Derek Jeter was safe Monday night, and two umps blew the call.
In case you missed it, the Yankees captain tried to steal third base with no one out in the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays. Rod Barajas, the Blue Jays catcher, threw a strike to the third base bag where Scott Rolen caught the ball and waited for Jeter to slide head-first into the out. However, Jeter stopped his left hand mid-slide and pushed his right hand forward, touching the bag. Rolen adjusted too late and tagged Jeter long after he had reached third safely.
Third base umpire Marty Foster, a 10-year major league veteran, called Jeter out. Most people, especially Jeter, are irate about Foster’s explanation. According to Jeter, Foster said, “He didn’t have to tag you. The ball beat you.”
Now that’s a lousy explanation, but John Hirschbeck is the crew chief who has been in the big leagues for nearly 30 years and said something even more mindless. After the game, he told the media, “It used to be, if the ball beat you, you’re out. And it’s really not like that any more. Now you have to make a good tag. You just can’t take the glove and lay it down in front of the bag.”It’s not a reason to call someone out, because the ball beat you. It used to be that way. That is true. But it’s not like that any more.” (Read more on MLBFanhouse.)
It used to be that way? Really?
According to Major League Baseball’s official rule book, Rule 2.0, Definition of Terms:
A TAG is the action of a fielder in touching a base with his body while holding the ball securely and firmly in his hand or glove; or touching a runner with the ball, or with his hand or glove holding the ball, while holding the ball securely and firmly in his hand or glove.
Rolen’s action was not a force play, so therefore he need to touch the runner with the ball or with his glove holding the ball. Neither of those things happened. It doesn’t matter if he did it in 2009, 1999, 1989 or 1979. Rolen missed the tag, Foster missed the call, and Hirschbeck missed the opportunity to say the right thing to the media.