Suggested Answers To Northwoods League Weekly Quiz Competition Questions
Also see the original NWL Weekly Quiz and the East Bay High School Weekly Quiz
#1 (6/10): With one out and runners at first and third, the batter smokes a sinking liner at the third baseman, who dives and smothers the ball (no catch). He recovers and records the force at second, but there's no chance for the double play. However, the batter-runner, having touched first, is now walking away from the bag toward his dugout, some 15-20 feet in front of the base in foul ground. The second-baseman notices the wandering runner and relays the ball to first, where the fielder tags him. Is the runner out, or he protected after over-running first base?
The batter-runner is permitted to over-run first base, provided 'he returns immediately to the base' [7.08(c), EXCEPTION]. In this case, our wandering runner has clearly forfeited his protection and is liable to be put out. Plus, there's the possibility our runner has abandoned his efforts to run the bases: 'A runner believing he is called out ... (that) starts for the dugout and progresses a reasonable distance still indicating by his actions that he is out, shall be declared out for abandoning the bases' [7.08(a)(2), Italics]. [Note: this play actually ended a game -- boy, was that offensive manager pissed!]
#2 (6/17): As the leadoff man in the bottom of the second digs in, torrential rain arrives and the umpires halt play. Assuming the weather prevents any more action, what happens to the game a) in the Major Leagues, and b) in a league such as ours (and many Minor Leagues, or National Association leagues) that employs the 'Optional Suspended Game Rule'?
Since the umpires halted play before the teams could complete five innings (or four-and-a-half with the home team leading), the game is not yet a regulation game. The Major Leagues call such games 'No Games' and erase them from the record (all stats do not count) -- the teams replay the game in its entirety [4.10(e)]. Under the Optional Suspended Game rules [4.11(d)(3-6)], 'No Games' instead become Suspended Games, which the teams resume at the exact point of suspension (usually as part of a double-header). [Note: Major League Tie Games (certain regulation games that are tied at the moment play gets stopped) also become Suspended Games under the Optional Suspended Game rules.]
#3 (6/24): With two outs and a runner at third, the batter faces a 2-2 count. On the pitch, the runner breaks for the plate in an attempt to steal home. As the catcher moves to receive the pitch and apply the tag, he tips the batter's bat mid-swing with his glove. In the end, the batter only succeeds in fouling off the pitch. What's the ruling?
When the catcher tips the bat, the umpire should call (and point) 'That's catcher's interference!' Since the batter did not reach first and all other runners did not advance at least one base, the umpire enforces the catcher's interference penalty and awards the batter first base. Plus, on this play, the umpire also scores the runner from third since he was in the process of stealing home on the play [6.08(c), Italics].
#4 (7/1): The batter walks to lead off the third inning. Before a pitch to the next hitter, the defensive manager emerges from the dugout and produces his lineup card, claiming, 'Number 10 (the guy that just walked) isn't listed -- he should be out.' Upon checking your own copy of the lineup, you find that the player in question is listed as wearing number 20. In other words, his name is correct, but his number is wrong. How should you rule?
According to 6.01(a), 'each player ... shall bat in the order that his name appears in his team's batting order.' Therefore, the fact that batter wears the incorrect number does not matter, and the walk should stand. [Note: this incident, which involved the same manager as in both #1 and #3, featured a somewhat amusing conclusion. After I refused to call the runner out, the manager started shaking his lineup card at me yelling, 'Then what do I need this for?', so I said, 'Fine, give it to me,' and I snatched it out his hand, put it in my pocket and went back behind the plate.]
#5 (7/8): With the bases loaded and one out, the offense attempts a squeeze. As the runner from third breaks for the plate, the batter squares and bunts the ball high up in front of home plate (fair ball). As the runners all retreat to their bases, the pitcher charges in and settles under the popup. But instead of catching the ball cleanly, he cradles the ball in his glove before deliberately allowing it to fall to the ground, then flips the ball to the catcher, who records the force at home and then fires to third to force the runner from second. Does the double-play stand or should the umpires make a different ruling?
