We’re pleased to welcome another voice to the YFSF fold as we enter the stretch run, as well as an added feature: Ask the Ump, where Harry Wendelstedt-trained and internationally accredited umpire Mike Morse, author of a forthcoming book on baseball rulings and plays, answers your questions and ours about interesting decisions (or non-decisions) in the games we love. The first installment:
On Wednesday, September 14th, Gabe Kapler proved once again how fragile many Major Leaguers are, when he turned a simple home run trot around second base into a classic I’ve-fallen-and-I-can’t-get-up nightmare scenario. Boston’s Tony Graffanino hit an apparent two run homer over the left field wall, but found himself standing on second base as Kapler struggled to remove his head from the floor, just a few steps away. It turned out that Kapler‚s Achilles tendon was, in fact, his Achilles heel.
Question: With Kapler immobile and Graffanino impatient, is there any way for these two to score? [Answer after the jump]
Answer: The normal rule of thumb in baseball is that play cannot stop for injuries. Outfielders who run into the wall, pitchers who get beaned by line drives, runners who do not stretch properly, can all tell you stories of how they felt that a time out should have been called as they screamed in pain. But when the ball is alive, play continues whether or not all the players are too.
In Kapler’s case, we have a twist. The ball was dead, buried beyond the outfield wall. During dead ball situations, players have all sorts of freedoms they would not otherwise have. One of those freedoms is the freedom to make substitutions. And this is exactly what the Red Sox did. Alejandro Machado proved why he gets paid the big money by coming in and heroically stepping on third and home to complete the home run trot. A relieved Graffanino followed.
The Red Sox might easily have blown the game on this play. Had Graffanino passed the stricken Kapler, he would have been called out. Had the trainers carried Kapler the rest of the way around the bases, then he would have been out for interference. By doing the wise thing and preserving the two-run home run, Boston was rewarded with 5-3 victory.
Umpire Michael Morse is the author of All New Baseball Brain Teasers (due out in 2006), which contains dozens of humorous and bizarre rules situations from real Major League games. He is a crew chief in the National League of Great Britain and is a member of the Confédération Européene de Baseball. A graduate of the Harry Wendelstedt School for Umpires, he worked in various amateur leagues in New York and Chicago before moving to England. He is not related to any Major League players who may have the same name.