A Retrosheet Rash from 2014 – Safe or Out?

aa question marks

On July 31, 2014, the home team Miami Marlins took the field in the Top of the 8th to defend a 1-0 lead over the visiting Cincinnati Reds. A play would occur this inning that would alter the score after a six minute plus replay review conference with the MLB “Supreme Court” in New York. The question here, as so often is the case in baseball, is – within the rules as they applied to this situation in 2014, was the runner safe or out?

Here’s how it went down:

Top of 8th, Reds Batting, LHP Mike Dunn replaces RHP Tom Koehler as Pitcher for the Marlins to start the 8th.

B1: RHB Zach Cozart reaches 1st on an error by 2nd baseman Jordany Valdespin.

B2: RHB Devin Mesoraco pinch hits for starting pitcher Johnny Cueto. ~ Mesoraco singles to left; Cozart moves to 2nd.

B3: RHB Billy Hamilton reaches 1st on error by pitcher Dunn on bunt attempt; Cozart to 3rd; Mesoraco to 2nd; bases now full

[RHP Bryan Morris replaces LHP Mike Dunn as pitcher for the Marlins with the bases full of Reds and nobody out.]

B4: RHB Kris Negron strikes out; bases still loaded; one out.

B5: RHB Todd Frazier flies out to RF Giancarlo Stanton for the 2nd out, as Cozart attempts to score from 3rd base. As Cozart nears the plate, Miami catcher Jeff Mathis moves into the running lane with the freshly received ball to make the tag. – Cozart makes no attempt to slide. He simply runs outside the lane to avoid the tag, apparently confident that catcher Mathis is illegally blocking his right to the lane on his way to the plate. Catcher Mathis tries a sweep tag, but doesn’t come close. The HP umpire then calls Cozart for running out of the base line, immediately prompting a review from New York request by the umpire crew chief, Mike Winters.

Six minutes later, New York reverses the call, calling Cozart safe because they felt that catcher Mathis was blocking the lane, forcing Cozart to run outside. The ruling change also changed the score. The game is now tied at 1-1.

Miami manager Mike Redmond goes berserk over the ruling change and is ejected. The game resume with the score now tied at 1-1, with 2 outs, instead of the retired side play that initially protected the Miami one-run lead; Hamilton is the runner at 1st; Mesoraco reached 3rd on the play at the plate.

[Hamilton steals 2nd base; the Reds now have runners at 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs.]

B5: RHB Ryan Ludwick singles to center, scoring Mesoraco from 3rd and Hamilton from 2nd; The Reds now lead, 3-1, with Ludwick on 1st and 2 men out.

B6: RHB Brayan Pena flies out to Stanton in right field to end the inning:

Top of the 8th Tote Board: The Reds finish the inning with 3 runs, 2 hits, 2 errors by Miami, and one runner left on base. The lead holds for another inning and one half as the final score: Cincinnati Reds 3 – Miami Marlins 1.

It all turned on that reversal of the call at home from out to safe in the 8th.

Here’s the entire seven minute clip on the play, including a few repeated looks, and the tension that built as the time lapsed deeper on the New York review. Was Cozart out for running out of the baseline in clear violation of catcher Mathis’ right to be there with the ball? ~ Or was Cozart simply using his head to run out of bounds because it was clearly Mathis breaking the fairly new rule against blocking the plate without the ball in hand?

We personally thought the play should have stood as originally called. It seemed clear to these eyes that the catcher had the ball in his glove, no matter how briefly, before Cozart reached HP and veered to the outside.

And is this play better understood today than it was two years ago, when the new rule governing the presence of the catcher in the lane was even newer?

Here’s the YouTube link. Please check in with your own opinions on the ruling.



Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas




One Response to “A Retrosheet Rash from 2014 – Safe or Out?”

  1. stanfromtacoma Says:

    I actually like the rule that has reduced collisions at home plate. That said, I detest replay so I would not reverse the call on the field. If replay is going to be implemented it ought to be the same bang bang time frame that umpires have always operated under throughout baseball history. Take one look in real time, not super-slow mo. If the call on the field is not obviously wrong the decision stands. That could be done in under six seconds.

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