Friday, January 19, 2018

Players Reject Pace of Play Proposal, Override Probable

Although the Major League Baseball Players Association rejected his latest pace-of-play proposal, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred may nonetheless overrule the MLBPA and introduce pitch clock rules for the 2018 season without the union's support, thanks to a CBA rule that allows the Commissioner to play hardball.

MLB may receive new pitch clock rules.
According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement between MLB owners and the MLBPA, the Clubs (which are led by Commissioner Manfred) are empowered to implement rules changes in one of two ways: A) With the players' consent, or B) without it.

If an agreement is reached with MLBPA) The rules may be changed for the upcoming season pursuant to the terms of that agreement; or,
If no agreement is reached with MLBPA) The rules may be changed without player consent as long as the Clubs wait one entire season before implementing the new, not-agreed-to rules.

Article XIII of the MLBPA's Basic Agreement states:
If the Clubs and the Association fail to reach agreement on a proposed change which is subject to negotiation, the proposed change shall not be put into effect until the completion of the next complete succeeding season (including the Wild Card Game, Division Series, League Championship Series and World Series) following the date the change was proposed.
Time is running out on limitless baseball.
In other words, this all goes back to the preceding offseason (2016-17), when the MLBPA rejected the Commissioner's proposed pace-of-play changes regarding pitch clocks and the like. Now that a full season and postseason has passed, the Commissioner has the authority to impose these same circa 2016-17 proposals, essentially overriding the players' veto.

To illustrate this principle, consider the Arizona Fall League, MLB's self-described testing ground for pace of play and other rules change initiatives. The 2014 AFL tested a concept called "no-pitch intentional walks," in which a batter would be awarded first base with no pitches thrown if the defense simply wanted to add a baserunner. The 2014 AFL also introduced a 20-second pitch clock.
Related PostMLB to Test Pace of Game Proposals at Arizona Fall League (10/1/14).

Though the 2015 and 2016 seasons retained the traditional intentional walk, Manfred's crew eliminated the practice ahead of the 2017 season, while decrying "a lack of cooperation from the MLBPA." Thus, the no-pitch intentional walk rules change was implemented in the majors over a year removed from its first appearance in the laboratory fall league.
Related PostFour-Pitch Intentional Walk, Potential Flubs, Abolished (2/22/17).

Manfred is authorized to overrule the MLBPA.
The 2016 Arizona Fall League experimented with a 15-second pitch clock and additional timers for other game situations (35 seconds between batters and 30 seconds for mound visits). The 2016 AFL also experimented with a three mound visit/conference limit per team, per game.

This is all in addition to Minor League Baseball's use of pitch clocks, which have existed in one form or another since well before the 2017 offseason. MiLB does not have a bartering partner as formidable as the MLBPA.

At a November 2017 owner's meeting, Manfred all but assured baseball's brass that pace of play rules changes will be implemented in time for the 2018 regular season, with or without MLBPA support. The changes are owner-friendly and corporate hopes it will help the brand—from the big prize of keeping fans engaged with on-field action to smaller fringe benefits, such as cutting payroll expenses as hourly stadium employees spend less time at work or being able to shut the lights off 10 minutes earlier, an average savings-per-game predicted by the commissioner's office. Cue Article XIII.
Related PostRob Manfred Vows Pace of Play Rules Changes for 2018 (11/16/17).

MLB will purportedly introduce a 20-second pitch clock for all situations—both "bases empty" and "runners on" scenarios—starting when the pitcher has the ball on the mound and stopping when the windup begins, or the pitcher comes set, in a form similar to that first introduced at the 2014 AFL.

As has been practice in the minors, this pitch clock will reset if the pitcher steps off the rubber, while the batter must enter the box within five seconds of the clock starting; pitchers who fail to windup or set prior to the expiration of time will be warned, after which any subsequent violation will result in an automatic ball.

A 30-second between-batters clock, similar to the 2016 AFL model, is also expected to make an appearance in 2018; the rejected proposal had included a 35-second between-batters timer.

Mound visits are about to change.
Another initiative likely to see implementation concerns mound visits, and will expand the current definition of a mound visit—which presently occurs when a coach or manager enters the field to confer with a pitch—to include players, such that a pitcher conferring with a first baseman, for instance, shall be charged a mound visit, the second of which within an inning would require the pitcher to leave the game, as in OBR 5.10(l) regarding "Visits to the Mound."

