Here’s the situation: York has runners on the corners in the sixth inning with two outs. York’s Jason Repko steals second, Tyler Graham steals home and Repko — who slid but never stopped moving forward — advances to third when the second baseman threw home in an attempt to catch Graham stealing home.
York’s Repko: “I had the steal the whole at-bat,” Repko said. “He kept slide-stepping on me, and then finally he gave me a good one where he rocked back. I was able to get the steal, but as soon as I hit my slide I saw him (second baseman Josh Barfield) peel off (to field the throw from the catcher and throw the ball back home). So I knew they were trying to get (Graham) at home. … Instinctually I just hopped up and kept going, because I figured with two outs the catcher is really going to make sure to get the tag down. Probably most of his focus is going to be on the runner trying to score. And if (Graham’s) safe, by the time (Long Island catcher Ralph Henriquez) realizes I’m going, I might have a good jump — and that’s exactly what happened.
“It played out perfect. I came around second (after a slide and quick pop up back to his feet) … didn’t lose a stride and luckily enough got my foot in there (at third). I just snuck in there.”
Think of it as a double steal, plus one.
Or let’s just call it The Triple Steal.
The play was originally ruled a double-steal, with Graham and Repko awarded stolen bases and Repko advancing to third on a fielder’s choice. That seemed to be the popular choice. But is it the right call?
York Revolution manager Mark Mason seemed to think it should be.
“It’s just advancing on the throw,” Mason said. “That’s a hard one for me, but I would say that’s not two stolen bases.”
Repko didn’t think he should be credited with two stolen bases.
“(Laughs) that would be nice, but no,” Repko said. “I really don’t know. … I think once that throw comes back from the middle infielder to home (it’s a fielder’s choice). I would love to take it — that would be cool — but no.”
Here’s the problem, Rule 10.07 in the major league rulebook doesn’t address this type of play.
The only instance I could think of where a player was credited with two stolen bases on one pitch came in the majors a few seasons ago. Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon earned two stolen bases on one pitch in the 2009 World Series, stealing second and racing to third against a defensive shift that had third baseman Pedro Feliz fielding a throw from catcher Carlos Ruiz at second base. Isn’t that a similar play? Damon stole one base, then he popped up and took off and stole another. One pitch, two stolen bases.
The difference here is the throw, from second base to home, should that be called a fielder’s choice? And if so, why isn’t Graham’s movement from third to home called a fielder’s choice? After all Graham did not take off for home until after he saw a throw go from the catcher to second base.
Revs play-by-play announcer Darrell Henry reached out to veteran Lancaster play-by-play broadcaster Dave Collins late Friday for another opinion, and Collins believed the original ruling was correct (one stolen base for Repko, one for Graham and Repko advances to third on a fielder’s choice).
We plan to make a few more calls Saturday to make sure the Revs official scorer has the right call.
Update: I called former Revs manager Andy Etchebarren before the Kentucky Derby. Besides have a lengthy playing and coaching career, he prides himself on knowing the rulebook. He even demanded a former front office employee read it before continuing one conversation. Anyway, I explained the situation. I explained it again. There was a long pause. In fact, I thought my phone dropped the call. Etchebarren then said, he believed it would have to be a fielder’s choice on the second Repko advance. He also noted he’d never heard of someone going from first to third on a double steal.
Needless to say, it’s a play no one expects to see again any time soon.