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Friday, September 30, 2016

Anatomy of a Tie as Cubs-Pirates Game Ends in 1-1 Draw

Thursday's Cubs-Pirates game ended in a tie for the first time in MLB since 2005, when the Astros and Reds finished their game even at 2-2. Rules discussion: Is a tie ever an acceptable outcome in Major League Baseball?
PNC Park's final game of 2016 ended in a tie. 

Thursday's game in Pittsburgh ended as a tie in the 6th inning due to persistently poor weather at PNC Park. HP Umpire and Crew Chief Brian Gorman had called for the tarp just one hour and fifteen minutes into the game, but after waiting out another hour decided to formally suspend the game in the top of the 6th inning with a 1-1 score when the weather forecast began to look exceedingly bleak.

Whereas Official Baseball Rule 4.04 concerns Weather and Field Conditions prior to the game's first pitch (and states that the home club shall determine whether such a game is to be played [unless the game is the second game of a double header, in which case the umpire shall decide]), OBR 7.02 addresses already-begun games terminated prematurely, with 7.02(a)(5) and (6) used most frequently when a rain delay occurs: "A game shall become a suspended game that must be completed at a future date if the game is terminated for any of the following reasons...(5) Weather, if a regulation game is called while an inning is in progress and before the inning is completed, and the visiting team has scored one or more runs to take the lead, and the home team has not retaken the lead; or (6) It is a regulation game that is called with the score tied."

Thus, Rule 7.02(a)(6) states Thursday's Cubs-Pirates game was suspended at the time Gorman opted to terminate the game due to weather...So how could a suspended game "that must be completed at a future date" result in a tie and a called game?

A rain delay turned into a called game at PNC.
Rule 7.02(b)(4)(B) states how a suspended game that has progressed far enough to become a regulation game AND is the last scheduled game between the two clubs during that season (Thursday's was the final game between Chicago and Pittsburgh in 2016) shall be treated: "If the score is tied, the game shall be declared a 'tie game'" BUT that the game "must be played [to completion]...if the League President determines that not playing such game might affect post-season play, including eligibility for the post-season and/or home-field advantage for any post-season game."

Because the Cubs had already clinched home field advantage by virtue of clinching the best record in the National League, and because the Pirates had already been eliminated from playoff contention, Thursday's Cubs-Pirates game qualified as a meaningless game, as far as post-season implications are concerned: A Chicago win or loss would not change anything about the playoffs, and, thus, Thursday's game, as the last scheduled game between the two clubs, was properly declared a tie.

Wrap: Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, 9/29/16 | Video of Tie Game available via "Read More"

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Price is Wrong as Reds Fail to Replay Walk-Off 2B

A Cardinals' walk-off double stood when Cincinnati failed to timely challenge the game-ending play in St. Louis.

Diagram of Busch Stadium's left field wall.
With two outs and a runner on first base in the bottom of the 9th inning of a tied ballgame in St. Louis Thursday evening, Cardinals batter Yadier Molina hit a line drive to left field that bounced on the warning track before caroming up and off of the wall or recessed advertising panel in left field, ruled alive and in play by 3B Umpire Scott Barry, as baserunner R1 Matt Carpenter hustled around the from first base to score the game-winning run.

Busch Stadium ground rules address the top of the wall situation in left field, specifying that a batted ball in flight striking the top of the wall above the padding and rebounding onto the playing field shall be ruled in play. A ball in flight or otherwise that strikes beyond the top of the wall shall be ruled out of play.

St. Louis celebrates its walk-off win.
Thus, with regard to Molina's game-ending hit Thursday night, the bounding ball hitting the recessed advertising panel atop the padded wall, which is depicted on the right side of the above diagram, is to be considered out of play, whereas a ball that merely hits the top of the padded wall (as indicated by the teardrop marked "2") before rebounding onto the playing field is to be considered in play.

If the batted ball bounced out of play, pursuant to Rule 5.05(a), the proper award is two bases to both batter Molina and runner Carpenter, meaning he would be placed at third base. If the ball remained in play, the run obviously would count.

In other words, this was a crucial game-ending call that Cincinnati had nothing to lose by challenging.

Yet they failed to challenge the play. By the time Reds Manager Bryan Price sought out HP Umpire and Crew Chief Bill Miller to request a Replay Review, the umpires had already left the playing field.

