April 15, 2011
YOU Make the Call! Part IV
Most baseball fans feel they know the rules, but many of them are actually misunderstood, at least their nuances and technical definitions. Even you are fairly well-versed in the rulebook, a primer never hurts, so BP asked the MLB Umpiring Department about 10 of them. Major League Baseball umpire supervisor Charlie Reliford, a 19-year major-league umpire, and Major League Baseball umpire supervisor Larry Young, a 23-year major-league umpire, provided the definitions and clarifications.
Maximum Number of Outs in an Inning
Charlie Reliford: There are three outs per inning, but in certain circumstances the defense can get more than one third out (apparent fourth out) on appeal for violations of the offense.
Regarding Rule 7.10, appeal plays may require an umpire to recognize an apparent “fourth out.” If the third out is made during a play in which an appeal play is sustained on another runner, the appeal play decision takes precedence in determining the out. If there is more than one appeal during a play that ends a half inning, the defense may elect to take the out that gives it the advantage. For the purpose of this rule, the defensive team has “left the field” when the pitcher and all infielders have left fair territory on their way to the bench or clubhouse.
Here is a play on which a team could get five outs. With the bases loaded and one out, the batter hits a line drive to the outfield. All the runners, believing that the ball will fall, do not tag as the ball is caught. The defense throws the ball to first base for the third out. As the batter was retired on the catch, it is not a force play. All runners who have touched the plate before first is appealed would score except the runner from first, who was just appealed. The defense then throws to second to appeal that runner and
it would be the fourth out. This would be more beneficial as no runners behind the third out can score, leaving only the possibility that the runner from third scored before the appeal play. The defense then throws to third for the fifth out and no runs can score. The rule is designed to let the defense appeal violation by the offense.
What can be appealed?
By the official rules an appeal is:
Charlie Reliford: This appeal rule would cover such things as missed bases, bases left before the runner tagged, batting out of order, illegal bat, and illegal substitute. Although the definition is designed for the defense, the offense can make a request or appeal to the umpire concerning an illegal substitution by the offense, or an illegal glove or other equipment.
Below is the universal ground rules used throughout Major League Baseball. These are items that are generally present in most ballparks and are ruled one way for consistency purposes.
Who sets ballpark-specific ground rules?
Charlie Reliford: Other than the universal ground rules, each club establishes its own ground rules in consultation with Major League Baseball. At the major-league level, ground rules are submitted to Major League Baseball, reviewed and ultimately must be approved before the regular season. The umpires enforce the ground rules. An opposing manager has the right to appeal to the crew chief any ground rule that he thinks is unfair and the crew chief will decide whether to use that ground rule or impose another. The umpires will enforce the approved ground rules as submitted and approved before hand.
Still to come: discretionary calls, interference, "in the neighborhood" calls, the strike zone, and instant replay.