Should MLB exercise more direct control over umpires?

Fan Confidence Poll: October 19th, 2009
ALCS chat

After a few questionable umpiring calls in the LDS round, we saw another controversy on Saturday night. Erik Aybar did what he does on nearly every double play: got his feet within a few inches of the bag at second and threw to first. Second base umpire Jerry Layne thought he strayed a little too far on the Jorge Posada grounder, and Melky Cabrera was safe at second base. It brings into question how to deal with standard umpiring fare. The neighborhood play isn’t in the rulebook, so how can MLB ensure that its umpires are making the right call in each instance?

Matt Pouliot of NBC Sports tells the story of the neighborhood play’s origins, though it only takes a little critical thought to figure it out. Runners are sliding hard into second in order to hinder the relay throw and break up the double play. The second baseman or shortstop already faces the disadvantage of throwing with one foot on the base and one foot on the dirt. The neighborhood play allows them to throw on firm ground, presumably reducing injury risk.

Pouliot thinks that the best way to fix the situation is to reign in the baserunners. No oversliding the bag, no forearm shots when popping up on the bag, no sliding three feet wide of the bag to take out the shortstop. The problem with that is of penalty, as Steve S, b/k/a The Artist says. The runner at second is typically out anyway. That leaves two options: ejection or automatically calling the batter out. Steve thinks the former is draconian, and I agree. Why put that much power in the umps’ subjective hands? To the latter, it would be assuming the double play, which is something baseball tries to avoid. There doesn’t seem to be a good solution here.

I agree with Steve that the neighborhood play is just fine as is. It protects the shortstops and second basemen while still allowing for aggressive baserunning. He concludes by saying that the umps need to “try to make it look good.” That relates to what former commissioner Fay Vincent wrote in the New York Times. It’s a story of the relationship between MLB and its umpires, which is not a lot. MLB doesn’t even have a hand in umpiring schools. There seems to be an opportunity here.

Robot umpires would not be a popular change. Complain as we do about the umpires, it seems that most people still prefer the men in blue (or black) over an automated counterpart. How, then, can MLB ensure that it has the best quality umpires, so these bad calls do not persist? Vincent has an idea.

From the beginning, umpiring has been seen by those who run baseball as a necessary but marginal aspect of the game. Major League Baseball does not train its own umpires, and therefore it has not established practices that would attract the best people. Those who wish to enter the profession attend schools run by former umpires. But these are entirely private businesses; the commissioner of baseball doesn’t control the curriculum, manage the training or do anything to lure people of all races and ethnic groups to become umpires.

After graduation, new umpires seek jobs with the minor leagues, which hire and fire officials separately from the major leagues. The beginning salary for a junior umpire is about $9,500 for the five-month season, hardly a living wage. A young umpire may spend as many as 10 years in the minors, earning at most about $20,000 at the Triple-A level and scratching around for other work during the off-season.

To attract the kind of young people any business would want, Major League Baseball should establish a thoroughly professional training system for umpires — and ensure that every official it hires is up to the job.

Taking ownership of the umpires would do MLB a world of good. They can use their resources to attract more umpires and then train them better. Even more importantly, they can train them in a uniform manner, so everyone has the same body of knowledge. Everyone is trained the same way. It should make for a more consistent umpiring experience.

If MLB has any intention of doing this, the time is now. Many veteran umpires are missing from this postseason because of injuries. This isn’t to say that all of the injured are old and breaking down, but that’s certainly the case for some. When these umpires hang it up, who will replace them? MLB has a vested interest in the performances of its umpires, and should ensure that the umpires who replace their most experienced veterans are capable of mind, body, and vision.

No one wants to complain about umpires, at least no one I know. They should be in the background, officiating a game between players and teams. MLB would do well to put more of its resources to work in recruiting and training umpires. It will make for a smoother, less controversial game, which is what I hope all of us want. I don’t think anyone wants to look at a playoff schedule and cringe because Marty Foster is the crew chief.

Fan Confidence Poll: October 19th, 2009
ALCS chat
  • X

    ehh who cares.. Yankee baseball in 4 hours WOOOO

  • Monkeypants

    I disagree (with the solution proposed). I would rather keep the rule as is and enforce it strictly. This would force middle infields to play it straight (at higher risk) or simply give way sooner (and lose the DP). Ultimately, more middle IFs would opt for safety, or even the fielders will begin to throw to 1B more often than to imperil their middle IFs. The result, a few fewer DPs. I can live with that for the sake of calling the rulebook straight.

