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April 20, 2013 10:52 PM   Subscribe

If you were to consult the official play-by-play scoring for Friday's game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Chicago Cubs, you would find nothing unremarkable about the bottom of the 8th inning. As the scoring tells it, Jean Segura of the Brewers hit an infield single, then stole second base. Ryan Braun walked and was thrown out on an attempted steal of second, Rickie Weeks struck out, and the inning ended when Segura was thrown out attempting to steal third base.

Except that's not quite how it happened. You can watch this train wreck of a baserunning play and try to make sense of it, but here's what actually occurred on the field:
  1. With Braun at bat, Segura stole second base. Braun then walked.
  2. With Weeks at bat, Segura took off too early on an attempted steal of third, and was caught in a rundown. Meanwhile, Braun made a break for second.
  3. Segura evaded the rundown and returned to second base, which was already occupied by Braun. While both of them were on second base, the Cubs tagged both Segura and Braun.
  4. Thinking he was out, Segura began walking back to the Brewers' dugout. And this is when it all went wrong.
Turning to rule 7.03 we find that Segura, as the "preceding runner", was entitled to second base, and Braun as the "following runner" to first. Being tagged while off his base, Braun was out and Segura was safe. Segura was made aware of this, and promptly scrambled to the nearest available base -- first base, where he stayed. Now, rule 7.08(i) forbids running the bases in reverse for the purpose of confusing the defense or, in a memorable phrase, "making a travesty of the game", declaring the runner automatically out. But it does not forbid doing so out of confusion, and in fact a comment to the rule states that a runner who goes backwards because he was "decoyed" is not out under this rule.

So before the play, Braun was on first base and Segura at second. After the play, Braun was out at second and Segura was safe at first. Later in the inning, Segura once again attempted to steal second, and was put out.

But baseball's scoring systems can't handle this. Specifically, they can't handle the idea that a runner who started a play on second base would end it on first base. So in the official scoring of the game, Braun was thrown out trying to steal second base, Segura stayed at second, and was then thrown out trying to steal third, which is the closest baseball's scoring can come to recording this accurately.

Though, as with any sufficiently obsure or interesting thing in baseball scoring, the legality of the play and the correct scoring is still a matter for discussion.

Incidentally, rule 7.08(i) and its particular prohibition on "making a travesty of the game" exists more or less as the direct result of one of my favorite remembered-from-childhood bits of baseball trivia: the career of Herman "Germany" Schaefer of the Detroit Tigers. Schaefer was a notorious showman, who pulled any number of stunts on the field. Among those is the feat of stealing second base from first, followed by stealing first base from second, which he is known to have done once -- in 1911 -- and alleged to have done another time in 1908, both times followed by attempts to steal second base again.
posted by ubernostrum (64 comments total) 111 users marked this as a favorite

 
And apparently no matter what the play-by-play link defaults to a tab other than the play-by-play. Sigh.
posted by ubernostrum at 10:53 PM on April 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Baseball is a cosmic thing. Sometimes the rules get bent and time and space get suspended for a half inning.
posted by vrakatar at 11:03 PM on April 20, 2013 [23 favorites]


Wait a minute. Who's on first?
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:12 PM on April 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


The funny thing is how Braun is clearly not paying attention to what's going on with his teammate over there. I guess there was nothing he could have done (also not being able to run backwards) but he is still looking in the other direction and doesn't seem to care when his teammate shows up at the same base he's on. My Pirates-loving hubby tells me that this is unsurprising behavior from Braun.
posted by bleep at 11:26 PM on April 20, 2013


stealing second base from first, followed by stealing first base from second

I've got this mental image of a guy leading off of second, the pitcher glancing over his shoulder, and the runner slowly removing a bag from his back waistband, dangling it, and winking.
posted by mannequito at 11:30 PM on April 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why couldn't they just let Segura walk to 2nd, if that was where he belonged?
posted by bleep at 11:30 PM on April 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Germany Schaefer would be a worthy subject for an FPP by himself. One of my favorite bits from the linked article:

