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Archive for October 29th, 2011

Lost in the excitement, and chaos, of Thursday’s game six were two plays that major league baseball needs to seriously address in the offseason. The first involved a hard takeout slide by Matt Holliday, while the second featured the left fielder as the victim when Adrian Beltre blocked his retreat to the bag during a pickoff attempt. The umpires’ ruling on both plays, which each had a big impact on the game, completely ignored the rulebook, which is something the Commissioner should address before making any other changes to the game.

Rule 7.09 (e) It is interference by a batter or a runner when…Any batter or runner who has just been put out, or any runner who has just scored, hinders or impedes any following play being made on a runner. Such runner shall be declared out for the interference of his teammate.

Was Matt Holliday attempting to reach second base on this slide? (Photo: Getty)

In the bottom of the fourth inning of game six, the Cardinals had runners on first and second when David Freese hit what looked like a tailor-made double play. The only problem was Holliday (who has a history of questionable slides into 2B) slid high and hard into Elvis Andrus without even making an attempt to touch the base. Ironically, many applauded Holliday for his hard takeout slide, usually referencing the non-existent rule about having to be within arm’s length of the base, when, in fact, they should have questioned second base umpire Greg Gibson for failing to call interference and award the automatic double play.

As Rule 7.09(e) clearly states, a runner may not purposely interfere with a fielder who is trying to turn two, even if he is able to touch the base while doing so. Although the section of the rule on interference provides an exception that allows a runner to continue his path after being put out, it doesn’t excuse actions above and beyond an attempt to reach the next base. In this case, Holliday’s target was Andrus, not second base, and so two outs should have been awarded. Instead, Gibson let the play stand, and the Cardinals benefitted when a run scored on Yadier Molina’s ground out to third base.

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