Sunday, May 28, 2017

MiLB Strikeout - Definition of Swing vs Strike at the Ball

A Minor League Baseball batter strikes out after half-heartedly swinging at a pitch slowly rolling toward the foul line that he cannot reach from his position in the batter's box—is this the correct call?

Umpire Sharshel rules Fuentes has struck out.
The Play: With two out and none on in the top of the 8th inning of the Double-A Hartford-Binghamton game, Hartford batter Josh Fuentes stepped to the plate against Binghamton pitcher Cory Burns. With a 1-2 count, Burns lost his grip during his delivery and released his pitch, which slowly rolled to the first-base side of home plate. As the ball crossed the foul line—thus becoming a legal pitch—batter Fuentes pretended to swing at Burns' poor offering, ruled a swinging strike by HP Umpire Patrick Sharshel. After catcher Colton Plaia applied a tag on Fuentes (uncaught third strike), Sharshel declared the batter out and the inning over.

Analysis: Let us begin by establishing the pitch's legality. Rule 6.02(b) Comment states, "A ball which slips out of a pitcher’s hand and crosses the foul line shall be called a ball; otherwise it will be called no pitch. This would be a balk with men on base."

If we stop there, the proper call is "ball." But the batter swung...or did he?

As we know from the many check swing ejections and incidents over the years, the Official Baseball Rules vaguely define a swinging strike in the following fashion:
A STRIKE is a legal pitch when so called by the umpire, which—is struck at by the batter and is missed.
Is this an attempt to strike the pitch?
Thanks to Rule 6.02(b) Comment, we know that Burns' pitch is legal, and thanks to video replay, we know Fuentes missed connecting with it (by several feet). The only question is whether Fuentes' simulated swing satisfies the "is struck at" criterion. (Conversely, "A BALL is a pitch which does not enter the strike zone in flight and is not struck at by the batter").

Taking it a step further, the prevailing interpretation is whether or not "the batter struck at the ball." To further illustrate the principle that a swing is not the same as a strike, consider this: There is no doubt that Fuentes swung the bat—although it was lazy and half-hearted, Fuentes' action was absolutely a swing—but there is very much doubt as to whether Fuentes struck at the ball.

Similarly, a bunt is not a swing, but a missed bunt attempt still results in a strike call...

In this context, to "strike" is to "to aim and usually deliver a blow, stroke, or thrust." Or "hit forcibly and deliberately with one's hand or a weapon or other implement." Or "to hit or attack someone or something forcefully or violently."

This is not an ordinary half swing situation.
The common theme between these three dictionary definitions of "to strike" is that it requires (1) A deliberate attempt to (2) Hit something with force.

Fuentes' bat movement is deliberate: it's not an accident that the bat traveled the way it did—and in the direction of the awry pitch—but was this a strike "at the ball" and a bona fide attempt to apply force to it?

If your answer is "yes," then that's a swinging strike. If "no," then that's not a swinging strike.

NFHS Rule: Like OBR, High School Rule 7-2-1b charges a strike when the "pitch is struck at and missed." As for determining what a swing actually is, though NFHS 10-1-4a is a little clearer than OBR, the final consideration is still the same as professional baseball: "As an aid in
deciding, the umpire may note whether the swing carried the barrel of the bat past the body of
the batter, but final decision is based on whether the batter actually struck at the ball."

NCAA Rule: Though college actually defines the term "half swing" as "an attempt by the batter to stop the forward motion of the bat while swinging...[it is] a strike if the barrel head of the bat passes the batter's front hip" (2-39), that term does not apply here (there was no attempt to stop the forward motion of the bat). Thus, we consider the NCAA definition of strike: "A legal pitch struck at by the batter without the ball touching the bat" (7-4-a). Again, we have the subject (legal pitch) which is acted upon (struck at) by the batter. Thus, if the umpire rules there was no meaningful interaction between batter and pitched ball, there logically should be no swinging strike.