Pursuant to Replay Regulation II.D.1 (Timing of Manager Challenges and Crew Chief Reviews), "A challenge to a play that ends the game must be invoked immediately upon the conclusion of the play, and both Clubs shall remain in their dugouts until the Replay Official issues his decision."

Replays indicate that nearly 30 seconds transpired from the conclusion of the game-ending play and Price's departure from the dugout to seek out an umpire. In other words, he was too late: the umpires had already left the field, and were under no obligation to entertain the manager's delay (furthermore, entertaining Price's challenge after such a delay would run afoul of II.D.1).

Price blamed MLB's rule for his non-challenge.
In post-game comments to the press, Price explained that his team was allotted 10 seconds to decide whether or not to challenge the play, and that he felt 10 seconds was insufficient to make such a determination: Price stated that his team did not have a real-time view of the play and, thus, didn't see it fall into dead ball territory. [NOTE: 10 seconds refers to a Manager's Challenge of a third-out play. As pertains to a game-ending "walk-off" situation, as well as a third-out Crew Chief Review, the Replay Regulation states the manager must leave the dugout to seek a challenge or request for review immediately after the conclusion of the play. "Immediately" may reasonably be interpreted as "10 seconds."]

Price also stated that a game with playoff implications should be treated more leniently in regards to the rule. While St. Louis has a chance to make the Wild Card, Price's Reds have been eliminated from playoff contention since earlier this season. Cincinnati's record as of Thursday night is 67-92.

In what may come as a shock to no one, Price in his comments displayed a lack of rules knowledge.

Unlike a potential Manager's Challenge that may occur at any other point during the game, wherein a manager might "hold" up play while he consults with his video coordinator, a challenge on the game's final play must be filed immediately, which leaves no time to internally review the play. Because Price failed to timely challenge Barry's "in play" call, the game was considered final the moment the final umpire exited the field and deemed Cincinnati had failed to immediately challenge the call.

In other words, the moment Price referenced a need to have more time to review the play and/or receive a phone call from the video room, his argument ran contrary to the spirit of immediately.

Managers have previously been ejected (Walt Weiss, by Jerry Layne, 6/17/15) and have even protested games (Joe Maddon, of Bob Davidson, 8/26/14) over complaints that the opposing manager took too long to request a Replay Review, suggesting there are at least a few skippers out there that have read the Replay Regulations well enough to at least have an inkling as to Replay Review timing. Perhaps had Miller honored Price's untimely challenge, Mike Matheny would have joined Weiss and Maddon in being ejected for or protesting the cause (in his own post-game presser, Matheny referenced the timely requirement in filing a challenge "immediately" after a game-ending play, indicating he knew of the rule). After all, the desire to win has always trumped fair play.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

MLB Ejections 187-188 - Will Little (2-3; Davis, Showalter)

HP Umpire Will Little ejected Orioles 1B Chris Davis and Manager Buck Showalter for arguing a strike three call in the top of the 7th inning of the Orioles-Blue Jays game. With one out and one on, Davis took a 1-2 fastball from Blue Jays pitcher Joe Biagini. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer edge of home plate and belt high (px -.694, pz 2.882) and that all other pitches during the at-bat were properly officiated, the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Blue Jays were leading, 5-1. The Blue Jays ultimately won the contest, 5-1.

This is Will Little (93)'s second, third ejection of the 2016 MLB regular season.
Will Little now has 15 points in the UEFL Standings (7 Previous + 2*[2 MLB + 2 Correct Call] = 15).
Crew Chief Ted Barrett now has 9 points in Crew Division (7 Previous + 2*[1 Correct Call] = 9).

This is the 187th, 188th ejection report of the 2016 regular season.
This is the 89th player ejection of 2016. Prior to ejection, Davis was 0-3 (3 SO) in the contest.
This is the 74th Manager ejection of 2016.
This is Baltimore's 4/5th ejection of 2016, 4th in the AL East (TOR 17; BOS, NYY 6; BAL 5; TB 3).
This is Chris Davis' first ejection since April 28, 2009 (Eric Cooper; QOC = U [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Buck Showalter's first ejection since September 11, 2015 (Mark Carlson; QOC = U [Warnings]).
This is Will Little's first ejection since June 5, 2016 (Derek Shelton; QOC = Y [Interference]).

Wrap: Baltimore Orioles vs. Toronto Blue Jays, 9/27/16 | Video available via "read more."

