Why Didn’t Austin Jackson Run To First Base?
If you’ve watched Mets games long enough, you will at one point or another hear Keith Hernandez bemoan the lack of “Good Fundies.” Seemingly, this is something he decries more and more. And it’s not just because the Mets played some terrible baseball this year. Rather, throughout baseball, we have seen a number of players fail to make the fundamentally correct play.
Most of the time, the lack of “Good Fundies” can really be attributed to a general lack of hustle and will. That was no more evident than on the last out of Game 5 of the ALDS between the Yankees and the Indians (Warning: It’s a Sterling call, so you may want to mute it):
Considering how his skills behind the plate have been lambasted most of the year, it should be of no surprise Gary Sanchez dropped the third strike from Aroldis Chapman. What should be a surprise is how Austin Jackson initially just stood there, and then he walked back to the dugout.
HE’S THE LAST OUT OF THE DIVISION SERIES!
Look at the play again. Sanchez drops the ball on what was a questionable third strike call. While he’s picking it up, Jackson voices his displeasure at the call. While this is happening, Sanchez picks up the baseball, and he makes sure to put it in his back pocket. Meanwhile, Jackson is still in the batter’s box.
According to MLB Rule 6.09(b): “The batter becomes a runner when – (b) The third strike called by the umpire is not caught, providing (1) first base is unoccupied, or (2) first base is occupied with two out.”
Now there are limits to the rule as provided in the comments to said rule: “A batter who does not realize his situation on a third strike not caught, and who is not in the process of running to first base, shall be declared out once he leaves the dirt circle surrounding home plate.”
This could have left the matter up to interpretation by the umpire. Arguably, by turning to argue first, Jackson may be been ruled out regardless of whether he attempted to go to first base or not. However, we’ll never know if an umpire would have had the absolute gaul to invoke such a technicality because Jackson never bothered to go to first base.
Think about it. Sanchez looked at Jackson briefly as if he was going to tag him. He chose not to and instead went to the mound to celebrate.
Looking at the play again, who knows how far Jackson could have gotten if he decided to go to first base. The Yankees weren’t paying attention because they were celebrating. The same goes for Jose Ramirez who we did not see touch home plate at any time during the Yankees celebration.
Instead of Jackson doing everything he could do to try to extend that game by busting it down to first base regardless of what the odds were, he instead chose to accept defeat and go back to his dugout. Instead of seeing Jay Bruce at the plate with a berth to the ALCS on the line, we got to see the Yankees celebrate on the mound.
One last note is it’s strange we haven’t seen much discussion on this topic. Sure, we’ll see Carlos Beltran striking out looking against Adam Wainwright, but we won’t see this discussed. For how much Beltran was killed for that play, his knees were buckled by a great curveball. Jackson just didn’t even bother.
As a fan, I’d rather see a player get beat like Beltran did than see a player give up like Jackson did any game of the week. Honestly, I cannot possibly fathom how this isn’t a bigger issue.