Monday, June 26, 2017

Carter Capps Throws Illegal Pitch, Ejected After Hitting Ump

Carter Capps, called for an illegal pitch by 1B Umpire Brett Terry, who ejected Capps' Manager Rod Barajas in an application of professional baseball's new pitchers' rubber restriction rule, himself was ejected by HP Umpire JJ January after hitting January with a bouncing pitch during Sunday's El Paso Chihuahuas vs Albuquerque Isotopes game in the Pacific Coast League.

Prior to the 2017, the Official Baseball Rules Committee added new provisions to illegal pitch and balk rules 5.07(a) Comment, 6.02(a), and 6.02(b) outlawing crow-hop (aka pivot foot reset) maneuvers, such as that historically employed by Capps:
The pitcher may not take a second step toward home plate with either foot or otherwise reset his pivot foot in his delivery of the pitch. If there is a runner, or runners, on base it is a balk under Rule 6.02(a); if the bases are unoccupied it is an illegal pitch under Rule 6.02(b).
1B Umpire Brett Terry ejects Rod Barajas.
With none out and none on in the top of the 8th inning of the Chihuahuas-Isotopes game, Capps threw a 0-0 pitch to Isotopes batter Dustin Garneau, ruled an illegal pitch by 1B Umpire Terry. 3B Umpire Lee Meyers then called Capps for a second illegal pitch due to a similar pivot foot reset motion on the 1-2 delivery. As a result of an ensuing argument, 1B Umpire Terry ejected Chihuahuas Manager Rod Barajas. Replays indicate that in both instances, Capps' illegally reset his pivot foot in his delivery of the pitch, the calls were correct. After an ensuing foul ball, Capps' final pitch in the dirt bounced and hit January. Replays indicate that as January paused to recover at home plate, Capps appeared to make a comment toward January, resulting in a confrontation and ejection; Capps and catcher Rocky Gale had a conference at the mound immediately preceding the fateful pitch. At the time of the ejections, the Isotopes were leading, 9-5. The 'Topes ultimately won the contest, 12-5.

Wrap: El Paso Chihuahuas vs. Albuquerque Isotopes (PCL), 6/25/17 | Video via "Read More"

Review Blooper - Getting it Right to Get it Wrong

Replay Review, Crew Chief Angel Hernandez, an umpire-style blooper, incorrect TV commercial timing, and seemingly incorrect call (post-replay): a perfect storm of curiosities that came together to deliver an odd sequence in Seattle on Sunday.

Servais appears amused by Hernandez's flub.
With two out and the bases loaded during the June 25 Astros-Mariners game, Mariners batter Robinson Cano hit a 1-1 fastball from Astros pitcher Francis Martes on a line drive to center fielder Jake Marisnik, who threw to shortstop Carlos Correa to catcher Evan Gattis as Mariners baserunner R1 Mitch Haniger attempted to score, ruled out by HP Umpire Lance Barksdale.

As replays seem to indicate Haniger touched home plate before Gattis tagged him, Mariners Manager Scott Servais filed a Manager's Challenge and sent the play to review.

Blooper One: The broadcast had already commenced the inning break and gone to commercial as Hernandez and Barksdale donned the replay headsets. Regulations state the inning break should not begin until the Replay Review process is complete.

Blooper Two: With the Replay Review procedure beginning at the start of the inning break, and concluding over 30 seconds after returning from commercial, the Replay Official exceeded MLB's two-minute review time limit regulation, which is a new-for-2017 feature.

Caught in the Act: Angel signals Haniger safe.
Blooper Three: After the decision has been made, Hernandez signals the runner safe, eliciting cheers from the Safeco Field crowd. Barksdale quickly alerts his crew chief to something, and Hernandez changes the call to "out." Due to the initial "safe" call however, Astros Manager AJ Hinch walks to the mound and makes a pitching change. 3B Umpire Mark Ripperger had held Hinch at the foul line during the review, but, given its initial "safe" outcome, released him to the mound.

Odd Game Management? Seattle skipper Servais leaves the dugout to meet Hernandez, and appears fairly amused by Angel deploying an arms-extended "safe" mechanic before changing to a fist. What could have been a contentious argument—due to runner Haniger appearing to have been safe at home plate—turned into an Angel Hernandez mea (Ron) culpa due to the wrong hand signal. Lost in the shuffle was the actual decision of whether the runner was out or safe: the humor of Hernandez's mistake appeared to trump the correctness of the actual call.

