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Little league majors all star game. Runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out. Ground ball to F6 who briefly muffs then recovers and throws out lead runner in a very close play at 3b. As the runner and F5 untangle and I bask in the glow of my great call I see the runner who had just reached 2nd heading to the dugout which is fairly close to home plate on the first base side of the field. He gets about 10 feet short of the pitching rubber when people start yelling and he scrambles back to 2b. Throw comes and he barely gets back in safe before the tag. Defensive coach argues that it should be a force play at 2b because the runner never made it to 2b (I dont know if he did or not, I was focused on the close play at 3b but from what I saw out of the corner of my eye I think he did touch 2b originally) and even if he did the force is reinstated because he was heading back towards 1b (he was running almost directly from 2b to HP but ever so slightly angled towards the 1b side) and also argued he abandoned his base. 

 

I ruled safe because I didnt think he got far enough to call abandonment and he wasnt going anywhere near the direction of 1b so I didnt buy that either. Thoughts?

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Sounds like a good call to me.  I would offer a suggestion to get together with your partner to see if he/she can confirm or deny whether the runner made it to second base.

You were correct that the force would not be reinstated as he was not retreating to first base.

I could offer the usual "keep your head on a swivel" and say do not bask in the glory of the call you nailed ... because you just missed the next one.  😉

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I'd bet a lot of money there was no partner here.

 

I know this may be a technicality, but I may disagree with the assessment that he's not retreating towards first...it first doesn't matter what his intent is, only his position.

If he's not past/beyond (or on) second base, then he must be before it.   It's unfortunate that the dugout is on the first base side of the field...but dem's da brakes.   If the dugout had been on the third base side he'd be seen as advancing.  If he's moving towards the other side of the field, he's moving away from second base, and hasn't reached it (any more)...I'm willing to bet his angle away from second was more pronounced than you think/remember, but in the end HTBT

To put it another way, if the runner had decided to run to third instead of second, would you deny an appeal at second for missing the base?

If there was no one on first (say he hit a double), and he returned to first instead of second, would you deny an appeal at second for missing the base?

 

 

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2 hours ago, beerguy55 said:

I'd bet a lot of money there was no partner here.

 

I know this may be a technicality, but I may disagree with the assessment that he's not retreating towards first...it first doesn't matter what his intent is, only his position.

If he's not past/beyond (or on) second base, then he must be before it.   It's unfortunate that the dugout is on the first base side of the field...but dem's da brakes.   If the dugout had been on the third base side he'd be seen as advancing.  If he's moving towards the other side of the field, he's moving away from second base, and hasn't reached it (any more)...I'm willing to bet his angle away from second was more pronounced than you think/remember, but in the end HTBT

To put it another way, if the runner had decided to run to third instead of second, would you deny an appeal at second for missing the base?

If there was no one on first (say he hit a double), and he returned to first instead of second, would you deny an appeal at second for missing the base?

 

 

@beerguy....I appreciate your insights.  You always seem to have a knack for offering a coach's perspective to a situation without throwing umpires under the bus, and I have rarely disagreed with you.

On this one, I have to agree to disagree, but the reason is semantics I suppose.

The rule says that a force is reinstated "if a runner tags the base to which they are forced, and for some reason retreats toward the previous base".

If you want to focus solely on the word "towards", I suppose you would be correct, that no matter what his intent was, if he in any way went back towards 1B dugout, the force would re-apply.

But I have to believe as an umpire that the "spirit of the rule" does not apply to what you said....why would a runner retreat towards the previous base in error?  Generally because they thought a ball was caught that was not.  There are others such as realizing they left early on a tag (but rarely does this revelation come to then after running 90 feet, usually much sooner)

By your reasoning, the team in the 3B dugout would never have this rule apply to them by "accident" (as was the case for R1 in the OP) because they would always be heading towards third base which would be "advancing" (unless the batter touched 1st and then wanted to retreat towards home?)

I will agree that the rule is vague, and rarely do I as an umpire want to guess/judge what a runner or fielder was thinking, but I have to believe the re-application of the force out is when a runner is attempting to return to the previous base.  The whole definition of abandonment is centered around a runner giving up their efforts to run the bases, whether by mistake (thought they were out) or by giving up (dropped third strike and don't want to run).

If the runner has no reason to think they are out (play went to third in OP) and is clearly heading towards their dugout, I have abandonment, which is a timing play and/or requires a tag if they are heading back to the bag.

