Originally Posted by TheVulture
Shouldn't he have been out anyway for running out of the baseline? His foot hit the corner of the grass and he couldn't even reach third with his arm fully extended.
That would have been an even worse call. The baseline is defined as the runner's route to the base, not by the dirt and grass, with the exception of the box up the first base line, which has limited application. Runners regularly run outside the basepaths
. A runner can run onto the infield grass to get from base to base. A runner can run around a catcher blocking the plate. What he isn't supposed to do and should be called out for is run out his defined baseline when a fielder is attempting to tag him and for that purpose, umpires give runners several feet in each direction. It is purely a judgment call with limited application, and it is rarely made.
As a tangent that isn't completely off topic, when I was coaching my junior high school's team a long time ago, I carried my rulebook with the approved rulings in italics because in places like Parker and Lake Havasu they would have some social studies teacher umpiring the games, believing he knew the rules because he was a fan. I once had an umpire insist a hitter who foul tipped a 2-1 pitch into the catcher's glove was out and a runner called out at third base on a hidden ball trick after a coaching visit to the mound. I half won the argument on the foul tip call, because the runner who stole second was sent back to first on the "foul ball," but I lost the hidden ball trick that was never properly put back into play after the time out on the grounds that it was done in a Bad News Bears sequel that was running on HBO that month, and in that game, they were using major league umpires in the Astrodome.