Sidebar: In our 2017 postseason live blog, we noted that catchers were visiting the mound to confer with pitchers to a point of excess; the proposed change would limit their ability to do this.

For reference, Rule 5.10(l) presently reads, in part (circa 2017):
(1) This rule limits the number of trips a manager or coach may make to any one pitcher in any one inning;
(2) A second trip to the same pitcher in the same inning will cause this pitcher’s automatic removal from the game
The Clubs had purportedly proposed six allowed "no-charge" conferences per game, which would have allowed players to confer with the pitcher without invoking the mound visit rule up to six times per game; instead, MLBPA's rejection means that Manfred and the Clubs are free to implement any pace-of-play proposal first introduced in Winter 2016 or earlier, which includes the aforementioned pitch clocks, between-batters clock, and mound visit restrictions.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Hall of Fame and Former NL Umpire Doug Harvey Dies

National Baseball Hall of Fame umpire Harold Doug "God" Harvey has passed away at the age of 87. Harvey, who officiated 4,673 regular season National League games from 1962-1992, joined the California League in 1958, at the age of 28, and worked in the Pacific Coast League prior to his NL hiring.

Born in South Gate, California on March 13, 1930 to Harold Wollen (a former minor league umpire himself) and Target Mae Harvey, Doug Harvey began his sports officiating career as a high school basketball referee at the age of 16.

A San Diego State College alum, Harvey played collegiate baseball, basketball, and football, opting to pursue umpiring after leaving SD State, landing placement in the California League soon thereafter.

Doug Harvey has died.
After a rapid ascent to Triple-A's PCL in 1961, he was hired to the NL staff in 1962 at the age of 32, becoming the first major league umpire of Native American ancestry to officiate at baseball's highest level, and the last not to have first attended professional umpire school.

The Silver Fox remained a San Diego resident throughout his professional umpiring career, was voted the NL's best umpire in a 1974 Major League Player's Association poll, best umpire once again in a 1990 Sport magazine ranking, and officiated five All-Star games, nine National League Championship Series, and five World Series by the time he retired from baseball in 1992, due in part to failing knees. His former sleeve #8 is presently worn by Major League crew chief Jeff Kellogg.
Doug Harvey's Hall of Fame plaque.

Having often used chewing tobacco, Harvey in 1997 was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, an ailment which impacted his 2010 Hall of Fame induction ceremony speech, and necessitated the use of pre-recorded video to accept the induction.

He concluded his career with 58 ejections, his first on May 9, 1962 (Milwaukee catcher Joe Torre), and his final on September 16, 1992 (Cardinals Manager, the same Joe Torre).

Residents of Southern California could easily tell who and where Harvey was thanks to his personalized license plate, which Harvey customized to read "NL UMP."

Following his career, Harvey published a memoir entitled, They Called Me God: The Best Umpire Who Ever Lived, recounting tales from his three decades on the field.

After the Veterans Committee elected him to the Hall of Fame in 2010, the California League celebrated his induction with the creation of its Doug Harvey Award, which honors the Cal League's Umpire of the Year; the California League is the only professional league to annually honor an umpire.

The Single-A California League later named Harvey to its 2017 Hall of Fame class.
Related Post: Doug Harvey Set for CAL League Hall of Fame Induction (6/16/17).

Harold Douglas Harvey was 87 years old; his wife has confirmed he passed from natural causes.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Running the Numbers for MLB's Next Crew Chief

Let's play a little offseason ball and run the numbers for the most viable 'Umpire 2' candidates for promotion to crew chief, care of Dale Scott's retirement. For a little more spice, we'll consider Angel Hernandez's perspective, relative to his lawsuit against the MLB Commissioner's Office alleging an unjust denial of promotion to crew chief. Will 2018 prove, finally, to be his time?

Which umpire's promotion is in the cards for 2018?
Does plaintiff Angel Hernandez have a point—is he truly the most qualified candidate who continually is passed over? We'll also analyze some recent promotions to crew chief over the past few seasons to see if the numbers truly support Hernandez's case. We will conclude with a ranking of potential candidates for the crew chief vacancy based on the following analysis. The following sections contain conjecture based upon on-field and roster-based historical statistics. First, we define the terms and scope of this study.

