Sunday, September 15, 2013

Phoney Double Plays:

You’re probably happy that I haven’t blogged about baseball much this summer, but I’ve seen a lot of double plays this year, and I can no longer remain silent. What really got me was a game highlight, a video of Tampa Bay “almost” making a triple play.

The ball was hit to third base. The third baseman had a great opportunity to touch the base (out #1) and fire to second (out #2), where the second baseman caught the ball, pivoted quickly and threw to first. The throw arrived just too late. And that’s a good thing (or maybe a bad thing?), because if this play had been called a triple play, it might have gotten a little more inspection.

In the video, you can see that the second baseman caught the ball about three feet from the bag, on the third base side. He made no attempt to approach the bag while whirling around to throw to first. There was no out at second! But the umpire called that runner out.

In fact, umpires will call the runner approaching second out at the slightest provocation. It’s more common for the fielder at second to throw and then touch second, or to touch second and leave the base before receiving the ball. But the fielder always gets A for effort.

This is not a new issue in baseball. One of baseball’s foremost cartoonists complained about sloppy double plays in the 1950’s. Today, when we have video replay, so that every fan can see when the umpire is wrong, why don’t the umpires call the force at second accurately? It can’t be that hard.

My next post will be about the OTHER problem with double plays, an issue that annoys me just as much.

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