Certain rules in baseball have always been unwritten. Which, in itself, explains one of the problems with baseball.
Replay is repairing that. Slowly. But surely.
A second baseman “in the neighborhood” of the bag on a double play is given the benefit of the out. A 3-0 fastball anywhere near the plate is an automatic strike. And it’s an out if the ball beats the runner, regardless of the tag.
Other than umpires’ personalized strike zones, the walls of baseballs stubborn unwritten are being plundered. Replay re-watches close plays, and gets the calls right. Including the age-old, controversial “transfer” play.
In the 6th inning of last night’s Mariners’ 7-1 romp over the Rangers, catcher J.P. Arencibia caught a throw while standing on the plate and attempted to grab the ball out of his mitt for a throw to first on an attempted double play. The umpires initially called the runner out at home, but Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon challenged – and won.
“I understand what the rule is,” said Washington to reporters after the game, after being automatically ejected for attempting to argue a replay challenge. “But we’ve got to do something about it.”
Receivers in the NFL have to maintain possession all the way through the catch, including impact with the field. Why can’t baseball players be held to the same standard? Bobble the ball, and all hands are safe. Pretty simple really.
But with replay now overturning the old transfer rule – the “out” used to stop, and a new play began with the transfer of the ball from glove to hand – runners who in previous years were out are now safe. And managers are more confused – and mad – than ever.
Arencibia and Washington and even McClendon admit that the rule is maddening, but their only reasoning is that “we’ve always done it this way.” Sorry, but times are changing. Likewise with the rules. Baseball’s better for it.
McClendon was right to challenge the play. Replay was right to overturn the out. And players should start being aware of an adage older than baseball’s unwritten rules: Hold on to the ball.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.