Brewers shortstop has baserunning misadventure in game against Cubs
MILWAUKEE -- What in the name of Germany Schaefer happened on the basepaths in Friday's Brewers-Cubs game?
More on Schaefer's antics later. First to Miller Park, where the Brewers' 5-4 win over the Cubs might have been forgettable if not for a peculiar baserunning mistake by second-year Brewers shortstop Jean Segura. He singled, stole second base, retreated to first in a bizarre rundown, then was caught trying to steal second base again to end the inning.
"Bizarre," veteran umpire crew chief Tom Hallion said. "Technically, he stole second, stole first, then got thrown out stealing second."
"Never saw that," said second-base ump Phil Cuzzi.
Here's exactly what they saw: Segura reached on an infield single to open the bottom of the eighth inning. After he stole second, Ryan Braun worked a walk. With Brewers cleanup man Rickie Weeks batting, Segura was caught off second base by Cubs pitcher Shawn Camp, who started a rundown between second and third.
Braun did what he was taught and advanced to second, so whatever the result of the Cubs' rundown, the Brewers would have a man in scoring position. Braun and Segura both wound up at second base and Cuzzi correctly called Braun out.
The play should have ended there.
But Segura, who had slid headfirst into second, instead started trotting back to the Brewers' dugout, thinking he was the man out. Luckily for the Brewers, the Cubs had no one at first, and Segura reached the bag safely. Play resumed with one out and Segura 90 feet further from home than on the previous pitch.
"Bizarre," Hallion said again, "but the ruling was all correct."
Cubs manager Dale Sveum disagreed. Sveum was watching on television in the clubhouse after being ejected by plate umpire Chris Guccione two innings earlier, and noticed that Cubs third baseman Luis Valbuena appeared to tag Segura the moment he left second base and headed back toward first.
If that tag occurred while Segura had contact with second base, he was safe. If he was no longer in contact with the base, he should have been out.
"The problem was that the umpire didn't see us tag Segura when he came off the bag," Sveum said. "We got 'em, Braun's out. When Segura thought he was out, he popped up and Valbuena tagged him again, and the umpire didn't see him tag him."
Segura had not looked at the video.
"It was tough on me, so I don't want to see it again," he said.
"Definitely a confusing play," Braun said. "I've never been a part of anything like that. It's a good thing we were still able to win a game despite something like that happening."
Said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke: "Hey, 'Seggy' is 23 years old, he's got all kinds of energy, he's going to make some mistakes and we know that. But his pluses are so good, we're going to take the mistakes that are going to happen."
Another question was more fundamental: Is it legal for a baserunner to advance in the opposite direction?
The answer is yes, most of the time.
According to rule 7.08(i): "Any runner is out when -- after he has acquired legal possession of a base, he runs the bases in reverse order for the purpose of confusing the defense or making a travesty of the game. The umpire shall immediately call "Time" and declare the runner out."
But Segura never intended to confuse the Cubs or make a travesty of the game. He just made a mistake.
A comment appended to Rule 7.08(i). It says: "If a runner touches an unoccupied base and then thinks the ball was caught or is decoyed into returning to the base he last touched, he may be put out running back to that base, but if he reaches the previously occupied base safely he cannot be put out while in contact with that base."
Said Hallion: "Any point between second and first that they would have tagged him, he's out. What he did was take the liability to be put out by leaving second base. But once he got to first base, now that's his."
So, Segura tried stealing second again. This time, Cubs catcher Welington Castillo threw him out.
"If I was him, I would've stole again, too," Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney said. "I don't think anyone has ever stole second twice in the same inning in the same at-bat. That would've been history there. Luckily for us, that didn't happen."
According to the Society for American Baseball Research, the "travesty of the game" rule was implemented in response to our old friend Schaefer, an infielder who played at the beginning of the 20th century -- he actually played for both the Cubs and the old Milwaukee Brewers of the American Association. He's best known for the day he stole first base.
According to SABR, on Aug. 4, 1911, with Schaefer playing for the Senators against the White Sox, he reached first base in the bottom of the ninth inning of a tie game with teammate Clyde Milan on third. Schaefer stole second, hoping to give Milan a chance to break home, but the White Sox did not bite.
So Schaefer tried going in the opposite direction. He took a lead off second base toward first, and stole on the next pitch. While White Sox manager Hugh Duffy argued, Schaefer tried to steal second again, giving Milan his chance to try for home. He was out to end the inning.
Friday's strange eighth inning paled in comparison, but it gave players something to talk about.
"It's a weird game," Braun said.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. MLB.com reporter Carrie Muakat contributed to this report.