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Catch or no Catch?


Guest Guesterson

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Guest Guesterson

OBR rules, Runners on 1st and 3rd, one out. Batter hits a line drive to 2B, who catches the ball, BR out. R3 is halfway between 3rd base and home plate, and is retreating back to 3rd. 2B throws the ball high to 3B, who jumps up and clearly catches the ball in glove and lands back on third base just before R3 is able to return, but then immediately upon landing 3B tries to tag the returning runner and drops the ball thereafter. What do you have? 

R3 was ruled safe because 3B didn’t complete the catch with secure possession and voluntary release. Coach felt as if the player demonstrated secure possession prior to the tag, and that the tag represented a 2nd play of sorts. Call was upheld with R3 safe because of the lack of voluntary release, and immediate nature of the tag attempt upon landing. Is this correct? 

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Correct call, wrong reasoning.

The requirements for a tag are often confused with those for a catch. Voluntary release is not necessary for a tag: "TAG is the action of a fielder in touching a base with the body while holding the ball securely and firmly in the hand or glove; or touching a runner with the ball or with the hand or glove holding the ball (not including hanging laces alone), while holding the ball securely and firmly in the hand or glove. It is not a tag, however, if simultaneously or immediately following his touching a base or touching a runner, the fielder drops the ball. In establishing the validity of the tag, the fielder shall hold the ball long enough to prove that he has complete control of the ball. If the fielder has made a tag and drops the ball while in the act of making a throw following the tag, the tag shall be adjudged to have been made." [OBR Definitions]

I would equate the fielder trying to tag the runner with the act of making a throw, as in the "tag" definition.

But R3 leaving early is subject to an appeal. However, "An appeal should be clearly intended as an appeal, either by a verbal request by the player or an act that unmistakably indicates an appeal to the umpire. A player inadvertently stepping on the base with a ball in his hand would not constitute an appeal." [OBR 5.09(c) Comment]

I would equate the fielder jumping up, catching the ball, and landing on the base with inadvertently stepping on the base.

Without anything further, like an actual tag of the runner, I would have a "safe" call: the act of inadvertently landing on the base does not constitute an appeal, even if we deem the base touched inadvertently by the fielder with complete control.

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26 minutes ago, LRZ said:

I would equate the fielder jumping up, catching the ball, and landing on the base with inadvertently stepping on the base.

Obviously a had to be there (HTBT) situation but, in my minds eye, the OP action is likely a discrete act to try and double the runner off, especially if F5 was playing it like a F3.

If F5 had enough control to then try and tag R3, seems that would establish the validity of the tag and "prove that he has complete control of the ball" regardless of the control surviving that needless tag of an already out runner.

Again, all HTBT. Not playing the throw back similar to an F3 or juggling the ball between tagging the bag and R3 would change things.

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Yes, F5 had complete control, however momentarily, but was his landing on the base an appeal? Two possibilities.

(1) The throw to F5 was to enable F5 to tag the retreating R3, who had been "halfway between 3rd base and home plate," off the base; or

(2) The throw to F5 was to enable him to make a unmistakable appeal on R3 for having left early.

I'll quote the rule again: "An appeal should be clearly intended as an appeal.... A player inadvertently stepping on the base with a ball in his hand would not constitute an appeal." The most logical inference is that F5 did not clearly intend an appeal; otherwise, he would not have tried to tag R3. Even if the facts are ambiguous and 50/50, they don't support a "clearly intended" appeal.

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So far the only attempt to define what is an obvious appeal I found is in the 2017 Jaksa/Roder manual—

An appeal of a runner’s failure to retouch is only obvious when

(a) the runner has clearly failed to retouch, i.e., the runner is at or returning from a considerable distance away from his TOP base when a fly ball is caught…

Mr. LRZ, I agree that this is really a question about the definition of a tag rather than a catch. But I also think the attempt to get R3 out after the catch was an obvious appeal.