In a bizarre stunt in Philadelphia in October 1914, Schaefer appeared at Police Court to defend drunkards who were slated to appear before the bench that day. Reportedly, Schaefer told the judge, "Your Honor, these poor souls should not be sentenced to 30 days in jail for an offense that a millionaire would be sent home in a cab for." Properly convinced, if not bewildered by Germany's courtroom theatrics, the judge acquitted the drunks. Schaefer took each of the defendants to dinner and bought them a hot meal.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:35 PM on April 20, 2013 [44 favorites]


Watching the video, it looks like Segura is ACTUALLY out as soon as he leaves second base and jogs towards the dugout. The Cubs' third baseman tries to tag runners at least three times—Segura after he touches second, then Braun on second, then Segura again after he gets up. Crucially, Segura isn't touching second when the last tag occurs, so in theory he's out. The only question (besides whether the umps caught it, of course, which it looks like they didn't) is whether the play was dead at that point or not. That's going to require an armchair umpire with more expertise than me.

Anyways, stuff like this is why I still love baseball, even though I basically never watch it anymore.
posted by chrominance at 11:42 PM on April 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


And of course the OP actually contains a link that describes this very issue, as well as the interference issue I didn't even think of. I love baseball rules wonkery.
posted by chrominance at 11:44 PM on April 20, 2013


Baseball is a cosmic thing. Sometimes the rules get bent and time and space get suspended for a half inning.

Doctor Who is a five-tool player.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:02 AM on April 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


The funny thing is how Braun is clearly not paying attention to what's going on with his teammate over there.

Braun shouldn't care. When a teammate is in a rundown, a trailing baserunner should use the distraction to advance. That Segura made it back to first doesn't make it a bad decision by Braun.

My Pirates-loving hubby tells me that this is unsurprising behavior from Braun.

I guess if a player hit .314/.409/.598 against my team for his career, I'd try to come up with phantom reasons to disparage him too.
posted by clearly at 12:07 AM on April 21, 2013 [8 favorites]


Gee, I don't know...

THIRD BASE!

(Oddly Semi-Related)
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:10 AM on April 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


In other strange baseball plays, the Rays center fielder, Desmond Jennings turned an unassisted double play earlier today.
posted by clearly at 12:14 AM on April 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


the legality of the play and the correct scoring is still a matter for discussion

So was it a travesty or not? Has there been an official ruling?
posted by mazola at 12:20 AM on April 21, 2013


At least this wasn't one of those unwritten baseball rules.

Back in my Little League days, we were taught that if the runner looked like they were about to return safely to their original base, the trailing runner should go back to theirs. This would give you a bit of a chance of a mistake enabling everyone to be safe, or even advance.

Braun did the right thing in advancing, because the odds are usually against Segura in a rundown and if Segura is out then Braun is still in scoring position. But once it appeared that Segura would actually avoid a tag, Braun ought to have started back to first. Either get himself in another rundown and advance Segura to third, or chance a mistake on the Cubs' defense.
posted by CancerMan at 12:27 AM on April 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


So was it a travesty or not?

I was going to make a Mariners joke, but now I'm going have to think about whether "travesty" is worse than "banality."
posted by maxwelton at 12:28 AM on April 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was going to make a Mariners joke

The Mariners are unlikely to encounter this problem, since it requires baserunners.
posted by Fnarf at 12:37 AM on April 21, 2013 [66 favorites]


The Mariners are unlikely to encounter this problem, since it requires baserunners.

Ooof. Ouch. I felt that one in my gut.
posted by victory_laser at 1:30 AM on April 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why couldn't they just let Segura walk to 2nd, if that was where he belonged?

Because he didn't stay where he belonged. In his confusion, he stole first. Segura just became an immortal asterisk.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:38 AM on April 21, 2013


Just to put in my own asterisk, the double negative in the post twists the meaning of it.
If you were to consult the official play-by-play scoring for Friday's game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Chicago Cubs, you would find nothing unremarkable about the bottom of the 8th inning.
Which means that the official scoring has everything being remarkable. I do not think that's what you meant.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:04 AM on April 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Silly. Thanks. Resisting a poor joke about religion and laws.
posted by converge at 2:16 AM on April 21, 2013


Baseball is a cosmic thing.

