Dubuque: Rules aren’t meant to be broken

From Patrick Dubuque at Baseball Prospectus on February 22, 2018:

There’s a play I remember from years ago that probably happened. The Rangers were skirmishing against the Mariners on some dusty August afternoon, filling box scores for future generations. A faceless Mariner, probably Dustin Ackley, hit a slow roller wide of first base. The equally anonymous pitcher—let’s call him Colby Martinez—ran over to first, thinking it was a 3-1 putout; so did the first baseman, assuming a 4-3. The second baseman did indeed field the grounder and threw to the pitcher for the close out. Only one problem: The pitcher didn’t catch the ball; the first baseman, two steps off the bag still running in, intercepted it. It was a confluence of bodies, and the ump missed the call. The Rangers convened on the mound, the ball subtly passed into the glove that already should have held it, and play resumed.

This mistake didn’t matter; nor did the game, nor the season, nor really the sport itself. Certainly no one else remembers this play, including the people involved. No searchable story or video exists. Half a decade later, it still drives me crazy.


Gregor Blanco catches the ball off the ricochet—mind you, the ball bounces 15 feet into the stands—spares one moment to reflect on the unlikeliness of the bounce, and then decides, why not? and lifts his glove in the air. Maybe the umps didn’t see. The umps did see, of course, along with 20,000 people, and play resumed. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, as the saying goes. But as the father of a precocious 4-year-old, I can’t help but watch the play and think of her reaction: He’s cheating, right? Isn’t it bad to cheat?

Baseball doesn’t really have a good answer to her question.

Read the full article here: https://www.baseballprospectus.com/news/article/37998/cold-takes-rules-arent-meant-broken/

Originally published: February 22, 2018. Last Updated: February 22, 2018.