Last night’s game between the Yakult Swallows and Chunichi Dragons featured NPB’s laughable interpretation of how to record an out at home plate — where a catcher can tag a runner out without even bothering to tag him.
In a scoreless game at Nagoya Dome between the Central League’s top-two clubs, the Swallows’ Shingo Kawabata tried to score on a single to right by Kazuhiro Hatakeyama, but a super throw from Dragons right fielder Atsushi Fujii arrived at the plate on a hop just barely ahead of the runner. Dragons catcher Masato Matsui waited for the throw a few feet from home up the third-base line and was obstructing home plate (illegal but permitted).
Kawabata slid into Matsui, who then caught the ball and juggled it. Meanwhile Kawabata’s momentum took him behind the catcher. The catcher, who never attempted to tag the runner, simply held the ball up for umpire Kazuhiro Kobayashi singled for the out on a tag play — or “touch” in Japanese — without a tag being attempted. This, too, is a violation of the rules in Japan but common practice.
The proper call would have been none, as Kawabata knowing he was out, but perhaps only knowing the rule book as well as Kobayashi, never bothered to touch home plate.
A photo of the play’s finish can be found here.
Here‘s another play of the fairly common technique of catchers saving their energy by not tagging the runner.