Baseball Interference

Recently, there have been a couple of instances of interference at Giants games, both by players and fans.  Since I was wondering what the penalties are for this, I thought you might be wondering, too.  So today we’ll discuss interference in baseball so we can learn together.

Technically, there are actually two different terms that describe the act of a player or fan interfering with the game.  These are interference and obstruction.  Interference is used to refer to an act by the offense that impacts a defensive play.  Obstruction is used to refer to an act by the defense that impacts an offensive play.

Let’s start with player interference.  One type occurs when the batter’s bat comes into contact with the ball more than once in fair territory.  This could happen if he hits the ball close to the plate and then drops his bat and it hits the ball again.  If this happens, a batter will be called out unless the umpire decides the second contact was unintentional.  Another type of batter interference could occur if the batter throws his bat down in fair territory and it interferes with a player.  This is ruled an out in all cases.  A batter can also interfere with a catcher.  If a batter is out of the batter’s box and gets in the way of a catcher trying to make a play, the batter will be called out and any runners who have advanced have to return to their original base.  Also, if the umpire deems that the play would have been made if the interference had not occurred, the runner can also be called out.  This happened in a recent Giants game.  During a game against the Cubs, Darwin Barney fell into Chris Stewart after swinging and prevented him from making a throw to 2nd to stop Marlon Byrd from stealing.  Both Barney and Byrd were called out (thank you, Barney).

Another type of interference occurs when a batted ball hits a baserunner.  If the ball hits the runner before it has been touched by or passed an infielder, the baserunner is called out, the batter is given first base, and any other base runners do not advance unless it was a force.  Interference can also be called if a player running to first goes out of the baseline and interferes with the play at first.  He can be called out.  If a runner interferes with the ball or the fielder to break up a double play, both he and the batter will be called out.  If the batter interferes with a double play, both he and the runner closest to home plate will be called out.

Next is player obstruction.  If a catcher’s mitt hits the bat while a batter is swinging, interference is called on the catcher and the batter gets to take a base (this happened to Eli Whiteside recently – sigh).  If a player is running and a defensive player gets in their path, this can also be called obstruction, and the player gets that base.  However, if a base runner collides with a defensive player who is trying to field a ball, even if it is within the baseline, interference will be called on the runner, and he will be called out.

Then we have fan interference.  If a fan touches a ball that is in fair territory, the ball is automatically ruled dead.  The umpire then has the job of placing the batter and runners where in the umpire’s judgment they would have been had the interference not occurred.  This happened during the Giants vs. Cubs game on August 30th.  A Giants fan reached over the wall and picked up a ball that was in play in left field, preventing Cody Ross from making a play.  Instead of scoring, the umpire decided that without the interference, a runner would have been held at 3rd, so the scoring runner had to come back.  As you can see, the umpire has a lot of power in this situation.  And what became of the interfering fan?  He was ejected from the game (this is usually the case).  Take home lesson – if you are sitting in fair territory DON’T REACH OUT AND TOUCH THE BALL!!  Note that if a player goes to catch a ball over a wall or in the stands, they do so at their own risk.  In this case, if a player interferes, it is not ruled fan interference.  Usually if the fans are pulling for the player trying to make the play, they will allow them to make the play.  Otherwise, they will do their best to mess things up!  You can read about some famous fan interference incidents here.

Now that you are a baseball interference expert, let’s move on to the spit count!  I have one for you today:

September 5th


–         Sandoval 13

–         Stewart 13

–         Ford 5 (got right back in the swing of things!)

–         Bumgarner 4

–         Ross 2

–         Keppinger 2

–         Bat Boy 1

–         Gillaspie 1

–         DeRosa 1

–         Wotus 1

–         Murphy 1

–         Lincecum 1


–         Stauffer 5

–         Hundley 5

–         Guzman 2

–         Bartlett 2

–         Black 1

–         Maybin 1


–         Umpire 2

Game Spit Master General = Tie between Sandoval and Stewart at 13

That’s a total of 63 spits during a 2 hour and 50 minute game for an average of more than 1 spit every 3 minutes.

I’ve noticed that Keppinger has been spitting a lot less lately than he did when he first joined the team.  Maybe his spitting was due to nerves.  I was saddened that Mike Murphy, the Giants’ equipment manager, recorded his first spit today.  I was so hoping he was above that – I love that guy!