Eligibility: Generally speaking, an umpire is eligible for promotion to crew chief if: A) The umpire has served as a "Number 2" or backup crew chief on a Major League crew and/or has played the part of interim or acting crew chief; and B) the umpire actually wants, and presumably applies for, the crew chief role.

Candidates: Although we are not privy to the details regarding which umpires fit criterion B) regarding interest in the position, we can narrow down the staff to those number twos who are most qualified. The following analysis will include only the top candidates who also fit criterion A). Generally speaking, there is great overlap between top candidates and those who are already number twos.

Angel Hernandez has been #2 since 2002.
Qualification Standards: There are a few ways to look at which candidates are most qualified to serve as a permanent crew chief. We will define three qualification standards for use in our analysis.

One metric is experience: How long has the umpire been a number two (var: Ump2), or what history does the umpire have serving as an acting crew chief during regular season play?

The second is postseason work: What does the umpire's body of October assignments look like?

Third, we consider performance: What are the umpire's RAPs, strike zone %, and observer feedback?

Finally, intangibles takes into account extracurricular leadership qualities that generally can't be quantitatively measured. For instance, how, exactly, would one go about numerically factoring in achievements such as "Reverend Doctor" or serving on a Board of Directors (e.g., Calling for Christ or UmpsCare Charities)?

Analysis:

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Joe West to Join North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame

The North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame announced MLB umpire Joe West as part of its 2018 induction class; West will be inducted into the NCSHOF during a May banquet and ceremony at the Raleigh Convention Center.

'Blue Cowboy' Joe West will be inducted in May.
NC HOF President Nora Lynn Finch cited the class's achievements, which enrich the state's sports heritage; according to the Hall's website, "The North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, which inducted its first class in 1963, celebrates excellence and extraordinary achievement in athletics."

In June 2017, West officiated his 5,000th regular season game at the Major League level, and is the longest-tenured umpire in MLB history (by years of service) with over 40 games of big league experience. West's 5,074 games through 2017 ranks third on the all-time list, behind National Baseball Hall of Fame Umpire Bill Klemm (5,375 games) and the more recently retired Bruce Froemming (5,163 games). West has also officiated the second-most postseason games in MLB history, behind Gerry Davis.
Related PostUmpire Joe West Officiates 5,000th Regular Season Game (6/20/17).

West is the second umpire to be inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. In 1997, the Hall inducted Jim Mills of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, who also officiated college basketball and football in the Atlantic Coast Conference and Southeastern Conference during the 1950s and 1960s after umpiring in baseball's Carolina League in 1954; Mills later served as President of the Carolina League from 1977 to 1983.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Top 20 Ejections of 2017 - UEFL Year in Review

As the year draws to a close, we revisit the 2017 season with a UEFL Year in Review. With assistance from voting data gathered during the 2017 year-end Awards Nominations, these are the Top 20 Ejections from the 2017 baseball year (pre-season, regular season, and postseason).

*Quality of Correctness is provided in the following format:
Y = Correct, N = Incorrect, U = Irrecusable.