Monday, September 26, 2016

MLB Ejections 183-186 - Todd Tichenor (5-8; NYY)

HP Umpire Todd Tichenor ejected Yankees Manager Joe Girardi for arguing warnings in the top of the 2nd, Yankees P Luis Severino and Bench Coach Rob Thomson for throwing at Blue Jays batter Justin Smoak, and Yankees Pitching Coach Larry Rothschild for arguing Severino's ejection in the bottom of the 2nd inning of the Yankees-Blue Jays game. In the top of the 2nd, with none out and none on, Yankees batter Chase Headley took a 1-0 fastball from Blue Jays pitcher J.A. Happ for a hit-by-pitch, resulting in warnings and a bench clearing incident. Replays indicate the pitch was located 2.9 feet off the inner edge of home plate and hip high (px -3.031, pz 3.111), the call was irrecusable. In the bottom of the 2nd, with none out and none on, and warnings in effect, Blue Jays batter Justin Smoak took a 0-0 fastball two feet off the inner edge of home plate and a 1-0 fastball from Severino for a hit-by-pitch, resulting in a bench clearing incident. Replays indicate the second pitch was located 2.9 feet off the inner edge of home plate and thigh high (px 3.034, pz 1.865), the call was irrecusable. At the time of all ejections, the game was tied, 1-1. The Yankees ultimately won the contest, 7-5.

This is Todd Tichenor (13)'s fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth ejection of the 2016 MLB regular season.
Todd Tichenor now has 9 points in the UEFL Standings (1 Previous + 4*[2 MLB + 0 Irrecusable] = 9).
Crew Chief Tom Hallion now has 14 points in Crew Division (10 Previous + 4*[1 Irrecusable Call] = 14).

This is the 183rd, 184th, 185th, 186th ejection report of the 2016 regular season.
This is the 88th player ejection of 2016. Prior to ejection, Severino's line was 1.0 IP, ER, 2 BB, HBP.
This is the 73rd Manager ejection of 2016.
This is New York's 3-6th ejection of 2016, T-2nd in the AL East (TOR 17; BOS, NYY 6; BAL 3; TB 2).
This is Joe Girardi's 3rd ejection of 2016, 1st since August 29 (Brian O'Nora; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Luis Severino's first career MLB ejection.
This is Rob Thomson's first career MLB ejection.
This is Larry Rothschild's first ejection since May 19, 2015 (Jim Joyce; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Todd Tichenor's first ejection since August 31, 2016 (Arquimedes Caminero; QOC = U [Throwing At]).

Wrap: New York Yankees vs. Toronto Blue Jays, 9/26/16 | Video available via "read more."

WBC Ejections Q1-2 - Alberto Ruiz (1-2; Team GB)

HP Umpire Alberto Ruiz ejected Great Britain CF Champ Stuart and Manager Liam Carroll for arguing a strike two call in the top of the 7th inning of the Great Britain-Israel game (World Baseball Classic Qualifier: Final Game). With one out and one on, Stuart took a 1-1 fastball from Team Israel pitcher Josh Zeid for a called second strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer edge of home plate and thigh high (pfx n/a), the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, Team Israel was leading, 5-0. Team Israel ultimately won the contest—and, accordingly, won the Brooklyn qualifying stage of the World Baseball Classic—9-1.

These are Alberto Ruiz's first and second ejections of the 2016 WBC Qualifier.

These are the first and second ejections of the 2016 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers.
This is the 1st Manager ejection of the 2016 WBC Qualifier.
This is the 1st player ejection of the WBC Qualifier. Prior to ejection, Stuart was 0-3 (3 SO) in the contest.
These are Great Britain's 1st and 2nd WBC ejections.
This is the first World Baseball Classic Qualifier ejection since November 18, 2012 (Roberto Kelly; QOC = U [Throwing At]).

Wrap: Team Great Britain vs. Team Israel (WBC Qualifier), 9/25/16 | Video N/A (Embed contains recap)

Sunday, September 25, 2016

MLB Ejection 182 - Dan Iassogna (5; Cameron Maybin)

HP Umpire Dan Iassogna ejected Tigers CF Cameron Maybin for arguing a strike three call in the bottom of the 9th inning of the Royals-Tigers game. With one out and two on, Maybin took a 0-2 fastball from Royals pitcher Wade Davis for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer half of home plate and belt high (px .554, pz 2.187), the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Royals were leading, 12-9. The Royals ultimately won the contest, 12-9.

This is Dan Iassogna (58)'s fifth ejection of the 2016 MLB regular season.
Dan Iassogna now has -5 points in the UEFL Standings (-9 Previous + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = -5).
Crew Chief Dale Scott now has -3 points in Crew Division (-4 Previous + 1 Correct Call = -3).