What is notable about the NCAA book is Rule 7-4-h, which states, "A strike is awarded if the batter deliberately steps back in the box or swings in such a manner to attempt to create catcher’s interference." This is a tacit implication from NCAA that, yes, there exists a circumstance wherein a swing might not satisfy the 7-4-a "struck at" definition of Strike, and, thus, not be subject to being ruled a strike pursuant to the "struck at" standard.

It appears the MiLB play might be one of those situations (albeit, without any attempt at CI).

Wrap: Hartford Yard Goats vs Binghamton Rumble Ponies (Double-A) | Video via "Read More"

Saturday, May 27, 2017

MLB Ejections 052-053 - Bill Welke (4-5 - Hosmer, Yost)

HP Umpire Bill Welke ejected Royals 1B Eric Hosmer & Manager Ned Yost (check swing call by 3B Umpire David Rackley) in the top of the 1st inning of the Royals-Indians game. With none out and two on (R1, R2), Hosmer attempted to check his swing on a 1-2 slider from Twins pitcher Danny Salazar. Play was reviewed and affirmed by the UEFL Appeals Board (9-0-0), the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 0-0. The Royals ultimately won the contest, 5-2.

This is Bill Welke (3)'s fourth, fifth ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Bill Welke now has 7 points in the UEFL Standings (1 Previous + 2*[2 MLB + 1 Call-Crewmate] = 7).
Crew Chief Alfonso Marquez now has 5 points in Crew Division (3 Previous + 2 Correct Call = 5).

This is the 52nd, 53rd ejection report of 2017.
This is the 19th player ejection of 2017. Prior to ejection, Hosmer was 0-1 (SO) in the contest.
This is the 29th Manager ejection of 2017.
This is Kansas City's 1/2nd ejection of 2017, T-1st in the AL Central (CWS, KC, MIN 2; DET 1; CLE 0).
This is Eric Hosmer's first ejection since May 4, 2016 (CB Bucknor; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Ned Yost's first ejection since September 19, 2016 (Toby Basner; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Bill Welke's 4th ejection of 2017, 1st since May 9 (Kevin Cash; QOC = Y [Balk]).

Wrap: Kansas City Royals vs. Cleveland Indians, 5/27/17 | Videos via "Read More"

MLB Ejection 050-051 - Will Little (1-2; Lowrie, Melvin)

HP Umpire Will Little ejected A's 2B Jed Lowrie (strike three call) and Manager Bob Melvin (strike three call) in the top of the 8th inning of the Athletics-Yankees game. With none out and none on, Lowrie took a 2-2 fastball from Yankees pitcher Tyler Clippard for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer half of home plate and at the hollow of the knee (px -.571, pz 1.426 [sz_bot 1.535 / MOE 1.452 / pz_radius 1.551]), the call was correct.* With one out and none on, A's batter Trevor Plouffe took a 1-2 slider from Yankees pitcher Dellin Betances for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the inner half of home plate and above the midpoint (px -.382, pz 3.697 [sz_top 3.467 / MOE 3.550 / pz_radius 3.573]), the call was incorrect. At the time of both ejections, the Yankees were leading, 3-2. The Yankees ultimately won the contest, 3-2.

This is Will Little (93)'s first, second ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Will Little now has 1 point in the UEFL Standings (-1 Previous + 4 MLB + 2 QOCY - 4 QOCN = 1).
Crew Chief Jeff Kellogg now has 5 points in Crew Division (4 Previous + 1 Correct Call + 0 N = 5).
*An Overwhelming Exemption has been initiated. See Miller Rule 6-2-b-2, 9-2, and :58 of the video.