It is. Most people don't get this. I will explain.

Baseball is essentially a metaphor for sex, and sexual reproduction.

There's a crude aspect to this; "I got to second base!" but there's a really deep analogy between baseball and human reproduction that deserves to be better understood.

The ball, the baseball, is a symbol of the female egg. The bat is a symbol of the male penis.

The game will take 9 innings, which is a symbol for 9 months of pregnancy.

During the course of the game there will be repeated matchups between the egg and the penis. An unsuccessful stroke of the penis is called a "strike". Successful ones are home runs.

Midway through the seventh inning there is a stretch, because, as you know, if you've been fucking all night you need that.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:26 AM on April 21, 2013 [7 favorites]


Also just like sex, it's really boring.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:18 AM on April 21, 2013 [7 favorites]


A week ago, I made a comment that it's interference if a coach touches a runner to prevent him from moving. Of course, I was just trying to show off my knowledge of esoteric baseball rules, since clearly this wouldn't ever happen. But as mentioned in the link, the first base coach touches Segura to keep him on the base, so he should have been out.

What a crazy game.
posted by ILuvMath at 4:30 AM on April 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Umps could have called him out after his return to first anyway, if they'd noticed 1st base coach assisting him.
posted by surplus at 4:52 AM on April 21, 2013


I'm embarrassed for the players who have spent a lifetime training at this and they haven't bothered to learn the rules by heart. I understand that they only make millions or hundreds of thousands of dollars but this is like CEOs not knowing how to negotiate ridiculous golden parachutes.
posted by srboisvert at 5:28 AM on April 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


The story of Germany Schaefer's reverse-steal is hi-larious. He was on first, Sam "Wahoo" Crawford on third. Schaefer signalled to Crawford that he wanted to try a double steal: Schaefer would take off for second, and once the catcher threw the ball to second, Crawford would steal home. Crawford shook off the signal. Schaefer, being Schaefer, didn't care and went for it anyway. Yelling. The catcher, wise to the plan, kept the ball and his eye on Crawford.

Schaefer slid into second, stood up, and saw what happened. For the hell of it, he shouted to the crowd, "LET'S DO THAT AGAIN!" and he ran back to first base, hooting and hollering. When he slid into first, the crowd went nuts and the pitcher and catcher got very confused. Schaefer then yelled "ONE! MORE! TIME!" and took off for second again. The catcher, confused and a little freaked out, finally threw the ball to second.

If memory serves, and it might not, Crawford pulled off the steal home and Schaefer the steal of second, but that could be my memory polishing up the story.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 5:29 AM on April 21, 2013 [14 favorites]


Segura also made an unassisted double play this week where he caught the ball at second and then tagged the runner out at first base.

His base-running error is hilarious, but I feel bad for him because he looks like he's going to be a really good baseball player and people will bring this up all the time.
posted by drezdn at 5:36 AM on April 21, 2013


This is why, when I get a hit, I always run straight to third base. Confuses the hell out of defenses.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 5:40 AM on April 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


One other weird Brewers fact from this year. The team currently has four short stops and three catchers on their 25 man roster, but no one whose main position is first base.
posted by drezdn at 5:42 AM on April 21, 2013


Another breakdown of Segura's situation, including how several different sites scored the play.
posted by drezdn at 5:43 AM on April 21, 2013


My Pirates-loving hubby tells me that this is unsurprising behavior from Braun.

As a Pirates fan, your hubby has a Ph.D. on the intricacies of uninspiring.
posted by bfranklin at 6:07 AM on April 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also just like sex, it's really boring.

And rarely done well in Seattle.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 6:19 AM on April 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


"making a travesty of the game"

It's astounding that this phrase would come up in an FPP involving the Cubs but refer to the other team.

