Watch how the Diamondbacks beat the Pirates yesterday afternoon. Specifically, watch Nick Ahmed’s left arm reach up to block the relay throw that would’ve likely completed an inning-ending double play rather than allow the winning run to score:
Rule 7.09 controls here. Subsection (f) says:
If, in the judgment of the umpire, a batter-runner willfully and deliberately interferes with a batted ball or a fielder in the act of fielding a batted ball, with the obvious intent to break up a double play, the ball is dead; the umpire shall call the batter-runner out for interference and shall also call out the runner who had advanced closest to the home plate regardless where the double play might have been possible. In no event shall bases be run because of such interference.
I realize a lot of runners put their hands up when they slide, but (a) it’s usually both hands and it’s usually in a manner which is to balance them in the air, not a one-armed grab like Ahmed’s here; and (b) combined with the way in which he clearly moved off the baseline and toward the fielder, it was pretty clear that he was trying to break up the double play. But it is a judgment call, so it’s not like it was reviewable.
Here’s Umpire: Ron Kulpa’s explanation of the judgment made:
It has to have been willful and deliberate with obvious intent to break up a double play. The guy has to do something obviously, willfully, intentionally to break up that double play. Guys slide into second base all the time with their hands up.”
Tip your cap to Ahmed for selling it. And ask yourself whether Kirk Gibson and the Dbacks would’ve thought it was a swell play if the situation was reversed. Or, alternatively, whether they would’ve talked about it being bush league and maybe thrown at someone the next time they met.
The Athletics have hired former MLB manager Matt Williams, the team announced Friday. Williams will take over third base coaching duties under manager Bob Melvin, filling the vacancy left by Nationals’ bench coach Chip Hale after the 2017 season.
Williams is no stranger to the Bay Area, but this will be his first time sporting the green and gold. He got his start in pro ball with the rival Giants in 1987, where he manned third base and collected four All-Star nominations before jumping ship to the American League in 1997. After a one-year stint in the Indians’ organization, he returned to the NL to finish off his 17-season career and eventually hung up his cleats with the Diamondbacks in 2003.
Post-retirement, Williams has crafted a resume that almost over-qualifies him for a coaching gig. He led the Nationals to a cumulative 179-145 record from 2014 to 2015 and earned props as NL Manager of the Year after bringing the team to a first-place finish in 2014. In 2016, he split the season as a first and third base coach in the D-backs’ organization, then accepted a studio analyst position with the Giants for the 2017 season. Although he has yet to suit up for the Athletics in any role, he’s not unfamiliar with skipper Bob Melvin. The two were teammates on the Giants’ 1987-88 roster and spent some time in Arizona together when Melvin took a coaching job there in the early 2000s.
While next year’s reunion will be fun to watch (unless, I suppose, you’re a Giants fan with a long memory), Williams may not have his sights set on a coaching role forever. As the San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea reported back in July, the 51-year-old knows what it feels like to win as a manager, and it’s a position he might be open to pursuing in the future.
“For me, my most comfortable space is in uniform,” he told Shea. “I’ve done the ownership thing and front-office stuff, and that’s fun. The most gratification I get is swinging a fungo and throwing batting practice and being on the field. It’s what you know and love. I look at myself as a teacher first and foremost. At the end of the day, I think that’s how I have my greatest influence.”