Although bases-loaded, one out is an Infield Fly situation, an attempted bunt cannot constitute an Infield Fly (2.00, INFIELD FLY). However, since the pitcher touched the ball before deliberately permitting it to fall to the ground, the umpires should rule an 'Intentionally Dropped Ball' [6.05(l)]: the play becomes dead, the batter is out, and all runners return to their bases. Had the pitcher allowed the ball to fall untouched before fielding it, the double-play would have stood.
#6 (7/15): With a runner at first and no outs, the batter squares around to sacrifice. The pitcher races over and fields the bunt along the first base line, but as he goes to apply the tag on the batter-runner, the batter-runner stops and starts heading back toward home plate (remaining in the basepath). Immediately, the defensive manager starts screaming that batter-runner isn't allowed to head back toward home -- what's the call?
I don't know of any rule that specifically covers this situation, but common sense tells me the runner should have the right to avoid getting tagged -- the runner isn't running backwards for the purpose of making a travesty of the game.
#7 (7/22): With second and third and two out, the pitcher goes from the windup. On the 0-2 pitch, the runner from third breaks to steal home, and the pitch hits him in the head as he slides head-first across the plate. Meanwhile, the runner from second advances to third, and then sees the catcher chasing after the deflected pitch and races home himself. What's the ruling?
The first question the umpire should ask himself is, 'Was the pitch a strike?' If so, under 6.05(n), he 'shall call 'Strike Three,' the batter is out, and the run shall not count.' In this case, the pitch hits the sliding runner in the head, so the umpire would probably rule the pitch a ball. Then, according to 5.09(h), the run scores and other runners advance one base, so the runner from second returns to third.
#8 (7/29): With first and third and two outs, the offense tries a bit of a ruse to steal a run: as soon as the pitcher comes set, the runner from first simply breaks for second, trying to draw a throw and allow his teammate to score from third. The pitcher does throw to first, but the fielder only takes a couple of steps before stopping and directing his attention to the runner at third, who's forced to hold. The runner from first also only takes a few steps, and then inexplicably begins heading back toward first (and the first baseman holding the ball). As he approaches the fielder, the runner loops around him (more than three feet away), but the fielder is so concerned with the runner at third that he never fully stretches his glove to apply a tag. The runner returns safely to first, but the defense claims he's 'out of the baseline' -- what's the call?
This play was certainly one of the stranger ones this season, and I'm honestly not sure how to rule properly. Section 7.08(a)(1) provides that a runner is out when 'he runs more than three feet away from a direct line between the bases to avoid being tagged,' where umpires interpret 'three feet' as 'a step and a reach' -- if the fielder takes a step and reaches for the runner and still can't tag him, that runner is more than three feet away. The problem in the actual play is that the fielder never fully extended his arm for the tag. So while the runner probably exceeded his three-foot margin, I'm not sure he's considered to have avoided a tag -- can a runner avoid a tag that never happens? On the other hand, the defense could argue that the fielder didn't try to tag the runner because he was so far away. I'm interested to hear your opinions on this one...
#9 (8/5): Working a six-man crew (an umpire at each base and also one down each foul line), the batter rips a screaming liner just inside the bag at third, which the third-base umpire immediately points fair, but the left-field umpire inadvertantly signals foul. The play continues normally, but when it's over the defensive manager races out to argue. What should the umpires do?
Since the players all reacted as if the ball was fair, I think the umpires should let the play stand and simply tell the arguing manager they blew it. If the defense had stopped at the foul ball signal, well, now the umpires have a problem...
#10 (8/12): During the last game of the season (where the outcome will not affect the playoffs), vicious rain suspends play after three and a third innings. Although it takes nearly two hours and the outfield clock now reads after 11pm, the home team succeeds in drying the field for play. However, both team owners come onto the field and begin discussing a logistical problem: the visiting team has a four-hour drive home immediately after the game, and several players have early morning flights to catch. To solve the problem, the owners propose a five-inning game instead of nine, and claim that since they both agree, they have the authority to make such an alteration -- true or false?
As far as I know, the owners are badly mistaken. Once the umpires take possesion of the lineup cards, they control all aspects of the game.