  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    I would guess the first step that MLB could do, is buy or partner with the current umpire schools. They could also look into, like baseball itself, talent in different countries. Maybe starting a program with players who don’t make it in the game could help.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      I would guess the first step that MLB could do, is buy or partner with the current umpire schools.

      Fat Tony: We have already taken the clown college.
      (jump cut to Louie leading a class at clown college)
      Louie: Kids gotta lotta money these days, so, after your performance, you might wanna consider robbin ’em.

  • http://YankeefaninHouston John in Houston

    When Robbie Cano was called for actually touching the base but coming off it early in a playoff game a few years ago all we heard was “lazy Robbie”.
    Now everyone wants to make excuse for sloppy Angel play.
    The “neighborhood rule”, as I always understood it, never said you didn’t have to touch the base, it only said you could leave the base a fraction before getting the ball to avoid collision.
    Otherwise, who is to say how big the neighborhood is? Can they just throw the ball around the infield and declare ” I was in the neighborhood”?

  • Chris

    A lot of the ‘neighborhood plays’ that get called as outs are where the infielder is on the bag at some point, and then comes off as he receives the ball and throws to first. I don’t really have a problem with those being called outs, even if it’s not clear that the fielder had a foot on the base while holding the ball. For cases where the infielder NEVER touched the base – that’s too blatant and you shouldn’t get the call on that play.

    • Brien Jackson


  • Bob Michaels

    I always felt you had to touch the base with with the ball in your hand or to tag the runner to record an out. when did they change the rule book? The neighborhood play is a ridiculous concept and it is an affront to the nature of the game.

    • whozat

      It’s an affront to the nature of the game? It’s been going on for decades. Chances are that the “nature of the game” as you’ve experienced it your whole life has included the neighborhood play.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside


        Who’s your favorite player ever? He used the neighborhood play. And steroids.

      • Matt ACTY/BBD

        It’s an affront to the nature of the game? It’s been going on for decades. Chances are that the “nature of the game” as you’ve experienced it your whole life has included the neighborhood play.


        This reminds me of something Ron Darling said last night. He made some comment, I forget the exact context, that the “game has been the same for 100 years.” No, it hasn’t. It’s been the same for maybe 36 years, if you want the inclusion of the DH to signal the “new era” in baseball; but even since then, it has changed a lot. Chances are, the game will be much different ten years from now than it is today (though the Yankees will still be pussytubing).

      • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        It’s not an affront to the nature of the game, necessarily, but the fact that it’s been accepted practice for a long time doesn’t mean it’s the right way to do things.

        • Brien Jackson

          I think it’s reasonably fair, in the sense that it’s one of those plays that tends to happen around the margins. But as a couple of the above have said, traditionally the neighborhood rule has been applied to infielders who come off of the bag slightly early to avoid a collision/injury. So far as I know, it’s never been generally applied to an infielder who was “close” to the bag but never touched it. Those are phantoms.

  • whozat

    MLB managing the pipeline of umpires is such a no-brainer that one wonders why it hasn’t been done. Is it due to the strength of the MLB umpires union? Do umps have the same mentality as doctors, with an “I had to do it that way, these up-and-comers need to put in their dues too!” mentality? Do the ballclubs pay umps, and so MLB doesn’t really have any relationship with them? I mean, ballclubs provide all the other trappings of the game — balls, the grass, the dirt, the walls, the bases, groundskeeping, etc. Would MLB need to deal with the owners to make this change?

    • Mike HC

      The owners are MLB

      • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        Totally… Which is a big problem, in my opinion. Before Bud Selig, MLB commissioners were independent third parties, not members of the ownership crowd. Without getting into a discussion of whether Selig is a good commissioner or not, I don’t think he should be the commissioner simply because he’s part of the ownership crowd and not an impartial third-party. The commissioner should be an independent entity who can deal with the owners, players, umpires, and everyone else at an arms’ length, not a partisan member of one of those groups.

        • jsbrendog


          i nominate kennisaw mountain landis’s head.


        • Brien Jackson

          Ideally, yes, but how is that going to work? Ownership chooses the commissioner, so a commissioner is going to be closer to ownership. It’s like that in all of the major sports.

          • Mike HC

            Exactly. There is no way to get around it. The Commish basically represents the best interests of the owners.

            • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

              No, the commissioner represents the best interests of baseball, and those interests may often be aligned with the interests of the owners but they’re certainly not always aligned with the interests of the owners.

              • Mike HC

                Maybe I am just a bit more cynical than you. What the owners want, the owners get. Money talks. I think it is that simple, but I don’t completely disagree with you.

                • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  Dude, I hear you, but you’re kind of missing the point a bit. I’m not saying the commissioner won’t often act in the best interest of the owners because those interest will be aligned with the best interests of MLB, but that’s a wholly different scenario than having a commissioner who acts in the best interests of the owners because he’s beholden to the owners and is a part of their crowd. I understand the reality that MLB’s interests are often aligned with the owners’ interests, the question is whether the commissioner should be acting in MLB’s interests or acting in the owners’ interests, regardless of whether those interests are aligned. That’s the important distinction.

                • Mike HC

                  I know exactly what you are saying. And I am saying, it is not realistic to think that any commish will truly have the best interests of baseball, whatever that means, as opposed to the best interests of the majority of the owners, when push really comes to shove on certain issues, no matter where the commish claims his loyalties really lie. I see what you are saying and I just don’t think that that is how things really work.

                • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  “I know exactly what you are saying. And I am saying, it is not realistic to think that any commish will truly have the best interests of baseball, whatever that means, as opposed to the best interests of the majority of the owners, when push really comes to shove on certain issues, no matter where the commish claims his loyalties really lie. I see what you are saying and I just don’t think that that is how things really work.”

                  History, and Bart Giamatti’s ghost, strongly disagree with you, but whatever.

                • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  Eh, I shouldn’t bother, but one more thing… Why are you so sure a commissioner would be so in the pocket of the owners? What if that commissioner is chosen by some sort of independent committee, like I outlined above, has no family or business ties to the owners, and has his salary funded by some combination of MLB/owners/players’ union/etc.?

                  I don’t know if this is applicable to you and I’m sure you’ll say it’s not, but I wonder if some people either a) are just so used to Selig as commissioner that they don’t remember a time before we had a totally and notoriously partisan commissioner or b) weren’t baseball fans in the pre-Selig era (due to age or any other reason).

                  There is a very different, and better, way of doing things. It has been done before, for a much longer time than we’ve had the current model in which the commissioner and owners are partners. The historical record does not imply that the current model is the only reasonable model, but to the contrary implies that the current model is the exception.

                • Mike HC

                  Why would the owners agree to hire a commish that wouldn’t basically have their best interests as a priority. The owners choose who the commish is, and the owners get to choose the mechanisms which go into the process of picking the commish, so I just think everything is tilted in favor of the owners from the get go.

                  You claim baseball used to be ruled by some third party commish who was not in the pocket of the owners, but I highly doubt that that was the actual case. If the owners really did not like the guy, he would have been gone.

                • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  All along this thread I’ve said, multiple times, that they can institute a mechanism that would help them choose an independent commissioner, that they can structure his job/salary in such a way that he wouldn’t be financially beholden to any particular party over any other, and even that the mechanisms for removing a commissioner should change to give the owners less power.

                  You’re implying that I’m arguing for the status-quo and that I’m being naive in thinking we can have an independent commissioner under the current system, but I’m not arguing that. I’m sorry, but you’re arguing against a straw-man.

                • Mike HC

                  No I am not. I am saying that the mechanisms that you are putting in place would never happen, because the only people with the power to put those mechanisms in place, are the owners. And if the mechanisms are intended to take power away from the owners, why would the owners agree to put those mechanisms in place?

                  I am talking in real life terms. In real life, it is not realistic to have a commish who is truly a third party. You are trying to create an unrealistic hypothetical world where a third party owner can be realized, but it is just not realistic. But yes, if those mechanisms magically appeared in spite of the owners, then yes, then the commish would not be in the owners pocket.

                • Mike HC

                  By the way, we have the most ridiculous discussions/arguments. I never take them too seriously, I hope neither do you.

                • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  Don’t patronize me, I’m talking in real-life terms, too. You act as though the status-quo can’t be changed, and I don’t. That doesn’t make me naive. How/why would the owners agree to relinquish control of the process of choosing and replacing the commissioner? Maybe it becomes an issue in a labor negotiation (which seems like a very realistic scenario to me), or maybe for some reason in the future the government gets involved and says they have to change the structure of the commissioner position or lose their anti-trust exemption (or some other threat is used). This is not an impossibility. I’m not being naive, you’re just being obtuse, like usual. You choose your position and are completely unwilling to change that position, regardless of the conversation that follows and regardless if your position is not the most rational position. Frankly, to me, there’s no point in engaging in that type of conversation any longer.

                  I realize I’ve gone over the line here so this conversation is over and I should probably go back to my self-imposed time-out from RAB, so peace, everyone.

                • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  “By the way, we have the most ridiculous discussions/arguments. I never take them too seriously, I hope neither do you.”

                  Per the above, these conversations lack further utility to me, so I’m bowing out.

                • Mike HC

                  I didn’t mean to get to you so much. I don’t expect people to change their opinions based on a blog conversation. I never try to convince you that I am right. I can always see why you think the way you do. I try to explain my thought process as best as I can. Sorry if I just don’t see it your way sometimes, or multiple times.

          • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

            The same way it always worked before Selig. This isn’t a new concept, before Bud Selig the commissioners were all impartial third-parties. Bart Giamatti, Fay Vincent, on down the line… These guys weren’t beholden to ownership.

            Have ownership and the players’ union appoint a committee to nominate a candidate to be the commissioner. Each side gets to appoint 3 members of the committee. Nobody with ownership ties, or player ties (family or business), allowed to be on the committee or nominated for commissioner.

            Whatever, the mechanism isn’t important, it could be done any number of ways… The point is that this isn’t a new concept, this is actually how it was always done before Selig came along as an interim commissioner who just never left his post.

            • Sweet Dick Willie

              These guys weren’t beholden to ownership.

              Technically, no, but as soon as Fay Vincent went against ownership, they fired his ass.

              • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                Right, but that’s just another example of the problem, not a reason not to do things the right way. Take away ownership’s ability to force out a commissioner unilaterally and fix the problem, don’t look back at the problem and cite that problem as a reason things can’t be done the right way

  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    Umpires, for the most part, respect the “neighborhood” play. But, Aybar was blatantly off the bag. Aybar jumped over the sliding player. If he can do that, he can, at one point, touch the base, just like the previous 3 times in the game.

    • ansky


  • pat

    Robot umpires would have called him safe too.

  • Mike HC

    Instant replay is the answer. The system should be the same as the NFL. Two replays per game and if you are right on both of them, you get another one. Replay comes from the booth in the 9th inning and extra innings. Everything but balls and strikes could be reviewed.

    Regarding the “neighborhood play,” the league should either decide to abide by the exact meaning of the rule, or to just change the rule to be over the base, hovering the base, or straddle the base, or something like that. It should not be up to the ump whether he wants to allow the neighborhood call on a play by play basis.

    Regarding the independence of the umps from MLB, I am quite surprised by that. I would think how the umps call the game would be of utmost importance to the owners. I guess not. Maybe the owners should exert more control over the umps. Or maybe the independence that prevents owners from exerting control is a good thing.

    • Mike HC

      The more I think about it, I can’t really believe that the umps are that independent. I think the owners like the perception that the umps are independent, to avoid the type of criticism that the NBA gets for fixing games in favor of major cities. In reality, I would bet that the owners have plenty of influence into the Umps organization. The irony is, the owners are now getting criticism for the lack of control they have over them. I guess you can’t win either way.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      The NFL rule is stupid, in my opinion. The point is to get the call right. Period. You shouldn’t have to pick and choose if a call should be looked at or not. If it’s a questionable call, you look at it.

      • Mike HC

        The point is to get calls right that the umps clearly missed, or to get calls right that were so close that it would almost be unfair to expect the umps to make an accurate call in real time. If a team thinks the umps blew a call, it should be up to them to correct it.

        But I really don’t disagree with you. If the umps want to review everything that is close, i am all for it really.

  • Ross

    They should look into those guys in the first row behind the plate in Toronto. They seem to do a pretty good job.

  • Accent Shallow

    I agree with Vincent — if MLB wants quality umpires, they’re going to have to take control of the program in the minor leagues, and treat the umps as more than temporary, hired help. An ump is a lot more important (and difficult to train) than a beer vendor.

    • UWS

      An ump is a lot more important (and difficult to train) than a beer vendor.

      Take that back!

      • Accent Shallow

        I’ll retract the first part of that sentence.

        Seriously, though: it’s a lot easier to find someone to competently sling beer than it is to find a competent umpire.

        • JMK aka The Overshare

          Every time I go to the game and buy a beer, the beer man keeps the change. What the fuck is that? I pay a $20 on a $9 beer, I should get my proper change back, not a $10.

          Maybe your beer slingers have been better than the ones “serving” me.

  • Mister Delaware

    MLB already assumes the double play when a runner slides outside the reach of 2B so all more strict sliding restrictions would do is increase enforcement of that rule. I’d rather see that change made than a continuation of the “you just need to be close to the bag unless the umpire decides to say you weren’t quite close enough this time” standard. (Or there could be a more literal version, where you have to touch the bag within 1 second of turning. Force the touch but allow the MIF time to clear himself.)