The runner appeared to have been safe.
The Seattle broadcast summed it up best: "Are they ruling Robbie out? ... Why?" before having a laugh.

History: In 2014, Larry Vanover's crew—including Angel Hernandez—reversed an on-field "safe" ruling by Vanover to declare baserunner R3 Salvador Perez out for failing to timely tag up on a caught fly ball. Because the play was not reviewable at the time of its occurrence, some speculated that Vanover's crew consulted scoreboard video screens at Kauffman Stadium to help with the decision. This, naturally, is not allowed, but if Hernandez in Seattle had seen replays on Safeco Field's video board, he may have signaled safe to correspond with what he personally saw on replay. Video via "Read More"

Sunday, June 25, 2017

MLB Ejection 080 - John Tumpane (3; Peter Moylan)

HP Umpire John Tumpane ejected Royals pitcher Peter Moylan (balls/strikes) in the top of the 6th inning of the Blue Jays-Royals game. With none out and the bases loaded, Blue Jays batter Josh Donaldson hit a 1-0 sinker from Moylan into right field for a two-RBI double, resulting in Moylan's substitution out of the game. Replays indicate that of the six callable pitches ruled "ball" from Moylan's entrance into the game through his removal (batters Jose Bautista [walk], Russell Martin [fielding error], and Donaldson [double]), one was incorrectly officiated that realistically resulted in a different outcome of the at-bat pursuant to UEFL Rule 6-5-c-5 (ball three to Bautista [walk]), the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Blue Jays were leading, 6-2. The Blue Jays ultimately won the contest, 8-2.

This is John Tumpane (74)'s third ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
John Tumpane now has 4 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Previous + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 4).
Crew Chief Joe West now has 7 points in Crew Division (6 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 7).
*A Pitching Change Exemption, pursuant to UEFL Rule 6-5-c-2-a, has been applied.
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.

This is the 80th ejection report of 2017.
This is the 33rd player ejection of 2017. Prior to ejection, Moylan's line was 0.0 IP, 2 R, ER, BB.
This is Kansas City's 3rd ejection of 2017, T-2nd in the AL Central (CWS 8; DET, KC 3; MIN 2; CLE 0).
This is Peter Moylan's first career MLB ejection.
This is John Tumpane's 3rd ejection of 2017, 1st since April 23 (Mike Matheny; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Toronto Blue Jays vs. Kansas City Royals, 6/25/17 | Video via "Read More"

Saturday, June 24, 2017

MLB Ejection 079 - Bill Miller (1; John Farrell)

3B Umpire Bill Miller ejected Red Sox Manager John Farrell (balk call) in the top of the 7th inning of the Angels-Red Sox game. With one out and one on (R3), U3 Miller called Red Sox pitcher Fernando Abad for a balk as Angels batter Kole Calhoun request and was granted "Time" from HP Umpire Ryan Blakney. Replays indicate that prior to Blakney signaling and verbalizing "Time," Abad's left shoulder moved and his left leg and foot disengaged the pitcher's plate in seeming contravention of Rule 6.02(a), but, due to the "Time" call, the shoulder turn-disengagement move cannot conclusively be said to have violated nor complied with the restriction imposed by this rule, but pursuant to Rule 5.04(b)(2) Comment, the batter cannot inadvertently cause the pitcher to interrupt his delivery after the pitcher enters set position, the call was incorrect.*^ Ruling reviewed and overturned by the UEFL Appeals Board (8-1-0). At the time of the ejection, the Angels were leading, 5-1. The Angels ultimately won the contest, 6-3.

