Why Anthony Rizzo’s Catch Was Legal And Mookie Betts’ Wasn’t
If you haven't seen Anthony Rizzo's amazing catch of a Ryan Braun foul ball Wednesday night, here it is:
Yes, Rizzo jumps on top of the tarp (that's eliminates me), reaches into the stands, catches the ball, throws it back into the field of play, takes a seat, gets up, and proposes to the woman in the blue shirt. Well maybe not the last thing, but her reaction does fit the scenario. And he did do all that other stuff (note that if baby-wielding Cubs Dad, Keith Hartley, had been sitting there, this all would have been a moot point). And what did the umps say? No catch. Why? MLB's definition of a catch says:
A CATCH is the act of a fielder in getting secure possession in his hand or glove of a ball in flight and firmly holding it; providing he does not use his cap, protector, pocket or any other part of his uniform in getting possession. It is not a catch, however, if simultane- ously or immediately following his contact with the ball, he collides with a player, or with a wall, or if he falls down, and as a result of such collision or falling, drops the ball. It is not a catch if a fielder touches a fly ball which then hits a member of the offensive team or an umpire and then is caught by another defensive player. In establishing the validity of the catch, the fielder shall hold the ball long enough to prove that he has complete control of the ball and that his release of the ball is voluntary and intentional. If the fielder has made the catch and drops the ball while in the act of making a throw following the catch, the ball shall be adjudged to have been caught.
That's a lot of verbiage to define a catch, but then again, the NFL's definition says:
It's a catch if a guy in a zebra shirt says it is.
So the umps felt Rizzo wasn't in the field of play. But then they huddled, decided candlesticks were a good wedding present and also determined that Rizzo's catch was good because his left foot was on the wall at the time (note his right foot had already come off the tarp), which is a legal place to be for a catch:
Rule 2.00 (Catch) Comment: A catch is legal if the ball is finally held by any fielder, even though juggled, or held by another fielder before it touches the ground. Runners may leave their bases the instant the first fielder touches the ball. A fielder may reach over a fence, railing, rope or other line of demarcation to make a catch. He may jump on top of a railing, or canvas that may be in foul ground. No interference should be allowed when a fielder reaches over a fence, railing, rope or into a stand to catch a ball. He does so at his own risk.
In fact, that means this was a good catch as well:
Okay, that was a GREAT catch in spite of the rule. But if you're Boston's Mookie Betts, you might feel a little hosed. Last month he did this against the White Sox's Jose Abreu:
So that's an out, right? No, that's out of the ballpark. The umps determined Betts did not have "complete control of the ball." What? He took two steps before going over the wall. Even the NFL would have called that a catch (Okay, I may have some issues concerning NFL catch calls...).
The worst part about it was that Betts had to come out of the game with a concussion, and when it wore off, he found he was still a member of the 2015 Red Sox.
How about that!
David Young has been a columnist for ESPN and Sports Illustrated and is one for SportsGrid. He finds things like MLB rules about catches very interesting.
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