After several concerns were voiced early on in the 2014 season regarding the so-called transfer play and the implementation of instant replay in Major League Baseball, leadership announced changes to the rule – effective immediately – late this week.
Here’s the text of the (majority of) the statement released:
The Committee has determined that a legal catch has occurred pursuant to OBR 2.00 (Definition of Terms, “Catch”), or a valid force out or tag has occurred pursuant to OBR 2.00 (Definition of Terms, “Tag”), if the fielder had complete control over the ball in his glove, but drops the ball after intentionally opening his glove to make the transfer to his throwing hand. There is no requirement that the fielder successfully remove the ball from his glove in order for it be ruled a catch. If the fielder drops the ball while attempting to remove it to make a throw, the Umpires should rule that the ball had been caught, provided that the fielder had secured it in his glove before attempting the transfer. The Umpires will continue to use their judgment as to whether the fielder had complete control over the ball before the transfer.
This is a fairly significant change to a rule’s interpretation to be made in-season, but after several instances arose that sparked outrage from players, managers and the likes, it’s not surprising that it came to this.