This is Bill Miller (26)'s first ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Bill Miller now has 1 point in the UEFL Standings (3 Previous + 2 MLB - 4 Incorrect Call = 1).
Crew Chief Bill Miller now has 2 points in Crew Division (2 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = 2).
*OBR 6.02(a): "It is a balk when—The pitcher, while touching his plate, makes any motion naturally associated with his pitch and fails to make such delivery."
OBR 5.12(b): "The ball becomes dead when an umpire calls 'Time'" (not when a player requests "Time"). (8) "...no umpire shall call “Time” while a play is in progress" (a balk is considered a play).
^OBR 5.04(b)(2) Comment: "If after the pitcher starts his windup or comes to a “set position” with a runner on, he does not go through with his pitch because the batter has inadvertently caused the pitcher to interrupt his delivery, it shall not be called a balk. Both the pitcher and batter have violated a rule and the umpire shall call time and both the batter and pitcher start over from 'scratch.'"
Related PostCalling Time to Avoid a Balk - When a Ball Becomes Dead (5/10/16)
Related Post: Starting from Scratch - Batter Disrupts Pitcher's Delivery (6/29/16)

This is the 79th ejection report of 2017.
This is the 42nd Manager ejection of 2017.
This is Boston's 3rd ejection of 2017, T-4th in the AL East (NYY, TB, TOR 4; BAL, BOS 3).
This is John Farrell's first ejection since July 31, 2016 (Gabe Morales; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Bill Miller's first ejection since March 26, 2017 (Robbie Ray; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim vs. Boston Red Sox, 6/24/17 | Video via "Read More"

MLB Ejection 077-78 - Sam Holbrook (3-4; Frazier, Renteria)

1B Umpire Sam Holbrook ejected White Sox 3B Todd Frazier and Manager Rick Renteria (Replay Review; QOCY) in the top of the 7th inning of the Athletics-White Sox game. With none out and none on, A's batter Adam Rosales hit a 2-0 fastball from White Sox pitcher Jake Petricka on the ground to third baseman Frazier, who threw to first baseman Jose Abreu as Rosales arrived at first base, called "safe" by Holbrook. Upon Replay Review as the result of a challenge by White Sox Manager Renteria, Holbrook's ruling was affirmed, Frazier's threw pulled Abreu's foot off the base, the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the A's were leading, 8-2. The A's ultimately won the contest, 10-2.

This is Sam Holbrook (34)'s third, fourth ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Sam Holbrook now has 4 points in the UEFL Standings (-4 Previous + 2*[2 MLB + 2 Correct] = 4).
Crew Chief Sam Holbrook now has 7 points in Crew Division (5 Previous + 2 Correct Call = 7).

This is the 77th, 78th ejection report of 2017.
This is the 32nd player ejection of 2017. Prior to ejection, Frazier was 1-2 (SO) in the contest.
This is the 41st Manager ejection of 2017.
This is Chicago-AL's 7/8th ejection of 2017, 1st in AL Central (CWS 8; DET 3; KC, MIN 2; CLE 0).
This is Todd Frazier's first career MLB ejection.
This is Rick Renteria's 5th ejection of 2017, 1st since June 23 (Jim Wolf; QOC = Y [Fair/Foul]).
This is Sam Holbrook's 3/4th ejection of 2017, 1st since May 3 (Adam Jones; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Oakland Athletics vs. Chicago White Sox, 6/24/17 | Video via "Read More"

MLB Ejection 076 - Jerry Meals (1; Nick Franklin)

2B Umpire Jerry Meals ejected Brewers LF Nick Franklin (Replay Review time limit; QOCU) in the top of the 1st inning of the Brewers-Braves game. With one out and one on, Braves pitcher RA Dickey attempted to pick off Brewers baserunner R1 Keon Broxton, ruled safe by 1B Umpire Ed Hickox. Bench player Franklin was ejected for arguing that the Braves took too long to decide whether to challenge the call. Because Atlanta did not actually attempt to file a Manager's Challenge, there can be no Quality of Correctness relative to the time limit for managers to initiate Replay Review, the call was irrecusable. At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 0-0. The Braves ultimately won the contest, 3-1.

This is Jerry Meals (41)'s first ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Jerry Meals now has 2 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Previous + 2 MLB + 0 Irrecusable Call = 2).
Crew Chief Jerry Meals now has -5 points in Crew Division (-6 Previous + 1 Irrecusable Call = -5).

