On Friday, Major League Baseball issued a press release announcing that the Playing Rules Committee provided and altered their official view of how umpires should apply the Official Playing Rules when a fielder loses possession of a ball when attempting to transfer it to his throwing hand, a.k.a. the transfer rule.
The transfer rule has been one of the most controversial rulings this season and has made a big difference in several games early on this season, including one with the Baltimore Orioles when Ryan Flaherty dropped the ball while making the transfer, but the runner was ruled safe. Now, he would have been out.
Give MLB credit, they realized the size of the problem and quickly found a solution and corrected the issue.
In the press release, MLB stated that the Committee's interpretation of the rule has been discussed and agreed upon by MLB, the MLB Players Association and the World Umpires Association and the new interpretation began taking effect immediately on Friday.
Here are the new standards of the rule as stated by MLB:
The Committee has determined that a legal catch has occurred pursuant to OBR 2.00 (Definition of Terms, “Catch”), or a valid force out or tag has occurred pursuant to OBR 2.00 (Definition of Terms, “Tag”), if the fielder had complete control over the ball in his glove, but drops the ball after intentionally opening his glove to make the transfer to his throwing hand. There is no requirement that the fielder successfully remove the ball from his glove in order for it be ruled a catch. If the fielder drops the ball while attempting to remove it to make a throw, the Umpires should rule that the ball had been caught, provided that the fielder had secured it in his glove before attempting the transfer. The Umpires will continue to use their judgment as to whether the fielder had complete control over the ball before the transfer.
Although changing this rule does not change anything about the 20+ games each team has played already this season, it will help going forward and no longer shall we see a player drop the ball when making a transfer after an obvious catch have the runner ruled safe.
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