“Only left foot?” Hong Won-ki protests, 3-foot rule not implemented…why?

“You have to step with your left foot to get around the 3-foot rule.”

Kiwoom Heroes manager Hong Won-ki called for the three-foot rule to be revised last month. On June 23, in the bottom of the seventh inning of a game against Doosan in Gochuk, pinch-hitter Lim Ji-yeol hit a grounder to third base. Third baseman Kim Hwi-jip was thrown out at home, and Doosan catcher Yang Yang-ji threw to first base in an attempt to make a play, but the ball hit Lim on the back and bounced away. The umpires’ initial call was no interference, but the result was overturned after Doosan requested a video review of a three-foot interference call.

“I was going to make a no-comment, but I wanted to make a point because I think it was a normal play. The runner sprinted to first base according to the rules. It wasn’t a bunt, it was a straight line to first base after the hit. The only way to get to first base is to step on the base with your left foot, and there’s no way you’re going to be able to do that. When sprinting to first base after a hit, you can step on the base with either your left or right foot, but to avoid the three-foot rule, you must step on the base with your left foot. This could lead to player injuries and doesn’t make sense. It’s an unorthodox call,” he said.

As the controversy over the three-pitch interference call continued, the KBO announced on Tuesday that it would “refine and clarify the rule.”

The KBO also considered Hong’s appeal, which was rejected. The KBO also considered the opinion that “when a runner steps on the base with his right foot, his left foot inevitably comes inside the 3-foot line, so it should be applied as an exception to the 3-foot line violation. However, we clarified that this is not allowed under international rules (MLB, NPB), so we will not apply it in the KBO League.” It seems that we realized that breaking this down could be confusing.

On the field, there have been calls for “consistent rulings” on the application of the 3-foot obstruction rule, among other things. KIA pitcher Yang Hyun-jong said, “It should be consistent. There is no exact rule that can be applied consistently,” said Yang Hyun-jong, a KIA pitcher.

In response, the KBO has also attempted to refine the rules for consistency. Previously, Rules 5.09 and 6.01 of the Baseball Rules stipulated that “if the umpire determines that a runner interferes with a fielder handling a throw to first base by running the second half of the distance between home plate and first base and crossing the three-foot line inside or outside the foul line, the runner shall be declared out and the other runners shall return to the bases they occupied at the time of the interference.” Historically, umpires did not automatically call a runner out for running inside the foul line if they did not interfere with first base defense, nor did they call a runner out for interfering with defense if the umpire judged the throw to be a bad throw.

However, the rule changes in the second half of the game. The KBO says, “If the umpire determines that the runner’s run was a ’cause of obstruction,’ defensive interference will be declared. From the second half of 2023, in order to maintain consistency in judgment and prevent confusion on the field, it will be declared as defensive interference even if the umpire determines that the runner’s running inside the 3-foot line is clearly a ’cause of interference’ with the defense (throwing or catching). (The actual play must be made).” 스포츠토토

The above reflects the controversial 3-foot obstruction call in the Gwangju Samsung-KIA game on March 13. In the third inning of the KIA defense, pinch-hitter Jose Pirela hit a grounder and ran inside the foul line, and KIA pitcher Yang Hyun-jong’s throw to first base was wide to the right of the first baseman. KIA requested a video review of Pirela’s violation of the 3-foot rule, and the umpires explained that “the runner did run into fair territory, but the pitcher was judged to be Song Gumi.” Under the new rule, if the umpires determined that Pirela’s running caused Yang’s throw to be interfered with, they would call defensive interference.

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