Snug as a Bug in a Glove

Sunday, 4/19/15: Jon Lester of the Cubs flips ball and glove to first baseman Franie Rizzo in time to get Cliff Barmes of the Padres for the out.

Sunday, 4/19/15: Jon Lester of the Cubs flips ball and glove to first baseman Anthony Rizzo in time to get Cliff Barmes of the Padres for the out.

In Sunday’s 5-2 loss to the Padres, Cubs’ lefty ace Jon Lester was on the mound with a runner on first when a ball was hit sharply back to him by Clint Barmes.  Lester snared it, intent on turning his stop into the start of a 1-6-3 double play, except for one problem. He couldn’t get the ball out of his glove. With hitter Barmes churning down the line to first base, Lester started to run in that direction too, removing the ball-enclosed glove from his right hand as he neared first base and teammate Anthony Rizzo. With Barmes now closing hard on first too, Lester heaved the ball underhanded to first baseman Rizzo, who now has his foot on the bag. awaiting a throw, but not the one he gets. As the glove floats fast to first, it begins to separate from the ball, which is also now holding true on that direction itself. Rizzo drops his own first baseman’s mitt in anticipation of a different kind of catch, one he may never have seen before or will ever see again at that position on the infield – or at any position on the infield, for that matter. The ball floats into Rizzo’s two-handed soft grasp for an out call on the runner, just before Barmes reaches the bag with his foot. Meanwhile, the glove has fallen short of reaching first base in an almost apologetic gesture for having gotten in the way of a clean double play opportunity in the first place.

Here’s link to a video on the play:

The rules questions are many:

(1) If it’s illegal to throw your glove at a ball in play, why is it legal to throw a glove which contains a ball while it’s still in play?

(2) If the ball had remained inside the pitcher’s glove and the first baseman had caught and only made contact with the glove itself, would the play still have resulted in an out? After all, Rizzo wasn’t actually wearing the glove – it wasn’t even his glove! Is it OK to use anything that is neither you nor your personal properly worn equipment to trap a ball in play for an out? For example, if Rizzo had used a runaway hot dog wrapper to trap the ball without making direct contact with his hands, would that also have been an out? If so, how so? The hot dog wrapper is no more a part of Rizzo’s personal fielding equipment than another player’s glove – even if the other fielder’s glove actually does look a lot more official as personal equipment than a hot dog wrapper.

(3)  For that matter, ould it be OK for a sliding outfielder to accidentally grab hold of a misplaced other player’s glove laying in foul territory to get credit for an out if he was still touching the alien glove when the ball came down and landed in its pocket an instant later?

(4) If first baseman Rizzo had thrown his own glove away into the baseline before he made the soft bare-handed out catch, would the runner have been ruled “safe” on an interference call?

Gotta stop. The possibilities simply grow more ridiculous as we think about it. Cute as it may have been, however, throwing the glove to first with the ball inside still sounds like something that ought to be illegal, if it’s not already – which it apparently isn’t.


3 Responses to “Snug as a Bug in a Glove”

  1. Fred Soland Says:

    Bill, there are several things about “equipment placement” that bear investigation that are far worse than tossing your glove with the ball inside it. But think about this….a line drive is smashed a a player who jumps to snare the ball, only to have the glove ripped from his hand by the force of the line drive. As the glove is falling to the ground, it is caught in the air, while the ball is still inside the glove, but one of his teammates. Is the batter out? The answer is yes. I saw this play happen in a game in which I was a participant.

    But how about these tasty tidbits?? Catchers used to be taught that when a hitter got a hit and dropped his bat to run, if there was a runner on base that might be able to score on the play, the catcher should retrieve the bat and toss it up the third base line in the base path. The theory was the catcher was getting it out of the way so he wouldn’t step or trip on it if there was a play at the plate. But, tossing it up the line would now cause the runner to have to try and miss the bat with their steps as they raced for home. This “focus” on the bat, in some instances cause the runner to actually trip themselves up trying to avoid the bat…or at worst, slow them down a step in order to avoid it.

    How about a pop foul ball behind the plate. The catcher rips off his mask and slings it out of the way so he can find the ball and catch it. But more than a few catcher’s ended up tripping on their mask when the flight of the ball drifted or if they had inadvertently tossed the mask before finding the ball and tossed in into his own path. Now they train them to locate the ball first, then toss the mask away.

    Then there was the old practice the hitter used with his bat. If that catcher was getting a little close, the hitter could rock back in his swing and pick up a catcher’s interference call on the catcher when his bat struck any part of the catcher or his glove (provided the hitter stayed in the batter’s box, of course).

    And what about the hitter trying a drag bunt, who carefully drops that bat right into the path of the catcher’s feet in an attempt to trip him up or thwart him from being able to make the play?

    There are lost of these types of things that are perfectly legal, unless the umpire can detect malice, but that is a slippery slope.

    Sorry, just seem to be on a roll today.

  2. Cliff Blau Says:

    Terry Mulholland made the same kind of play, I believe in 1986, except the ball didn’t come out of his glove when he threw it.

  3. Mark W. Says:

    Maybe I need a good eye exam, but after watching the replay a dozen times, I’m pretty convinced that the ball never separates from the glove. Rizzo catches the glove with the ball inside it. It was actually Rizzo’s first baseman’s mitt that you see fall to the ground, because he deliberately dropped it to ensure a clean catch of the glove with the ball in it.

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