You know the circumstances by now - bottom of the eighth inning in a 4-4 game. Shane Victorino had come out of the game with what Red Sox manager John Farrell would describe as "general soreness...general tightness." Daniel Nava was now in right field heading back toward the fence on a fly ball by Avisail Garcia. Nava appeared to catch the ball for an out, and then drop the ball on the transfer to his throwing hand (pictured). Click here to see the video.
Second base umpire Mike DiMuro had a different opinion, saying that there was no catch. Nava and Farrell argued in vain; Farrell, in fact, was thrown out of the game for the first time this season.
After the game, umpire crew chief Ted Barrett defended the call. "To have a catch, you have to have complete control and voluntary release,” he said. “[DiMuro] had him with control, but did not have the voluntary release. When he flipped the ball out of his glove, he never got it into his hand. That's not voluntary release.”
The actual rule is a little different from the way Barrett described it. Rule 2.0 says, "A CATCH is the act of a fielder in getting secure possession in his hand or glove of a ball in flight and firmly holding it; providing he does not use his cap, protector, pocket or any other part of his uniform in getting possession. It is not a catch, however, if simultaneously
or immediately following his contact with the ball, he collides with a player, or with a wall, or if he falls down, and as a result of such collision or falling, drops the ball. It is not a catch if a fielder touches a fly ball which then hits a member of the offensive team or an umpire and then is caught by another defensive player. In establishing the validity of
the catch, the fielder shall hold the ball long enough to prove that he has complete control of the ball and that his release of the ball is voluntary and intentional. If the fielder has made the catch and drops the ball while in the act of making a throw following the catch, the ball shall be adjudged to have been caught." The rule doesn't say anything about the fielder having to get the ball into his throwing hand as DiMuro implied.
If you watch the video, you'll see that Nava caught the ball with one hand (despite what you may have been taught in Little League, Major Leaguers are taught to catch fly balls with one hand) and then turned his glove to allow his throwing hand to reach in for the ball so he could throw it back into the infield.
The verdict here? Blown call.
That said, it's not why the Red Sox lost the game. They lost the game because Andrew Bailey was ineffective again. They lost the game because Andrew Miller allowed a single to load the bases and then hit a batter. They lost the game because Red Sox hitters left a combined 24 men on base.
Complain all you want about the call. But it's not the reason the Red Sox lost. And perhaps next time, Daniel Nava will be a bit more careful on the transfer from his glove to his throwing hand.
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