*dons Cubs jersey*
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:49 AM on April 21, 2013 [8 favorites]


As a Pirates fan, your hubby has a Ph.D. on the intricacies of uninspiring.

Hey, they're over .500!

...finally.

...for now.
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:04 AM on April 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Here's a GIF of Segura stealing a base against the Cubs in a different game. Hilarity ensues (unless you're a Cubs fan, sorry).
posted by exogenous at 7:14 AM on April 21, 2013 [22 favorites]


Great thread. I'm not a sports fan (as my disappointed hockey-loving son will tell you) but I like baseball, and the stories and comments in this thread are the reason why.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:18 AM on April 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Man, that guy's helmet does NOT want to stay on his head.
posted by pitrified at 7:34 AM on April 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


But as mentioned in the link, the first base coach touches Segura to keep him on the base, so he should have been out.

At that point, time had been called, so he's not out. But he was definitely out at second when tagged the second time. Just your everyday 1-5 double play.
posted by donpardo at 7:35 AM on April 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


The ball, the baseball, is a symbol of the female egg.

Wait -- I thought the ball was the sperm, and the catcher's glove was the uterus. And that the batter is in competition with the pitcher, using his bat (penis) to literally cockblock the pitcher from impregnating the woman.

That's what they taught us in Little League, anyway.
posted by mikeand1 at 8:00 AM on April 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


So, basically, Segura probably won't be back next year.

Segura also made an unassisted double play this week where he caught the ball at second and then tagged the runner out at first base.

That really just raises the question of why he didn't throw the runner out a first, like the firstbaseman was standing there ready for him to do. That, combined with his bizarre baserunning would seem to indicate that he either has no faith in his teammates' abilities, no understanding of the rules of baseball, or just an absolutely enormous ego.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:08 AM on April 21, 2013


He didn't throw it to first for a couple reasons. One, he didn't tag the runner, he tagged the base, and was way ahead of the runner in doing so -- there was a hit and run on, and the runner had already rounded second when the liner was caught. Two, the first baseman there was Yuniesky Betancourt, whom he shouldn't trust to catch an unnecessary throw.
posted by aaronetc at 8:15 AM on April 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Man, you think you know a sport pretty well, then something like this happens. The rules of baseball can be devilish at times, and these links show how smart people end up getting caught up in the craziness. I guess the lesson is "ump not, lest ye be umped" or something like that.
posted by .kobayashi. at 8:21 AM on April 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Don't get why a scorer would award someone second if they ended the play at first. Imagine a player running from first who rounds second and realizes the ball has been caught. He runs back to first, and due to a slow throw gets (you can even say the person making the putout on the fly ball forgets to double up the runner immediately) in safely, just as the the throw to double him up sails wide of the first base bag. He takes off for second again but a player backing up first gets the ball and throws to second, and the runner is tagged out before he reaches second. You'd never award him second, even if he was on his way to third at the beginning of the sequence.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:23 AM on April 21, 2013


Don't get why a scorer would award someone second if they ended the play at first.

Because he's credited with the steal in the same at-bat.
posted by jimmythefish at 8:28 AM on April 21, 2013


Baseball is a sport full of statistics and strange acronyms, but for many the TOOTBLAN is the favorite.

Remarkably, Braun and not Segura gets the official TOOTBLAN for this play, but Segura gets special recognition as One To Watch.
posted by delfin at 8:35 AM on April 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Baseball is essentially a metaphor for sex, and sexual reproduction.

I was pretty decent at it in high school but the last time I tried I pulled a muscle in my back?
posted by nathancaswell at 8:57 AM on April 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Baseball is essentially a metaphor for sex, and sexual reproduction.

Finally I understand why foot-long weiners are the traditional stadium food
posted by ook at 9:07 AM on April 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Back in my Little League days, we were taught that if the runner looked like they were about to return safely to their original base, the trailing runner should go back to theirs. This would give you a bit of a chance of a mistake enabling everyone to be safe, or even advance...Braun ought to have started back to first. Either get himself in another rundown and advance Segura to third, or chance a mistake on the Cubs' defense.

