Save a Run by Disrupting an Appeal

Save A Run By Disrupting an Appeal
The Mets and Dodgers met in Los Angeles on May 18th. In the top of the 11th inning with the score tied 2-2, the Mets had Ryan Church on first base and two outs when Angel Pagan hit an apparent triple driving in Church with the go ahead run. But the Dodgers appealed that Church had missed third base and the appeal was upheld without an argument from Mets manager Jerry Manuel. The Mets lost a run and Pagan lost a triple as he was credited with a single on the play. Furthermore, the Mets lost the game.

Manuel stated that both his third base coach, Razor Shines, and his bench coach, Sandy Alomar Sr., both spotted the running gaffe which is the reason why he didn’t argue the play. Regardless, the Mets skipper should have called “Time” as soon as possible and made a visit to the umpire to protect his player and buy time to disrupt the Dodgers’ appeal.

To begin with, it’s a good habit for the offensive team to get a “Time Out” as quickly as possible whenever there is a strong possibility of a successful appeal of a runner missing a base or not retouching or tagging-up properly on a fly ball and there is another runner/runners remaining on the bases. By getting a “Time Out” with a runner on base, the offensive team now has a chip to play with in anticipation of an imminent successful appeal.

Although Church put the Mets in a bad position, the Mets could have made an attempt to disrupt the appeal by sending Pagan. This could have been done at the end of continuous action or off a dead ball. The idea is to induce the defensive team into making a play before the next pitch so they will lose the right to appeal. If before the appeal is made, the defensive team makes a pitch, a play or attempted play on another runner after continuous action has stopped or after “Time” has been called, they lose the right to appeal per Pro rule 7.10 (d). By erasing the Dodgers right to appeal, the Mets would have secured Church’s run and taken a 3-2 lead.

Questions always arise as to what constitutes a play and when does continuous action end? Examples of...

...a “play” include: (1) throwing to another fielder in an attempt to retire a runner not being appealed; (2) tagging or attempting to tag a runner or base not being appealed; (3) a fielder running toward a base to retire a runner not being appealed; (4) a fielder running toward a runner not being appealed for the purpose of tagging him; (5) a pitcher’s balk; or (6) if the defensive team “errs” on the appeal by throwing the ball into dead ball territory. If the appeal throw is errant but remains in the field of play, the defensive team can still make the intended appeal.

In the above play, the Dodgers made a successful appeal before the ball became dead. It was difficult, however, to tell whether or not the continuous action of the play had ended based on the replay that I was provided. If it had ended or was about to end, the Mets should have been screaming for a “Time Out.

Continuous action is generally defined as an uninterrupted progression of play starting with the pitch and ending typically when the runners have stopped trying to advance, and the defense has relaxed and is not making a play on a runner. Since the relaxation of the defense is umpire judgment, chances are a “Time” request would be granted earlier than one might think, especially if the umpires observe that there is no advance by the runner/runners. Whatever, it would have been worth a try on the part of the Mets coaching staff to request a “Time Out” late in the continuous action sequence since two of the Mets coaches noticed the violation.

If one of the umpires granted the Mets “Time” because he saw there were no advancing runners, nor was a fielder in the act of making a play on a runner, the Mets would now be in a position to play “Ruleball” and disrupt the appeal.

After the plate umpire called “Play” following the dead ball, the Dodgers’ pitcher most likely would have stepped back off the rubber with the intention of throwing to third base for the purpose of appealing that Church had missed the base. (The pitcher can also throw directly from the rubber when making an appeal).

As soon as the plate umpire called “Play,” Shines could have sent Pagan home before the Dodgers’ pitcher threw to third base. Most likely the pitcher would have instinctively made a play on Pagan who would be advancing to home plate. And if Pagan was wise, he would get himself into a rundown since an obstruction call is always possible. If this should occur the Mets would have bought themselves two runs and could have gone ahead, 4-2.

If the Dodgers made a play on Pagan they would have lost their right to appeal Church’s run per 7.10 (d). If the Dodgers unlikely followed through with the appeal and ignored Pagan’s advance to home plate, they would have negated Church’s run because the third out was a leading runner on appeal. But the natural thing to do would have been to make a play on the active runner (Pagan) advancing home.

If the Mets were not granted “Time,” and the window of continuous action remained, the next best thing would have been to bait the Dodgers by sending Pagan home before the Dodgers appealed Church at third base. Chances are Pagan would have been put out for the third out, unless he was obstructed in a rundown. In this scenario the Dodgers could have appealed the “Fourth Out” at third base but if the Dodgers did not appeal the “Fourth Out,” and chances are likely they wouldn’t, Church’s run would have scored because the inning would not have ended in a force out or the batter-runner being retired at first base for the third out. It would have ended in an unusual “Time Play” with Church’s run scoring before the third out was recorded.