This is the 50th, 51st ejection report of 2017.
This is the 18th player ejection of 2017. Prior to ejection, Lowrie was 0-4 (3 SO) in the contest.
This is the 28th Manager ejection of 2017.
This is Oakland's 3rd/4th ejection of 2017, 1st in the AL West (OAK 4; SEA, TEX 2; HOU, LAA 0).
This is Jed Lowrie's first career MLB ejection.
This is Bob Melvin's 2nd ejection of 2017, 1st since May 20 (Mike Winters; QOC = Y [Base Award]).
This is Will Little's first ejection since October 1, 2016 (Yoenis Cespedes; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Oakland Athletics vs. New York Yankees, 5/27/17 | Videos via "Read More"

Major League Debut of Umpire John Libka (84)

Umpire John Libka makes his MLB debut during Saturday's Tigers-White Sox game in Chicago, joining Tom Hallion's crew for two games of the DET-CWS doubleheader, serving as first base umpire alongside HP Umpire Nic Lentz, 2B Umpire Tom Hallion, and 3B Umpire Phil Cuzzi for Game 1, and as third base umpire alongside HP Umpire Vic Carapazza, 1B Umpire Hallion, and 2B Umpire Cuzzi for Game 2.

Umpire John Libka.
Libka is on the Pacific Coast League roster for the 2017 season, which is his second season in the PCL and second overall in Triple-A (2016 PCL). He has also worked the Gulf Coast, New York-Penn, Midwest, Florida State, Eastern, and Arizona Fall Leagues, in addition to MLB Spring Training.

Libka wears the uniform number 84 at the Major League level, which was last worn by Angel Campos, and makes his MLB debut at the age of 29. He resides in Port Huron, Michigan, instructs at the Wendelstedt School, and is the second new fill-in umpire to make his debut during the 2017 regular season (Ryan Additon, 5/21/17). Both Libka and Additon officiated the 2017 AFL Fall Stars Game.

Libka most recently worked the plate for Wednesday's PCL matchup between the Las Vegas 51s and Round Rock Express in Round Rock, Texas; The first game of Friday's originally scheduled doubleheader in Chicago was postponed due to wet field conditions.

Friday, May 26, 2017

MLB Ejection 049 - Jim Reynolds (1; Craig Counsell)

HP Umpire Jim Reynolds ejected Brewers Manager Craig Counsell (Replay Review; upheld out call) in the bottom of the 6th inning of the Diamondbacks-Brewers game. With two out and two on (R1, R3), Brewers baserunner R3 Eric Thames attempted to score on a curveball in the dirt from Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Godley that eluded catcher Chris Iannetta, who retrieved the ball and threw to Godley covering as Thames arrived at home plate. Upon Replay Review as the result of a challenge by Brewers Manager Counsell, HP Umpire Reynolds' out call was affirmed, the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Diamondbacks were leading, 1-0. The Diamondbacks ultimately won the contest, 4-2, in 10 innings.

This is Jim Reynolds (77)'s first ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Jim Reynolds now has 2 points in the UEFL Standings (-2 Previous + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 2).
Crew Chief Jim Reynolds now has 6 points in Crew Division (5 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 6).

This is the 49th ejection report of 2017.
This is the 27th Manager ejection of 2017.
This is Milwaukee's 2nd ejection of 2017, 2nd in the NL Central (PIT, STL 3; MIL 2; CHC, CIN 0).
This is Craig Counsell's first ejection since September 21, 2016 (Jerry Layne; QOC = U [Fair/Foul]).
This is Jim Reynolds' first ejection since August 3, 2016 (Corey Kluber; QOC = Y [Out/Safe]).

Wrap: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 5/26/17 | Videos via "Read More"

MLB Admits Error on Swinging HBP Strike Non-Review

Despite on-field umpires accepting Boston's challenge of a hit-by-pitch during a swinging strike no-call, a Replay Official failed to review the play, leading MLB to issue a rare statement purporting that its replay staff made a mistake by not reviewing the call.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time this type of replay non-review has occurred, and it's not even the first time that we have written about this type of call, identifying it as potential trouble spot for MLB due to poor replay communication and interpretation in the past of baseball's three types of hit-by-pitches (the take-your-base HBP, the dead ball ball HBP, and the dead ball strike HBP...more on these later).

