Friday, October 24, 2008

Voluntary Release III: My Interview with Rick Roder

Before I wrote Voluntary Release II, I had placed a call to Rick Roder, one of the co-authors of the Jaksa/Roder Manual, and operator of the web site Rules of I would certainly have understood if he wanted to steer clear of this recent controversy, but he did return my call last week, and spoke very candidly with me for about 30 minutes. Rick was very cooperative and his insights clarified this issue as much as possible, as far as I'm concerned.

The main point I came away with from this conversation is this play clearly exposed a deficiency in the rule book, and this is an area where there potentially is a disagreement among umpires. Rick clarified that the Jaksa/Roder Manual's interpretation of the rule book is not official, and Welke apparently chose to interpret the rule differently. He also stated, while he believes his own interpretation to be correct, Welke's call was not technically wrong.

It seems to me, from my discussion with Roder, this is a rule interpretation that will be discussed by the Major League Baseball Playing Rules Committee in the off-season and, very likely, clarified. He also raised my awareness to the possibility that, even if the Jaksa/Roder interpretation becomes official, this does not necessarily condemn the ruling Welke made. If this occurs, it most likely will be determined his call was technically correct at the time, but the tag requirement will become more stringent going forward.

The conclusion I draw from this is it reinforces the point I made in the final paragraph of my last article on this subject. That is, the most important thing that needs to come out of this is Major League Baseball's clarification of this rule. I still feel, had Welke not taken his eyes off the ball, he may have seen this one differently, and for that reason, it was a serious mistake for him not to ask for help. More importantly, I think MLB dismissed this too easily and not convincingly, and I'm not sure why. But, at this point, I have nothing more to say on this subject.

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