IGNORING THE RULE BOOK—UMPIRES AND MANAGERS. As a lawyer, I am fascinated by the way that the text of the baseball rule book was ignored by everybody involved in an unusual ruling this weekend. Drawing on this blog post, I will recount what happened in an imitation of legal style. THE FACTS: Michael Young of the Texas Rangers is rounding third with the tying run. He put on the brakes and dives back to the bag safely. As he is stopping, his hand touches the hand of his third base coach. Nobody has claimed that the touch in any way helped Young in changing directions. THE APPLICABLE RULE: “Rule 7.09(h) of the MLB Rule Book: “It is interference when, in the judgment of the umpire, the base coach at third base or first base, by touching or holding the runner, physically assists him in returning to or leaving third base or first base.” THE UMPIRE’S RULING: The umpire, Alfonso Marquez, and the crew chief, Tim Tschida, both stated that the touch was enough to constitute interference. Young was called out and the game was over. DISCUSSION: A plain reading of the language is that it is interference when the base coach “…physically assists [the runner]….” Touching is not enough. (If touching were enough, the rule would be a lot shorter) Could the rule book have been changed by practice? There can’t be a lot of precedents because Tschida says that he has only seen the situation once before in 30 years of umpiring. It seems to me that nobody consulted the rule book. What is remarkable is that Texas had the opportunity to protest the ruling on the grounds that the rule was incorrectly applied, and did not do so.

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  1. Nick says:

    Finally, somebody teaches me how to brief a case. And it’s on my favorite subject – baseball.

  2. Nick says:

    I also wonder if Texas’ almost certain playoff appearance makes protesting the result of this game not worth it. I wonder if a team that was more desperate for wins would have protested.

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