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Home » June 2006 Game CommentsJune 2006 » Curtains


Game 55: June 5, 2006
Red Sox (33-22), 5
Yankees (34-22), 13
L: Josh Beckett (7-3)
W: Mike Mussina (8-1)

The second inning was notable for its curtain calls and the Miguel Cairo at bat. I’ve been reading through the various game summaries and none have attempted to puzzle out home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth’s call except Gordon Edes:

That came the next inning, when the Sox thought they had turned Miguel Cairo’s tapper in front of the plate into an inning-ending double play and left the field. But plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth ruled that Cairo’s foot had come in contact with the ball, which made the batter out and the ball dead, allowing Bernie Williams to return to first base.

But Culbreth didn’t rule the batter out. There are a multitude of rules about the batter, and all but one of them run counter to Culbreth’s ruling. Rule 6.05(g) states, “A batter is out when his fair ball touches him before touching a fielder.” According to 6.05(i), the batter is also out when, “after hitting or bunting a foul ball, he intentionally deflects the course of the ball in any manner while running to first base. The ball is dead and no runners may advance.” As much as I enjoy ascribing untoward motives to Yankees, Cairo clearly didn’t intend to touch the ball with his foot, if he did indeed touch it at all. Perhaps I finally found the rule Culbreth was applying in 6.05(h):

A batter is out when, after hitting or bunting a fair ball, his bat hits the ball a second time in fair territory. The ball is dead and no runners may advance. If the batter-runner drops his bat and the ball rolls against the bat in fair territory and, in the umpire’s judgment, there was no intention to interfere with the course of the ball, the ball is alive and in play;
Rule 6.05(h) Comment: If a bat breaks and part of it is in fair territory and is hit by a batted ball or part of it hits a runner or fielder, play shall continue and no interference be called. If batted ball hits part of broken bat in foul territory, it is a foul ball.
If a whole bat is thrown into fair territory and interferes with a defensive player attempting to make a play, interference shall be called, whether intentional or not.
In cases where the batting helmet is accidentally hit with a batted or thrown ball, the ball remains in play the same as if it has not hit the helmet.
If a batted ball strikes a batting helmet or any other object foreign to the natural ground while on foul territory, it is a foul ball and the ball is dead.
If, in the umpire’s judgment, there is intent on the part of a baserunner to interfere with a batted or thrown ball by dropping the helmet or throwing it at the ball, then the runner would be out, the ball dead and runners would return to last base legally touched.

Cairo’s foot would be the foreign object, I suppose. Perhaps Culbreth judged the ball to be in foul territory when it was “touched.” It is ridiculous that the one rule that would allow Cairo to continue his turn at the plate is a comment in a section devoted to detailing every possible permutation of situations where the batter is out.

The only bright spots for the Red Sox were:

  • No Jeter Fist Pump™.
  • Manny Ramirez killed the second inning with his on-the-run dazzling catch of Robinson Cano’s fly ball.
  • Doug Mirabelli’s first pitch homer and J.T. Snow’s RBI single in the sixth, breaking Mike Mussina’s streak of quality starts.


My interpretation is thus:

Cairo did not touch the ball.
Home plate umpire "Steve Mussina" called it foul.
Tek picked up the ball anyway and tried to throw out the runner.
The umps got together and called the ball fair.
Terry said that the foul call negated the runner going to second.
The umps agreed, and tried to give something back to each team.
The Sox got the benefit of the runner back to first, and the Yankees got the benefit of Cairo coming back to bat with 2 strikes.

It was a post hoc covering of Steve Mussina's ass.

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