It was fun as anything to watch, and because the Orioles won the game it ended up not mattering, but we can all agree that Ichiro should have been called out on that crazy Matrix/parkour play from the first inning last night, right?
In case you were under a rock last night:
Rule 7.08 of the official rules of Major League Baseball states:
Any runner is out when—
(a) (1) He runs more than three feet away from his base path to avoid being tagged
unless his action is to avoid interference with a fielder fielding a batted ball. A
runner’s base path is established when the tag attempt occurs and is a straight
line from the runner to the base he is attempting to reach safely . . .
At the outset, note that it does not say THE base path. It says HIS base path. This doesn’t change the analysis because he was still way beyond that, but it is worth noting that the white line between home and third is not relevant here. A batter’s base path has to do with the angle he’s taking toward home. Like, say, if he had rounded third big and was heading straight home on an angle from the grass just foul of the line. The idea is that he can’t deviate more than three feet from that line — the line on which he is running — not the chalk line.
But really, it doesn’t matter. Because by the time Ichiro started his juking and jiving, he was in the back of the catcher’s box behind the plate. Which is EIGHT FEET from the plate. There are fat cat fans with seats closer to the plate than Ichiro was last night.
Why wasn’t he called out? Probably because no one is ever called out on those sorts of plays. Same reason why catchers are never called for interference when they block the plate even if they don’t have the ball yet despite the rules saying they can’t do that. It’s just never been done. Ask Greg Maddux, who was an expert at getting calls far away from the plate even when he wasn’t pitching.
Again, no biggie because it ended up not mattering, but it certainly seems that Ichiro shoulda been called out.