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A.J. Ellis doesn’t think Yadier Molina should have had to apply a tag on close play at home

Oct 12, 2013, 6:04 PM EDT

NLCS - Los Angeles Dodgers v St Louis Cardinals - Game One Getty Images

One of the memorable plays from NLCS Game 1 came in the top of the tenth inning. With one out, A.J. Ellis hit a line drive to right-center — a single if center fielder Jon Jay played it correctly. Jay, however, mistakenly dove after the ball and missed it completely. Ellis motored to third base as the ball made its way back to the infield. Hanley Ramirez was intentionally walked, bringing up Michael Young with runners on the corners and one out.

Young hit a lazy fly ball to right fielder Carlos Beltran. Beltran camped under it, then fired the ball home. Catcher Yadier Molina corralled the ball just before Ellis crashed into him. Home plate umpire Gerry Davis called Ellis out, ending the inning, keeping the Cardinals’ hopes alive. Replays shown on the TBS broadcast called into question the veracity of the call.

After the game, Ellis said that Davis made the correct call, even if Molina didn’t actually apply the tag. Via Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times:

“In the history of baseball, no one has ever been called safe on that play because they didn’t tag them,” A.J. Ellis said Saturday.

Ellis said he understood such a play would be subject to a replay challenge next year.

“That would be a shame for a great defensive play like that, the great throw by Carlos, and great play by Yadier at the plate to be overturned because of a technicality that he didn’t graze him with the glove,” Ellis said.

As a fellow catcher, it’s not surprising to see Ellis take Molina’s side. It is surprising to expect a defender to be given credit for an action without actually having to make it. Middle infielders are still expected to touch the second base bag and apply tags even when they have runners stampeding towards them from first base. What reason is there to treat catchers separately?

  1. fearlessleader - Oct 12, 2013 at 6:21 PM

    “Middle infielders are still expected to touch the second base bag” — really? Someone should tell the umpires.

    • albertmn - Oct 12, 2013 at 6:53 PM

      Agreed! What baseball league is Bill Baer watching?

      • okwhitefalcon - Oct 12, 2013 at 7:08 PM

        Bill also thought the Cards and the A’s drew outside comparisons in some sort of alternate universe.

  2. DJ MC - Oct 12, 2013 at 6:27 PM

    Technicality. That’s cute.

    I guess the Dodgers should get credit for a win last night because Mark Ellis crossed home plate on a fair tag-up play despite not technically being called safe. Why should he be penalized?

    Whether or not you think it was or wasn’t a tag (and even though I’m strongly on one side I can understand where the other side is coming from), this is a supremely wrong statement.

    • paperlions - Oct 12, 2013 at 6:50 PM

      I agree. To advance your logic, the Cardinals have about 7 outs left in last nights game because they were called out on strikes despite the “technicality” that the ball didn’t actually cross the plate.

      • Francisco (FC) - Oct 12, 2013 at 7:05 PM

        Dude let it go. It’s not the first nor will it be the last time Umps get the strike zones all muddy. The Cards won the game in spite of it. Have a beer (or whatever it is you have to celebrate).

      • paperlions - Oct 12, 2013 at 7:14 PM

        I know. I am not actually complaining at all (which is why I have not brought it up except in response to the tag stupidity)….all of these posts are just noting to those that are bitching about the call at the plate that there were (and always are) many close or bad calls during a game and focusing on those that go against your team while ignoring those that go for your team is stupid.

  3. daveloewe - Oct 12, 2013 at 7:53 PM

    Just make the rule that, if the runner tries to run the catcher over – like Ellis did to Molina last night, then as long as the catcher holds on to the ball after the contact the runner is out. If he tries to avoid the catcher and tag, then the catcher must apply the tag.

