Major League Baseball's early returns on the new replay system have been mixed, though at least Bud Selig and the umpires have seen enough to know that a catch is a catch even when a player drops a ball transferring it from the glove to his hand.
A catch, forceout 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...
...The rulebook states that a player must have "secure possession" of the ball in his glove or hand, but the interpretation of the rule changed to include a clean transfer this season.
Major League Baseball confirmed the report on Friday, via its official public relations Twitter feed:
Sean McAdam of CSN reported Major League Baseball's official statement on the rule:
In the past, when a player caught the ball and dropped it trying to put it in his free hand, the umpires ruled an out because the player did have possession before making the second act.
That wasn't the case this season, leading to a lot of anger and confusion from fans, managers and players. It was also causing more headaches for the umpires, on top of the ones they already had trying to work with the new replay system.
It's also a good sign, as Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports notes, that MLB is so willing to look at tweaks that have to be made and is able to get it done in a timely fashion.
Considering how long it took Selig to bring replay to baseball, this is actually a bigger deal than it seems. Of course, getting the calls right is the most important thing, but there have been times in the past where it seems like the people in charge are more worried about offending umpires.
Changing the transfer rule in the offseason didn't do anything to make umpires' lives easier, especially since fans have been so accustomed to seeing this call made one way forever. All is right with the world again, giving umps one less thing to worry about.
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