A-Rod out, after discussion, for interference
NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez was called out for interference when he swatted at Boston pitcher Bronson Arroyo's glove and knocked the ball loose during a play near first base in the eighth inning of Game 6 of the AL Championship Series Tuesday night.
With one out and Derek Jeter on first after his RBI single cut Boston's lead to 4-2, Rodriguez hit a grounder down the first-base line that Arroyo fielded. While Arroyo ran toward Rodriguez to tag him out, the Yankees third baseman stuck out his left hand and slapped the pitcher's glove. The ball was knocked loose and rolled down the right-field line. Jeter came all the way around to score and first-base umpire Randy Marsh ruled Rodriguez safe.
"That was unprofessional. That's against the rules," Boston's Kevin Millar said. "If you want to play football, strap on some pads and go play for the Green Bay Packers."
First baseman Doug Mientkiewicz and other Red Sox players argued with Marsh, saying that Rodriguez interfered with Arroyo. Boston manager Terry Francona also came out to argue the call, and the six-man umpiring crew -- plate umpire Joe West had a clear view of the play -- convened to discuss it.
"I didn't know what the ruling was at first," Arroyo said. "I knew what he had done, but I wasn't sure it was legal. He hit my arm and jolted the ball loose."
According to Section 6.1 of the MLB Umpire Manual, "While contact may occur between a fielder and runner during a tag attempt, a runner is not allowed to use his hands or arms to commit an obviously malicious or unsportsmanlike act."
The umpires decided to change the call, ruling that Rodriguez was out on interference and Jeter had to go back to first base. Replays clearly showed that Rodriguez intentionally stuck out his hand.
"Years ago, that process wasn't used all the time," Marsh said. "It's better for the game, it's better for umpiring, it's better for the league."
from the Official Baseball Rules
(a) Offensive interference is an act by the team at-bat which interferes with, obstructs, impedes, hinders or confuses any fielder attempting to make a play. If the umpire declares the batter, batter runner, or a runner out for interference, all other runners shall return to the last base that was in the judgment of the umpire, legally touched at the time of the interference, unless otherwise provided by these rules. In the event the batter runner has not reached first base, all runners shall return to the base last occupied at the time of the pitch.
According to Rule 2.00 from the Official Baseball Rules, "If the umpire declares the batter, batter runner, or a runner out for interference, all other runners shall return to the last base that was in the judgment of the umpire, legally touched at the time of the interference."
"The umpires got it right. That's the beauty of it," center fielder Johnny Damon said. "If they got it wrong, who knows what situation we'd be in."
Rodriguez, who reached second base on the play which was originally ruled an error on Arroyo, stood at second with both hands up in apparent disbelief.
"I was kind of perplexed by it," Rodriguez said. "I don't know what I was trying to do. I know he was coming and I know that the line is mine. They said I could've run him over, but I went out of my way. Looking back at it, I probably should've just run him over."
The Red Sox went on to win 4-2 and force Game 7 on Wednesday night.
Some angry fans in the crowd of 56,128 at Yankee Stadium threw baseballs, empty drinking cups and other trash onto the field and Francona wanted to pull his team off the field.
"I wasn't really worried about the trash," Arroyo said. "Trash was the furthest thing from my mind. I was just worried about getting a new ball and pitching to Sheffield."
Yankees manager Joe Torre then came out and argued the call briefly.
"Arroyo was in motion, too," Torre said. "It's not like he was just standing there."
The game was delayed for about 10 minutes while the play was sorted out.
More objects were thrown onto the field in the top of the ninth inning, and an announcement was made telling fans to not throw anything.
Kevin Hallinan, senior vice president of security for the commissioner's office, went on the field and spoke to security personnel. Police officers, wearing helmets, then kneeled shoulder-to-shoulder down both foul lines in an attempt to prevent any further incidents. The officers left the field for the bottom of the ninth.
"It was a big momentum changer," Rodriguez said. "I don't want those umpires to meet anymore because every time they meet, it goes against the Yankees."
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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