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It doesn’t matter now, but Ichiro shoulda been called out last night

Oct 9, 2012, 11:00 AM EDT

It was fun as anything to watch, and because the Orioles won the game it ended up not mattering, but we can all agree that Ichiro should have been called out on that crazy Matrix/parkour play from the first inning last night, right?

In case you were under a rock last night:

Rule 7.08 of the official rules of Major League Baseball states:

Any runner is out when—
(a) (1) He runs more than three feet away from his base path to avoid being tagged
unless his action is to avoid interference with a fielder fielding a batted ball. A
runner’s base path is established when the tag attempt occurs and is a straight
line from the runner to the base he is attempting to reach safely . . .

At the outset, note that it does not say THE base  path. It says HIS base path.  This doesn’t change the analysis because he was still way beyond that, but it is worth noting that the white line between home and third is not relevant here. A batter’s base path has to do with the angle he’s taking toward home. Like, say, if he had rounded third big and was heading straight home on an angle from the grass just foul of the line.  The idea is that he can’t deviate more than three feet from that line — the line on which he is running — not the chalk line.

But really, it doesn’t matter. Because by the time Ichiro started his juking and jiving, he was in the back of the catcher’s box behind the plate. Which is EIGHT FEET from the plate. There are fat cat fans with seats closer to the plate than Ichiro was last night.

Why wasn’t he called out? Probably because no one is ever called out on those sorts of plays. Same reason why catchers are never called for interference when they block the plate even if they don’t have the ball yet despite the rules saying they can’t do that.  It’s just never been done. Ask Greg Maddux, who was an expert at getting calls far away from the plate even when he wasn’t pitching.

Again, no biggie because it ended up not mattering, but it certainly seems that Ichiro shoulda been called out.

  1. uuddlrlrbastart - Oct 9, 2012 at 11:06 AM

    When the play happened, I was wondering if the rule allowed for more leeway on plays at the plate. I don’t know why it would, other than, as said, no one is ever called out on those plays.

  2. raysfan1 - Oct 9, 2012 at 11:13 AM

    A rule that’s never enforced probably ought to be changed. Besides, that was all kinds of fun to watch.

    • Jeremy Fox - Oct 9, 2012 at 2:51 PM

      Well, either that or enforced. But yeah, one or the other.

  3. poprox13 - Oct 9, 2012 at 11:14 AM

    Yankee umps strike again!!!

  4. hushbrother - Oct 9, 2012 at 11:19 AM

    Ichiro is an amazing baserunner. He’s fast, but he also has a gift for psyching out the fielders. I’ve never seen anyone better at escaping a rundown – he really must be seen to be believed. He’s almost like a high-functioning autistic out there. He’s amazingly good at a few select things on the baseball diamond (hitting singles, running the bases) and almost oblivious to other prominent aspects of the game, like walking and hitting for power.

    • rockthered1286 - Oct 9, 2012 at 11:43 AM

      Dude, seriously? You could have made your point without comparing him with a “high-functioning autistic.” Not cool.

    • Gardenhire's Cat - Oct 9, 2012 at 12:16 PM

      Regardless of PC, that was just a dumb comparison.

      • stlouis1baseball - Oct 9, 2012 at 12:43 PM

        Not trying to defend him whatsoever. But I think he was trying to say he is on another level when it comes to singles and base running.
        Poor analogy/comparison…but he is right in that Ichiro does seem to be on another level with these two things.

      • Gardenhire's Cat - Oct 9, 2012 at 3:08 PM

        Personally, I think the term “specialist” is more apt to describe Ichiro’s playing style.

    • husky2score - Oct 9, 2012 at 2:45 PM

      Seroiusly dude, really. What have autistic people done to you? You should be banned and ashamed of your self.

  5. jayscarpa - Oct 9, 2012 at 11:21 AM

    The base path is the direct line between the base and the runner at the time when the fielder is trying to tag the runner. Once Wieters missed the tag the new base path became where Ichiro is to home plate. It doesn’t matter if he over ran the plate by 20 feet.

    • kopy - Oct 9, 2012 at 11:40 AM

      Your final sentence contradicts the rest of your post. When Weiters attempts the tag, Ichiro is approaching home plate from 3rd base (although he’s rounded a bit), so that is his new base path. So yeah, it matters when he overruns the plate by a lot and strays outside of that path.

    • moogro - Oct 9, 2012 at 11:42 AM

      Reading comprehension skills. Ichiro went three feet outside HIS base path when Wieters lunged at him. Craig is right, he should have been out. If nobody wants this rule, then they need to eliminate it. Unenforced rules=bad news. Why make a line path on some bases and a circle path on others? Why not turn second into a giant imaginary base where you can go anywhere somewhat near it. Oh wait, they already do that…

      • jayscarpa - Oct 9, 2012 at 11:50 AM

        No, he didn’t. On his first step after Wieters missed the tag his foot landed right behind the batters box, I have a vidcap of it. His subsequent steps took him to behind the catchers box. At that point Wieters started to try and retag Ichiro and it is from that position to the plate the new base path applies.

