When the Indiana University baseball team took the field Sunday night for a pivotal Lexington Regional game against host No. 12 Kentucky, it did so without All-Big Ten Freshman team infielder Tyler Cerny, who was suspended after being ejected in Saturday night's 5-3 win.
What did Cerny do to get tossed from the biggest game of his college career to date? He brought the Hoosiers' Crimson Chain out of the dugout to place around the neck of a teammate whose seventh-inning home run gave Indiana the lead.
IU?s Tyler Cerny will not play in tonight?s regional championship game. He was ejected last night for bringing out the Crimson Chain to celebrate his teammates home run. It sucks that players are being limited when it comes to celebrating these big momentspic.twitter.com/FHAJW3nH8W
— Stephen Schoch (@bigdonkey47) June 4, 2023
In true college baseball fashion, his teammates hung his jersey and the chain in the dugout in the Sunday game he was suspended for.
Explaining What Cerny Did Wrong
— iubase.com (@iubase17) June 4, 2023
That might seem like an innocuous reason to get tossed from a game. But Cerny, who has started nearly every game at second base this year, violated NCAA Baseball Rule 5-2-d, which deals with how and where players can congratulate their teammates after a home run.
To be more specific, Cerny broke the section of the rule regarding celebratory props. It states, "After a home run, scoring play or at the end of an inning, teams shall not bring celebratory props onto the field of play. Any such props must remain in the dugout."
This language was newly added ahead of the 2023 season, and it has been a point of emphasis throughout the year for NCAA baseball and its umpires to enforce. While the penalty for breaking this rule indicates a warning will be given for the first offense, the NCAA sent out a memorandum on March 1 stating that in the postseason, ejections will be handed out immediately and without warning because players and teams will have been aware of the rule for the entire regular season.
While the suspension for the subsequent game seems egregious, it is standard fare in the NCAA, where many ejections are followed by at least a one-game suspension. Cerny's suspension was one game, which means he's eligible to play in the regional final matchup on Monday night.
How Did the Celebratory Prop Rule Come to Pass?
Any Indiana fan annoyed about this decision — or any baseball fan who says, "Just let them have some fun" — can direct their ire at the University of Tennessee, whose ostentatious celebrations were the catalyst for this new law.
In 2022, Tennessee celebrated each of its 158 home runs by draping the player in a cheetah fur coat and a daddy hat.
New addition for Tennessee home runs in 2022. pic.twitter.com/Tbcd4ysKVf
— Dan Harralson (@danharralson) February 18, 2022
This drew the ire of enough fans and non-Tennessee players, coaches or administrators that the NCAA Baseball Rules Committee recommended making it illegal to bring these props onto the field.
Cerny barely came onto the field, however, and the chain was presented to the teammate to put on as he was going back to the dugout. There's certainly a case to be made if you want to be lenient here. But this rule has been enforced throughout the year, and there's also something to be said for consistency.
Just ask East Carolina University pitcher Josh Grosz, who was ejected for handing teammate Jacob Starling a peanut butter and jelly sandwich after Starling hit a home run.
Apparently, the umpires deemed that the sandwich was a prop, to which ECU head coach Jeff Goodwin remarked, 'That's the new rules I guess. No fun baseball."
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