by Julian Spivey
Bonehead of the Week: Major League Baseball Rule 5.05 (a)(8)
A baseball rule so obscure that many players, coaches, longtime journalists and fans didn’t even know existed (and shouldn’t exist) cost the Tampa Bay Rays at least one run in the 13th inning of Sunday (Oct. 10) night’s American League Division Series Game 3 between the Rays and the Boston Red Sox. It may have even cost them the game.
In the top of the 13th with Yandy Diaz on first base and two outs Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier hit a deep fly ball to right-center field at Boston’s Fenway Park, the oldest and possibly most unique ballpark in Major League Baseball. The ball bounced off the short wall in right-center then hit the ground and ricocheted off Red Sox outfielder Hunter Renfroe and then went over the fence. Diaz was running on the pitch and was likely to score the go-ahead run. Kiermaier would’ve at the very least had a double, but possibly a triple.
Umpires immediately signaled a ground-rule double, which is typically seen whenever a batted ball bounces over the fence on its own or in some cases gets stuck underneath a wall or even in the case of Chicago’s ivy-covered outfield walls of Wrigley Field gets lost in the ivy. But I’d never (and obviously many others hadn’t either) seen a ground-rule double ruled when a fielder deflected a ball – willingly or unintentionally – over the wall. It’s something that frankly isn’t possible in many ballparks due to the walls being much higher than at this portion of Fenway Park.
Based on the Major League Baseball rulebook the umpires made the right call on this play so they’re not at fault one bit. My bonehead of the week is Rule 5.05 (a)(8) of the MLB rulebook, which states “any bounding fair ball is deflected by the fielder into the stands, or over or under a fence on fair or foul territory, in which case the batter and all runners shall be entitled to advance two bases.”
Essentially the Rays were negatively affected by this rule when Renfroe made a defensive miscue. Yep, the Red Sox fielder made a mistake and it hurt the offensive team. Dumb, right? In my view this should’ve been an error on Renfroe, and I believe both runners should’ve been able to score. At the very least Diaz, running on the pitch, should’ve been awarded home plate.
MLB needs to look at this rule in the offseason. At the very least the umpires should be awarded discretion at where to place the runners. It shouldn’t just be an automatic two bases per runner. I also wouldn’t mind seeing that fence in Fenway Park heightened, but I know that may be heresy to some traditionalists when it comes to the 109-year old ballpark.
The Rays failed to score a run and the Red Sox won on a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 13th inning by catcher Christian Vazquez. The Red Sox would clinch the series the next night.
Superstar of the Week: Texas A&M College Football Team
The University of Alabama Crimson Tide football team has dominated college football over the last decade winning five championships going back to 2011. The team averages basically one title every two years. The team had only lost 11 games over the last 10 seasons and was a perfect 13-0 last season. So, beating Alabama is a pretty freakin’ big deal.
In the spring Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher, a former national championship winning coach with Florida State University, proclaimed his team would beat Alabama during coach Nick Saban’s career. I’m not sure he realized his promise would be fulfilled so quickly.
In a thrilling game on Saturday (Oct. 9) the Texas A&M Aggies handed Alabama its first loss since 2019 (snapping a 19-game winning streak) on a last-second 28-yard field goal by kicker Seth Small.
It kind of came as a shock for Texas A&M to beat the No. 1 ranked team in the country and the best in the SEC Conference as the Aggies had already lost its first two SEC matchups of the season in consecutive weeks to Arkansas and Mississippi State.
The Aggies thrilling and surprising upset of Alabama happened to come on Coach Fisher’s 56th birthday. That’s quite the impressive birthday gift from his team.