This is the 182nd ejection report of the 2016 regular season.
This is the 87th player ejection of 2016. Prior to ejection, Maybin was 4-6 (SO) in the contest.
This is Detroit's 12th ejection of 2016, 1st in the AL Central (DET 12; CWS, KC 8; CLE 6; MIN 4).
This is Cameron Maybin's 2nd ejection of 2016, 1st since June 19 (Gabe Morales; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Dan Iassogna's first ejection since August 15, 2016 (Tyler Collins; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Washington Nationals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, 9/25/16 | Video not available.

MLB Ejections 180-181 - Jordan Baker (2-3; Cole, S-Rod)

HP Umpire Jordan Baker ejected Nationals P AJ Cole for throwing at Pirates batter Jung Ho Kang and Pirates 1B Sean Rodriguez for fighting in the bottom of the 3rd inning of the Nationals-Pirates game. With two out and none on, Kang took a 0-0 fastball for a called first ball. Replays indicate the pitch was located three feet off the inner edge of home plate and head high (px -3.859, pz 4.885 [sz_top 3.610]), the call was irrecusable. At the time of the ejections, the Nationals were leading, 4-3. The Nationals ultimately won the contest, 10-7.

This is Jordan Baker (71)'s second, third ejection of the 2016 MLB regular season.
Jordan Baker now has 8 points in the UEFL Standings (4 Previous + 2*[2 MLB + 0 Irrecusable] = 8).
Crew Chief Mike Everitt now has 18 points in Crew Division (16 Previous + 2*[1 Irrecusable Call] = 18).

This is the 180th, 181st ejection report of the 2016 regular season.
This is the 85th, 86th player ejection of 2016. Prior to ejection, Rodriguez was 0-0 (SAC) in the contest.
This is Washington's 5th ejection of 2016, T-3rd in the NL East (ATL 10; MIA 9; NYM, WAS 5; PHI 1).
This is Pittsburgh's 15th ejection of 2016, 1st in the NL Central (PIT 15; CIN 7; CHC, MIL 4; STL 1).
This is AJ Cole's first career MLB ejection.
This is Sean Rodriguez's first ejection since October 7, 2015 (Jeff Nelson; QOC = U [Fighting]).
This is Jordan Baker's first ejection since September 18, 2016 (Ian Kinsler; QOC = U [USC-NEC]).

Wrap: Washington Nationals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, 9/25/16 | Video available via "read more."

Injury - Jerry Layne Hit in Mask, Leaves Game

Jerry Layne left his game Sunday after being hit in the mask by a foul ball, marking the umpire's second game-ending head injury in less than one month's time and third overall in 2016.

With two out in the top of the 1st inning of Sunday's Mariners-Twins game, Twins pitcher Hector Santiago threw an 88-mph sinker that Mariners batter Robinson Cano fouled into Layne's traditional style facemask.

Layne was replaced for the remainder of the contest behind the plate by 1B Umpire and Acting Crew Chief Hunter Wendelstedt with 2B Umpire Toby Basner assuming duties at first base and 3B Umpire Tripp Gibson remaining at third.

On August 31, 2016, Layne left his Blue Jays-Orioles plate game after taking a 94-mph pitch nearly directly to the facemask. On June 27, 2016, Layne was struck by a fouled-off 92-mph fastball in Atlanta and left that assignment as well.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Atlantic Series Features Phone Call, Protest, Meltdown

From a manager and umpire talking on a cell phone during a game to coach tantrums, the Atlantic League playoff series between the York Revolution and Sugar Land Skeeters has to be seen to be believed.

We begin with Game 2 of the Best-of-Five series, with Sugar Land holding a one game lead in the set: With one out and baserunner Brandon Chaves on first in the top of the ninth inning of a 10-9 ballgame, York hoped to mount a comeback and was down to its final two outs of Game 2. Revolution batter Michael Rockett hit a ground ball to third base, for what could have the makings of a game-ending around-the-horn double play...except that Skeeters second baseman Delwyn Young's throw to first was wild.

