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Double or triple play?
April 28, 2011 1:46 PM   Subscribe

Baseball rules question---put on your umpire's cap.

Runners on 1st and 2nd, nobody out. Runners going on the pitch---deep fly ball to right-center. Runner from second takes a quick glance at the ball, determines that it is non-catchable, and sprint around third toward home. Runner on first not so sure--stops between 1st and second to see if the ball drops. Lo and behold, centerfielder makes a diving catch in the gap. Runner from second (who has now already crossed home plate realizes he is a dead duck to be doubled off at second), just stands at homeplate in amazement of the catch. CF injured badly on the catch (rightfielder needs to run over and retrieve ball)---runner from first goes back and tags up all the way to third base. Questions:

Did runner on first figuratively "pass" the runner who should have returned to 2B...and is therefore out?


Let's say runner from 2B goes back to dugout on play (knowing he'll be out trying to get back to 2B)..is it now OK for runner from 1B to go all the way to 3B (assuming that runner who went into dugout is technically out of basepath)?

Bonus points for finding where in the rules of baseball this may be covered.

FYI, this is a hypothetical of a similar situation.
posted by teg4rvn to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I wish I had time to dig into this one. Generally, here's a link to the official rules (downloadable version in left sidebar). I look forward to some expert analysis.
posted by GPF at 1:54 PM on April 28, 2011


I saw a similar situation where a CF caught a ball and slammed into the wall, knocking himself out. If I'm remembering correctly, the batter ran the bases and his run counted because the ball was not returned.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 2:00 PM on April 28, 2011


The first runner is out for abandoning the bases:

7.08...This rule also covers the following and similar plays: Less than two out, score tied last of ninth inning, runner on first, batter hits a ball out of park for winning run, the runner on first passes second and thinking the home run automatically wins the game, cuts across diamond toward his bench as batter runner circles bases. In this case, the base runner would be called out "for abandoning his effort to touch the next base" and batter runner permitted to continue around bases to make his home run valid. If there are two out, home run would not count (see Rule 7.12). This is not an appeal play.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 2:05 PM on April 28, 2011


7.10 Any runner shall be called out, on appeal, when—
(a) After a fly ball is caught, he fails to retouch his original base before he or his
original base is tagged;
Rule 7.10(a) Comment: “Retouch,” in this rule, means to tag up and start from a contact with the
base after the ball is caught. A runner is not permitted to take a flying start from a position in back of his
base.
(b) With the ball in play, while advancing or returning to a base, he fails to touch each
base in order before he, or a missed base, is tagged.
APPROVED RULING: (1) No runner may return to touch a missed base after a
following runner has scored. (2) When the ball is dead, no runner may return to
touch a missed base or one he has left after he has advanced to and touched a base
beyond the missed base.


Approved Ruling (1) seems to imply that the runner from First Base can move forward as long as he's not out and doesn't physically pass the runner from Second Base. If the following runner scores, the preceding runner can't return to tag up. To me, that implies that if he reaches Third, the preceding runner also can't return.
posted by The Michael The at 2:09 PM on April 28, 2011


Rule 7.12, page 73 on the link from GPF:

7.12 Unless two are out, the status of a following runner is not affected by a preceding
runner’s failure to touch or retouch a base. If, upon appeal, the preceding runner is the third
out, no runners following him shall score. If such third out is the result of a force play,
neither preceding nor following runners shall score.

That is, the runner on second is out, obviously, but the runner on first is cool to stay on third.
posted by brainmouse at 2:10 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


This rule also covers the following and similar plays: Less than two out, score tied last of ninth inning, runner on first, batter hits a ball out of park for winning run, the runner on first passes second and thinking the home run automatically wins the game, cuts across diamond toward his bench as batter runner circles bases. In this case, the base runner would be called out "for abandoning his effort to touch the next base" and batter runner permitted to continue around bases to make his home run valid. If there are two out, home run would not count (see Rule 7.12). This is not an appeal play.

On abandoning the basepaths, see also Merkle's Boner.

