Last Sunday the Pittsburgh Pirates fell to the Arizona Diamondbacks on a controversial game ending play in the bottom of the 10th inning. The Pirates were attempting an inning ending 6-4-3 double play when the throw from Pirates 2B Jayson Nix hit Diamondbacks base runner Nick Ahmed in the left hand. Ahmed slid hard and late to breakup the double play and appeared he may have attempted to swat the throw his hand, at least that is how the Pirates saw it. The Diamondbacks contend Ahmed slid normally as any runner would to try and break up a double play. The on field umpires let the play stand contending Ahmed did not alter his slide and thus there was no evidence of intent to block the throw. If you haven’t yet seen the play here it is:
We know what the biased eyes see on this play. If you side with the Pirates you see interference. If you side with the Diamondbacks you see a clean play. Even the opinion of the on field umpire crew is biased in retrospect. Unless there is a truly egregious error made an umpire is going to stand by their call. But what do other umpires think? You can go to this thread discussing the play on the popular umpire.org message board to find out: umpire.org topic: Interference, yes or no?
Keep in mind the umpires that frequent this board are not MLB umpires. They are however trained umpires that work games at the Little League, AAU, High School, College, and Semi-Pro levels. They know the rules of the game better than 99.9% of baseball fans. Here are some of their comments about this controversial play.
“It’s tough to tell, from the three different angles, none show when and how he lifted his arms. All I see is the arm already lifted in a nonchalant fashion.”
“U2 said everybody throws arms up when they slide. I think I’m getting interference though. Clearly the actions of the base runner interfered with the play on BR.”
“I can see it go either way…But the runner was making what appeared to be a legal slide…within reach of the bag…
And as memory serves, I believe it an inherent characteristic of runners when beginning their slide to have the arms go up…So he was doing what he was supposed to be doing…INT, perhaps…But I can only imagine that U2 gave a solid statement of fact supported by the rules to support the ruling he made…
I am anxious to hear any post game reports on this one.”
“I’d call the interference. Something odd with this slide makes me see intent. Yes, arm(s) will go up when runners do a bent leg slide, but I expect the opposite hand of the tucked leg would be the one higher in the air. The slide just looked way too fishy. I think it looks even worse at real speed than when it was slowed down. I can see how it could go either way though.”
“Obvious interference. They need to add these calls to IR.”
“clearly intended to interfere with the fielder. He was clearly out but slid into the fielder’s feet for the purpose of knocking him down. In professional baseball this was a completely common, normal and legal play. It just looked worse because it ended the game.
If this was a high school game using FED rules you have a textbook FPSR violation. But the big boys don’t play that way.”