This is the 76th ejection report of 2017.
This is the 31st player ejection of 2017. Prior to ejection, Franklin was benched; he did not play.
This is Milwaukee's 3rd ejection of 2017, T-1st in the NL Central (MIL, PIT, STL 3; CHC, CIN 1).
This is Nick Franklin's first ejection since March 19, 2017 (Ryan Blakney; QOC = U [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Jerry Meals' first ejection since July 5, 2016 (Joe Maddon; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Milwaukee Brewers vs. Atlanta Braves, 6/24/17 | Video via "Read More"

Friday, June 23, 2017

MLB Ejection 075 - Jordan Baker (3; Brad Ausmus)

1B Umpire Jordan Baker ejected Tigers Manager Brad Ausmus (check swing strike three call) in the top of the 8th inning of the Tigers-Padres game. With none out and one on (R2), Tigers batter Ian Kinsler attempted to check his swing on a 0-2 slider from Padres pitcher Brad Hand, ruled a swinging strike on appeal by U1 Baker. Play was reviewed and affirmed by the UEFL Appeals Board (9-0-0), the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Padres were leading, 1-0. The Padres ultimately won the contest, 1-0.

This is Jordan Baker (71)'s third ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Jordan Baker now has 9 points in the UEFL Standings (5 Previous + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 9).
Crew Chief Mike Everitt now has 12 points in Crew Division (11 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 12).

This is the 75th ejection report of 2017.
This is the 40th Manager ejection of 2017.
This is Detroit's 3rd ejection of 2017, 2nd in the AL Central (CWS 6; DET 3; KC, MIN 2; CLE 0).
This is Brad Ausmus' 2nd ejection of 2017, 1st since June 3 (Fieldin Culbreth; QOC = Y [Replay Review]).
This is Jordan Baker's 3rd ejection of 2017, 1st since April 22 (Miguel Sano; QOC = U [Fighting]).

Wrap: Detroit Tigers vs. San Diego Padres, 6/23/17 | Video via "Read More"

MLB Ejection 073-074 - Jim Wolf (1-2; Anderson, Renteria)

HP Umpire Jim Wolf ejected White Sox SS Tim Anderson and Manager Rick Renteria (fair ball call) in the bottom of the 5th inning of the Athletics-White Sox game. With one out and none on, batter Anderson hit a 1-1 slider from A's pitcher Jharel Cotton into the ground in front of home plate, where it was fielded on a bounce by catcher Bruce Maxwell, ruled a fair ball by Wolf. Replays indicate Maxwell first touched the batted ball as it was over the foul line, in fair territory and that the ball did not strike Anderson's helmet nor his bat a second time, the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the A's were leading, 3-0. The A's ultimately won the contest, 3-0.

This is Jim Wolf (28)'s first, second ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Jim Wolf now has 8 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Previous + 2*[2 MLB + 2 Correct Call] = 8).
Crew Chief Sam Holbrook now has 6 points in Crew Division (5 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 6).

This is the 73rd, 74th ejection report of 2017.
This is the 30th player ejection of 2017. Prior to ejection, Anderson was 0-2 in the contest.
This is the 39th Manager ejection of 2017.
This is Chicago-AL's 5/6th ejection of 2017, 1st in the AL Central (CWS 6; DET, KC, MIN 2; CLE 0).
This is Tim Anderson's first career MLB ejection.
This is Rick Renteria's 4th ejection of 2017, 1st since June 15 (Paul Emmel; QOC = Y [Check Swing]).
This is Jim Wolf's first ejection since August 2, 2015 (DeMarlo Hale; QOC = U [Throwing At]).

Wrap: Oakland Athletics vs. Chicago White Sox, 6/23/17 | Video via "Read More"

Obstruction 1 or A vs 2 or B - The Difference is Crucial

Obstruction quiz: As runner Robinson Chirinos tries to evade a rundown, fielder Troy Tulowitzki—without the ball and not in the process of receiving the ball—stands in Chirinos' way back to third base and, in doing so, obstructs Chirinos. Question: Is this Obstruction 1/A or 2/B? (Note: Under the pre-2015 rules code, the terms were Obstruction A and B; under the rulebook's renumbering, the terms are Obstruction 1 and 2. A and 1 are the same, as are B and 2, and thus are used interchangeably.)

Identify this obstruction: Type A or B? 1 or 2?
Knowing the difference between the two varieties of obstruction is one thing, but parsing the rules and making a definitive call in real-time separates a field of confusion from a ballpark of understanding.

