Curses! The Chicago Cubs have led the majors in bad luck, even more than bad play, since their most recent World Series victory in 1908. A most recent example happened Sunday when first baseman Anthony Rizzo went over a railing at Chase Field in order to make a great catch against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Sounds great so far — just like the first two games of the 1984 NLCS!
The bad part was that Rizzo went all of the way over the railing and landed in a camera well on a foul pop by Aaron Hill in the sixth inning. Rizzo was fine, physically, but his landing spot — out of bounds — invoked rule 7.04(c), which allowed David Peralta to score from third base after umpires waved him home, giving Arizona a one-run lead in the sixth.
Rule 7.04(c) Comment: If a fielder, after having made a legal catch, should fall into a stand or among spectators or into the dugout or any other out-of-play area while in possession of the ball after making a legal catch, or fall while in the dugout after making a legal catch, the ball is dead and each runner shall advance one base, without liability to be put out, from his last legally touched base at the time the fielder fell into, or in, such out-of-play area.
If Rizzo had not caught the ball, the run wouldn't have scored. If he had caught the ball and been able to hold onto the railing without landing out of bounds, the run wouldn't have scored. He did the right thing, the best he could, but it wasn't good enough for the Cubs. Again. Via the Associated Press:
Rizzo said it was ''just instinct'' that he lunged for the ball.
''I didn't think I would go in (the camera well),'' he said. ''But it was a little farther then I thought.''
In a way, the rule is a compromise. If Rizzo lands out of bounds, it's sort of like when the ball goes into the stands on an errant throw. It would be unfair for a defender to be able to use the grandstand with impunity in order to make plays. The hitting team should get a reward. Conversely, imagine if there's a runner on first base and Rizzo makes that catch and gets injured, and is unable to throw the ball in. Should a runner be allowed two bases, or three? No. One is enough, and then the play is dead. The rule exists to protect the defensive player and much as reward the offense. Theoretically.
Of course, things just never seem to go the Cubs way, even when the rules are enforced correctly. When will there be Cubbie Justice?
Big BLS H/N: Hardball Talk
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