Umpires turn to the phone to check a rule.
This brought Skeeters Manager Gary Gaetti out of the dugout to dispute legality of Chaves' slide at second base, initially ruled legal by 2B Umpire David Frame: a reversed call in this situation would have ended the game. After discussion amongst the umpiring crew of Michael Dorantes, Ryan Moorehead, Frame, and Rodney Galloway, the umpires brought both managers together to explain their ruling: "There's no doubt in our minds that your guy slid through the base...I'll be honest, the four of us here are not sure if that's illegal or not. We're not exactly sure what the rule says." 2B Umpire Frame saw the slide through the base, but admitted uncertainty as to the play's legality, relative to the bona fide slide rule. (Click here for a brief refresher and summary concerning bona fide slide Rule 6.01(j).)

When the crew asked if either manager had a rulebook, Gaetti jogged back to the dugout and instructed his staff, "Get Jeff on the phone," before the Skeeters management appeared in the front row with his laptop. After consultation via phone and computer, Frame's call was upheld and the game resumed with two outs, R1, ending via fly-out one batter later. (Video via "read more".)

Although the Atlantic League replaced the Dorantes-Moorehead-Frame-Galloway umpiring crew for Game 3 of the series, that didn't alleviate or eliminate the controversy.

High throw at first base during RLI play.
In Game 3, York Manager Mark Mason protested the game after a 5th inning play in which HP Umpire Nate Caldwell ruled that York batter-runner Isaias Tejada interfered with Skeeters first baseman Young's ability to field a throw from pitcher Brett Marshall, resulting in a runners lane interference call. Replays indicate Tejada did not run within the 45-foot lane and cast doubt as to the quality of Marshall's throw, or F3 Young's ability to retire the runner given such a throw.

When the umpires ordered York baserunner R1 Andres Perez, standing on second base, back to first base as the result of Tejada's interference, Mason protested the game, claiming that Perez should have remained at second base (by rule, Tejada's return to first base was proper).

HP Umpire Nate Caldwell ejects Frank Gailey.
The game also featured Caldwell's ejection of York pitcher Frank Gailey (2:04:10) and another "argument" concerning runner's lane interference, in which Caldwell no-called RLI during a routine sacrifice bunt play, resulting in Mason's ejection and meltdown (2:07:00).

Game 3 Video Link: RLI on Tejada & protest (1:29:30).
Game 3 Video Link: Gailey ejection (2:04:10).
Game 3 Video Link: Mason physical ejection (2:07:00).

The bunt play (R1 and R2, none out), in which the defense easily retired the batter-runner, drew Mason's ire, which might not have been about the play itself, but an accumulation of frustration regarding the entire series, and concluded with Mason's Revolution having been swept by Gaetti's Sugar Land Skeeters, three games to none.

Replays indicate Mason physically grabbed and shoved aside intervening 1B Umpire Tom Gandolfo during the ejection argument to conclude one of the oddest multi-day sequences in professional baseball.

Friday, September 23, 2016

MLB Ejections 178-179 - Adam Hamari (3-4; Kemp, Snitker)

HP Umpire Adam Hamari ejected Braves LF Matt Kemp and Interim Manager Brian Snitker for arguing a strike two call in the top of the 3rd inning of the Braves-Marlins game. With two out and the bases loaded, Braves batter Nick Markakis took a 3-1 slider from Marlins pitcher Andrew Cashner for a called second strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer edge of home plate and at the midpoint (px -.891, pz 3.557 [sz_top 3.670]), the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Marlins were leading, 2-1. The Braves ultimately won the contest, 3-2.

This is Adam Hamari (78)'s third, fourth ejection of the 2016 MLB regular season.
Adam Hamari now has 18 points in the UEFL Standings (8 Previous + 2*[3 AAA + 2 Correct Call] = 18).
Crew Chief Jeff Nelson now has 9 points in Crew Division (7 Previous + 2*[1 Correct Call] = 9).

This is the 178th and 179th ejection report of the 2016 regular season.
This is the 84th player ejection of 2016. Prior to ejection, Kemp was 0-1 (SO) in the contest.
This is the 72nd Manager ejection of 2016.
This is Atlanta's 9/10th ejection of 2016, 1st in the NL East (ATL 10; MIA 9; NYM 5; WAS 4; PHI 1).
This is Matt Kemp's first ejection since June 23, 2015 (Jim Reynolds; QOC = Y-C [Check Swing]).
This is Brian Snitker's 3rd ejection of 2016, 1st since July 19 (Angel Hernandez; QOC = Y [Balk]).
This is Adam Hamari's first ejection since May 28, 2016 (Terry Collins; QOC = U [USC-NEC]).

Wrap: Atlanta Braves vs. Miami Marlins, 9/23/16 | Video available via "read more."