Umpire Ejection Fantasy League Year in Review: The UEFL's Top 20 Ejections of 2017
Note: Click each ejection number and umpire name to view the report and video from the season.
20E-090: John Libka (1); Astros 1B Marwin Gonzalez (Strike Two Call; QOC = Y).
19: E-151: Laz Diaz (2); Astros Bench Coach Alex Cora (Legal Baseball Inspection; QOC = U).
18E-006: CB Bucknor (1); Mariners Manager Scott Servais (Fair/Out Call; QOC = Y).
17E-117: Phil Cuzzi (6); Twins DH Miguel Sano (Strike Three Call; QOC = N).
16: E-056: Ted Barrett (1); Braves Manager Brian Snitker (Balk Call; QOC = Y).
15E-058|9: Marty Foster (1-2); Dodgers 1B Adrian Gonzalez, C Yasmani Grandal (Strikes; QOCN).
14: E-089: Doug Eddings (1); Angels 3B Yunel Escobar (Strike Two Call; QOC = Y).
13: P-1: Mark Wegner (1); Red Sox Manager John Farrell (Strike Three Call; QOC = Y).
12: E-178: Ryan Additon (1); Marlins Manager Don Mattingly (Denied BOO Appeal; QOC = Y).
11: E-027: Vic Carapazza (1); Blue Jays Manager John Gibbons (Obstruction A Call; QOC = Y).
10E-038-40: Carlos Torres (1-3); Marlins and Dodgers (Throwing At and Fighting; QOC = U).
#9P-2: Mike Winters (2); Cubs Manager Joe Maddon (Replay/Overturned HP violation; QOC = Y).
#8: WBC-6: Will Little (1); Dominican Republic Mgr Tony Pena Sr (Strike One Call; QOC = U).
#7E-107: Chris Segal (2); Nationals RF Bryce Harper (Strike One Call; QOC = Y).
#6: E-087-8: Greg Gibson (2-3); Dodgers Mgr Dave Roberts, Padres Mgr Andy Green (Fighting; QOCU).
#5E-097: Tom Hallion (1)White Sox Manager Rick Renteria (Wild Pickoff Base Award; QOC = Y).
#4S-7: Angel Hernandez (1); Mets SS Asdrubal Cabrera (USC-NEC [Time Not Granted]; QOC = U).
#3E-021: Stu Scheurwater (1); Orioles Manager Buck Showalter (Balk Call; QOC = Y).
#2WBC-2-4: Tripp Gibson (1-3)Team Columbia x3 (Out/HP block violation no-call; QOC = Y).
HONORABLE MENTION: Dan Bellino removes fan for tipping pitches (unofficial ejection).
#1: E-109: Gerry Davis (1); Rangers 3B Adrian Beltre (USC-NEC [Moving On-Deck Circle]; QOC = U).

Links to previous years' Top Ejections countdowns: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Source - Stu Scheurwater Hired to Full-Time MLB Staff

34-year-old Stu Scheurwater of Regina, Saskatchewan is, unofficially, Major League Baseball's newest umpire, MLB reportedly hiring him to the full-time staff to fill retired ump Dale Scott's vacancy, according to multiple sources.

A Baseball Canada umpiring alum, Scheurwater begins his MLBU career with 253 games of Major League experience, including 153 games in 2017, after debuting on April 25, 2014 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles; the news is reported as a SOURCE post and has not yet been confirmed.* For instance, the Press Reader reported that Scheurwater is not yet officially a full-time MLB umpire, though he "could be named to the full-time staff as early as this February."
Related PostMajor League Umpiring Debut: Stu Scheurwater (85) (4/25/14).
Stu Scheurwater is MLB's newest staff umpire.*

His foray into professional American baseball began with graduation from the Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School in 2006, after which Scheurwater was forced to sit out the 2006 season due to a paperwork processing delay at Homeland Security.

After officially beginning in the minors on the 2007 Arizona League staff, Scheurwater worked his way through the Northwest, South Atlantic, Carolina, Texas, and Pacific Coast Leagues, working the 2012 Arizona Fall League along the way; in all, Scheurwater officially served six seasons in Triple-A, although he spent nearly the entire 2017 season at the Major League level due in part to Dale Scott's career-ending head injury in Toronto.
Related PostA Look at the Dale Scott Crew Without Their Crew Chief (5/24/17).

Scheurwater effected his first ejection on April 30, 2017, when he threw out Orioles Manager Buck Showalter for arguing a correctly officiated balk call; he finished the 2017 season with five ejections and earned the 2017 UEFL Award for Fill-In Umpire of the Year, marking the fourth consecutive Fill-In Umpire of the Year to have been hired to the full-time staff (Gibson '14, Tumpane '15, and Hamari '16).
Related PostMLB Ejection 021 - Stu Scheurwater (1; Buck Showalter) (4/30/17).
Related Post2017 UEFL Award for Fill-In Umpire - Stu Scheurwater (11/7/17).

Scheurwater is the most recent Canada-born umpire to make it to the big leagues; Jim McKean, who officiated in the American League from 1973-1999, and throughout both leagues in 2000 and 2001, was born in Montreal, Quebec. Ian Lamplugh, who last worked in 2002, grew up in British Columbia, but was born in Trowbridge, England.

*Reported as a Source post pursuant to UEFL News Reporting Best Practices, and not yet officially confirmed.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

GHSA Amends Bylaws to Exclude Judgment Calls

In the offseason following the Georgia High School Association's decision to overturn an on-field umpire's judgment call, the GHSA amended its Bylaws to address similar future complaints, such as this month's appeal from Peach County HS concerning a football official's incomplete pass ruling in the fourth quarter of a State championship game.