If there is any room for question as to where the runner is heading, I am fine with re-applying the force, but I truly believe the rule is designed to punish runners who mistakingly try to retreat to the previous base, not runners who happen to be in the 1B dugout and head that way.

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15 minutes ago, SH0102 said:

By your reasoning, the team in the 3B dugout would never have this rule apply to them by "accident" (as was the case for R1 in the OP) because they would always be heading towards third base which would be "advancing" (unless the batter touched 1st and then wanted to retreat towards home?)

Yes, that's right...and it comes up in abandonment issues under the ruleset(s) where the standard does not require the player to reach the dugout - where it can be/is called after a few steps...heading from second towards the first-base dugout would be abandonment after a few steps, heading towards the third-base dugout would/could be seen as advancing to the next base in  many (not all) cases, by the sheer luck that the next base is on the way.

   It's a quirk in the game and rule.   It applies equally to everyone, 50% of the time.

The "mistakes" you speak of in ruling abandonment include believing the inning is over...it doesn't really matter why the runner abandoned their efforts (beyond an umpire explicitly giving them reason to)...only that he did.   That absolves you of figuring out their intent.

Likewise, I don't think it matters why a runner ran towards the prior base...only that they did.  (recreational/training/teachable moments aside)

18 minutes ago, SH0102 said:

But I have to believe as an umpire that the "spirit of the rule" does not apply to what you said....why would a runner retreat towards the previous base in error?  Generally because they thought a ball was caught that was not.  There are others such as realizing they left early on a tag (but rarely does this revelation come to then after running 90 feet, usually much sooner)

I don't disagree, which is why I asked the second questions about missing second base.

He has either passed second base or he hasn't...

If you're determining that he is not retreating towards first, and that the force is off, because he has touched second base, then he would be able to advance to third without retouching second....which could be problematic (and look a little weird) depending on where he is on the first base side of the pitching mound when he A) realizes the inning isn't over and B) decides third base is his best option.

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From the 2017 Jaksa/Roder manual (Chapter 6, p. 48):

During continuous action, and only during continuous action, the force can be removed and also reinstated…

A force is reinstated if a consecutive runner who had acquired his advance base returns past such base in retreat toward his time-of-pitch base (assuming the force has not yet been removed).

 

From the 2021 Minor League Baseball Umpire Manual (section 5.14, p. 55) we can get the definition of a runner passing a base—

“A runner is considered to have passed a base if he has both feet on the ground beyond the back edge of the base or beyond the edge of the base in the direction to which he is advancing.”

From the description given in the OP we had no break in the action so the force could be reinstated. Going by the definition of passing a base I would say that once the runner had both feet on the ground toward first base he has passed the base and reinstated the force.

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Thanks for the great discussion guys. As soon as I made the safe call my PU actually called time and conferenced with me to talk about the force play being reinstated. He said he didnt think the runner ever reached 2b but he wasnt sure at all. We probably should have discussed it longer but I understood what he was saying and thought about it for a second or two before deciding to stick with my call. After reading some of the discussion here I think it kinda validates what I already knew...that it was borderline and either call was reasonable and supportable. That being said, after reading all the posts I think I'd call the force play if I could do it over again. Beerguy's arguments were pretty convincing, plus the chance that the runner may not have ever gotten to 2b to begin with can be viewed as kind of the tiebreaker to make OUT the correct call. 

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What if he stepped off the base to the back or third base side before heading through the middle of the field?  Then, by the letter of the law provided, he passed the base and didn’t retreat regardless of where he went after that.

It seems the letter is more concerned with entry/exit to/from the base, not the direction the runner was headed afterwards.

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On 7/31/2021 at 10:20 PM, The Man in Blue said:

What if he stepped off the base to the back or third base side before heading through the middle of the field?  Then, by the letter of the law provided, he passed the base and didn’t retreat regardless of where he went after that.

It seems the letter is more concerned with entry/exit to/from the base, not the direction the runner was headed afterwards.

If he truly went to the middle of the field (ie. the rubber/mound), I would agree with everything but "regardless of where he went" - first, I think such a path would be highly odd/unusual...he would only do this if he was the pitcher and was going directly to the mound to wait for his glove.   If he was truly heading to the dugout, he would at least be to some degree, if only a few steps, towards the first base side, and IMO that would be a move towards first...so the defense touching second base would give two reasons to call him out -  A) an appeal for missing second in his retreat to first or B) reinstating the force.

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