It's now official. Jean Segura has "stolen" first base for the last time.
And so, for that matter, has everyone else.
This is it, friends -- the third and final episode of our Jean Segura baserunning trilogy, soon not to be made into a major motion picture.
Major League Baseball's baseball operations department has sent out what was described to us as a "clarification" memo to all its umpires. The gist of it is that, in the future, baserunning adventures like Segura's now-legendary backwards trip around the infield last Friday should end with a slightly different outcome than his did.
By which we mean: He should have been called out!
Never saw that coming. Did you?
Well, you did if you were reading this blog Sunday afternoon. We kind of foreshadowed it here then. But let's recap.
It was Friday night. The Brewers shortstop had just stolen second base. Then, with runners on first and second, he took off to try to steal third, wound up in a rundown and somehow, finally, when the dust had settled, found himself all the way back on first. (For more of the wacky details, you might want to click here.)
Impossible, you say? Well, that's not what the umpires said at the time.
They cited an addendum to ever-popular MLB rule 7:08(i), which appears to allow a runner who has been decoyed or become otherwise confused to scramble all the way back to first, even if he has already passed second.
Oops. Wrong rule.
We all know that now, and so do the umpires. The clarification tells them that not just one other rule, but two, should have superseded that one. And both of those rules would have led to the same outcome.
By which we mean again (let's all sing it together): OUT.
Those two rules are these:
• Rule 7:01 says a runner can't settle in at one base and then return to a previous base once the pitcher "assumes his pitching position." In other words, a runner on second can't go back to first for any reason once the pitcher has thrown a pitch -- let alone several, as happened in Segura's case.
• Then there's Rule 7:08(a), which includes a specific comment about a fellow like Segura, who thought he was out, was on his way to the dugout, then found out he was safe and pulled into first for safekeeping. That comment reads like this:
"Any runner after reaching first base who leaves the base path heading for his dugout or his position believing that there is no further play, may be declared out if the umpire judges the act of the runner to be considered abandoning his efforts to run the bases."
So what's that mean? It means, in Segura's case, he should have been called out because he "abandoned his effort" to keep running the bases when he left second base "and started towards the first base line."
All righty then. Got all that? Sure hope so. There's going to be a quiz.
But at least we'll also get another quiz out of this circus that goes like this:
Who's the only player in the past 60 years to steal a base and get thrown out stealing the same base in a span of five pitches?
The answer to that one is Jean Segura, of course. But it sure is a good thing he didn't go on to steal second twice and then score the winning run. Right?
If he had, we're guessing we'd have a lot more than a memo of clarification on our hands.