Remember the ominous line from our pre-season 2017 edition of Tmac's Teachable Moments - Let's Fix Replay, "Let's replay more things...full swings that turn into HBPs are some of the disasters that are not reviewable"?

What is (Y) and isn't (X) reviewable.
Well, the HBP disaster sure reared its ugly head Thursday night at Fenway Park, though at least this time, MLB seems to have taken some initiative to solve the problem of the dead ball strike HBP review by saying that nearly all potential ball-hits-batter situations are to be deemed reviewable.^

Executive Summary: Any play in which a batter may be touched by a pitched ball is generally subject to review, but only if the dispute arises from a question of whether the pitched ball made contact with the batter vs with the bat, or batter vs nothing (but air). Without these material conflicts, the play is not reviewable (e.g., the batter's intent to swing or to avoid a pitched ball is not subject to review), and neither is the issue of whether a pitched ball made contact with the bat vs nothing (but air), nor whether a batted ball made contact with a batter.

The Play: With none out and none on in the top of the 9th inning of Thursday's Rangers-Red Sox game, Rangers batter Nomar Mazara swung at a 2-2 knuckle curve from Red Sox pitcher Craig Kimbrel. Initially ruled a swinging strikeout and wild pitch by HP Umpire Chad Fairchild—the uncaught third strike allowed Mazara to reach first base—Red Sox Manager John Farrell attempted to challenge the play, as replays indicate that the pitched ball struck Mazara's lower leg while he was swinging at it: the proper call would have been a dead ball strike, meaning Mazara would be out. Instead, Mazara ended up on first base.

Although Fairchild and acting Crew Chief Alfonso Marquez agreed to bring the play to video review, the call nonetheless stood, and a visibly unhappy Farrell retained his Manager's Challenge.

After the game, Major League Baseball issued a statement admitting it made a mistake:
During the top of the ninth inning of Thursday's Rangers-Red Sox game, the umpires on the field accepted Boston's challenge that Texas batter Nomar Mazara was hit by the pitch on a swinging strike three. The Replays Official and Replay Supervisor misinterpreted the call on the field and incorrectly deemed the play to be non-reviewable. The call on the field - of no hit by pitch on a swinging strike three - is a reviewable play under the Replay Regulations.
Marquez relays NY's decision to Farrell.
Analysis: Here's what that likely means: Fairchild ruled the play a swinging strikeout and uncaught third strike (as evidenced by Fairchild's "safe" mechanic), but MLB Replay either (1) misunderstood the call as a hit-by-pitch (logically unlikely, given Fairchild's "safe" mechanic), (2) thought Fairchild called a foul ball (unlikely given that the batter-runner ended up on first base) or (3) deemed that an issue of HBP during a swinging third strike is not subject to Replay Review.

This very issue has come up with the Replay Review process before, and the League failed to clearly convey its interpretation regarding the HBP vs swinging strike vs dead ball strike vs foul ball play when it did.

Replay Review Regulation V.G. states that the following is reviewable: "Hit By Pitch. Those plays for which there is a possibility that a pitched ball touches a batter, or his clothing." A traditional, take-your-base hit by pitch is occurs when the batter "is touched by a pitched ball which he is not attempting to hit" (Rule 5.05(b)). Yet, a lesser known variety of the hit-by-pitch appears in both 5.05(b)'s approved ruling and the definition of "Strike": "A STRIKE is a legal pitch when so called by the umpire, which...touches the batter as he strikes at it." The approved ruling for a HBP strike states, "When the batter is touched by a pitched ball which does not entitle him to first base, the ball is dead and no runner may advance."

