As you'll no doubt recall, last weekend Jean Segura stole second base, later "stole" first base, and finally was caught trying to steal second base again.
Seriously. That really did happen in a Major League Baseball game, and seemed to make sense (to me, anyway).
But now Major League Baseball has weighed in. And as Jayson Stark reports, it shouldn't have happened, because the rule that led to Segura being ruled safe at first base should have been superseded by not one, but two other rules:
• Rule 7:01 says a runner can't settle in at one base and then return to a previous base once the pitcher "assumes his pitching position." In other words, a runner on second can't go back to first for any reason once the pitcher has thrown a pitch -- let alone several, as happened in Segura's case.
• Then there's Rule 7:08(a), which includes a specific comment about a fellow like Segura, who thought he was out, was on his way to the dugout, then found out he was safe and pulled into first for safekeeping. That comment reads like this:
"Any runner after reaching first base who leaves the base path heading for his dugout or his position believing that there is no further play, may be declared out if the umpire judges the act of the runner to be considered abandoning his efforts to run the bases."
I'm not completely sure I buy the applicability of 7.01 in this case, although that's obviously MLB's call rather than mine. And that comment in 7.08(a) leaves a lot of room for interpretation, especially because in this particular case Segura didn't actually leave the base path, as his natural route to the dugout roughly coincided with the base path (here, you can see for yourself).
This seems to me like an after-the-fact argument for not letting anything like this happen again, because it was really weird and silly and the people who run Major League Baseball don't like to seem weird and silly. I mean, Rule 7.01 is applicable if MLB says it's applicable. But I don't fault the umpires for ruling as they did, in the heat of the moment and with so many potentially applicable rules.
For more about Segura and the Brewers, please visit SB Nation's Brew Crew Ball.