Baseball has returned, and true to form the game has already gotten weird.
In the top of the third inning with a runner on first in the Dodgers-Rockies game, center fielder Cody Bellinger drove a ball to the wall in left field. Colorado outfielder Raimel Tapia nearly made a highlight-worthy play to scale the fence and make the catch, but the ball bounced out of his glove and over the wall. Two-run home run, right?
Instead of your typical, mundane, leisurely jog around the bases, what transpired was several adults exchanging confused glances at each other while intermittently gesturing in various directions. What happened on the play was this: Justin Turner, the runner on first, believed Tapia made the catch, so he sprinted back toward first base, passing Bellinger in the process. Because Bellinger was now ahead of Turner, he is ruled out due to rule 5.09(b)(9), which basically states that a base runner is ruled out if he passes the runner ahead of him (even if this occurs during a home run).
Unsurprisingly, not everybody on the field was immediately familiar with rule 5.09(b)(9), resulting in a wonderful comedy of misunderstanding. Here's an incomplete rundown of each confused participant, in order of most to least bewildered:
- Turner, who scampers back to first base with the urgency of someone who's just realized he forgot to set a timer on the oven and it's been baking at least 10 minutes too long.
- Tapia, who for a moment looks as if he believes he made the catch, then his eyes frantically dart around the ground in all directions looking for the ball. You have to feel for him once he realizes it's cleared the fence. Fear not, Raimel—your near-web gem saved your team a run.
- Every umpire on the field. They all seem to point in every conceivable direction, and it's hard to believe any of them eventually reached a suitable conclusion.
- Dodgers first base coach Clayton McCullough, who makes a brief cameo but nails the "two palms facing skyward" pose—the universal sign for befuddlement.
- Bellinger, whose ever-chill demeanor never wavers for one moment, even as he wanders aimlessly between first and second base.
In the end, Bellinger was awarded an RBI single instead of a home run, and deemed out at first base. It's a tough pill to swallow for the former MVP, but for the rest of us, a delightfully strange way to kick off the 2021 campaign. The bar for weird baseball has been set—may it be raised soon enough.