The Pro rule is very unfair since it punishes the defensive team despite the fact the offensive team violated a running rule. Playing under NFHS (8-2-5 PENALTY; ART. 1-5) and NCAA (8-6-b-4) rules the defensive team does not lose the right to appeal if the offensive team initiates a play before the next pitch whether it be off a live ball or dead ball.

How can a high school or college coach benefit from this when on the offensive side?

Let’s say in the above play we were playing under NFHS or NCAA rules. If, with two outs, the third base coach correctly reads an obvious “miss” or “retouch” of a base on the part of the preceding or lead runner (Church), he can send the back runner (Pagan) to the next base at any time even while there is continuous action or just after continuous action has stopped. Or the defensive team can try to call “Time” and send the back runner (Pagan) to the next base off a dead ball appeal once the umpire puts the ball in play. The goal here is to trap the defensive team into making a play on the runner (Pagan) who is advancing to the next base and record the third out. Even if the runner is put out, the defensive team can still appeal the “Fourth Out” at third base under NFHS and NCAA rules but chances are once they recorded the third out, they would not make the appeal since it has been my experience that few teams are aware of the “Fourth Out” appeal rule on all levels. It’s worth the effort, especially in a close game.

Ironically, Sandy Alomar Sr. purposely disrupted an appeal play as a San Diego Padres third base coach on Aug. 30, 1989, when the Padres played the Expos.

With one out in the first inning, the Padres had Bip Roberts on third and Roberto Alomar on second. Jack Clark then hit a sac/fly scoring Roberts. Alomar advanced to third on the play. After all the action had ceased, the Expos were about to appeal that Roberts left third base too soon. Alomar Sr., aware that Roberts left too soon, instructed his son, Roberto, to break for the plate as soon as the throw was made to Expos’ third baseman Tim Wallach. Roberto did what dad told him to do and lured Wallach into making a play on him rather than follow through with the appeal. The Expos retired Roberto Alomar but the clever tactic protected Roberts and his run was allowed to score. It proved to be the Padres only run that day as they suffered a 5-1 defeat.

In summary, there is always the chance that the umpire will not notice the running violation and sacrificing a runner to disrupt the appeal could backfire. But if the violation is that obvious, it’s worth the gamble.

Additional information from Larry Gallagher.....

Today I am only writing about the defense or offense initiating a play.  If the DEFENSE initiates an appeal play, they lose their right to appeal.  From Carl Childress’ “Baseball Rules Differences of 2009” the Federation rule states, “A play initiated by the defensive team cancels any right to appeal (FED 8-2 Penalty).  NCAA states it the exact same way (NCAA 8-6b-4).  OBR says, “The right to appeal is canceled if either team initiates a play (OBR 7.10).
Play:  R2.  The runner scores on B1’s single.  The defense announces it will appeal that R2 missed third.  As the pitcher toes the pitcher’s plate in the set position, he sees that B1 has taken a long lead off first.  But F1’s pick-off throw is not in time.  The first baseman then fires to F5, who appeals R2 missed third.
Ruling:  In FED, the defense may still appeal.  In NCAA and OBR, it is too late to appeal.  FED probably would not appeal this way anyway because they could call time and get a dead-ball appeal accomplished.  All three of them could have gone immediately to third without having time called.
If the OFFENSE initiates an appeal in Federation and NCAA rules they do not lose the right to an appeal.  OBR rules the defense will lose the right to appeal in this case.
Federation states, “A play initiated by the offense does not cancel any right to appeal (8-2 Penalty).  Elliott Hopkins, current FED rules editor had an interpretation on this on the NFHS website in 2003 - #12 that states, “If the defense plays on a runner who has taken an ‘inordinate lead,’ the play is initiated by the offense.”  NCAA states, “A play initiated by the offense does not cancel any right to appeal (8-6-b-4).  OBR states, “The right to appeal is canceled if either team initiates a play (7.10).
Play:  R2.  The runner scores on B1’s single.  The defense announces it will appeal that R2 missed third.  With a live ball the pitcher prepares to make his appeal when B1, who has stopped on first, breaks for second.  The pitcher’s throw is in time to retire B1.                                                                                                                                                        
Ruling:  In FED and NCAA, the defense may appeal R2 since the impetus for the play came from B1’s attempt to take second.  In OBR, the appeal is opportunity is lost.
Carl Childress’ note:  In FED and NCAA, even if the pitcher’s throw to second or third is wild and B1 makes it safely to second or third, the appeal would still be allowed.

News Flash

*NW General Membership Meeting - TBD 2020

You are here: Home Larry's Corner Rules Area Save a Run by Disrupting an Appeal