Monday, May 2, 2011

Darren Ford Fast

In the May 1, 2011 game at Washington, DC, Darren Ford came in to run for the recently walked Buster Posey.

Immediately all eyes focused on this extraordinary runner as he danced off first base. Time and time again the pitcher threw over to first base, once almost tossing the ball over the first baseman's head. Then with batter Pat Burrell struggling to make contact (as if he couldn't see the ball) Ford decided to take off for second base.

The perennial gold-glover, catcher Ivan Rodriguez, received the pitcher's toss and immediately got up and threw to second base.  And as well as "Pudge" receives the ball he gets rid of it even faster.  His ball was right on the bag and therefore the runner (Darren Ford) was called out.

But was he out?  Just because the ball arrived where it did doesn't mean the runner was out.  The fielder must tag the runner.  Upon further review, the runner was tagged above the belt. And the tag itself wasn't made by the fielder.  He merely dropped the glove into an area he figured the runner would slide into. Only Ford didn't exactly slide in that direction.

Now, the second base umpire, looked long and waited before calling the runner OUT but he wasn't paying attention to the runner as much as where the ball was in proximity of the runner and base.  In other words, the umpire actually took his eyes off the runner and fielder and figured because the ball was caught where it was that the runner had to meet it before touching the bag.

Darren Ford was not tagged out until after he reached second base and yet the umpire assumed because the ball arrived where it arrived and that the ball got there at just about the same time as the runner that it stood to reason that the runner would be out.  Only sometimes things don 't happen as expected, now do they, Mr. Ump?

Bad call ump.  But worse than that is how umpires are approaching runners of extraordinary ability.  The umps are not watching the fielder catch the ball and then apply the tag to the runner.  They are giving the benefit of the doubt to the catcher if the ball arrives in a particular location in a relatively timely manner at a good place.
Tagging the runner has now become optional.  Now aint that a kick in the head?

Kevin J. Marquez