Major League baseball players are better than little leaguers at executing run-downs. Even the Cubs.
posted by one_bean at 9:25 AM on April 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


wait, one_bean, is cancerman wrong?
posted by mahorn at 9:40 AM on April 21, 2013


I think we can all agree that the important thing here is that the Brewers won the game.
posted by Bonzai at 9:55 AM on April 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yay! Germany Schaefer was my great grand uncle! I always enjoy it when his name comes up in discussions of baseball oddities.

He was also the first hipster.
posted by gjc at 10:58 AM on April 21, 2013 [9 favorites]


Potomac Avenue: "Also just like sex, it's really boring."

Ur doin' it wrong.
posted by Splunge at 11:33 AM on April 21, 2013


Major League baseball players are better than little leaguers at executing run-downs. Even the Cubs.

I do believe that the Cubs hold a unique record in being the only team to lose 100 games in a season and not have the worst record that season.

Houston, I'm a looking at you.
posted by eriko at 12:56 PM on April 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'd thought the rule that you have to run the bases in order was in response to Ty Cobb or someone equally pompous running them 3rd-2nd-1st after a home run, so I went to look. Googling "running the bases backwards" turned up a bunch of references to Jimmy Piersall (who should apparently be played by Jeremy Piven) running backwards aroung the bases (that is, he ran 1st-2nd-3rd while jogging backwards). It also yielded this gem from last year where Michael Morse of the Nats has to pantomime his at bat before running the bases, after being thrown out at first.
posted by maryr at 4:45 PM on April 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


> Don't get why a scorer would award someone second if they ended the play at first.

I'm not a baseball scorer, but it would seem that the fact that your scenario occurs all in the same play is what makes the difference. At the start of the play in question, the Brewers had a man on second and a man on first. If you don't credit Segura with second base, how do you explain there being two men on base at the start of the play?
posted by yuwtze at 4:49 PM on April 21, 2013


Here's a GIF of Segura stealing a base against the Cubs in a different game.

Segura stole second in today's game too, and the ball ended up in the outfield there too.
posted by drezdn at 4:58 PM on April 21, 2013


If there's anything I learned from watching 42, it's that stealing bases is fucking cool and a good way to build a fan following.

...Well, no, I also learned about baseball's segregationist history and how it mirrors the segregationist history of the US; about the value of human dignity and how passionate self-reliance can be alchemized into charisma; and that Harrison Ford can still be his twinkle-eyed self when he's cast in a role he actually likes.

Anyway, the point here is: You call it bad baserunning, I call it good entertainment.
posted by subdee at 5:59 PM on April 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Here's a GIF of Segura stealing a base against the Cubs in a different game.

Segura stole second in today's game too, and the ball ended up in the outfield there too.


If the Cubs replaced players with animated gifs, they could save a whole lot on the payroll while getting similar results.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:06 PM on April 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


The intersection of Metafilter and baseball is just the best.
posted by elmer benson at 8:34 PM on April 21, 2013


one_bean is right that MLB players are way better at executing run-downs; the odds of a baserunner safely returning to base are extremely low.

But that shouldn't preclude someone from trying. Boneheaded plays in the majors aren't exactly a once-in-a-season thing, and more than one player/team has been burned by taking things for granted.
posted by CancerMan at 9:46 AM on April 22, 2013


At the bottom of this blog post, a video apparently from August 16, 1987 of Lloyd "Shaker" Moseby of the Blue Jays stealing second base, getting confused and running back to steal first, then taking off for second again.
posted by exogenous at 12:36 PM on April 22, 2013


If the Cubs replaced players with animated gifs, they could save a whole lot on the payroll while getting similar results.

This doesn't even make sense, and yet at the same time, it's so true.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 10:02 PM on April 22, 2013


Segura is called out a week later. Sure, it's by way of an operations memo and not an official call, but Jayson Stark breaks down MLB's clarification.
posted by gladly at 8:23 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


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