When All Else Fails, “Obstruction”
Last night when Carlos Gomez HRed in the first inning, he never crossed home plate. The benches clearing brawl started when Gomez was trotting down the third base line, and when Gomez was ejected, no pinch runner took his place. The umpire however, counted one run. (You can see it here.)
OBSTRUCTION is the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball and not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner.
7.06 When obstruction occurs, the umpire shall call or signal “Obstruction.”
(a) If a play is being made on the obstructed runner, or if the batter-runner is obstructed before he touches first base, the ball is dead and all runners shall advance, without liability to be put out, to the bases they would have reached, in the umpire’s judgment, if there had been no obstruction. The obstructed runner shall be awarded at least one base beyond the base he had last legally touched before the obstruction. Any preceding runners, forced to advance by the award of bases as the penalty for obstruction, shall advance without liability to be put out.
(b) NOTE: The catcher, without the ball in his possession, has no right to block the pathway of the runner attempting to score. The base line belongs to the runner and the catcher should be there only when he is fielding a ball or when he already has the ball in his hand.
HP Umpire Paul Nauert never signaled “obstruction”. McCann obstructed Gomez’s path to the plate in that McCann was not in possession of the ball, nor in the act of fielding it (seeing as it had left the field of play). By “obstruction” alone, Gomez’s run counts.
There’s also this:
(c) Each umpire has authority to rule on any point not specifically covered in these rules.
Which, debatably, could have been what garnered the ruling at the time. (But to think that 132 pages of meticulous rules could still exclude certain instances from being “specifically covered” is overwhelming.)
But according to this:
6.09 The batter becomes a runner when—
(d) A fair ball passes over a fence or into the stands at a distance from home base of 250 feet or more. Such hit entitles the batter to a home run when he shall have touched all bases legally.
So Gomez became a runner, but since he never touched all the bases legally, he didn’t have a homerun, meaning he never scored a run.* I know, obstruction overrules this, but what a head scratcher!
Just when I thought I understood the nuances of the game…
*This makes almost as much sense as any “what came first, the chicken or the egg?” argument. With this logic, whichever roams the farm first, the chicken or the egg, is the one that came first.