From the 2016 BRD (section 537, pp. 348-349), Jim Evans defines the term tag this way:

Authoritative Opinion:  Jim Evans:  In establishing the validity of secure possession at the time of a tag, the umpire should determine that the player held the ball long enough and did not juggle the ball or momentarily lose possession before gaining full control and touching the runner. Unlike a catch, a legal tag is based on the status of the ball at the time the runner or base is touched and not on the final proof of possession. (JEA/ 2:40)

OBR only. Tag of a base. The batter hits a ground ball to the first baseman. He fields it to the covering pitcher. The pitcher has the ball securely in his glove and steps on the base as BR runs into his back, knocking him down. When he hits the ground, the ball pops out of his glove. Ruling:  Successful tag and BR is out. The tag of the base was proved the moment that it was touched and the momentum of the tagging action ended. BR caused the ball to be knocked out after the tag had already been proved.

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Landing on the base with the ball is not sufficient for a clearly intended appeal: the provision LRZ quotes demonstrates that there are no "accidental" appeals. [Note that we CAN have an accidental force out—another instance of the differences between force plays and appeal plays.]

3 hours ago, Guest Guesterson said:

but then immediately upon landing 3B tries to tag the returning runner and drops the ball thereafter

This is key to ruling on this play: I'd have to know how long "thereafter" is, and, more important, if F5 loses the ball as a result of the tag attempt. If so, the no tag, appeal denied.

If not, then it's moot whether this is an attempted appeal or a tag of a runner off base, he's out. (Well, the scorer might care, but you know what they say about scorekeepers...)

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4 hours ago, LRZ said:

The most logical inference is that F5 did not clearly intend an appeal; otherwise, he would not have tried to tag R3.

I don't think this is proof of much. It' possible and reading the body language would be key (again, HTBT) but it's not a given depending on the age/level of play & mistrust of umpires to get the call right. It's just as likely to fall into the "better safe than sorry" bucket.

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So the crux of this situation as I understand it is focused on the tag and control of the ball, but I'd like to focus on the front half of the situation. The consensus seems to be that the throw to F5 was not a clear appeal.

Respectfully, how is a throw from F4 in this situation not a clear appeal that R3 left early? In my mind, there's no other reason F4 would be throwing to F5 other than to appeal an early departure for R3.

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1 hour ago, 834k3r said:

So the crux of this situation as I understand it is focused on the tag and control of the ball, but I'd like to focus on the front half of the situation. The consensus seems to be that the throw to F5 was not a clear appeal.

Respectfully, how is a throw from F4 in this situation not a clear appeal that R3 left early? In my mind, there's no other reason F4 would be throwing to F5 other than to appeal an early departure for R3.

It might be picking nits, but if it was the tag of the base was an obvious appeal why did he tag the runner...that tells me they were trying to get the runner for being off base, not for leaving early.

At least, as far as the third baseman was concerned.   It's quite possible F4 was making an appeal attempt.

Having said that, I think ruling it an appeal, and calling the runner out at the time F5 touched third base with the base, is far easier to defend, especially to most coaches at that level.  And frankly, since it's a judgment call, that's the judgment that's going to get less flak.  "Coach, he had possession of the ball when he tagged the base, runner is out"....about one in 500 coaches is going to say "but that wasn't a clear appeal attempt".

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2 hours ago, beerguy55 said:

It might be picking nits, but if it was the tag of the base was an obvious appeal why did he tag the runner...that tells me they were trying to get the runner for being off base, not for leaving early.

At least, as far as the third baseman was concerned.   It's quite possible F4 was making an appeal attempt.

Having said that, I think ruling it an appeal, and calling the runner out at the time F5 touched third base with the base, is far easier to defend, especially to most coaches at that level.  And frankly, since it's a judgment call, that's the judgment that's going to get less flak.  "Coach, he had possession of the ball when he tagged the base, runner is out"....about one in 500 coaches is going to say "but that wasn't a clear appeal attempt".

As to the nits that are getting picked, if the situation is bang-bang, then I would expect F5 to try and get the out by whatever means he can--an attempted tag in this case. The fielder isn't going to have an accurate assessment of who got to the base first, so I would expect the fielder to try for a tag.

I guess if I was in that situation of the OP, I would say in my judgement it was a clear appeal attempt, because there's no other reason for F4 to throw to F5. So I've got R3 out; the loss of the ball as a result of the tag is inconsequential.

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"I would equate the fielder jumping up, catching the ball, and landing on the base with inadvertently stepping on the base.

