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What Just Happened?

One thing that sets baseball apart from many other sports is the complexity of the rules. Because there are so many special cases and exceptions, you may sometimes see a play you have never seen before. I saw one such play a few weeks ago.

Mark McLemore was up to bat with three balls and two outs, while Luis Ugueto was on first. As soon as the ball was pitched, Ugueto started hauling ass to second. The pitch was a ball -- the fourth -- but the catcher nonetheless threw the ball to the second baseman, who applied the tag to Ugueto after he overslid second base. But as McLemore was walked, Ugueto just went back to second base and the game was set to resume.

But then Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter pointed something out to the second base umpire. If there's a runner on first and the batter is walked, the person on first gets to advance to second base. But Ugueto had accidentally gone past second base by over sliding. Once he touched second base -- and received all that he was entitled to -- he was fair game, and the tag (Jeter said) was fair; ergo, Ugueto should be out. The umpire mulled this over for a moment and then agreed, calling Ugueto out and ending the inning.

"They say the guys in the middle infield are supposed to be the smartest," said Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "The important thing is [Jeter] explained it. He didn't throw up his arms or argue. What I like is the umpire thought about it and made the right call."

Posted on May 16, 2002 to