Transfer rule causes outrage, heartbreak for Mariners
By Jim Moore
Maybe you were watching it live. But I was at a kids’ baseball game and following the ninth inning of last night’s Mariners’ game on my phone.
I was slightly encouraged when I saw on the SportsCenter app that Yoervis Medina got the force at third on a sacrifice-bunt attempt by the Marlins with runners on first and second and nobody out.
But then I didn’t know what to make of what the app was telling me. Two minutes later, the bases were loaded with no outs. I figured it was operator oldster error on my end because I could’ve sworn I saw that the Mariners had gotten one out in the ninth.
I went to Twitter to find out what had happened, and that’s where I learned about Kyle Seager’s violation of the transfer rule.
Seager, as you know by now, caught the whirling throw from Medina, but the sliding runner was called safe because the Mariners’ third baseman bobbled the ball after he took it out of his glove.
That caused an outpouring of Twitter outrage.
Shannon Drayer: “It’s official. The transfer rule is making a mockery out of this game.”
Bob Stelton: “This transfer rule is an absolute joke.”
Scott Weber of Lookout Landing: “Infielders will have to learn to swallow that ball. Doesn’t matter if he was meaning to throw or not.”
Terry Blount of ESPN.com: “This transfer rule is an absolute disaster for MLB replay. The runner is out as soon as the ball is caught. That’s been true forever.”
I thought about writing a troll of a post, arguing that I love the new transfer rule, that it’s long overdue because we all know a ball is not really caught until it’s cleanly transferred to a player’s throwing hand. Even Abner Doubleday knows that.
But if I wrote something like that, I’d be like Dori Monson contending that Mariners’ attendance is down this year at Safeco Field because fans don’t like the players’ beards.
In his heart of hearts, I don’t think Dori believes that, but he certainly got a rise out of fans with his way-out-there take on the Mariners, and I have to admit I’d rather see a clean-shaven Dustin Ackley hitting .280 than a Duck Dynasty Dustin hitting .300.
I can see why the Mariners were upset with what happened last night. It certainly hurt their chances to force extra innings, and it would have been interesting to see if they would have pitched to Giancarlo Stanton, the man who hit the grand-slam walk-off to give the Marlins an 8-4 win.
They had intentionally walked Stanton twice in the game and maybe would’ve done it again, even with runners at first and second.
You could also argue that Medina would’ve been wiser to go against conventional baseball wisdom by allowing the sacrifice bunt to happen and throw out the runner at first.
That would’ve left an empty base for Stanton and a certain intentional walk to load the bases. With one out and the bases loaded, Medina could’ve gotten out of the inning with a double play.
If we’re being rational when discussing the transfer rule, the Mariners have benefited from ridiculous interpretations as much as they were hurt last night.
During Monday night’s game in Texas, I could’ve sworn that Ackley was forced out at home when Pedro Figueroa threw to J.P. Arencibia, but he was ruled safe after the Rangers’ catcher botched the transfer and dropped the ball.
The Mariners also got a break when Josh Hamilton “dropped” a fly ball in a game against the Angels at Safeco Field.
And remember the sliding “catch” that Ackley made against the A’s? When Brandon Moss hit the fly ball to left, Josh Donaldson headed toward second, then retreated to first after thinking Ackley had caught the ball.
Moss passed him on the basepaths and was called out. The whole thing was idiotic and contrary to everything we’ve ever known about the game.
Even without the benefit of slow-motion replay, we can tell with our naked eye whether a player caught the ball or not. Hamilton, Ackley and Seager all caught the ball. There’s no debate, yet there is, all the time, and the team that shouldn’t get the “call” does.
It’s almost like Sean Barber, the umpire who butchered Roenis Elias’ start in Oakland two weeks ago, is involved in every transfer-rule fiasco.
Fortunately the nonsense could end soon according to a report by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. MLB officials are meeting early this week to discuss a less-strict interpretation of the transfer rule.
It sounds like they’ll encourage umpires to use “more of a common-sense approach than the letter of the law.”
For a transfer-rule that has been around for only 2 ½ weeks, you could still say its removal is long overdue.
The Go 2 Guy also writes for his website jimmoorethego2guy.com and kitsapsun.com. You can reach Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo.