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Weekly Quiz Answers

Suggested Answers To Weekly Quiz Competition Questions

Also see the latest Weekly Quiz.

#1 (2/26): With a runner on first, the pitcher comes set, then makes a pickoff attempt by simply turning and throwing to the base. Unfortunately, the throw ends up in the dugout. So, where should the umpires place the runner? If the pitcher had stepped backward off the rubber before making his wild throw, would the award change?

According to rule 7.05(h), each runner is entitled to 'one base, if a ball, ... thrown by the pitcher from his position on the pitcher's plate to a base to catch a runner, goes into a stand or a bench.' Therefore, the umpire should place the runner at second base. On the other hand, if the pitcher had first stepped backward off the rubber before making his wild throw, thereby making him an infielder instead of a pitcher, the umpire should award the runner third base under the provisions of 7.05(g): each runner advances 'two bases when a thrown ball goes into a bench.'

#2 (3/5): With a runner at first, the batter swings and misses the first pitch, which hits him (in the shoulder, I might add -- I guess if that thing's about to hit you, you might as well swing at it!). As the ball rolls away from the catcher, the runner advances to second. What's the ruling?

Since the batter attempted the hit the ball, he is NOT awarded first for a Hit-By-Pitch. Further, the runner must return to first base under the guidelines of 6.08(b), Approved Ruling: 'When the batter is touched by a pitched ball that does not entitle him to first base, the ball is dead and no runner may advance.'

#3 (3/12): At the Major League level, suppose the manager brings in a new pitcher, moves the current pitcher to right field, and takes the right fielder out of the game. Is this move legal? What happens to the DH? Assuming the right fielder was batting second and the DH was hitting seventh, who hits in which spot now?

The move is certainly legal. However, the manager forfeits the DH for the rest of the game, as specified in 6.10(b): 'Once the game pitcher is switched from the mound to a defensive position this move shall terminate the Designated Hitter for the remainder of the game.' The move constitutes a 'multiple substitution,' so the old pitcher (new right fielder) can hit in either the second spot or the seventh spot, and the new pitcher hits in the other position.

#4 (3/19): With runners on second and third with one out, the batter lifts a popup to the shortstop. For some reason, however, everyone on the field believes there are two outs: both runners break when the ball is hit, and after he makes the catch, the shortstop rolls the ball toward the mound as he and most of his teammates jog off the field. The runner from third crosses the plate, but the runner from second sees the catch and veers straight to his dugout from a point halfway down the third base line. Needless to say, some confusion ensues as coaches start yelling and players from the team just at-bat start taking their defensive positions. Amid the chaos, the catcher (who never entered his dugout) runs over and picks up the baseball, then goes and steps on third base. The questions are: should the umpire uphold this appeal? Does the run score? In fact, there are many variations on this play, but let me pick just one to explore: suppose that after the catch, all the defensive players simply head to the dugout and all the offensive players come out to play defense. How should the umpire rule? Whacky...

Yes, the umpire should uphold the appeal that the runner from third left too soon -- the defensive team maintains its right to appeal so long as the pitcher and all infielders have not left fair territory [7.10(d)]. Since the runner from third is declared out, his run clearly should not count. In the variation, it seems the umpire should declare the runner from second out for 'abandoning his effort to touch the next base' [7.08(a)(2)] since he leaves the baseline and heads for his dugout. When the umpire calls that runner out, he needs to see if the runner from third has touched the plate. If so, the run scores. If not, the run does not count.

#5 (3/26): With a runner at third, the pitcher throws a pitch in the dirt. The catcher successfully blocks the ball, but it rolls several inches in front of him. The catcher removes his mask with his right hand, and as he glances down to third to check on the runner, reaches out with with the mask and scoops the ball back towards his body. What's the ruling?

Section 7.05(d) provides that each runner is awarded 'two bases if a fielder deliberately touches a thrown ball with his cap, mask or any part of his uniform detached from its proper place on his person. The ball is in play.' Unfortunatley, no rule in the rulebook specifically covers this situation, where the fielder touches a *pitched* ball with detached equipment. The interpretation, however, is that the runner is awarded one base, and therefore scores.

#6 (4/2): The offense has a runner at first, who's stealing on the pitch. The batter swings and smokes a line drive that hooks down the left-field line. A fan reaches over the wall and catches the ball, which is still in flight, in fair territory below the top of the fence. In other words, the ball would have hit the wall on the fly in fair territoty had the fan not interfered. Where should the umpires place the runners?

Section 3.16 states that 'When there is spectator interference with any thrown or batted ball, the ball shall be dead at the moment of interference and the umpire shall impose such penalties as to nullify the act of interference.' In this case, the umpire should clearly award the batter-runner second base, since a ball off the wall almost always results in a double. Where to place the runner from first is a trickier question. Since he was running on the pitch, I think one could make a strong case for scoring him. On the other hand, the ball was hit very hard, so the left fielder would have little trouble getting to the ball quickly and returning it to the infield. In the actual game, the umpire held the runner at third.

#7 (4/9): With first and second and no one out, the batter attempts a sacrifice bunt. His bunt strikes the ground in fair territory, then rebounds and contacts the bat (still in the batter's hands) a second time above fair territory. The catcher then pounces on the ball and throws the batter out at first as the two runners advance. What's the ruling?

The umpire should call time and declare the batter out under the provision of 6.05(h), which covers a batted or bunted ball striking the bat a second time in fair territory. Under the same rule, the runners must return to their original bases.

#8 (4/16): In a Major League game, the pitcher delivers what he thinks is a strike, but the umpire calls it a ball. The pitcher looks bewildered, and from the dugout the manager says, 'Where did that pitch miss? That's right there!', to which the umpire responds, 'You can't argue balls and strikes.' Is the umpire correct? At that point, does the umpire have sufficient grounds to eject the manager?

In fact, the umpire is incorrect. A common fallacy is that players, coaches and managers can't argue balls and strikes, but rule 9.02(a)(a) states that they cannot *leave their positions* to dispute those calls -- a manager hollering from the bench has not left his position. So, in this case, the umpire should either explain where the pitch missed, or simply ignore the question. However, there are limits to how much abuse an umpire is willing to take. If a manager is all over the umpire on every pitch, the umpire can certainly warn him (eg, 'If I hear anything else, you're gonna go.'), and if the manager continues to argue, then the umpire should eject him.

#9 (4/23): At the beginning of the inning as the batter digs in, the pitcher waits on the rubber and licks the fingers on his pitching hand to get a better grip on the baseball. What's the ruling?

Under 8.02(a)(1), 'The pitcher shall not bring his pitching hand in contact with his mouth or lips while in the 18 ft. circle surrounding the pitching rubber. PENALTY: For violation of this part of the rule the umpires shall immmediately call a ball.' As a result, the batter begins his at-bat with a 1-0 count.

#10 (5/6): With a runner at first, the batter squares around to attempt a sacrifice bunt. When he contacts the ball, his left foot is clearly out of the batter's box (about eight inches in front of home plate), but his bunt goes foul. Is there any penalty?

Yes, there is a penalty, even though the bunt went foul: 'A batter is out for illegal action when he hits a ball with one or both feet on the ground entirely outside the batter's box [6.06(a)].'


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