Logic prevails: MLB clarifies transfer rule effective immediately

  • David Whitlock

Score one for fairness and logic.  Major League Baseball announced a key clarification to the so called “transfer rule” in which, during a catch-and-throw transition, the ball was mishandled resulting in a safe ruling that didn’t seem to make sense.  The interpretation changed when instant replay was introduced (call it an unintended consequence).  According to Mike Axisa of CBS Eye on Baseball, now a catch is a catch, and a transfer is just that, with no bearing on the catch.  The MLB ruling stated:

The Committee has determined that a legal catch has occurred … if the fielder had complete control over the ball in his glove, but drops the ball after intentionally opening his glove to make the transfer to his throwing hand. There is no requirement that the fielder successfully remove the ball from his glove in order for it be ruled a catch. If the fielder drops the ball while attempting to remove it to make a throw, the Umpires should rule that the ball had been caught, provided that the fielder had secured it in his glove before attempting the transfer. The Umpires will continue to use their judgment as to whether the fielder had complete control over the ball before the transfer.

According to Spencer Fordin of MLB.com

The interpretation was discussed and agreed upon by MLB, the MLB Players Association and the World Umpires Association, and beginning with games starting tonight, it will be the guiding principle that umpires use in ruling on the play.

Balls dropped after the catch will now remain outs Credit: AP/Orlin Wagner

Balls dropped after the catch will now remain outs
Credit: AP/Orlin Wagner

Although there is some discussion in Internet-land regarding how you can change a rule mid-stream.  The counter-argument being that the rule isn’t changing, the interpretation is the only difference.  And it’s been fair for all teams in each game.

Hopefully this puts to bed fan and player confusion and we can get back to baseball as it always has been.

– David Whitlock

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David Whitlock

David Whitlock - manager

David (a.k.a. Longhorndave or lhd_on_sports) joined the staff late in the 2012 season and moved to Site Manager in early 2013. A lifelong Houston Astros fan (and mini-season ticket holder for 9 years) he attends 20+ games per year. A statistics freak, David still keeps score the "old fashioned way" on occasion (and has kept manual score of World Series games since 1986 and retains the sheets). He was a featured guest weekly on the Phil Naessens Show. He is also a Texas Longhorns alumnus and huge football and baseball fan of his alma mater. When he isn't watching or writing about baseball, he works as a contractor at NASA Johnson Space Center. He lives by the mantra "a bad day at the ballpark is better than a good day anywhere else."

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