Officially speaking, the GHSA took no action when Peach County head coach Chad Campbell presented his argument in front of the GHSA Board of Trustees on Monday, despite the same Board of Trustees' ruling in the Lee County case.
Related PostPrecedent Set, Georgia Faces 2nd Judgment Call Protest (12/11/17).

The GHSA has reversed its appeal stance.
Photo: Nancy Stahl, NYTimes
Instead, newly installed GHSA Executive Director Robert Hines demurred, "[We aren't] here to talk about the call...judgment calls made by contest officials are not reviewable or reversible." Meanwhile, GHSA attorney Alan Connell—the same lawyer who ruled in May that Lee County baseball could appeal a judgment call—confirmed that Monday's meeting was informational and would not overturn the in-game ruling.

Gil's Call: In making no call and having no comment on the play, the GHSA finally made the right decision and Campbell is arguing straight from the scapegoating playbook.

In regards to the issue of not reviewing judgment calls, consider this argument from the other side (not to mention the argument that the receiver may have illegally participated by stepping out of bounds prior to the pass): "So are the peach county (sic) folks just disregarding the fact that the refs missed a fumble call in the same series of downs that gave them the opportunity to even have this play?"

A side judge signals the pass play incomplete.
Prevailing logic would dictate that if the fourth down judgment call were to be deemed reviewable, this earlier alleged non-fumble would also be looked at...and who knows how many plays prior to that would have to be considered.

In regards to the scapegoat issue, Campbell, in an interview with ESPN's Bill Shanks, stated, "We've had some bad crews this postseason and, um, you know, it so happened the worst crew were (sic) the ones we saw on the most extravagant stage of them all and viewed and watched by millions of people across the United States and the world."

Campbell then proceeded to admonish the entire crew, identified the white hat—by name—and aired some grievances about the referee, saying that he had officiated a previous state championship where another team "got hosed...how he got to be on another championship crew is beyond my belief."

The National Federation of State High School Association (NFHS)'s Coaches Code of Ethics states, "The coach shall strive to set an example of the highest ethical and moral conduct...Public criticism of officials or players is unethical."

Oh well.
Related PostGil's Call: The Blame Game (Umpire Scapegoating) (8/8/14).

Coach Campbell, who was seeking to reverse the incomplete pass ruling, presented several opinionated arguments, stating that the side judge who made the call was out of position and "had the worst view of them all," that the crew failed to discuss the call after it was made, and concluded with the accusation, "Not one time—not for one second—did they try to get this call right."

Following his appeal, Campbell presented the Board with the non sequitur argument that he was not protesting a judgment call, but a rules interpretation. That statement wasn't a fluke; Campbell doubled down and reiterated that he was not protesting a judgment call in his interview with Shanks.

However, the report failed to specify which rule Campbell believed had been misinterpreted and Campbell again failed to state which rule had been interpreted incorrectly in his interview with Shanks, though he did have two requests.

1) Resume the game from the point of appeal with the touchdown awarded to Peach County; or,
2) Name Peach County as co-champions alongside the real victors, Calhoun High School.

The Board declined to do either, in stark contrast to how they handled the Lee County appeal in May.
Related PostDangerous Precedent - GHSA Overturns Judgment Call (5/22/17).

New Bylaws reversed White's May precedent.
To understand why, we see that in October, the GHSA quietly voted in an amendment to the association's Bylaws, adding Bylaw 2.92(g), which states, "Judgement (sic) calls by contest officials are not reviewable or reversible."

Grammarians might even observe the amendment was rushed by considering the spelling of, "judgement."

Nonetheless, new GHSA Bylaw 2.92(g) ensures that what happened back in May when the same GHSA Board overturned an umpire's judgment call will not happen again: GHSA President Glenn White's Lee County baseball precedent has been superseded by Bylaw amendment... though Monday's Board meeting ended with White announcing that the Board will meet again in January.

Peach County recently announced its plan to complain and/or boycott the Georgia Farm Bureau in protest. The Georgia Farm Bureau is one of several GHSA corporate sponsors. The plan is to make GHSA, and its sponsors, pay.

In his interview with Shanks, Campbell summarized the event, calling it, "a complete joke" and announcing his resignation from GHSA Executive Committees for football and baseball in protest. Shanks and Campbell then accused the GHSA's attorney of "dumb[ing] them [The Board] up."

Campbell concluded, "It's not over. I'm not going to rest." Although the battle may get that much more difficult, with Campbell having resigned from having a say on the GHSA committees.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Cold Case - Police Closing in on Joe West Assailants

In June, MLB umpire Joe West was struck with a baseball thrown from the stands at Miller Park. New documents in Milwaukee suggest two things: the assault was a deliberate act and police know who the suspects are.

A recently released search warrant paints the picture: According to a witness sitting along the foul-territory grandstand along the right field line in Miller Park, two fans nearby were not happy with West, allegedly shouting profanity and saying, "ump, you're going to cost us the game."

The Marlins-Brewers game was tied at zero in the bottom of the 4th inning at the time of the incident.
Related PostAssault - Joe West Hit in Head by Ball Thrown From Stands (6/30/17).

Joe West was hit by a thrown ball in June.
The witness later observed a then-unknown projectile fly over his shoulder and down onto the playing field, where it struck West. In addition to his statement, the witness provided local police with a photograph he had taken on his phone during the game, in which the two unhappy fans were in the background: police identified the men as brothers in their 20s, arresting the siblings in August.

According to case files, one of the brothers denied involvement, while the other brother claimed a friend could prove it was not him.

On cue, the second brother's friend provided an alibi or excuse before eventually recanting and telling the police that he believed the suspect had, in fact, committed the assaultive offense.

Meanwhile, the suspects' mother visited her sons in jail, asking one in a recorded conversation, "Did you admit to doing this?" Upon the suspect's response of, "No. I maintained I did not," she cut him off and stated, "All I wanted to hear. Stop talking."

Police hope new evidence will prompt charges.
Unfortunately for most newsreaders, including Brad Ziegler, who tweeted, "I hope they file assault charges for whoever just hit Joe West with the baseball," police were unable to charge the brothers with the crime over the summer due to lack of definitive evidence to indicate which suspect threw the baseball that hit West, and, thus, the men are out of jail...for now.

The Milwaukee Police Department and Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office are hoping that new evidence will come out of a newly-filed search warrant to cover deleted Facebook messages and purchase history, which may indicate whether the baseball held in evidence was bought by one of the brothers.

News: Police closing in on person(s) who struck MLB umpire with baseball at Miller Park (Fox6)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Dale Scott Retires in Wake of Concussion in Toronto

Veteran Crew Chief Dale Scott has retired in the wake of a concussion sustained as plate umpire in Toronto on April 14, 2017. Scott's election of retirement was first reported by the Associated Press.

This concludes Scott's 32-year umpiring career in the American League and Major League Baseball since his 1985 debut, 16th as a crew chief, during which he officiated 3,897 regular season games, three All-Star Games (1993, 2001, 11), the 2013 NL Wild Card Game, 12 Division Series (1995, 97, 98, 2001, 03, 04, 05, 07, 11, 14, 15), six League Championship Series (1996, 99, 2000, 02, 09, 13), and three World Series (1998, 2001, 04).

Scott, who ejected 90 players, managers, and coaches over the course of his career and often opted to wear umpiring's traditional blue polo shirt behind the plate, received the 2015 UEFL Honorable Umpire of the Year Award after becoming the first umpire to publicly come out as gay in MLB history.

He was also one of four MLB umpires—alongside Tim Welke, Laz Diaz, and Mark Carlson—selected to officiate the 2014 Opening Series in Sydney, Australia.

Because of his abbreviated 2017 season, Scott was the only "Perfect Replay" umpire in 2017, having two calls affirmed and zero overturned for a 1.000 RAP in his final campaign.

Scott is retiring from on-field officiating in great part due to concerns over concussion and similar head trauma events, and the potential harm that may result from similar incidents in the future. Over the past few years, Scott has sustained several game-ending head injuries:
> April 14, 2017: Scott is struck in the facemask by a foul ball off of a 95.4-miles-per-hour fastball.
> July 16, 2016: Scott takes a fouled-off 91 mph pitch to the lower jaw portion of his mask.
> August 7, 2013: Scott is hit in the center of the mask by a fouled and deflected pitch.

As for injuries below the neck, Scott left his June 19, 2016 assignment due to a foul ball to the groin, June 24, 2015 game after being struck in the left hip by a line drive while umpiring inside at second base, and a March 5, 2015 Spring Training game after a pitch evaded the catcher and struck Scott's exposed hand/wrist.

