so they can take away the inner half of the plate from the pitcher, the strike zone is so small nowadays
      that it is a big advantage to the hitter when one only has 3/4 of a plate to put the ball in for a strike without getting it hit out for a HR. How do you think The Fat man in Boston gets so many HRs?

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