Without anything further, like an actual tag of the runner, I would have a "safe" call: the act of inadvertently landing on the base does not constitute an appeal, even if we deem the base touched inadvertently by the fielder with complete control."

I respectfully disagree.  By returning to 3B after the catch, the runner is clearly indicating he left too soon.  By throwing to 3B, F4 is also clearly indicating an appeal.  In this situation, I do not equate jumping up in the air to catch a high throw then coming down on the base as an inadvertent action.  F5, by touching the base with control of the ball ahead of the runner, as was mentioned in the OP, is an out. The play is over and the runner is out.  The attempt to also tag the runner is a secondary and unnecessary play.

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On 9/17/2022 at 5:46 PM, LRZ said:

Yes, F5 had complete control, however momentarily, but was his landing on the base an appeal? Two possibilities.

The call was wrong.  R3 was out for leaving early. 

As described, you would *not* HTBT to see the tag and the potential drop of the ball. 

Again, as described, 3B landing on the base in this situation is not an appeal play.  The line drive to F4 is followed immediately by a throw to 3B, this is ongoing action and *not* an appeal play that the runner had left early.

The discussion is interesting but seriously -- this is umpiring 101.  If this play happens to you, and for some reason you call the runner safe, you're thinking too much during the game.

Edited by BrainFreeze
changed wording slightly to emphasize that live action is not an appeal play
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48 minutes ago, BrainFreeze said:

Again, as described, 3B landing on the base in this situation is not an appeal play.  The line drive to F4 is followed immediately by a throw to 3B, this is ongoing action and *not* an appeal that the runner had left early.

The discussion is interesting but seriously -- this is umpiring 101.  If this play happens to you, and for some reason you call the runner safe, you're thinking too much during the game.

@BrainFreeze can you clarify what you mean? The two above statements seem to be in conflict.

First statement seems to say that F5 touching 3B would not be an appeal for leaving early (which implies R3 isn't out).

But in the second statement you say R3 is out without a doubt (which I think means you're ignoring the tag aspect of the OP since the ball was dropped and seems to be a HTBT).

Just trying to understand. Thanks.

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2 minutes ago, Velho said:

@BrainFreeze can you clarify what you mean? The two above statements seem to be in conflict.

First statement seems to say that F5 touching 3B would not be an appeal for leaving early (which implies R3 isn't out).

@Velho thank you for asking.

What I meant is that F5 touching third base isn't an appeal play.  It's part of the continuing action from the line drive.  Several of the responses got sort of bogged down in the mechanics of an appeal, and none of those mechanics / rules for appeal plays apply here.  

My second statement was just envisioning the play as described, high throw to F5 covering 3B, he comes down on the bag, swipes to tag the runner and the ball comes out.  On the play as described, I've got an out when he comes down on the bag -- the ball coming out on the attempt to tag the fielder is nothing. 

Does that help?  @BigBlue4u actually describes it better than I did.  I felt like whoever made the call in OP was overthinking it.

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10 hours ago, BrainFreeze said:

What I meant is that F5 touching third base isn't an appeal play.  It's part of the continuing action from the line drive.  Several of the responses got sort of bogged down in the mechanics of an appeal, and none of those mechanics / rules for appeal plays apply here. 

10 hours ago, BrainFreeze said:

I've got an out when he comes down on the bag

How is that not a re-touch appeal? This clearly follows under 7.08(d), a re-touch appeal play, if you're ruling he is out on F5 touching the bag.

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11 hours ago, BrainFreeze said:

Edited 10 hours ago by BrainFreeze
changed wording slightly to emphasize that live action is not an appeal play

The live action throw to appeal the runner is an appeal. It just doesn't preclude a relaxed action appeal if circumstances deemed.

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Maybe I misread the OP, but I understood "tries to tag" as "tries, but is unsuccessful," and then F5 drops the ball. In this case, no proper appeal and no legal tag = safe. 

However, if F5 did tag the runner and then dropped the ball, then I would agree that this is a HTBT judgment call whether F5 held "hold the ball long enough to prove that he has complete control of the ball." In this case, no proper appeal and a legal tag = out.

Merely coming down on the base is nothing, without something more to indicate an appeal. 

 

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I am personally perplexed why touching the base with a ball in glove under control would not be considered a legal touch to be put out by appeal. 

