MLB’s Secure Possession Rule Sparks Debate After Calls Upheld Against Rays And Rangers

Ron Washington & Joe Maddon Each Raise Questions About Interpretation Of Rule

Ben Zobrist of the Tampa Bay Rays received a short throw from shortstop Yunel Escobar. As he received the throw he was on second base for the force out and had thoughts of turning a double play. As he reached into the glove to make the transfer the ball popped out. Second base umpire Phil Cuzzi called the runner safe.

Joe Maddon protested the call and eventually challenged it via instant replay. To the surprise of many watching the game, including the Rays television broadcast crew of Dewayne Staats and Brian Anderson, the ruling was upheld.

Maddon did not mince words after the game simply telling Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (Link), “The rule is wrong.” He continued, “He was absolutely out,Part of it is that everything is slowed down, there is instant replay, it is slow. You could easily discern that Zo had the ball in his glove with his foot on the bag and the runner is out, period. So as we move this forward there had to be a differentiation between that and the two-handed transfer. … I do believe that has to be revisited.”

A similar call was upheld the previous night in Fenway Park on a botched exchange by Elvis Andrus. Like Joe Maddon Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington challenged the call and like the Rays game the ruling was upheld.

Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News explained MLB’s odd “secured possession’ rule (LINK).

MLB officials on Tuesday said “umpires and/or replay officials must consider whether the fielder had secured possession of the ball but dropped it during the act of the catch. An example of a catch that would not count is if a fielder loses possession of the ball during the transfer before the ball was secured by his throwing hand.”

After the game Washington said,“I don’t think they got it right, He caught the ball. There are going to be some issues with that. [MLB] wants us to let them know what we think about things as we go along and I definitely will do that on this one. Elvis caught the ball. He went out and caught the ball. It’s not like he dropped it on the catch.”

I am a fan of all sports but am most passionate about baseball. From the fanatical to analytical, nothing about the game escapes me. Being born and raised in Northeast Ohio I'm very familiar with the heartache and pain that sports can bring and hope that I bring some understanding of the other side to my coverage. I will focus mostly on baseball but also cover the Tampa Bay Lightning, one of the most electric franchises in all of sports. Always willing to converse about any sport and have only one rule and that is be respectful at all times.