The first major rules adjustment of the replay era will restore some common sense to the game.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports that Major League Baseball, effective immediately, is instructing umpires to take a "less strict" view on what constitutes a catch as it relates to the "transfer rule."
A catch, force out or tag will be considered legal if a fielder has control of the ball in his glove, but drops the ball after opening his glove to transfer the ball to his throwing hard, sources said. No longer will the fielder be required to successfully get the ball into his throwing hand.
Officials from the players' union met with MLB executives last week to voice their displeasure over what constitutes a catch under expanded replay.
Because of how the rule was worded in the book, and with the added scrutiny of expanded video replay opening up umpires to be reversed on challenges, umps had taken to calling transfers by the letter of the law. It was costing teams outs and hastily changing how fielders played the game.
After it cost his team in a game at Kansas City, Ben Zobrist of the Tampa Bay Rays told Big League Stew:
"Apparently for 100 years, we’ve been doing it one way and they just changed it. They’ve changed the interpretation of the rule. It makes absolutely no sense to me because everybody can look on the replay and see that it’s a catch."
One facet of this change worth considering: Widening an umpire's discretion on what defines a catch, and opening up transfers to video review, will give managers one more type of play to challenge. Managers essentially had stopped challenging plays involving the transfer rule because of the narrow way umpires were interpreting it.
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