The Play: With one out and runners at the corners on Thursday afternoon in Arlington, Rangers batter Elvis Andrus hit a ground ball to Blue Jays third baseman Russell Martin, who seemingly trapped baserunner R3 Chirinos between third and home. As Martin ran Chirinos back to third, shortstop Tulowitzki shifted over and stood in front of the base, prepared to receive Martin's throw...only Martin opted not to throw to Tulowitzki, and instead dove at Chirinos, who, having collided with Tulowitzki, had not yet reached third base on his desperation lunge.

The Call and Mechanics: Nary a fortnight into his Major League umpiring career, 3B Umpire Shane Livensparger immediately identified Tulowitzki's obstruction by pointing to it as the two players continued to scramble on the ground. Livensparger's point was followed by a "safe" mechanic before the call-up umpire again pointed to the obstruction. As Tulowitzki approached Livensparger to discuss the call, Livensparger called "Time."

The play approaches third base.
Aftermath: Blue Jays Manager John Gibbons initially attempted to challenge the play, and Livensparger alongside Crew Chief and home plate umpire Greg Gibson gathered at the on-field Replay Review station before quickly surmising that U3 had called obstruction, which is not subject to Replay Review. As the umpires conferred, Livensparger's Obstruction Type 1 call was affirmed and Chirinos awarded home plate, with Gibson explaining the outcome to Gibbons. [Sidebar: Score this play a fielder's choice and charge an error to Tulowitzki.]

Analysis: Livensparger properly ruled Obstruction A, but improperly employed Type B mechanics to communicate the call. Let's break down the video (via "Read More").

0:07: R3 Chirinos is obstructed by F6 Tulowitzki. This is an example of Obstruction Type A.
0:08: U3 Livensparger points to R3/F6 while the ball is live, an Obstruction Type B mechanic.
0:09: U3 Livensparger signals the runner "safe." If U3 is ruling that Chirinos beat Martin's tag back to his base, this is the proper mechanic for Type B Obstruction. If "safe" is part of his obstruction call, this is not a proper signal for either type of obstruction. Under both types of obstruction, play should be declared dead before awards are given.
0:13: U3 calls "Time" after the play ends. This cadence is an Obstruction Type B mechanic.

U3 first calls "Time" after the play concludes.
"Time" should be immediate in Obstruction A.
Proper Mechanic, Obstruction A: When Type A obstruction occurs, the umpire shall (1) immediately call "Time" to kill the play, as, by rule, the ball is dead immediately when a runner whom a play is being made on is obstructed. After the ball has been declared dead, the umpire shall (2) laterally point to the obstruction and, then, (3) impose penalties as prescribed by rule (see below).

Proper Mechanic, Obstruction B: When Type B obstruction occurs, the umpire shall (1) point to identify the infraction (laterally point and verbally declare "that's obstruction"), but keep the ball alive. When no further action is possible, the umpire shall (2) call "Time" to deaden the ball. When the ball is dead, the umpire shall (3) impose penalties as prescribed by rule (see below).

Why not signal "Safe" in real-time? When an umpire signals "safe" while the ball is live, this generally means "the tag was missed/was late," "no violation," or "ball in play." Other than during a tag play, a live ball "safe" signal when a runner collides with a fielder, such as Chirinos/Tulowitzki, would thus logically mean "no obstruction" and "no interference." It's another way of saying "that's nothing," which is quite literally the opposite of what U3 intended to call on this play. Signaling a runner "safe" on the tag is skipping a step or two of the obstruction cadence, and gives the umpire a misleading appearance of calling a runner safe who is clearly tagged with the ball while off base.

Angel Hernandez signals Obstruction Type 2.
Major Penalty Difference, A and B: Simply put, the obstructed runner in Type A obstruction is awarded at least one base beyond the base last legally touched at the time of obstruction. In a rundown situation, that means the runner gets at least the next base (if a thrown ball is in the air when OBS A occurs, and the ball subsequently goes out of play, e.g., the runner would get a standard two-base award). Other runners get "nullify the act" treatment unless forced to advance because of the obstructed runner's award. In Type B obstruction, all runners—including the obstructed runner and all other baserunners—get the "nullify the act" treatment. Because the ball is kept alive, this means that one or more of these runners may be declared out if they are tagged during the continuation of play. Obstruction 2 does not guarantee a free base (BRD: In NFHS/high school, the penalty for any obstruction [except catcher's obstruction on the batter] is an automatic one-base guarantee for the obstructed runner [nullify-the-act for everyone else]. NCAA/college carries the same penalties as OBR A and B).