  4. txnative61 - Oct 12, 2013 at 8:25 PM

    As a matter of fact, shortstops and 2nd basemen often pull off the bag before the ball arrives to better complete the DP and avoid the breakup slide. I have never seen an Ump call it. If the ball beats the runner, he’s out.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Oct 12, 2013 at 9:18 PM

      I’ve seen the “neighborhood play” called safe several times.

      • stlouis1baseball - Oct 14, 2013 at 12:31 PM

        I haven’t. Unless the SS or 2nd Baseman was four feet from the bag of course.

  5. darkglobe1 - Oct 12, 2013 at 8:39 PM

    um… maybe the difference is that catchers can get barreled over?

    • nbjays - Oct 13, 2013 at 9:52 AM

      You’ve never seen a second baseman or shortstop get taken out by a slide at second base before?

  6. mrlaloosh - Oct 12, 2013 at 8:57 PM

    Wow. Been watching baseball many years and the middle fielders almost always aren’t on the bag when they try to complete a double play. Never called. What have you been wstching?

  7. cincinata - Oct 12, 2013 at 8:59 PM

    I have one question. How many times does the first baseman actually keep his foot on the bag when he gets the throw from the infielder? If you look closely, he pulls his foot even before the ball is caught. If the play is automatic, the ump still calls the runner out. He will only call him safe if the fielder has to stretch too far to catch the ball, pulling him off the bag. Otherwise, it is an automatic OUT!

  8. mplsjoe - Oct 12, 2013 at 11:44 PM

    This isn’t hard, people. Ellis is wrong: if it’s not a force play, the fielder must tag the runner before the runner touches the base. If the tag isn’t placed, the runner is safe. The so-called neighborhood play should be abolished immediately. The fielder must touch the base with the ball; if he doesn’t, the runner is safe. Same with the 1B coming off the base early; if it happens, the runner is safe.

    The entire unwritten rulebook should be forgotten about. The game and its actual rules are awesome. Play by them and we’ll all be fine.

    • tridecagon - Oct 13, 2013 at 12:22 AM

      But what defines a tag? If the runner barrels into the forearm of the hand that’s holding the ball, who cares whether there is actually contact with the glove or not? Do you want baserunners practicing some sort of judo to avoid actually touching the glove itself?

      If you want to microscopically define a tag and examine whether one was actually applied, then it’s time to stop letting runners try to knock the ball loose by colliding with the catcher.

      • koufaxmitzvah - Oct 13, 2013 at 9:39 AM

        A tag is applied with the ball. If the ball is in the mitt, then the tag can be made successfully with the mitt.

        A tag can not be made with one hand and the ball in the other. Futhermore, you cannot make a tag with a ball-less mitt.

        It’s pretty simple, actually.

      • mplsjoe - Oct 13, 2013 at 11:54 AM

        Gosh, whatever could define tag…heck, I know, let’s check the rules! Specifically, MLB Rule 2.00:

        A TAG is the action of a fielder in touching a base with his body while holding the
        ball securely and firmly in his hand or glove; or touching a runner with the ball, or with his hand or glove holding the ball, while holding the ball securely and firmly in his hand or
        glove. It is not a tag, however, if simultaneously or immediately following his touching a
        base or touching a runner, the fielder drops the ball. In establishing the validity of the tag,
        the fielder shall hold the ball long enough to prove that he has complete control of the ball.
        If the fielder has made a tag and drops the ball while in the act of making a throw follow-
        ing the tag, the tag shall be adjudged to have been made.

        So, the answer to your question: “who cares whether there is actually contact with the glove or not” is “the Rule care.” It’s not a tag unless you touch the runner with the ball or the hand holding the ball.

    • nbjays - Oct 13, 2013 at 9:54 AM

      “The entire unwritten rulebook should be forgotten about.”

      Are you trying to put Brian McCann out of a job?

  9. mkprz - Oct 14, 2013 at 5:54 PM

    It’s part of the game and it has been like that for decades.
    I love my Dodges but Ellis was out.
    Good play by the Cards.

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