  • jsbrendog

    personally, after watching all the replays i didn’t think he was even close enough for the neighborhood play. he was in a neighborhood but it wasn’t the second base one. Plus, they went back and reviewed every other dp (which there were quite a few of) and foiund that on EVERY other one Aybar touched the base. It was son conclusive that it even led to an on air mccarver aplogy for saying that he had jsut been in the neighborhood all game.

    i don’t see what the big deal is. He wasn’t close to the bag and the umpire, imo, actually made the right call. had he been closer then maybe it wouldn’t have been but in this case with the way this game and all previous dps unfolded it was the right call.

    now if you wanna talk about the awful strike zones or the mauer fari/foul ball, the inge hbp/not hbp, or one of any other obv blown calls then fine.

  • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

    I wrote about this a while back, but it’s relevant here so I’ll dredge it up again ’cause I like this discussion…

    Re: The neighborhood play… I like the way it was called in Game 2 (not just because it benefitted the Yankees). I think there are two interests here: 1) an interest in mitigating some of the physical danger faced by middle infielders and inherent in making that play, and 2) an interest in adhering as closely as possible to the most basic rules of the game (runner is out when tagged or when a baseball-possessing defender touches the base ahead of the runner on a force play). If MLB has made a policy determination that they want to change the rules a bit in this particular situation to make the play safer for middle infielders, I’m not going to argue with that policy decision. But if they’re going to make that change (essentially a waiver of an established rule), they can’t allow the defender to completely disregard touching the base. If they want to allow the defender to remove his foot from the base a split second before the runner slides through the base, for the sole purpose of avoiding a physically dangerous situation? That’s totally fine. But the defender can’t be allowed to take advantage of that rule to the extent that the defender just doesn’t bother touching the base. If the defender can’t make the play, even if he’s allowed to take his foot off the base a split second early, then the defender just can’t make the play.

    On a related note… I think there should be a penalty if a baserunner slides so wide of second that he can only reach second with an outstretched arm (if he can reach it at all). There’s hard baserunning and there’s dirty baserunning, and to me, when a runner slides so wide of the base that he can’t even reach it (or can only reach it with an outstretched arm), that’s dirty baserunning (since his sole goal is physical contact once he’s already decided he can’t safely reach the base and he’s so late to the base that he has to go out of his way to cause that contact, it doesn’t naturally happen in the course of the play). Also, think about this in the combination with the “neighborhood play”… We allow defenders to make the “neighborhood play” in order to protect their health, then we allow runners to follow them wide of the bag and try to take them out? That’s counter-intuitive.

    To put it simply:
    Neighborhood play – Should only be allowed when the defender touches the base at some point during the play and the defender only abandons the bag to avoid physical danger, and I’d put that call in the umpire’s discretion (I assume they’d only make the call when faced with an egregious offense, and that’s ok with me).
    Wide slides – Should not be allowed, and, again, I’d put that call in the umpire’s discretion (I assume they’d only make the call when faced with an egregious offense, and that’s ok with me).

    That way we’re pursuing MLB’s policy decision to try to protect the health of middle infielders while still adhering as closely as possible to the most basic rules of the game.

    • jsbrendog

      and when you tag the runner at home with your glove hand while the ball is in your bare hand he should be safe (still can’t believe that one)

      but yes. you make very good points.

      • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        Yeah that was awful, there’s no excuse for that call.

      • Bob Stone

        That call was an embarrassment to umpiring.

    • Mike HC

      Regarding the sliding base runners, I completely agree with you, but I would not leave it up to the umps in the heat of the moment. The umps have to focus on the fielder (both his feet and hands) and should not have to also decide whether the runner was especially egregious or vicious as opposed to just playing hard. I think the penalty for the runner should be a fine, and the play can be evaluated after the game, like the NFL does in many instances.

      • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        Yeah I guess that would work for me. I went with umps’ discretion because I figure this is kind of one of those “know it when I see it” situations… Like, I don’t think anyone is going to argue a runner should be punished for sliding with his feet aimed 5 inches wide of the base, but when a guy slides with his feet aimed 3-4 feet wide of the base it’s so obvious as to insult the sensibilities enough that’s it’s a pretty easy call to make. But I hear you, I’m also fine with a fine assessed after the fact on that play, so that you take the ump out of the equation. Either way works for me.