So the boys did not sweep the D-Backs this weekend, and my streak of going to only winning games came to an end on Sunday.  Punching the snake worked through the 7th inning, but then it started to bite back.  I am still holding onto hope for a post-season, but it’s getting awfully hard.  I’ve decided to try and look at the positive side of things any time they lose a game.  And there were a lot of positives about the game on Sunday, when I started to think about it.  Here’s a list I’ve come up with:

-I got to watch Vogelsong pitch fabulously for 7 innings.

-I got to see a Beltran triple.

-I got to watch Eli catch 7 shutout innings.

-I got to watch Cody take the lead right off with his first at-bat homerun.

-I had the joy of watching 7-year-old Michael light up when he punched the snake for me.

-I got support from Vinnie when I was going to stop punching the snake after the D-Backs scored, but he told me to keep at it (Thanks, Vinnie!  You can see a pic of Vinnie strangling the snake here).

-I got to see the beautiful San Francisco Bay vistas from the park.

-I got to spend time with Manny and friends.

-I got to talk baseball and be obnoxiously loud with the really cool fan sitting next to me.

-I got to see the Giants dressed in Jedi cloaks on the scoreboard (it was Star Wars Day).

Yes, there is always a positive side to things.  We just have to look.

Another positive thing – Manny subscribed to my blog (thanks!).  And the boys won today!  Why can’t they do that every game?  Madison pitched amazingly well (13 strikeouts!), and the boys actually rallied and scored runs.  Did you see Pablo talking to his bat before the game?  What a riot!  He needs to add that to his other daily rituals, cause it definitely worked for him today.  It was nice to see that Darren Ford was put in as a pinch runner.  I missed that guy’s speed!  Looking forward to seeing more of him (and he has the greatest smile!).  Are any of you as tired as I am of the Diamondback updates that they do during the game?  At this point, I really wish they would only tell us if the D-Backs are LOSING!  That’s all we care about anyway!

I was also happy to see Brandon Crawford in the lineup (in more ways than one!).  Ginny wanted me to be sure and mention what a good job he did today.  He got a hit, brought in a run (even if it was the aftermath of a double play), and made a great play that prevented a hit.  Actually, that brings up something I learned in today’s game.  If you hit into a double play and a run scores, you do not get an RBI.  Did you know that?  I’m not sure why this is – even though you are responsible for two outs, you still brought in a run that could potentially win a game.

Learned something else from Mychael Urban’s blog the other day.  It was regarding the Rowand and Tejada releases.  I was wondering why they were released the day before the roster was about to expand.  According to Mychael, you have to be on the roster of a team before September 1st in order to be eligible to play in the post season for that team.  Thus, they would be more desirable to another team if they could acquire them before September 1st.  This still doesn’t explain why the Giants waited until the day before this deadline to do it.

One last thing I’ve wanted to share.  Do any of you watch the pre- and post-game shows of the Giants games?  If so, you have encountered Shawn Estes, one of the guest anchors.  Shawn used to be a pitcher for the Giants, and he has a lot of great insight into the game (and the fact that he’s a cutie doesn’t hurt, either!).  When he first started as anchor, he was rather awkward, but he’s gotten much more comfortable recently.  However, there is one thing about him that causes me to look away from the screen when he talks.  He blinks more than I thought was humanly possible!  It is extremely distracting.  And he only does it when he is talking – if he is listening to another anchor talk, he blinks at a normal rate.  Since, as you know, I am prone to counting things, I decided to do a blink count on him the other day.  He averaged 2 blinks per second!  WHAT??  Since he only does it while he is talking, I’m thinking it is something he can control if he is aware of it.  Dave, could you maybe mention something to him or get someone to work with him on this?  I’m just trying to help the guy out.

We’ve got two more games against the Padres this week, and then it’s the Dodgers.  I hope we can see more of the teamwork they exhibited today (and Pablo, keep talking to that bat!).  I’m still rooting for you, boys.  GO GIANTS!!



  1. Kathleen Morearty

    That is too funny that you mentioned the blinker. Elizabeth kept talking about it.

    Can’t wait for the game on Sunday!!!!

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