Closing in on the 105th anniversary of Merkle’s boner, the implications of the play reconsidered.
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4.09 HOW A TEAM SCORES. [...]
(b) When the winning run is scored in the last half-inning of a regulation game, or in the last half of an extra inning, as the result of a base on balls, hit batter or any other play with the bases full which forces the runner on third to advance, the umpire shall not declare the game ended until the runner forced to advance from third has touched home base and the batter-runner has touched first base.
Rule 4.09(b) Comment: An exception will be if fans rush onto the field and physically pre- vent the runner from touching home plate or the batter from touching first base. In such cases, the umpires shall award the runner the base because of the obstruction by the fans.
PENALTY: If the runner on third refuses to advance to and touch home base in a reasonable time, the umpire shall disallow the run, call out the offending player and order the game resumed. If, with two out, the batter-runner refuses to advance to and touch first base, the umpire shall disallow the run, call out the offending player, and order the game resumed. If, before two are out, the batter-runner refuses to advance to and touch first base, the run shall count, but the offending player shall be called out [...]
If, before two are out, the batter-runner refuses to advance to and touch first base, the run shall count, but the offending player shall be called out
So if Schafer gets hurt on the play and can't run, the Cubs can continue to play by not throwing to first, because the game doesn't end? They can't get the other runners out either because it's no longer a force, and those outs would also make the run count. But they can just stall forever?
I do think that is the rule they would apply. I also think that the rule is wrong. Once two of the runners, Gomez and Gennett in this instance, removed the force the game needs to end and no further outs can occur. I would score it as a sacrifice but with no out recorded. The game should have ended with one out.
Except you can always appeal that the runner going home missed the plate.
Thus, I'd say granting the out is appropriate.
The appeal would be like any other appeal. If it isn't reversed, the play stands and the game was over at the same time.
But you can't make the appeal until the play before it has been resolved.
This particular play was resolved by everyone walking off the field as though the game was over. The only signal any umpire gave that I saw was the "out" signal at first base. I don't know that there is an official signal for end of game.
I think you bring up a really interesting question. My sense, though, is that each at bat that results in a ball in play must have a resolution for the batter, reached base or out. Now, baseball might have simply done it for accounting purposes, but I do think the idea that an appeal is possible on any and all game-ending plays mandates the need for such a resolution. And to handle that, the penalty above shows that baseball has determined, correctly I'd say, that if you don't touch first base on the play in question, you're out. Likewise, if Schafer wanted to run through first base as the Cubs walked dejectedly off the field, you'd give him a hit.
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