We NEED Umpires!


It’s time to reach into the “mailbag” for our first inquiry…

Q: OK smart guy, what would you do with that play in the second inning of last Sunday’s Dbacks/Dodgers game? (Brian – New Rochelle, NY)

A: Simply put, an Official Scorer’s primary job is to pay attention. This particular play required a little more attention than most plays, but it just proves that “it aint’ over until it’s over”.

Let’s reset the situation as it occured on April 12, 2009:
With one out, the Dodgers have runners on second and third when the batter hits a line drive that is caught on the fly by the pitcher. The pitcher wheels around and throws to the second baseman, who tags the runner a few steps away from the bag for the inning-ending double play.

The runner on third was running on contact, and crossed the plate before the runner on second was tagged out. The Diamondbacks left the field, apparently thinking the run doesn’t count and the inning is over.

The umpires huddle up, then meet with both managers and correctly inform them that the run did count.

Crew Chief Charlie Reliford later told the media, “They could have gotten the fourth out with an appeal at third base, but they didn’t do that before leaving the field.”

First off, let’s remember who we are:

Rule 10.01(b)(1) “…The official scorer shall not make any decision that conflicts with an umpire’s decision…”

So once the umpire’s huddle begins, we simply wait for them to do their thing. I’m fairly certain that at least one member of a Major League Baseball umpire crew knows Rule 7.10(a) – they don’t need and won’t ask for our input. So back to the play…

Stat Crew Nation would correctly type in the above play as follows:
Batter – ”L14 DP RBI”
Runner at second – ”X″
Runner at third – “+”

But what if the appeal been made correctly?

Rule 10.09(a)(2) Comment: The official scorer shall credit a fielder with a putout if such fielder catches a thrown ball and tags a base to record an out on an appeal play.

So let’s alter the play as follows:

The runner on third was running on contact, and crossed the plate before the runner on second was tagged out. The catcher throws to the third baseman, and the umpire rules the base runner out on appeal.

Stat Crew Nation – we have a problem. If one tries to enter…
Batter – “L14 DP”
Runner at second – “X”
Runner at third – “5″

…a ”too many outs” error occurs. Consulting the help screen (F1) informs us that the only occasion to have more than three outs in our stat crew inning must involve a strikeout. If appears to me that the only option would be to ignore the appeal putout to 5. Life is not perfect.

Meanwhile, as the Official Scorer we simply record the fourth out – a putout for the third baseman. A reminder that the rules do not provide for assists on appeal plays.

It’s plays like these that make “proving” a boxscore an important task:

  • When the OS in Arizona proved his box after the game, I’m sure it added up.
  • Had the appeal been made, the box would have had one more out for the Diamondbacks and one less run for the Dodgers, and the box would have added up.
  • If the second baseman would have simply touched second base instead of chasing the runner down – which gave the runner on third the chance to score – the box would have one more left on base and one less run for the Dodgers, and the box would have added up.

It’s a simple game. Really.

Send your questions and comments to the mailbag.



  1. matra13

    Hi, I’m an Italian official scorer.

    My question is:

    The Official Baseball Rules says:”Rule 7.10 (d)… Appeal plays may require an umpire to recognize an apparent “fourth out.” If the third out is made during a play in which an appeal play is sustained on another runner, the appeal play decision takes precedence in determining the out…)
    If the appeal take precedence, is it better to ignore the putout of the runner at second?

    Stat Crew:
    Batter – L15 DP A4
    Runner at third – X

    • DFree

      Ciao Marco – benvenuto al blog!

      The issue here is not “how” to score the play, but how to report the play to the league governing the game.

      If the play had occured in a game governed by the Major League Baseball rules, it would be recorded on MLB’s reporting forms as discussed above. If the play had happened in a game in which StatCrew is used, then the league’s president would need to make a decision as to how to report/record the play. Your suggestion would be one of the possible options.

      By the way, StatCrew’s version 5.12 includes two new codes that add additional text to the play-by-play narrative:
      “AP” adds the phrase “on appeal” and “OB” adds the word “obstruction”.

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