June 14, 2017

NESN: O'Brien And Remy Display An Ignorance Of The Rule Book

When Andrew Benintendi batted in the seventh inning on Wednesday, NESN's Dave O'Brien said that Benintendi's game-winning hit from the previous night was actually a single and not a double. (The live play-by-play at ESPN.com referred to it as a double, but I don't know when the change was made.)

Both O'Brien and Jerry Remy displayed an ignorance of the rule book when they discussed the play.
Dave O'Brien: It's an interesting debate what happened last night to end the ball game, in 12 innings when Benintendi hit that searing line drive to right. It was a game-winning single, officially. That's what it goes into the books as. But, if you recall, it bounced on the warning track and skipped into the stands, which, we're thinking, is a ground-rule double. Obviously, it is. It's an automatic double. But in that circumstance, the official scorer can rule it as he or she sees fit in that case and chose to make it a base hit. Now we have seen players hit home runs, game-winners like that, many times.

Jerry Remy: Right.

O'Brien: That's not ruled a base hit. That's a home run.

Remy: Exactly. And last night in the 12th inning, you know, the ball by Benintendi goes out and it goes -- you know, you know you won the game as soon as he made contact. I mean, the game's over. But then it bounces up into the stands, so -- I kind of thought it was going to be a ground-rule double. I didn't realize that it was going to be ruled a single.

O'Brien: You know, it doesn't cheapen the moment. It's a great moment for Benintendi, for the rest of his career, the walkoff. But that's a little statistical matter, you know? He doesn't have a double now, that's a base hit, great moment for him. But it's not two bases.
The play was neither "an interesting debate" nor "a statistical matter". The rules of major league baseball are extremely clear on what happens in exactly the type of situation that occurred on Tuesday night.

From "Official Baseball Rules, 2017 Edition":
9.06 Determining Value of Base Hits

... (f) Subject to the provisions of Rule 9.06(g) ([formerly] Rule 10.06(g)), when a batter ends a game with a safe hit that drives in as many runs as are necessary to put his team in the lead, the official scorer shall credit such batter with only as many bases on his hit as are advanced by the runner who scores the winning run, and then only if the batter runs out his hit for as many bases as are advanced by the runner who scores the winning run.
Xander Bogaerts was on third base when Benintendi came to the plate, so he needed to advance only one base to score the winning run. Which he did. Benintendi stopped running the bases after he rounded first, and he was credited with a single. It is a very clear decision, not one made on a whim of the official scorer, as O'Brien implied.

The comment accompanying Rule 9.06(f) provides greater clarity:
The official scorer shall apply this rule even when the batter is theoretically entitled to more bases because of being awarded an "automatic" extra-base hit under various provisions of Rules 5.05 and 5.06(b)(4) ([formerly] Rules 6.09 and 7.05). The official scorer shall credit the batter with a base touched in the natural course of play, even if the winning run has scored moments before on the same play. For example, the score is tied in the bottom of the ninth inning with a runner on second base and the batter hits a ball to the outfield that falls for a base hit. The runner scores after the batter has touched first base and continued on to second base but shortly before the batter-runner reaches second base. If the batter-runner reaches second base, the official scorer shall credit the batter with a two-base hit.
With Benintendi's hit bouncing from the field of play into the stands, he was "theoretically entitled to" two bases, but ONLY if he touches both first and second base "in the natural course of play". That did not happen. By the time Benintendi reached first, Bogaerts had likely scored. And so Benintendi stopped running the bases. He never got anywhere near second base, so he could not be awarded a double - even if his hit would normally have been ruled a ground-rule double if it had occurred at an earlier point in the game.

For the record, none of the game stories I saw mentioned Rule 9.06(f) (though Alex Speier sort of came close, but that was in his online newsletter, which I think was written some time on Wednesday):

Jason Mastrodonato, Boston Herald: "Benintendi roped a liner that bounced into the right-field stands for was [sic] technically scored a walkoff single ..."

Bill Ballou, Worcester Telegram & Gazette: "Boston won its second straight in extra innings on Tuesday night as it beat the Phillies, 4-3, in 12 on Andrew Benintendi's single to right field ..."

Evan Chronis and Craig Forde, MLB.com: "In the 12th inning, Andrew Benintendi blasted a game-ending single to right field to score Xander Bogaerts and give the Red Sox a 4-3 win ..."

Alex Speier, 108 Stitches: "With his 3-for-5 game Tuesday that included a double and the walkoff single (because Benintendi was mobbed before touching second base, he did not get credit for a two-bagger) ..."

I don't know if the rule was mentioned in any of the Boston Globe stories, because I do not have a subscription (and will not purchase a subscription) to the newspaper's website.

(Thanks to fusionmouse for pointing out Rule 9.06(f) to me in the game thread.)

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