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The "Neighborhood Play" - Jerry Layne Was Not The Problem

I think Jerry Layne made the wrong call last night, but then again this means I feel he should have enforced the spirit of the unwritten rule that isn't actually in the rulebook.

It's not true that the "neighborhood play" exists to protect fielders from takeout slides. The "neighborhood play" does not in fact exist, at least not in the one place it needs to be found, which is the MLB Rulebook. It seems to exist in some nebulous sense that sometimes umpires, in DP situations, don't seem to require the fielder to have the ball, and have contact with the base, at the same time. But when you get down to questions like, "What if he is on the base one moment, and has the ball another?" vs. "What if he's really near the base the whole time but never actually touches it?" there is no rule to refer to.

The "neighborhood play" is an unwritten rule, which is a bit awkward in a game that has an official rulebook for umpires to follow. Would it be so difficult to create a written rule, with guidelines, for what fielders may or may not do to record an out at 2B while attempting to turn a DP? There are rules for touching a live ball with a catcher's mask, for batting out of order, and for a baseball literally coming apart while in play, but no rule for the everyday occurance of the "neighborhood play."

So Jerry Layne was asked to interpret the details of a rule that doesn't actually exist. Hard to get that one right.