It's going to wind up being the strangest baserunning you will see this season, and perhaps the strangest baserunning you will see in your entire life. They should name it "a Segura" ... except there's no point in naming it something because it will probably never happen again. Not in Major League Baseball anyway.
Quickly, here's what happened Friday night in Milwaukee:
1. Jean Segura singled.
2. Jean Segura stole second base.
3. Ryan Braun walked.
4. Jean Segura took off for third base, but pitcher Kevin Gregg stepped off the mound and got Segura in a rundown. Braun, as players are trained to do, took off for second and made it easily.
5. Ah, but Jean Segura also made it (back) to second base without being tagged. By rule, second base belonged to Jean Segura rather than Braun, so the moment that both were touch second base, Braun was out and Segura was safe.
6. Here's where things get super-hinky: Jean Segura assumed he was out, and jogged toward the dugout. But, perhaps at the advice of his first-base coach, Jean Segura went to first base where -- and here's the beautiful thing -- he was safe!
7. Two pitches later, Jean Segura took off for second ... and he was out!
In a nutshell, Segura stole second base legally, went back to first base legally, and was caught stealing second base legally. And it might be the first time in more than 100 years that a major leaguer has gone back to first base after successfully stealing second base.
In a story that's told marvelously in Lawrence Ritter's classic book The Glory of Their Times, the Washington Senators' Germany Schaefer pulled this trick in 1911, the difference being that he did it on purpose. With a runner on third, Schaefer was hoping to draw a throw that would allow his teammate to break for home and score. But there was no throw. So Schaefer "stole" first base, so he could try again.
Shortly, a rule was made to prohibit such shenanigans. But the rule was to outlaw baserunners going backwards to purposefully confuse the defense or make "a travesty of the game". And that's not what Jean Segura did. Which is why he was allowed to do what he did, safely. The umpires ruled correctly.
Well, maybe. They seem to have known the rules. For which they deserve a great deal of credit. They also seem to have missed a tag play, as you'll see if you watch the video here (and as manager Dale Sveum saw from the clubhouse, as he'd been ejected earlier). After Braun was out and Jean Segura left second base and took a step toward the dugout (and first base), it sure looks like he was tagged. In which case, by rule he should have been out.
So the umpires probably blew it. But if they hadn't, we wouldn't have this incident for the files, so everyone except maybe Jean Segura should be happy. Then again, even Segura was probably happy; in the ninth, the game ended when Segura tagged out Julio Borbon ... out trying to second base, of course.
Funny game, this baseball.