Umpire Disregards Rule – Calls Runner Out

Here is yet another example of an umpire who either doesn’t know the rules, or doesn’t care to enforce them correctly. This certainly would have been played under protest if the Twins weren’t down 8-0 with only a few games left in the season and nothing to play for, and it (hopefully) would have been upheld.

Here is the rule in question: Rule 7.08(b) “A runner who is adjudged to have hindered a fielder who is attempting to play on a batted ball is out whether it was intentional or not. If, however, the runner has contact with a legally occupied base when he hinders the fielder, he should not be called out, unless such hindrance, in the umpire’s judgement… is intentional.”

The umpire seems to be indicating that the runner should have been turned around so he could see what the fielders were doing. Regardless, “not turning around” doesn’t make the contact intentional under any definition of the word “intentional”. It doesn’t say that the runner is out if “maybe he could have avoided contact if he was paying better attention”. It says he is out if the contact is intentional.

The only possible way that could have been considered intentional is if the umpire truly believed that Casilla continued to face the outfield on purpose in an effort to impede the fielder. The fact that he could have theoretically moved to one side or another without leaving the base doesn’t make the contact intentional.

Umpires Don’t Know The Rules

Having never been a sports official myself, I try to give officials a pass on close calls. It’s not always easy to get the right call on a bang-bang play.

However, when an umpire blatantly disregards the written rules, there’s no way to give them a pass. Especially in a game like baseball, where they could pull the rulebook out if they needed to, in order to get the call right.

MLB is unique in allowing teams to protest a call that is contrary to the written rules, and have a game replayed from that point if the protest is upheld. A protest hasn’t been upheld since the 80s, mostly because the protested rulings were not blatant, but MLB has gotten lucky a few times, including one last fall, and this one here. If the Angels hadn’t come from behind to win, there is no way this protest wouldn’t have been upheld. The rules specify clearly that all pitchers have to face at least one batter, and the umpire disregarded that rule.