Baseball has always been accused of being a thinking man’s game. Which makes sense, because the action unfolds at a deliberate pace, with 20 second between the action, which builds anticipation until the ball is put in play and a batter, nine fielders, any runners on base, and four umpires each spring into action to run the bases, cover a base, back up a throw, or make a call. Some call it poetry in motion.
But in between the plays, fielders are taught to think “what happens if the ball is hit to me?”. Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler thought through the scenarios and came up with an innovative solution. “Don’t catch it.” While on the surface this does not make sense, his inaction led to the force of a speedy runner on base and substituted a much slower one. Check out the play here (via MLB.com)
Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch protested lightly, more seemingly wanting to know what the ruling was. The inning resulted in no runs, not much was different as there were no further hits in the inning.
But should the play be legal? I think “no”. There’s an expectation that players do not bend the rules to their advantage and play the game straight. Infield fly rule covers the obvious intentional error to advantage the defense. It doesn’t apply here because of only one runner on base. In the same situation, there is an umpire judgment that does not allow a fielder to muff a line drive to turn two and this falls in the same boat. While an advantage in outs cannot be gained, speed matters and it’s of the same ilk. It is not the way the game should be played and should be interpreted differently.
David Whitlock (@lhd_on_sports)