Silver Lining: If you're going to use the wrong type of obstruction mechanic, it's much better to use Type B mechanics for a Type A call than to improperly call "Time" and incorrectly kill the play, as one would for Type A, during a Type B obstruction situation when the ball should be left alive. Of course, it's better to actually use Type A mechanics for a Type A play.

U1 uses the improper Type B point for A OBS.
In 2016, Brian Gorman's crew employed improper mechanics on a Type 1 Obstruction play (the crew improperly kept play alive through the obstruction and until no further play was possible, as in OBS 2), but ultimately enforced the proper penalty of awarding the obstructed runner one base while placing a second baserunner at the base the crew believed he would have achieved had there been no obstruction ("nullify the act").

The Gorman crew's ruling resulted in the ejection of Brewers Manager Craig Counsell.

Obstruction A on a batter-runner.
Related Plays: In 2014, HP Umpire Greg Gibson ruled Obstruction A on a batted ball to the pitcher when the pitcher and first baseman converged on the ball while the batter-runner attempted to run by the two fielders. During that play, Gibson first (1) called "Time" (as mirrored by 1B Umpire Phil Cuzzi) before (2) laterally pointing to the obstruction and (3) awarding the batter first base.

In 2011, Jerry Layne's crew convened to rule Obstruction A on an infield ground ball where the batter-runner ran into a non-fielding pitcher standing in his base path in front of first base. Though the plate umpire was Layne and first base umpire Alan Porter, it was 2B Umpire Hunter Wendelstedt who ended up explaining the call to a dissatisfied Mariners Manager in Eric Wedge. No obstruction appeared to have been initially called on the play—either that or the mechanics were not present.

During the 2013 World Series, Jim Joyce and Dana DeMuth combined to make one of the most famous obstruction calls in Major League history. Joyce signaled Obstruction Type B as a baserunner and third baseman became entangled, allowing the baserunner to score the game's winning run as DeMuth enforced the OBS B penalty, making history as the first World Series game to end on an obstruction or interference error. Yes, DeMuth's mechanic should have been to call "Time" before imposing the penalty, but given the circumstance, his call was still clear.

Bellino clearly conveys his Obstruction B call.
In 2010, young fill-in umpire Dan Bellino called Type B obstruction during a Reds-Nationals game, ejecting Nats Manager Jim Riggleman for arguing his ruling. Bellino's mechanics provided a perfect example for calling this brand of Obstruction B. He pointed to the infraction when it happened (presumably, while verbalizing "that's obstruction"), but allowed play to continue. When the runner was eventually tagged while off his base, and the play thus concluded, Bellino did not indicate the runner safe, but instead (1) called "Time" and then (2) pointed back to the obstruction before (3) pointing to the awarded base and finally signaling the runner safe, in that order. Although Washington argued the call, there was no confusion or mistaking what Bellino's ruling was.

Bellino was hired to the full-time staff during the ensuing off-season.

Knowing the key differences between Obstruction Types A and B and employing the mechanics appropriate for the type of obstruction which occurs is a simple way to establish a high level of credibility and respect on the field if and when such plays arise. Proper mechanics in these potentially confusing situations communicate to everyone that the umpire is in command, is well equipped to handle the play, and knows the rules.

By contrast, as the aforementioned incorrect mechanic examples demonstrate, failure to exercise the proper mechanic for the specific type of obstruction that occurs is a fast track toward a similar loss of credibility and control.

There are three distinct Official Baseball Rules (ok, two of them are part of the same rule) that govern obstruction (click here for a detailed look at the obstruction rules). They are:

[Definition of Terms]: "OBSTRUCTION is the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball and not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner."

