Monday, July 6, 2009

Your Old Neighborhood Call

Although conversation on today's Yankees' game should be about Andy Pettitte and Brian Bruney struggling, it instead has managed to stay on the umpires and not just the calls that were made, but what happened after.

If you missed the game, here's what went down.

In the first, Derek Jeter works a lead off walk. He goes to second on a balk and then, perhaps inexplicably, on a 2-1 count attempts to steal 3rd.

He is called out, but a replay shows he slid in and although the throw beat him to the bag, the tag was never applied.

By official MLB rules, a tag must be made for the batter to be ruled out on such a play.

Now, much of the time--I'd say, perhaps 90%--if the throw beats the runner by any length of time before the batter gets to the bag, the batter will be called out even if the tag isn't applied. In baseball parlance, it's your friendly neighborhood call.

The unwritten rule, of course, is that as an umpire you never admit to it being a neighborhood call.

Today, however, when Jeter tried to plead his case, 3B umpire Marty Foster told Jeter (and this is according to Jeter's postgame interview) that "he didn't have to tag you"; that because the throw beat Jeter, that was enough.

It is, in my mind, like when a pitcher hits an opposing batter in retaliation for whatever: the unwritten rule is that you NEVER admit it.

Once you admit it, however, some sort of action must be taken.

Those were serious charges leveled by Jeter; it would be inconceivable if MLB stood pat and did nothing...but then again, stranger things have happened.