Tagged: Shea Stadium

Fouling Up The Rule


Let’s pull another question out of the email bag…

Q: Can an error ever be called if a hitter hits a CATCHABLE foul ball that is dropped by either the catcher or one of the fielders? (Warren – Washington, DC)

A: Can and must.

Rule 10.12(a)(2): The official scorer shall charge an error
against any fielder when such fielder muffs a foul fly to
prolong the time at bat of a batter, whether the batter
subsequently reaches first base or is put out.

It should be fairly clear to all that the intent of this rule is to give the pitcher the benefit of the doubt when a plate appearance is extended because of an error by a fielder.

Nowhere in the Official Baseball Rules does it mention that this rule be applied as a ”get out of earned run(s) FREE if there’s a foul ball” coupon for the pitcher. As ridiculous as this concept sounds, the frequency that it actually happens is the part I find to be completely ridiculous. To illustrate this point, I share with you the happenings of one of the first Major League Baseball games I ever covered:

Night game at Shea Stadium, in which it had rained all afternoon prior to the game. The ground crew did a great job readying the field for play, but the far reaches of the field were in less-than-perfect conditions. Mike Piazza hit a ball into foul territory, and the opposing team’s first baseman chased it as it headed towards the seats. The kitty litter and water puddles slowed this already slow first baseman down and the ball dropped harmlessly a few feet in front of him on the dirt track. The Official Scorer that night stated “No Play” – the correct call. On a night with perfect field conditions, his call might have been different.

Piazza drove the very next pitch out of the ballpark for a home run. As he was rounding the bases, a member of the media walked up to the Official Scorer and said something akin to now that we “know” what happened, he should change the dropped foul to an error to protect the pitcher by making Piazza’s run unearned. When the Official Scorer responded that this was not the intent of the rule, the media member responded that it would have been changed in other locales. The rest of the conversation was colorful, but not germaine to this discussion. You get the point.

Since that day, I’ve seen a couple of “E’s” mysteriously appear on college and minor league scoreboards shortly after such plays happen. It goes without saying, so I’ll say it again: As an Official Scorer you apply the rules on the “live” action AS IT HAPPENS. If you didn’t think the ball was playable at the time you saw it, what happens next should have no bearing on your decision. No matter what the manager, the player, or his mother say to you. I recommend that you leave “revising history” to historians, “managing” to managers, “parenting” to parents, and “official scoring” to Official Scorers.

It’s a simple game. Really.

Send your questions and comments to the mailbag.


You CAN Assume A Double Play. Or can you?


Let’s start this blog off right by debunking a baseball scoring myth:

“You can’t assume a double play”

First of all, this “commandment” does not appear anywhere in the Official Baseball Rules. Perhaps it was written on one of the tablets that Moses dropped on his way down the mountain (for more information, please view History of the World – Part I).

It is correct that Rule 10.12(d)(3) specifically directs a scorer not to charge an error to “…any fielder who makes a wild throw in attempting to complete a double play or triple play…” unless of course the throw results in the runner(s) advancing additional base(s).

It is also correct that the rules require a scorer to charge an error based on a scenario involving a potential double or triple play. Please turn to page 111 in your hymnals, and follow along silently while I type aloud:

Rule 10.12(d) Comment: When a fielder mufffs a thrown ball that, if held, would have completed a double play or triple play, the official scorer shall charge an error to the fielder who drops the ball and credit an assist to the fielder who made the throw.

Here’s an example:
Runner at first, batter hits a ground ball to the second baseman who flips to the shortstop for the force at second. The shortstop throws to first where the first baseman drops a perfect throw, allowing the batter to reach safely. As a scorer, you know this – because your friendly neighborhood umpire signals ”safe” and points to the first baseman, telling you that if he had held the ball the runner would have been out.

Please make a mental note to deduct style points if said umpire inadvertently pumped his fist for the “out” before he quickly altered his dance move to the “safe” call.

Stat Crew Nation would correctly type in the above play as follows:
Batter – ”E3M A6 GDP”
Runner at first – ”46″

And yes, if any preceding base runners score on the play, the batter does NOT get credit for Runs Batted In. Turn to pages 8-9 of the “Book of Shannon” for a funny story regarding this exact play. I’ve scored this play a few times, including at an OS assignment last year at Shea Stadium.

Send your questions and comments to the mailbag.