Scott isn't the first Major League umpire to retire due, in part, to head injuries.

In 2013, we revisited Tim Tschida's retirement. Tschida, who, like Scott, suffered several concussions and neck injuries over the course of his umpiring career, elected to retire after hearing from multiple medical professionals and other experts who told him, "you're one hard foul tip [ball] away from quality-of-life issues."

Monday, December 11, 2017

Precedent Set, Georgia Faces 2nd Judgment Call Protest

Seven months after a Georgia high school baseball team protested an umpire's judgment call, the GHSA is facing another call to overturn a referee's on-field judgment decision, this time in football.

A judgment call is heading back to the board.
Baseball Background: In May, Lee County High School defeated Johns Creek in the Georgia High School Association Class 6A semifinal in controversial fashion. With two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the final regulation inning of a tied ballgame, Johns Creek worked a walk and began celebrating as the runner from third touched home plate.

Lee County appealed that the runner from second failed to touch his forced base (third base), and the runner was declared out; because of the forced-to-advance situation under NFHS rules, the run was nullified and the game proceeded to extra innings, where Lee County won the game.
Related PostAsk the UEFL - Protested Game-Ending Appeal Force Play (5/18/17).

Protest and Precedent: Johns Creek protested to the GHSA that the umpires made an error in declaring R2 out for failing to touch third base. Although then-GHSA Executive Director Gary Phillips ruled the umpires' decision a judgment call and, therefore, not subject to protest, GHSA counsel Alan Connell allowed Johns Creek to come before the GHSA as long as they dropped their "protest" and picked up an "appeal" instead.

Johns Creek submitted a revised "appeal," and the GHSA Appeals Board subsequently denied the appeal, affirming the umpire's on-field ruling. Johns Creek then petitioned the GHSA Board of Trustees and Trustees President Glenn White overturned the umpire's on-field judgment call, saying "The wrong call was made." Video evidence is inconclusive; however, GHSA Bylaw 2.92(e) states, "The National Federation prohibits the use of video tape to review an official's decision."

For what it's worth, White had previously attempted to force Phillips out by voting to recommend he resign; Phillips was replaced in May 2017 by Robin Hines, who was recommended by the Board of Trustees for the job. Meanwhile, Georgia State Representative John Meadows supported a bill to replace the GHSA with a new statewide governing body, acknowledging that he receives "more complains about the GHSA—from schools, referee, coaches and parents—than about everything else put together."
Related PostDangerous Precedent - GHSA Overturns Judgment Call (5/22/17)

Anticipating backlash for his decision to overturn a judgment call, White wrote, "We have set a precedent, so we need to get ready because there will probably be other people coming to see us."

White's anticipated day of reckoning has arrived in the form of another judgment call "appeal"—this time in football.

An incomplete pass on fourth down in GA.
Peach County High School Football Call: A petition circulated by Dimetria Whittaker of Fort Valley, GA calls on the GHSA to overturn a football official's judgment call of "incomplete pass"; Whittaker—and Peach County HS, which supports the petition—are asking GHSA change the call to that of "touchdown," and, in doing so, disregard GHSA Bylaw 2.92(e) regarding the prohibition of video replay in Georgia high school sports. Following Johns Creek's lead, Peach County is bypassing the lower GHSA bodies and going straight to the GHSA Board of Trustees and President Glenn White with an appeal, not a protest.

The controversy occurred with 3:40 remaining in the fourth quarter of the GHSA Football Class AAA championship game between Calhoun and Peach County on December 8. Down 10-6, Peach County attempted a pass play on fourth down, with receiver Noah Whittington appearing to catch the pass en route to the end zone. However, the play was declared incomplete as the ball rolled on the ground when Whittington extended it over the goal line. At least one commenter posited that Whittington had stepped out of bounds to evade his defender prior to catching the pass, which would be a foul for illegal participation, as in NFHS Rule 9-6-2, which states, "No player shall intentionally go out of bounds during the down and: a. Return to the field; b. Intentionally touch the ball; c. Influence the play; or d. Otherwise participate." The penalty for illegal participation is a loss of 15 yards (not an incomplete pass).
Related VideoPeach County incomplete pass at 4Q 3:40 wipes out possible late TD