 

My case in point and its a little different as its a base tag for an out.

 

2 outs bases loaded dropped 3td strike. ball rolls near the plate catcher picks up the ball while he has a foot on the plate and fires the ball to 1st but sails the throw over the 1st basemans head.   

 

Now you see him put his foot on the plate while holding the ball securely you call OUT for the force to home do you not?

Even though the touch of home plate at this point I would assume was inadvertent.

 

To me the appeal intent was clear because they threw the ball to 3rd base. What if the reason for tagging the runner was the 3rd baseman thought they missed the bag with their foot?

 

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14 minutes ago, ArchAngel72 said:

I am personally perplexed why touching the base with a ball in glove under control would not be considered a legal touch to be put out by appeal. 

 

My case in point and its a little different as its a base tag for an out.

 

2 outs bases loaded dropped 3td strike. ball rolls near the plate catcher picks up the ball while he has a foot on the plate and fires the ball to 1st but sails the throw over the 1st basemans head.   

 

Now you see him put his foot on the plate while holding the ball securely you call OUT for the force to home do you not?

Even though the touch of home plate at this point I would assume was inadvertent.

 

To me the appeal intent was clear because they threw the ball to 3rd base. What if the reason for tagging the runner was the 3rd baseman thought they missed the bag with their foot?

 

You can have an accidental tag of a base for a force but you can't have an accidental touch of a base for an appeal. The appeal touch of a base has to be accompanied by something that you judge indicates an appeal. In the OP I would perceive F5 standing on the base as intent to touch the base for an appeal assuming he did start standing on the base and landed "back" as stated. Fielders don't usually stand on the base to tag a runner coming into that base.

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1 hour ago, LRZ said:

 

Merely coming down on the base is nothing, without something more to indicate an appeal. 

 

You're not wrong, per se, but you're picking up the SH*#ty end of the stick.

R3 was off the base when F4 caught the ball.  F4 immediately threw to third...it's reasonable to conclude he's trying to get R3 for leaving early.   Getting into F5's head to determine if he knew it was an appeal, and whether or not he accidentally touched third base, or knew what he was doing, is a can of worms you don't want to open.  And if we're going into F5's head - what if F5 knew it was an appeal, but didn't realize he could touch the base to do so...does that negate his accidental touch of third in what is otherwise an appeal process?

To take your logic to its unfortunate end - at that age most of the kids don't even know what they're doing during live action is an "appeal" (lots of these kids, and their parents...and coaches...and even some umpires) think an appeal is something that happens after the play...not what happens during live action.   So, these kids are just trying to get the runner who's off base, and they think it's a "force" because the runner left early...they don't know they're "appealing"...are you really going to negate that?   How can it be a clear appeal if they don't even know it's an appeal?

Yeah, you can defend your position...you could defend your judgment and the rules back you...but I guarantee you getting the out here is equally defensible by rule, and is going to get a lot less pushback because it's more defensible by judgment....even if you get the unicorn coach who comes up with "that's not an obvious appeal" it's easy to say "in my judgment it was...F4 threw to third because the runner left early".

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19 minutes ago, Jimurray said:

You can have an accidental tag of a base for a force but you can't have an accidental touch of a base for an appeal. The appeal touch of a base has to be accompanied by something that you judge indicates an appeal. In the OP I would perceive F5 standing on the base as intent to touch the base for an appeal assuming he did start standing on the base and landed "back" as stated. Fielders don't usually stand on the base to tag a runner coming into that base.

 

So a force touch is doesnt matter

but an appeal touch has to be purposeful and meant.. 

 

Ok seems odd but ok..

 

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2 minutes ago, beerguy55 said:

"in my judgment it was...F4 threw to third because the runner left early".

That's where I land on the appeal portion of this.  

Another point to back it up.  ANY fielder worried about a player scoring or advancing should be throwing the ball to the bag or plate in front of the runner not behind them.

 

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If you go that direction, then on a caught line drive to F4, and a subsequent throw to F3 for the double play, F3 must look at the umpire and declare "I hereby declare I am seeking an appeal"?

C'mon, if a fielder throws to a base after a ball is caught, it's pretty much understood by everyone there to be an appeal.  Landing on the base with ball controlled = out.

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