The wrinkle comes, I guess, in what the runner does at home plate. If he stands on the plate, has he abandoned the basepaths? I think it'd come down the ump's judgment. If the guy wanders over to the dugout, sure. But what if he stands in the vicinity of the plate?
posted by synecdoche at 2:11 PM on April 28, 2011


Runner advances from 1st as far as he can. Running who was on 2nd is out and according to rule 7.12: Unless two are out, the status of a following runner is not affected by a preceding
runner’s failure to touch or retouch a base.

posted by IanMorr at 2:11 PM on April 28, 2011


On review, I think what brainmouse said probably covers it.
posted by synecdoche at 2:12 PM on April 28, 2011


I agree..I think @brainmouse got it...thanks!
posted by teg4rvn at 2:15 PM on April 28, 2011


A lot what I had typed has been said and correctly, but remember the runner from 2B is not out until the team on the field touches 2B holding the ball:
7.08(d) He fails to retouch his base after a fair or foul ball is legally caught before he, or his
base, is tagged by a fielder. He shall not be called out for failure to retouch his base
after the first following pitch, or any play or attempted play. This is an appeal play;
In any event, the runner from 1B can advance as far as he wants to while the play is alive.

On preview to Terminal Verbosity the question says "Runner from second (who has now already crossed home plate ...)", so it's not abandoning the bases since he successfully touched all bases in order, so it is an appeal play at second base or tagging the runner.

If the field on the team doesn't notice he failed to tag up, the run would count (and if the runner from first base can score, it would count independent of that.)
posted by skynxnex at 2:17 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Awesome follow-up @skyxnex.
posted by teg4rvn at 2:22 PM on April 28, 2011


The interesting thing is that this is an 'appeal' out. Which means he is safe and allowed to score until the opposing team tags his base to appeal to the ump; if they don't do so before the next pitch the run counts.

A team would not forget to appeal in this situation, of course, but they might not appeal if the runner did appear to tag up but cheated by a half second.

On preview skynxnex beat me to it.
posted by PercussivePaul at 2:23 PM on April 28, 2011


Did runner on first figuratively "pass" the runner who should have returned to 2B...and is therefore out?

This has been a great discussion. To summarize more generally, I think it's safe to say that, in addition to crying, there's also no "figurative passing" in baseball. You have to literally, physically cross paths with a preceding runner in order to get called out. That was intuitively my instinct, and I'm glad to see it backed up by the rulebook.

If the rules were otherwise, then the following runner would be responsible for knowing whether the preceding runner had tagged properly or not. In the hypothetical you've laid out, the preceding runner made an obvious goof. But taken to a logical extreme, you can imagine a much closer case: Both runners wait for the catch, see that the outfielder is disabled by his own efforts, and then proceed to tag up.

However, the second-base umpire declares that the preceding runner left base a split-second too early - he did not properly tag. Therefore, in this alternate universe, the preceding runner can be put out when the fielding team finally returns the ball to second base — AND the following runner would also be out for "figuratively passing" the preceding runner, since that runner had improperly left second base.

In other words, you'd be requiring the following runner not only to keep track of his teammate, but also to get the umpire's call exactly right. And particularly because this is an appeal play, the following runner would have no way to know he was right until after the appeal had been made - in other words, long after the main action of the play had concluded, and there was no chance for him to correct his error. To the extent that the rules of baseball are supposed to be reasonable, this would seem to be quite unreasonable.

Even if you didn't have access to the rulebook, by playing with the hypotheticals, one can at least determine which rules possibility is more reasonable than the other (at least in this case). And it turns out that the more reasonable possibility is in fact the rule. Ah, feels like law school again!
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 11:52 PM on April 28, 2011


But....

What if the runner from second realizes somewhere between third and home that the ball was caught, and then goes back to tag up?

He touches third base and heads to second, at which point he comes across the runner from first base, who has rounded second and is heading to third. At this instant, the runner from first base is still okay (because he has tagged up), but the runner from second is still in danger of being caught not tagging up (because he hasn't yet touched second base again).

However, once the runner from second passes the runner from from first, the runner from first becomes out! From 7.08(h), when one runner passes another runner on the basepaths, the runner that started behind the other (here, the one who started from first) is out.

So at the instant that the runner from second passes the runner from first (heading back to 2B), the runner from first becomes out; the runner from second can still be out if the fielders get the ball back to 2B before he does. But if the runner from second had never tried to return to second base, the runner from first would never have become out.

In other words, while in the original situation the runner from first was doing perfectly fine in advancing to third, in general the runner from first might want to refrain from passing second base in case the runner from second does end up coming to his senses and wants to return to tag up.
posted by lewedswiver at 11:57 PM on April 28, 2011


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