Making assumptions about home plate umpire Paul Emmel’s intentions is a foolish endeavor. As much fun as it is to make jokes about the “ump show” and certain umpires habit of inserting themselves squarely in the middle of a game, we can’t assume Paul Emmel wanted to make himself the center of attention when he made the above call.
He was just a regular umpire, apparently blowing a call as umpires (rarely) do. If you listen to the commentary in the video clip, you’d think of this as a blown call is not judgement but an improper application of the rules. Which is ugly, and sure to leave an extra bitter taste in the mouths of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Watching a nine-game win streak end as the final out of a one-run game is decided by an umpire’s judgment on a ball hit three feet? No thanks. A bad call at that? Double ugh. Fire up the appeal machine! Get Selig on the line! If ever a man was going to fight for the rights of the Milwaukee Brewers, it’s Bud!
Except…they have no case.
Rule 6.05 (g) The Official Rules of Major League Baseball states a batter is out when:
His fair ball touches him before touching a fielder. If the batter is in a legal position in the batter’s box, see Rule 6.03, and, in the umpire’s judgment, there was no intention to interfere with the course of the ball, a batted ball that strikes the batter or his bat shall be ruled a foul ball
Furthermore, rule 6.05 (h) also notes:
If the batter is in a legal position in the batter’s box, see Rule 6.03, and, in the
umpire’s judgment, there was no intention to interfere with the course of the ball, a batted ball that strikes the batter or his bat shall be ruled a foul ball
For clarity’s sake, rule 6.03 mandates a batter’s legal position “shall be with both feet within the batter’s box.”
So – despite the homerish arguments of the Brewers’ TV analyst, this is indeed a judgement call and it looks as though it was the right one. Martin Maldonado would not be permitted to hit with one foot out of the batters box, which means the moment his foot leaves the batters box he is not longer a batter but a runner.
One could argue that Maldonado did not indeed to interfere with the ball in play and one would be quite right in doing so. But guess what? Doesn’t matter. Out of the box, even unintentionally, you’re out.
If anything, umpire Paul Emmel should be praised for still upholding the rules during the highest leverage moments of the game. I mean, what kind of sport would all but throw out their rulebook during the most crucial moments of the game? Wouldn’t that undermine the integrity of the game from the outset? I dunno, seems weird, man.
And the rest
The Fightins is back! [The Fightins]
In honor of the Fightins’ triumphant return, a video of Dom Brown doing things.
This is the kind of headline which makes me reconsider the entire paywall business model for newspapers. Take my money, Jeff Fletcher. [OC Register]
The inexplicable A’s [Grantland]
Yesterday’s Blue Jays game in 12 GIFs, sung to a familiar tune [DJF]