An Unsportsmanlike Cub and the Violation of Distraction

As every Cardinals and Cubs fan knows, the Cardinals swept the Cubs in a 4-Game Series in Chicago this past weekend. But many astute fans noticed that the Cubs' Second Baseman Ben Zobrist was often seen "dancing" next to Second Base while the Cardinals were are bat during Saturday's and Sunday's games.

This location of Zobrist's "dancing" matches up exactly with the Cardinals' batters' line of vision -- in fact, you can see from the video that he's dancing directly behind the pitcher while Ozuna is up at bat.


Is such movement against the MLB Rules? Just immoral? Or completely proper conduct. Well... the MLB Rules are perfectly and unequivocally clear. MLB Rule 6.04(c) states:


"No fielder shall take a position in the batter’s line of vision, and with deliberate unsportsmanlike intent, act in a manner to distract the batter."


The MLB Rule use the term "shall"; thus, if this this conduct occurs the umpire has no discretion, the player is required to be penalized. And Rule 6.04(c) makes the penalty for a violation of this Rule clear as well:


"PENALTY: The offender shall be removed from the game and shall leave the playing field, and, if a balk is made, it shall be nullified."


There can be no debate that through his dancing-like actions directly behind Second Base prior to each pitch to Cardinals' batters, Zobrist was acting "in a manner to distract the batter." Consequently, and without debate, upon the very first instance of Zobrist's dancing next to Second Base in the Cardinals' "line of vision," Zobrist was required to be "removed from the game" immediately.


Thanks to thanks to @jstriebel22 and @TomMLemon for tracking the overhead view down of Zobrist and @cardinalsgifs for the gif.

Adam Van Grack is an attorney at the law firm of Longman & Van Grack, LLC practicing litigation, business law, and sports law. Adam is a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals having attended Washington University in St. Louis for college and law school. Adam has been previously appointed as the Chair of a U.S. Olympic National Governing Body.