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VIDEO: Confusing interference call in Nationals-Brewers game

By Matt Snyder | Baseball Writer

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In the bottom of the first inning of the Brewers-Nationals game Friday night -- which would end in a 4-2 Milwaukee win -- a pretty confusing call took place.

On an Anthony Rendon routine grounder, the Brewers went to turn two, only Denard Span beat the throw to second base. Rendon was still forced out at first, though, and then the second-base umpire -- who had initially ruled Span safe -- signaled out in an apparent interference call.

Then, after over five minutes of deliberation, the umpires called Span out for interference (I'd say correctly), but awarded Rendon first base. Here's the play:

Now, Rendon was correctly ruled out initially as the throw beat him and he was forced out. The Nationals broadcast passed along that the managers had been told Span was ruled to have unintentionally interfered, which means the ball was dead and Rendon got first base.

I've gone through the baserunning rules in the official MLB rulebook and I've got nothing on the unintentional part.

Here are the parts on breaking up a double play:

7.09
It is interference by a batter or a runner when --

(e) If, in the judgment of the umpire, a base 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 runner out for interference and also call out the batter-runner because of the action of his teammate. In no event may bases be run or runs scored because of such action by a runner.

(f) 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.

In both cases, both runners are to be called out. To reiterate, I find absolutely nothing in all of Rule 7 (which concerns running the bases) where a batter should be awarded first base despite having been called out.

There's also 7.08, which has the following, which starts with "a runner shall be called out, if ... " :

(b) He intentionally interferes with a thrown ball; or hinders a fielder attempting to make a play on a batted ball;
Rule 7.08(b) Comment: A runner who is adjudged to have hindered a fielder who is attempting to make a play on a batted ball is out whether it was intentional or not.
If, however, the runner has contact with a legally occupied base when he hinders the fielder, he shall not be called out unless, in the umpires judgment, such hindrance, whether it occurs on fair or foul territory, is intentional. If the umpire declares the hindrance intentional, the following penalty shall apply: With less than two out, the umpire shall declare both the runner and batter out. With two out, the umpire shall declare the batter out.

OK, so in this case, Span was on the base legally and hindered the fielder. If it was ruled that Span intentionally interfered, both he and Rendon should have been called out. Further, it appears that if his act was unintentional, that he shouldn't be called out, but Rendon should. But Span was, and though Rendon was initially ruled out, the umpires called him safe after determining Span unintentionally interfered.

Click here to see all of Rule 7 on MLB.com, but these are the parts most resembling the above play and there's absolutely nothing that says Span should have been out while Rendon was safe. At most, both runners should have been out. At least, Span should have been safe while Rendon should have been out (based upon both the call and the interference).

I'm not an MLB umpire, so it's possible I'm missing something from a different rule. After looking through this rule for the past hour, however, I'm pretty convinced that MLB at some point in the next few days will issue a press release saying the call was botched.

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