MLB Spring Training is underway, which means members of the big league umpiring staff are getting back to work. Check out this interesting rotation play from the first week of games:
No Umpire at Home Plate (Video)
In a game between the Mets and Astros, the umpires rotated late, leaving no umpire in the vicinity of home plate to make what turned out to be an obvious safe call. With no replay in Spring Training, either the first base umpire or home plate umpire would’ve had to make a definitive ruling on this play if it was close. Umpires do not work with their regular season crew in Spring Training, and usually work with different partners each game. While mechanics are uniform according to the MLB Umpire Manual, Spring Training is the exact location for rotation plays like this to be ironed out before the season starts.
According to the MLB Umpire Manual, the second base umpire should not go out on this play if he is stationed in the infield. The first base umpire covers a fly ball straight at the center fielder or one that carries him toward the right field line. The third base umpire covers any fly ball on which the center fielder moves toward the left field line. The Mets-Astros play is difficult in real time because the outfielder gets twisted around trying to field it. The ball is also hit sharply. But based on the available video evidence, the proper coverage seemingly would have been for U1 to cover the fly ball, U3 to remain at third base, and the home plate umpire to remain at home plate. The plate umpire watches the batter-runner touch first base before focusing his attention on the plate.
What do you think? How would you want your crew to rotate on this play? Let us know in the comments or on our Facebook page.