11 days ago, I wrote about baseball’s new definition of a catch, and how the interpretation of the rule created some ridiculous problems for baserunners on fly balls to the outfield. Applying the transfer rule from the infield to the outfield was an unmitigated disaster, and simply made the game worse. In that piece, I guessed that, due to the slow pace of change in MLB, we would have to live with the rule for the rest of the year, and return to sanity in 2015.
In reality, though, we only had to live with the rule for those last 11 days, because according to Ken Rosenthal, MLB has already reversed course and the old definition of a catch will return to MLB in time for tonight’s games.
Starting Friday night, umpires will rule on catches the way they did in the past, using more of a common-sense approach rather than following the letter of the law, according to major-league sources.
A catch, forceout or tag will be considered legal if a fielder has control of the ball in his glove, but drops the ball after opening his glove to transfer the ball to his throwing hard, sources said. No longer will the fielder be required to successfully get the ball into his throwing hand.
This is the only reasonable definition of a catch, and kudos to MLB for fixing this so quickly. They aren’t exactly known for swift action or reasonable timelines on obvious decisions, but it took them less than a month to realize they had made a mistake and reverse course on their error. For as much grief as MLB got for changing the rule to begin with, they deserve credit for fixing it in an unexpectedly quick fashion.
I do wish we would have seen someone try the “drop the ball on purpose” play, though. Oh well.
Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.