Obstruction A: Play made on the runner.
Rule 6.01(h)(1) [formerly 7.06(a), aka Type 1 or Type A]: "If a play is being made on the obstructed runner, or if the batter-runner is obstructed before he touches first base, the ball is dead and all runners shall advance, without liability to be put out, to the bases they would have reached, in the umpire’s judgment, if there had been no obstruction. The obstructed runner shall be awarded at least one base beyond the base he had last legally touched before the obstruction. Any preceding runners, forced to advance by the award of bases as the penalty for obstruction, shall advance without liability to be put out."

Obstruction B: No play on the runner.
Rule 6.01(h)(1) Comment (relative to mechanics): "When a play is being made on an obstructed runner, the umpire shall signal obstruction in the same manner that he calls 'Time,' with both hands overhead."

Rule 6.02(h)(2) [formerly 7.06(b), aka Type 2 or Type B]: "If no play is being made on the obstructed runner, the play shall proceed until no further action is possible. The umpire shall then call 'Time' and impose such penalties, if any, as in his judgment will nullify the act of obstruction."

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Case Play 2017-6 - Thrown Ball Hits Backswing [Solved]

A catcher's attempt to throw out a stealing runner hit the batter's bat on the backswing, resulting in an odd situation and our latest Case Play: Thrown Ball Hits Backswing.

Catcher's throw hits the batter's bat.
The Play: With one out and two on (R1, R2), Astros batter Jose Altuve attempted to steal third base on a 1-1 pitch as batter Evan Gattis swung and missed at the offering. As Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez attempted to throw Altuve out at third base, the thrown baseball hit Gattis' bat and bounced harmlessly back toward the pitcher's mound as HP Umpire DJ Reyburn signaled no violation of rule.

Case Play Question: What is the proper call; is this interference (batter and/or runner out), backswing contact (dead ball, runners return), or an incidental play (ball remains live)? What if, instead of a 1-1 count, Gattis swung and missed at a 1-2 pitch for strike three, and the same sequence occurred afterward (thrown ball makes contact with bat on the backswing)?

Dale Scott's crew had a similar play in 2015.
Answer: Due to the incidental nature of ball-bat contact after the catcher's completion of the throwing action, the ball remains live and there is no interference. The runner is safe at third base. From the MLBUM: "If the batter is standing in the batter's box and he or his bat is struck by the catcher's throw back to the pitcher (or throw in attempting to retire a runner) and, in the umpire's judgment, there is no intent on the part of the batter to interfere with the throw, the ball is alive and in play."
A similar play happened during Game 5 of the 2015 American League Division Series.
> Unintentional backswing contact does not exist after the catcher's act of throwing is complete (e.g., after the ball is released on a throw). Backswing contact can occur if a pitched ball bouches off the catcher's glove and directly to the batter's bat; see Case Play 2016-1, The Dropped Third Strike.
> Had, all else equal, the batter stepped out of the batter's box before the throw hit his bat, the umpire would then declare the batter out for interference pursuant to Rule 6.03(a)(3) [at 0:03, it appears the batter's foot is still in contact with the erased batter's box line, which would make him legal. If he stepped out of the box, naturally, he would be guilty of interference].

Official Baseball Rules Library
OBR 6.01(a)(5): "It is interference by a batter or a runner when—Any batter or runner who has just been put out, or any runner who has just scored, hinders or impedes any following play being made on a runner. Such runner shall be declared out for the interference of his teammate."
OBR 6.01(a)(10): "It is interference by a batter or a runner when—He fails to avoid a fielder who is attempting to field a batted ball, or intentionally interferes with a thrown ball."
OBR 6.03(a)(3): "A batter is out for illegal action when—He interferes with the catcher’s fielding or throwing by stepping out of the batter’s box or making any other movement that hinders the catcher’s play at home base."
OBR 6.03(a) Comment: "If the batter interferes with the catcher, the plate umpire shall call 'interference.' The batter is out and the ball dead. No player may advance on such interference (offensive interference) and all runners must return to the last base that was, in the judgment of the umpire, legally touched at the time of the interference."
OBR 6.03(a) Comment: "If a batter strikes at a ball and misses and swings so hard he carries the bat all the way around and, in the umpire’s judgment, unintentionally hits the catcher or the ball in back of him on the backswing, it shall be called a strike only (not interference). The ball will be dead, however, and no runner shall advance on the play."

Video via "Read More"