Watch for the loophole

So today Olivia and I went to the Astros game, which they won by a score of 5-0, and there was a situation that occurred that could have been a lot more interesting that it turned out to be. With Lance Berkman on base, Carlos Lee hit a long fly ball that caromed off the wall in right-center. Nationals center fielder Nyjer Morgan then made a great play in fielding the ball and throwing it in to the cutoff man, whose relay nailed Berkman at the plate by a good fifteen feet – it was so not close Berkman just pulled up and let himself get tagged. I wish I’d seen if the third base coach gave him the go sign or not, because whoever thought he could make it was waaaaaaay off.

Anyway. After the play ended, the Astros protested that Lee’s ball had actually cleared the yellow line on the fence, which made it a home run. After a discussion, the umps reviewed it on instant replay, and ultimately let the play stand. What made this a potentially interesting situation is if they had ruled it was in fact a homer, the Nats could have made an appeal play, claiming that Berkman never touched home plate. As far as I could tell, they would have been correct to do so, in which case one way or the other Berkman was going to be out at home.

It never came to that, of course, and if it had I’m not sure they would have thought of it. But it was the first thing that occurred to me, and having thought of it now, I’ll bet that one of these days we’ll see a situation like this play out. I’d say the lesson to be learned is to always touch whatever base you’re going to, because you just never know. You can just imagine someone becoming this century’s Fred Merkle as a result.

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2 Responses to Watch for the loophole

  1. Linkmeister says:

    Personally, I’m inclined to think that a substitute ball was used by Evers on that play, and that the umps blew the call. Cheating was much more frequent back then, right? Right?

  2. rfs1962 says:

    Charles, you might enjoy Bruce Weber’s new book about umpires, As They See ‘Em. he explains a similar situation in there. Essentially, if they’re not sure it’s a homer on a play like that, they’ll rule the ball is in play because if the ball is ruled a home run on the replay, there’s no problem. But if it’s ruled a home run on the field and then turns out not to be, the umpires essentially have to guess what would have happened.

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