We need consistency.
The 2023 KBO League had a controversial call on the last day of the first half on March 13 over a three-peat violation. It happened in the game between KIA and Samsung at Gwangju-Kia Champions Field. A runner clearly committed a three-peat violation by running to first base, but the pitcher, Song Gumi-su, was declared safe. This was 180 degrees different from a similar situation a month earlier, when an out was ruled. This points to the need to set clear standards in the future.
Scene A (June 16, Gwangju NC-KIA)
KIA attacks in the bottom of the fifth inning after falling behind 9-10. In the top of the fifth inning, it was time for a KIA counterattack. Leadoff hitter Kim Sun-bin reached first base on an error, and Lee Chang-jin drew a walk to put runners on first and second with no outs. The next batter was Shin Beom-soo, a catcher with a low batting average. It was time to bunt, and the sign was there.
The bunt rolled in front of the pitcher, and NC Ryu Jin-wook, who was running to catch the ball and throw to third base, slipped. He instinctively threw the ball to first base, but it was out of bounds. The ball was not in a straight line with the runner, but it overlapped with the first baseman who was trying to catch it and hit Shin Beom-soo’s foot, causing the ball to bounce. Shin took first base and was ruled safe.
The NC requested a video review, claiming a three-foot violation and fielding interference (throwing and catching). The video review room in Seoul corrected the call to an out. Shin Beom-soo ran inside the fair zone and interfered with the throw and catch. Kim Jong-kook asked for confirmation that the runners who had already advanced to second and third base should be allowed to advance. If it was a defensive interference, the runners would have to return to their original base. The umpires saw this as a protest against the call and ordered the player to be ejected.
Scene B (July 13, Gwangju Samsung-KIA)
In the top of the third inning, with the score 0-0, Pirela batted second and first. He swung at a four-pitch pitch and missed, and it sailed just inside the first base line. Pirela ran for his life, and Yang Hyun-jong desperately grabbed the ball and threw to first base. Song flied out to left. Choi Won-joon stretched out his glove but couldn’t catch it. Manager Kim Jong-kook requested a video review, claiming that Pirela had run inside the fairway and interfered with Song and the catch. He expected the same result as on June 16.
The slow replay showed that Pirela had run inside the fairway. His feet touched the fair zone grass. The final result from the video replay room in Seoul was safe. Yang Hyun-jong had done a songgumis from the start. Yang and Pirela overlapped completely in a straight line. It was ruled a throwing error by Yang, who was in a hurry to make the throw when there was a runner on first base and it was difficult to make a straight throw.안전놀이터
Kim Jong-kook’s angry ejection from the game
At that moment, coach Kim Jong-guk rushed out to protest. He said it was no different from the situation on June 16. He argued that Pirela, who played much further inside than Shin, should have been called for defensive interference. In the end, Kim Jong-kook was ejected, and he dedicated the final run of the game to the catcher’s fastball at second and third base. The baseball community exploded over the inconsistency of the VR call, which resulted in different outcomes for the same situation.
Rulings shouldn’t be rubber-stamped by umpires. If you compare the replay of the two situations, it’s unclear why the call is different. If scene A is out, then scene B must be out. The Umpires’ Committee has created controversy with its conflicting rulings, even though it claims to strictly enforce the three-foot violation. This confuses the fans on the field and the umpires on the sidelines. There needs to be a clear and consistent standard. Sadly, only Kim Jong-kook, who called for consistency, was sent off twice.