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Rick Ankiel missed the bag and was called out. I love it.

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There is so much going on during a baseball play that you can’t possibly keep track of it all.

A shortstop shifts towards second base to cover a steal attempt. A sure-fire out goes through that newly created hole for a hit. A pitcher throws a high-and-tight fastball and, later in the count, strikes the batter out on a low-and-away breaking ball. The batter moved back in the box half an inch after the brushback and now he’s out. Baseball is like a well-produced album; there’s always a small sound, an intricate moment, a something, that you missed.

Last night, one of those little plays happened.

The St. Louis Cardinal’s Rick Ankiel reached base last night on an error by Red’s first baseman Ramon Hernandez. The following batter, Jason LaRue, crushed a line drive to centerfield. Ankiel believed it would land as a hit so he was off to the races. The ball was caught and Ankiel, who had already rounded second, made his way back to first. He appeared to make it back safely.

The thing is, Ankiel never re-tagged second base on his return trip. Even though Ankiel made it back safely, the Reds threw to second and Ankiel was called out.

Baseball is serious about touching the bases. Even if you’re sitting in the dugout after scoring a run, you can still be called out if you missed third. Just ask the Met’s Ryan Church.

It’s a finicky rule and it’s ludicrous that something can hold such significance, but it’s one of the great “little things” of baseball.

The best part about this situation is that MLB.com’s analyst completely screwed up the play (fast forward to 1:10), saying “Rick Ankiel did not make it back to first base in time.”

He probably doesn’t know the rule.

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