The MaxBP staff stay involved with baseball in every possible way including officiating. Our inventory manager Rocky umpires at the high school level here in San Diego County and in his first game of the season, he reported a dramatic unusual play which we’ll call “the sordid tale of catcher’s interference and the delayed dead-ball” or “the comedic turned tragic tale of the advancing would-be-hero protected-runner.”
With the winning run on 2nd base in extra innings, the batter took a mighty swing and was interfered with by the catcher resulting in a slow roller down the 3rd base line, the swinging bunt if you will. The third baseman charged the ball and made a desperate play to 1st but the speedy batter-runner beat it out. With the base vacated by the charging third baseman, the runner from 2nd took a huge turn towards home and, as an eager/foolish young man might, just kept goin’ on the throw in a mad dash to catch everyone sleeping and be the hero of the day, Thursday. The first baseman was wide awake as it turned out and quickly threw home to nail the runner in a very close play. (Hero to chump, by Rocky the ump!) When the dust settled, the offensive team was sure the obvious catcher’s interference would roll-back the trouble and keep the rally alive but were in shock to discover the play stands as described, the runner is out at home and the batter runner stays at 1st…where he died one out later ending the game in a 2-2 tie. So what the…?
Catcher’s interference is one of a few baseball plays that results in adelayed dead ball where the ruling is applied at the end of the play. The reason many people think its an automatic dead ball is because most of these violations don’t produce a ball in play or everyone stops and the umpire calls time, which he shouldn’t. Yes, there is a violation but the play is allowed to finish so the baseball action can take precedence if advantageous to the offensive team, up to a point. The classic example is that if the batter hits the ball over fence, it’s a home run, no harm, no foul. A more realistic example might be that the batter hits a dribbler to the second baseman that allows the runner from 3rd to score. In this case, the offensive team might trade the out for the run, you know, the bird-in-the-hand thing. They could also opt to take the award and play for the bigger inning, or go for the two-in-the-bush, and let the batter be awarded 1st and all runners stay or go back to the base they occupied at the time of the infraction (unless attempting to steal, they would be placed on the next base). But here is the trick with this rule, if the batter-runner makes it to 1st safely and all other runners advance one base, the interference is ignored (egad!). In our example, once the batter-runner made it to 1st and the runner on 2nd made it to 3rd, the case was closed, end of story. The lead runner was not protected one inch beyond 3rd base so his attempt to advance was at his own peril…which it most definitely was, and now everyone who was in attendance knows the story of interference and the delayed dead-ball. What are the odds of Rocky seeing this in the first game of the season? Apparently pretty good. What weird play will Rocky see next? We’ll keep you posted.
We have no clever segue from this sad tale to a sales pitch so if you would like to check out our on-line store, proceed as though you we’re just award an extra base on an overthrow: http://store.maxbp.com/category_s/48.htm