Apr 8, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia (14) talks with first base umpire Mike Winters (33) (center) after a review and overturn of a dropped ball by Los Angeles Angels left fielder Josh Hamilton (32) (not pictured) during the fifth inning against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. (Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports)
Well, that certainly didn’t take long.
According to MLB.com’s Spencer Fordin, Major League Baseball announced on Friday that the cloudy and often-criticized ball catch transfer rule has been reworked. Beginning with Friday evening’s slate of games, a fielder will now be rewarded the putout he deserves after he has caught the ball regardless of what happens when transferring the ball to his throwing hand. From Fordin’s article:
"When baseball instituted the instant replay rules, it essentially changed the definition of a catch when a fielder was trying to turn a double play, saying that the player had to not only catch the ball, but maintain control of it as he removed the ball (transferred it) to throw it. Now, the league has gone back to the original definition that the fielder gets one out if he makes the catch, even if he drops the ball when trying to transfer for a throw."
In layman’s terms, when the ball is caught, you are now out.
It took the league just three-plus weeks of the instant replay era to revise its system. We knew heading into 2014 that changes would likely be made, but during such a short span of the young season we were witness to gaffes aplenty. Josh Hamilton was notably one victim of the ambiguous rule in a game against the Seattle Mariners on April 9, when he scuffled with what seemingly had been a routine fly ball off the bat of Corey Hart. After a lengthy review courtesy of a challenge by Mariners’ manager Lloyd McClendon, Hart was awarded first base and Hamilton charged with a silly error, despite clearly having control of the ball before switching hands to make a throw.
More recently, Dustin Pedroia was victimized Thursday while attempting to initiate a double play off the bat of Brett Gardner of the New York Yankees. He bobbled the ball and Gardner was ruled safe at second base despite replay confirming that Pedroia had possession of the ball prior to making the turn.
We’ve seen managers ejected, and teams being cost games because of a silly interpretation of a silly rule that really was just fine the way it was before. You know, for the past 150 years.
It’s absurd that this rule had to be amended in the first place. Sure, umpires are human and human errors do happen. Baseball has made great strides to embrace technology and start living in the 21st century, all while maintaining the majority of the game’s historical integrity. But over the first few weeks of the new season, calls were seemingly being blown left and right. If the MLB higher-ups had turned a blind eye, it would have been detrimental to a league which is already arguably suffering from attendance declines, market over-saturation and Jeffrey Loria somehow being allowed to own a franchise.
Something had to be done and kudos to Major League Baseball for acknowledging that.
Good job, Mr. Selig. Now if we could just do something about that home plate collision rule.