    • Brien Jackson


    • Bob Stone

      I too have enjoyed this discussion and responded last time to your thoughtful comments, mostly in agreement.

      I have had a change of opinion on the “neighborhood” rule and sliding outside the basepath.

      Let’s go bask to basics. Strictly enforce the “real” rules. The infielder has to have the ball in his hand or glove WHILE his foot in on the bag. If he perceives danger from an oncoming baserunner, then he makes a choice. To try to successfully complete the double play, or protect his body. The result will be fewer double plays, and presumably more scoring. If the fielder has to jump off the bag to protect himself and miss the double play, so be it. Give credit to the runner for breaking up the double play.

      The basepath should be the same whether its the first base line or second, third or home. If the runner goes outside the basepath to elude being tagged out, he’s out. As far as sliding away from second base to knockout a middle infielder and break up the double play, I don’t know what sanction to impose. The runner is usually already out before he employs that tactic, so that doesn’t help. A commenter earlier in this thread suggested ejection. That’s too draconian. I suggest the following – the runner to second base is making an illegal move to prevent the runner going to first base from being the second out in a double play. At the umpire’s discretion, the penalty should be an out called on the runner at first base, even if he beat out the throw. I think that would cut down on runner’s pushing the envelope as they slide into second.

      • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        “Let’s go bask to basics. Strictly enforce the “real” rules. The infielder has to have the ball in his hand or glove WHILE his foot in on the bag. If he perceives danger from an oncoming baserunner, then he makes a choice.”

        I totally hear you on this one, but that’s why I stipulated above that I’m not going to argue with the policy decision made by MLB that they want to protect the health of middle infielders trying to turn double plays. For the sake of realism… Since MLB clearly has made that policy decision and that’s the world we live in, whether we like it or not… What do you think?

        • Bob Stone

          I agree with your scenario if MLB continues the current policy decicion.

          I was just hoping for a better world in which MLB does something more sensible and consistent with the rule book.

    • Yan

      The neighborhood play is not in the rules, therefore it shouldn’t be enforced. When doing for a double play, the middle infielder has a choice to make – touch the base and go for the sure out, or risk getting hit.

      It’s up to the infielder what choice to make. After a few months of a season, it will be clear which are the good middle infielders and which ones will turn into Chuck Knoblach.

      That is how the game evolves. Teams will know what infielders are apt to turn a double play and which ones won’t complete the throw.

      There is no neighborhood play at third base. There is no neighborhood play at first or home either. That being said… if the base runner strays outside the line, CALL IT. That is why there is a rule book.

      These guys make millions of dollars per year, they can take a chance getting hit.

  • jim p

    Aybar’s sin was he set himself up flatfooted to receive the throw, while he was not on the base at all. He didn’t make the minimum obligatory effort to touch the base, either before or upon receiving the ball.

    It was the right call, imo, because Aybar did not try to get into the neighborhood. He set himself up outside it.

  • Peter

    If we’re concerned about SS/2Bman why not put the neighborhood play in the rule book by drawing a circle around second base. Giving the defensive player a couple of inches of space to stay out of the way of the runner.

    • Mike HC

      I like it. Kinda like the NBA charge zone under the basket. I think you are on to something here. The only problem is that the way a baseball field looks, with the lines and bases and everything, is sacred in a way. I don’t know if your plan is realistic, but it is certainly practical and easy.

      • Mike HC

        the lines would also need constant upkeep in between innings.

  • bkight13

    Buck and McCarver didn’t help the situation with their complaining. They made it sound like the Mauer call. “Let’s hope the Angels get out of this, so that terrible call doesn’t ruin a great game” type of stuff.

    This call was blatant. He NEVER touched or tried to touch the base. The neighborhood call is fine as is. Like others have said, if decide to try for the double play, then you might get taken out. Just like deciding to block home plate.

  • jmas23

    Kind of irrelevant, but as a ballplayer I was always a bigger fan of the term “phantom sweep” instead of “neighborhood call”.

  • Penndaly

    Why should there be any accomodation to allow for the double play to be turned more easily? If anything, the rule should be enforced more strictly. This would end up cutting down on the number of double plays but that might not be the worst thing as this has already become too routine of a play. Getting two outs in one play should be an accomplishment of good defense not just the result of any ground ball to the bag. Otherwise, why don’t we get rid of collisions at the plate and for that matter maybe Jeter was wrong when the ball beat him to third on that steal attempt durring the season because after all wasn’t that a neighborhood play?

  • The Artist

    Thanks for the link, Joe!