The Corner

Why Lawyers Love Baseball

I missed last night’s no-hitter by Roy Halladay, but I have always been a Halladay fan and would have loved to have seen him in a Red Sox uniform. What is most interesting to me about his no-hitter was the final play, which you can watch here.  

Cincinnati’s Brandon Phillips squibbed a ball about five or six feet out in front of the plate and the stadium went quiet, thinking that a swinging bunt would break up the no no. Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz pounced on it, however, and made a fine pick of the ball and good throw to first to end the game.

Phillips likely should have been out even if Ruiz was unable to make the play on the ball. When Phillips hit the ball, he let go of his bat in fair territory (apparently unintentionally). And the ball and bat came to rest nestled up against each other in fair territory. Normally, if a ball and bat make contact with one another in fair territory, the umpire can call interference, but only if he determines the bat-throwing was intentional. But where a thrown bat interferes with a defensive player’s attempt to make a play on the ball, interference has to be called, even if there is no intent to interfere.

The official comment to Major League Baseball rule 6.05(h) provides: “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.”

Now, some may argue that the bat would not have interfered with Ruiz’s ability to make the play, and it obviously did not in this case. But that’s only because Ruiz made a tremendously dexterous play on the ball. It could easily have gone the other way.

I now turn the debate over to Ed Whelan, who can explain why Official Comments to Rules are not Rules, and therefore should not be used as interpretive devices.

Shannen W. Coffin — Shannen W. Coffin is a contributing editor to National Review. He practices appellate law in Washington, D.C.

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

The Second(-Class) Amendment

Editor’s Note: The following is the fourth in a series of articles in which Mr. Yoo and Mr. Phillips will lay out a course of constitutional restoration, pointing out areas where the Supreme Court has driven the Constitution off its rails and the ways the current Court can put it back on track. The first entry ... Read More
World

The Brexit Crisis

After what seem like years of a phony war, British and European Union negotiators finally agreed on the terms of Britain’s departure from the EU earlier this week, and Theresa May announced it in the House of Commons. The deal covers more than 500 pages of legal and bureaucratic prose, and few but the ... Read More
U.S.

Friends of Elmer

Do you know what scares an American outdoorsman more than a grizzly bear? Twitter. In the late summer and early autumn, the hunting world had its eyes on the courts: The Trump administration had issued new guidance that would permit the hunting of brown bears (popularly known as grizzly bears), including in ... Read More