      • DJ MC - Oct 9, 2012 at 4:12 PM

        @jayscarpa

        You’re ignoring one important thing: the second tag is irrelevant here. When Wieters went to tag Ichiro the first time, that established the baseline, which became a direct line from where Ichiro was to home plate. Ichiro dodged the tag, but went significantly outside of that three-foot radius before heading back towards the plate. Whether Wieters makes a second attempt at the tag is irrelevant; by the letter of the rule, Ichiro was outside of his baseline and should have been called out.

      • jayscarpa - Oct 10, 2012 at 11:16 AM

        DJ – I hear what you’re saying but I have to disagree. The rule says ‘He runs more than three feet away from his baseline to avoid being tagged’. Once Wieters missed the tag Ichiro was no longing avoiding a tag – he already did it.

        The moment Wieters started to try and retag Ichiro the new base path was established.

        Like a lot of rules in baseball I guess it is how you interpret it.

  6. kiwicricket - Oct 9, 2012 at 11:27 AM

    And no one is going to mention that is was Angel Hernandez behind the plate?

    • indaburg - Oct 9, 2012 at 12:50 PM

      Angel was clearly distracted by Ichiro’s physics altering acrobatics.

    • psuravens19 - Oct 9, 2012 at 1:04 PM

      During the regular season, Jim Palmer does half the O’s game on MASN and everytime Hernandez is behind the place, he rips him.

      • bmorelikeme - Oct 9, 2012 at 2:08 PM

        Jim Palmer is an awesome announcer. Not overly O’s homerish, but calls everything as he see’s it. His brutal honesty is amazing.

      • petey1999 - Oct 9, 2012 at 2:24 PM

        I’d rather listen to Jim Palmer talk about baseball than anyone else on TV.

  7. hisgirlgotburrelled - Oct 9, 2012 at 11:36 AM

    (k) In running or sliding for home base, he fails to touch home base and makes no
    attempt to return to the base, when a fielder holds the ball in his hand, while
    touching home base, and appeals to the umpire for the decision.
    Rule 7.08(k) Comment: This rule applies only where runner is on his way to the bench and
    the catcher would be required to chase him. It does not apply to the ordinary play where the runner
    misses the plate and then immediately makes an effort to touch the plate before being tagged. In that
    case, runner must be tagged.

    • hisgirlgotburrelled - Oct 9, 2012 at 11:39 AM

      This is all I could find (quickly) about overrunning home. There’s nothing that says 3 feet past a base is the limit for overruning/sliding.

    • greymares - Oct 9, 2012 at 12:14 PM

      stop it, Craig’s not going to let facts spoil his story.

    • dowhatifeellike - Oct 9, 2012 at 1:41 PM

      I fail to see how Ichiro “immediately makes an effort to touch the plate before being tagged.” He circled around it 180 degrees and touched the top right corner, which points toward first base.

  8. moogro - Oct 9, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    People, don’t get distracted by the over-run. That’s not what is important here. It is the the three feet when the the tag lunge happens. You can over-run the base all you want.

    • hughhansen - Oct 9, 2012 at 12:27 PM

      I agree. The over-run wasn’t “to avoid being tagged.” It was accidental, owing to his momentum.

      A necessary element of this rule is intent. If the tag attempt was further up the line, and Ichiro could’ve gotten to the plate on the first pass, this doesn’t become an issue.

      • dowhatifeellike - Oct 9, 2012 at 1:46 PM

        The over-run was absolutely to avoid being tagged. What player would intentionally miss home plate if they didn’t have to?

      • hughhansen - Oct 9, 2012 at 2:03 PM

        dowhatifeellike:

        Players trying to score while avoiding a tag and not being able to touch home on the first pass is pretty common occurrence. They then come back and touch it.

        Same thing here.

  9. randomdigits - Oct 9, 2012 at 11:52 AM

    No way a Yankee gets called out on a play like that during the playoffs.

    Not going to happen.

    Ever.

    Buck should have protested but we all know what good that would do.

    • pharmy - Oct 9, 2012 at 12:32 PM

      I can’t really ever remember a runner at home being called out for leaving the basepath on a play like this. I do remember Victor Martinez basically doing the same thing last year during the regular season (relevant gif: http://cdn3.sbnation.com/imported_assets/763048/MartinezSlide.gif.opt.gif). It’d be my impression that this is just something that isn’t enforced very often.

  10. Stiller43 - Oct 9, 2012 at 12:00 PM

    Rockthered1286,

    Thats offensive? Some high functioning autistic people have truly extraordinary gifts.

  11. indaburg - Oct 9, 2012 at 12:20 PM

    I knew it. I knew it! Ichiro is Neo. He’s the One.

  12. BratLee - Oct 9, 2012 at 12:37 PM

    Angel Hernandez strikes again.

