The wonderful thing about baseball is that even the impossible is still possible.
For example, during the Midland Rock Hounds (Oakland A's) Double-A battle against the Corpus Christi Hooks (Houston Astros) on Friday night, Rock Hounds third baseman Vinnie Catricala pulled off something so rarely seen, I had to triple check to make a sure it actually existed.
In one single pitch, Catricala struck out against Nick Tropeano.
You read that correctly. One pitch.
And no, Catricala didn't pinch-hit for an injured teammate and assume his count. He straight up struck out on one pitch because he elected to dispute a strike call and then took his sweet time getting back in the batter's box. This drew the ire of home plate umpire Ron Teague, who then decided Catricala was in violation of Rule 6.02 (c), which reads as follows.
If the batter refuses to take his position in the batter’s box during his time at bat, the umpire shall call a strike on the batter. The ball is dead, and no runners may advance. After the penalty, the batter may take his proper position and the regular ball and strike count shall continue. If the batter does not take his proper position before three strikes have been called, the batter shall be declared out
Comment: The umpire shall give the batter a reasonable opportunity to take his proper position in the batter’s box after the umpire has called a strike pursuant to Rule 6.02(c) and before the umpire calls a successive strike pursuant to Rule 6.02(c).
The question now is: Did Teague give the batter a reasonable opportunity to step back into the box?
Nine point four seconds. That's how long it took to turn Vinnie Catricala into an historical footnote.
3.9 seconds after Catricala stepped out of the box, the umpire invoked Rule 6.02 (c) and called an automatic strike. When Catricala didn't step back into the box, Teague rang him up. All told, he spent 9.4 seconds outside of the batter's box.
My take: Everybody overreacted. I didn't think the original strike call was bad, but I feel like Catricala's reaction was fairly tame. Perhaps the fact that he stepped out right about the time Tropeano came set for his next delivery played a role in Teague's call, but he certainly needed a moment to collect himself. Also, if you're going to invoke a rule so few even knew existed, a little more leeway would seem appropriate.
Then again, it was kind of cool to actually see a one-pitch strikeout, so maybe I'm the one overreacting.
Big BLS H/N: Deadspin