How many times have you been cruising down the highway in the passing lane (and I mean that literally, I am a ‘cruise-a-holic’ when it comes to highway travel), when some aggressively speeding imbecile decides to whiz by you in the right lane? Personally, I feel it’s ridiculous on their part when they pass on the left or right. I’m already locked within a safe margin over the speed limit (under potential speeding ticket range). And might I add, I always set my cruise 5-6 mph above the speed limit set by state law, so it’s not like this ‘Miss Daisy’ is just slowly driving along.
Regardless of my competitive nature, it’s not the fact that the irresponsible buffoons race ahead of me in traffic it’s how they dangerously go about putting themselves in the “lead position”. Highways that have more than two lanes merely give these people more passing lane options. You will notice I am using the non-gender specific pronoun “they” and “people” here because I have evenly dealt with both male and female self-appointed NASCAR drivers. I have on numerous occasions found myself in the middle of a need for speed NASCAR qualifying race on the freeway.
Recently I reviewed the MLB rules for pertaining to how a batter is allowed to overrun first base and I rediscovered the running lane. My initial understanding of these rules was simple, yet I learned what I believed to be true about running through first base wasn’t entirely accurate.
Here’s what I originally thought: I believed it mattered in which direction the runner turned after he crossed first base as to whether he could be tagged out. I was wrong. The official MLB rules states:
In running the last half of the distance from home base to first base, while the ball is being fielded to first base, he runs outside (to the right of) the three-foot line, or inside (to the left of) the foul line, and in the umpire’s judgment in so doing interferes with the fielder taking the throw at first base, in which case the ball is dead; except that he may run outside (to the right of) the three foot line or inside (to the left of) the foul line to avoid a fielder attempting to field a batted ball; Rule 6.05(k)
Got it? Well, first, take a look at the photo below. The running lane is clearly marked in chalk-and by my larger, orange markings (which I know, aren’t straight but…). The line begins halfway, 45 feet down the first baseline and then stops of course at first base. The lines marking the three-foot lane are a part of that lane and a batter is required to have both feet within the three-foot lane or on the lines marking the lane. The runner is permitted to exit the three-foot lane by means of a step, stride, reach or slide in the immediate vicinity of first base for the sole purpose of touching first base.
Referring to the MLB rules again, there is nothing in them that state which direction the player must turn. The rule states that the runner cannot be tagged out after overrunning first base as long as returns to the base.
Of course, there is an exception to this rule (and more in which I won’t discuss in this post) in that the runner can make no attempt to go to second base or he can be tagged out. This comes down to the judgment of the umpire and not whether the player turned into foul territory or not after crossing first base.
Wouldn’t that be interesting if someday the MLB implemented instant replay to decipher a runner’s intent after touching first base? Yikes. And by ‘interesting’ I mean, please no. Let’s draw a chalk line in the dirt someplace that we won’t cross.
I understand crucial umpire calls have seemingly determined the outcome of games. Being a Detroit Tiger fan, I remember the blown call at first base by an ump (whom I will not include his name here, the man felt bad enough) that kept Armando Galarraga from his nearly perfect game on June 2, 2010.
To error is human. Sometimes those mistakes we make are just more painfully obvious. I have mixed feelings about instant replay in this game of baseball I love so dearly and I plan on writing another post about that in the future. For now, I will just share that I like the human element, the imperfection of an umpire’s vision. It ignites a rip-roaring anger within me when a call goes against the Tigers, yes but I still prefer this over “rewinding the tape”.
I wish I had the authority to tag other drivers ‘out’ when they are hastily passing me on the road. I would be benching those that dangerously passed me on the right. And ejecting those jack holes that have to hurry and pass me on the left only to cut immediately back into my lane, just before exiting off the highway. Remember, it’s not that other motorists pass me that irritates me, it’s how they go about it.