The Three HBPs: Accordingly, there are three types of hit-by-pitches in baseball: the take-your-base "traditional" HBP, the dead ball ball HBP (aka the "you didn't try and get out of the way" HBP), and the dead ball strike HBP (or "HBP strike," for short; both swinging and not swinging). The first two options require the batter not to have swung at the pitch while the latter is what happens when the batter has attempted a swing (or is struck by a pitched ball within the strike zone).
Ron Kulpa tried to replay a similar dead ball
third strike challenge in 2016, but was
informed that the play was not reviewable

^The three exceptions to the "nearly all HBP situations are reviewable" phrase are intra-HBP disputes, namely (1) take-your-base HBP vs dead ball ball HBP, (2) take-your-base HBP vs dead ball strike HBP, and (3) dead ball ball HBP vs dead ball strike HBP. In other words, a "traditional HBP vs Dead Ball Strike" dispute is really a challenge about "No Swing vs Swing," which has never been a reviewable call (and neither has the umpire's judgment of whether a batter has attempted to avoid being hit by a pitch, nor whether a pitch is located as a ball or a strike).

It goes without saying that the League doesn't want to be in the business of reviewing check swing calls. But does that (or did it) preclude Replay from taking a look at all plays in which the on-field umpires rule that the batter attempted to strike the pitched ball? Why did this mistake happen?

History: In June 2016's Unreviewable - Possibility of HBP Key to Replay Review, we discussed two HBP/bat contact plays with different outcomes, including one similar to Thursday's that the League refused to review.

In Miami, Rockies batter Trevor Story clearly swung at and attempted to hit a 3-2 fastball, ruled a foul ball. After Don Mattingly attempted to challenge the play, alleging the ball hit Story's shoulder as opposed to his bat (thus, a dead ball strike), Replay HQ ruled the play non-reviewable. It is important to note that under both the original ruling (foul ball) and Mattingly's contention (dead ball strike), the batter would be deemed to have swung at the pitch, and foul ball vs HBP is not one of the three exceptions to the reviewable HBP situations clause.

In Houston, Angels batter Mike Trout tried to avoid being hit by a 3-2 fastball, ruled a hit-by-pitch. After AJ Hinch attempted to challenge the play alleging that Trout's bat contacted the pitched ball, the play was overturned to a groundout.

Thus, our table of reviewable plays (assuming the Miami play was properly not reviewed) looks like:
Play Original Call Reviewable?
HBP (No Bat Contact) HBP or "Ball"/"Strike" Yes
HBP vs Batted Ball HBP Yes
HBP vs Batted Ball* Willfully Batted Ball Yes
Swinging vs HBP Strike* Any Strike Call Yes
HBP vs HBP Ball vs HBP Strike Any Type of HBP No
Batted Ball vs No Contact Any No

*HBP vs Batted Ball ("batted ball" means both foul or fair balls) and Swinging vs HBP Strike, where the original call was that the batter was or was not hit by a pitch which he was attempting to swing at, were not reviewed on June 20, 2016 in Miami and Boston on May 25, 2017, though they should have been.

A batted ball call, without the possibility that the pitched ball hit the batter, cannot be reviewed.

Kulpa/Meals Part II: The play was reviewable.
A Proper HBP Review: Just last week (5/19/17), the Orioles successfully challenged that opposing batter Justin Smoak had been hit by a pitch that he swung at in the wake of HP Umpire Jerry Meals' wild pitch/swinging strike call, resulting in a reviewed and overturned call of dead ball strikeout and cancellation of a Blue Jays run. As fate would have it, umpires Kulpa and Jerry Meals went to the headset in this game, as they did in Miami in 2016, only to successfully overturn the call in Baltimore to that of a dead ball strike.

Thursday's mea culpa from MLB clarifies that all intent-congruent hit-by-pitch situations—not only those that entitle the batter to first base—are reviewable. Video via 'Read More'

Thursday, May 25, 2017

MLB Ejection 048 - Adam Hamari (1; Scott Servais)

HP Umpire Adam Hamari ejected Mariners Manager Scott Servais (strike three call) in the top of the 6th inning of the Mariners-Nationals game. With none out and one on (R1), Mariners batter Guillermo Heredia took a 2-2 changeup from Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the inner half of home plate and knee high (px -.487, pz 1.665 [sz_bot 1.504]), the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Nationals were leading, 2-0.