  13. Loose Changeup - Oct 9, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    Thanks for posting the replay. I am under the rock called “POSTSEASON.TV” where no replays are shown and you’re lucky if you’re watching the correct camera angle for the live play

  14. m3dman3 - Oct 9, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    That rule doesn’t apply at home plate, catcher has the advantage. Wieters just made a terrible play he should have sat on the plate. A fielder isn’t allowed to block the path of the base runner until he has possession of the ball, but you don’t see that ever called. Ichiro was safe, it was the correct call at home plate, game over.

  15. bradmoss1 - Oct 9, 2012 at 1:27 PM

    The only thing more surprising than Wieters chasing Ichiro (he should have camped on home plate and waited for Ichiro to come to him) is the fact that Angel Hernandez is on the field during the playoffs.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more erratic strike zone.

    I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, Scott Barry is an ump with two years of MLB experience, and he’s in the Detroit-Oakland series. They also have Phil Cuzzi in the Cincinnati-San Francisco series, and my favorite: Joe West is crew chief for the Nationals-Cardinals series.

    • Jeremy T - Oct 9, 2012 at 2:43 PM

      I literally just tried to give you two thumbs up.

      • Jeremy T - Oct 9, 2012 at 2:44 PM

        (probably just me being absent-minded and forgetting I had already done that more than anything, but I still strongly agree with you :) )

    • bravojawja - Oct 9, 2012 at 4:21 PM

      I don’t know anything else about Scott Barry, but having just two years of MLB experience shouldn’t keep him out of the postseason if he’s highly rated. Bryce Harper barely has one year of MLB experience and he’s starting for the Nats.

      • bradmoss1 - Oct 9, 2012 at 4:54 PM

        I respectfully disagree. I think only seasoned umps (4-5 years?) should be in the post season, and if players/fans/commentators agree that you’re a serial agitator (Davidson/West/Diaz), and/or get calls wrong frequently (Cuzzi/Hernandez/Bucknor/Diaz(again!)), those should also be excluded.

        In reference to Harper, that’s an incorrect comparison. If the Nats had better players than Harper, would he be playing? I maintain MLB has a pool of better and more experienced umps at this point in his career than Barry.

  16. sandwiches4ever - Oct 9, 2012 at 2:27 PM

    If the catcher can routinely stretch the interference rules, I don’t see why the baserunner can’t stretch these rules a bit.

  17. kirbyslefteye - Oct 9, 2012 at 3:40 PM

    If you read all the rules, it seems like the fact Ichiro’s momentum pulled him 8 feet past the plate really matters:

    “Rule 7.08 Any runner is out when—
    (k) In running or sliding for home base, he fails to touch home base and makes no
    attempt to return to the base, when a fielder holds the ball in his hand, while
    touching home base, and appeals to the umpire for the decision.

    Rule 7.08(k) Comment: This rule applies only where runner is on his way to the bench and
    the catcher would be required to chase him. It does not apply to the ordinary play where the runner
    misses the plate and then immediately makes an effort to touch the plate before being tagged. In that
    case, runner must be tagged.”

    The rule indicates the runner can make an attempt to return to tag home plate. Even more, the comment to the rule implies trying to go back and tag home plate after missing it is an “ordinary play”. And I’ve seen it done before, just not as fancy or successful as Ichiro.

    Furthermore:
    “7.10 Any runner shall be called out, on appeal, when—
    (d) He fails to touch home base and makes no attempt to return to that base, and home
    base is tagged.”

    Why would the rules specifically say “and makes no attempt to return to home base”, and have a specific comment that the rule only applies if the player is on his way to the bench, if he would just be out for being off his base path anyway?

    I think the argument would have to be that Ichiro went three feet off his base path only when he avoided the initial tag, and I’m not so sure he did.

    • kirbyslefteye - Oct 9, 2012 at 3:43 PM

      Oops–I meant to say the fact he went 8 feet past home plate DOESN’T really matter.

      • bh192012 - Oct 9, 2012 at 6:33 PM

        He didn’t just go 8 feet past home plate…. Draw a line from Ichiro to home plate at the point the catcher first begins to persue him. At this point, his left foot is about 8 inches onto the 3rd base side grass. His right foot is about 24 inches from the dirt. THIS is his (the) basepath, and he has up to 3 feet more to “lunge.”

        The farthest he should ever be away from home is about 3 feet. The back of the catchers box is ~ 8 feet away from home, and he goes around that even. Ichiro was at least 5 feet out of his established basepath.

        Think of it this way, if a basepath has to include the base you’re running to, and you can be 3 feet from your basepath max, you can’t be more than 3 feet from the bag at the moment you overrun it.

  18. gogigantos - Oct 9, 2012 at 3:58 PM

    Wow, that is a lot of chat. I just thought he was out and that the ump was worried about the TV and replays. I thought he was just simply out.

  19. Kevin S. - Oct 10, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    Yeah, Craig, I think you got this wrong. The rule wasn’t designed to punish a player for momentum. He didn’t go past the plate to avoid the tag – once he got around Wieters the first time he had a clear path to the plate that he obviously would have taken had physics allowed it.

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