Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Cool Play

This isn't related at all to the Tigers, but I witnessed one of the most exciting and unique plays in baseball this weekend.

I "came out of retirement" to umpire a youth baseball tournament this weekend. During the bottom of the 7th (last) inning of a 7th-8th grade game, the home team was down one run. They eventually got that run home and loaded the bases with nobody out. The next kid struck out, while the following kid popped out. The game went from almost a sure home victory (winning run at third, nobody out) to a Tigers-style "Let's head to extras and lose there," scenario. Then, the shocking:

Noticing that the catcher had stepped a few feet out in front of home plate to give signals to the fielders, the third base coach sends the runner home from third, and he makes it standing up before the defense even knew what hit them. It was a walk-off steal of home! I don't believe I have ever seen anything like that happen. Obviously, the visiting coach came out and argued that the ball should have been dead, because his third-baseman (the guy who caught the pop-up on the previous play) called time. More on this in the next paragraph, but we did not grant him time, so the point was moot. It was a shame this was the best he could muster up, because I really wanted to listen to what he had to say.

Now for my rules lecture:

The ball is always live, unless the umpire grants time. I player just cannot call time willy-nilly. There are set situations where the umpire is allowed to grant a player or team time. Throwing the ball back to the pitcher is not one of them. Despite tons of attempts to the contrary, the only levels where I have seen rules like this in place are coach-pitch and T-Ball, where the ball is not being thrown back to the defensive team's pitcher. The ball in this case was live as could be, and it's a good thing: I can now say I've seen the winning run score on a stolen base.

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