This is Adam Hamari (78)'s first ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Adam Hamari now has 6 points in the UEFL Standings (2 Previous + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 6).
Crew Chief Bill Miller now has 2 points in Crew Division (1 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 2).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.

This is the 48th ejection report of 2017.
This is the 26th Manager ejection of 2017.
This is Seattle's 2nd ejection of 2017, T-1st in the AL West (OAK, SEA, TEX 2; HOU, LAA 0).
This is Scott Servais' 2nd ejection of 2017, 1st since April 16 (CB Bucknor; QOC = Y [Fair/Foul]).
This is Adam Hamari's first ejection since September 23, 2016 (Brian Snitker; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Seattle Mariners vs. Washington Nationals, 5/25/17 | Video via "Read More"

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Runner's Lane Interference Plagues Chicago's Heyward

Jeff Nelson's runner lane interference call on Chicago Cubs batter Jayson Heyward put an out on the board for San Francisco while simultaneously sending a Cubs baserunner back to second base from home plate, as the friendly confines encountered a little animosity in the wake of one of baseball's misunderstood rules.

Controversy concerning runner's lane interference—or a lack thereof—is nothing new. Mike Scioscia's Angels lost their protest in June 2016 over a runner's lane interference no-call that Scioscia claimed was a missed call, while skippers Terry Francona (MLB Ejection 065 - Manny Gonzalez (1; Terry Francona)) and Andy Green (MLB Ejection 090 - Bill Miller (2; Andy Green)) were ejected for arguing similar runner's lane interference plays.

Cubs Manager Joe Maddon questions Nelson.
The Giants-Cubs May 24, 2017 Play: With one out and two on, Cubs batter Jayson Heyward hit a ball on the ground and up along the first base line to Giants pitcher Matt Moore, who threw to first baseman Brandon Belt as Heyward arrived at first base. As Heyward reached to touch first base with his left foot, the ball struck his leg and caromed down the right field line, while HP Umpire Jeff Nelson called Heyward out for interfering with Belt's ability to field Moore's throw.

The Rule: Runner's Lane Interference ("RLI") is codified in Official Baseball Rule 5.09(a)(11):
A batter is out for interference when—In running the last half of the distance from home base to first base, while the ball is being fielded to first base, he runs outside (to the right of) the three-foot line, or inside (to the left of) the foul line, and in the umpire’s judgment in so doing interferes with the fielder taking the throw at first base, in which case the ball is dead.
Heyward exits the lane before his last stride.
Analysis: In order for RLI to apply, the runner must be out of his lane when he interferes with the fielder taking the throw at first base.

Furthermore, we know that "the lines marking the three-foot lane are a part of that lane," and a batter-runner may exit "in the immediate vicinity of first base for the sole purpose of touching first base," which these days is fully in fair territory. We're also aware that the issue is not whether the batter-runner interfered with the thrower, but with the receiver.

The accompanying image indicates that Heyward exited the lane prior to the immediate vicinity of first base (or, if that is a disagreeable statement to you, then he exited the lane prior to his final stride, which means he failed to fulfill the "sole purpose of touching first base" criterion, as his left foot touched the dirt relatively far from first base).

Ok, so Heyward was out of his lane...but being out of the running lane, on its own, isn't interference. He actually has to impede fielder Belt's ability to field the throw.

The Harry and Hunter Wendelstedt rule interpretation pertaining to runner's lane interference states, "The determination is not whether the throw is true, but whether it could still reasonably retire the runner."

Ball strikes the back of Heyward's right leg.
In other words, Heyward has not interfered unless pitcher Moore's throw could have reasonably retired him, and only if Heyward's impedance on Belt prevented such a reasonable opportunity for said retirement.

There is no interference unless, all else equal, the throw could have reasonably retired the runner. Even though the result of the play was a two-base error, which allowed the lead Cubs baserunner to score a run, that fact is irrelevant in the adjudication of runner's lane interference: interference isn't meant to account for what happens to the ball after it fails to retire the batter-runner. The only question that matters is, "could [the throw] reasonably retire the runner?"

If your answer is "yes," Heyward is guilty of interference and was properly declared out.
If your answer is "no," Heyward is not guilty of interference and was incorrectly called for RLI.

Having trouble deciding? Here's a potential clue:

According to Officially Speaking columnist and former Triple-A umpire Brian Hertzog, who wrote articles titled "Runner's Lane Interference" and "RLI No-Call, Part Deux" last season, "This rule is written in a way that protects [the throwing fielder's] throw both “outside (to the right of) the three-foot line, [and] inside (to the left of) the foul line.” This verbiage tells any fielder making a throw from this area exactly where that throw will be free from any [runner] interfering with it. If not, then we penalize the B/R for it. This puts an onus on the defense to make their attempt to retire the B/R either inside or outside of the three-foot lane."

With Heyward, we have a throw that hit his right leg mere inches to the inside of the lane, and was released by pitcher Moore while his throwing hand was directly over the foul line, or barely inside the lane. Try and decipher whether Moore's throw was entirely inside the lane, or whether it travelled over the foul line (whatever happened to those foul line cameras we were supposed to get?).

Given all that backstory on RLI, what's your call?

A Look at the Dale Scott Crew Without Their Crew Chief

Over a month has passed since Dale Scott sustained a game-ending head injury and concussion as plate umpire in Toronto on April 14, 2017, and the long-time veteran has remained off the field ever since.*

Dale Scott has suffered multiple recent injuries.
April's was Scott's second game-ending head injury in as many years (more info at: Injury Scout - Dale Scott Removed on Stretcher After Foul), and ever since, his 2017 regular season crewmates of Brian Knight, Jim Reynolds, and Lance Barrett have been without their full-time crew chief.

As a respected No. 2 umpire on the crew, Reynolds has served as acting Crew Chief, a position he also occupied in years past as a member of retired umpire John Hirschbeck's crew when Hirschbeck was absent.

Yet as the days continue to go by, MLB has had to find umpires to fill the void left by Scott's absence: this goes for both the assignment of acting Crew Chief(s) and for assigning a Triple-A umpire (or multiple call-ups) to fill out the crew.

Here is how Scott's absence has shaped his crew since April 14, based on box scores since that date:
April 14: Scott leaves mid-game due to injury. Reynolds, Knight, and Barrett finish as a crew of three.
April 15-16: Nic Lentz is called up to serve as the crew's fourth umpire to complete the Toronto series.
April 17-24: The crew either takes a vacation or is assigned to Replay Review duty in New York.
April 25 - May 14: Stu Scheurwater is called up to fill in as the crew's fourth umpire, replacing Lentz.
May 16-21: Joe West joins the crew to replace Brian Knight; Scheurwater remains onboard.
May 22-24: Greg Gibson joins the crew to replace West/Knight; Scheurwater remains on the crew.

As of May 24, there has been no status update given for Scott. The longest recent absence on the Major League staff belongs to Bruce Dreckman, whose 522 days between big league games spanned the entire 2016 season.

Tim Welke retired at the conclusion of the 2016 season (though he announced his plans for retirement in March 2016), following knee replacement surgery.

*Pursuant to CCS/UEFL Best Practices, any private information or rumors thereof gathered from information not available to the general public or media source thereof will not be disseminated in a CCS/UEFL-authored post. As specified in our Best Practices, "The 'Rumor' tag is reserved for operational information." The source for Scott's comments after his traumatic event last month was Harold Reynolds. This is not a discussion of Scott's current condition; please respect his privacy. this is a discussion of a crew working without a crew chief.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

MLB Ejection 047 - Nic Lentz (2; Clint Hurdle)

HP Umpire Nic Lentz ejected Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle (out of base path call) in the top of the 1st inning of the Pirates-Braves game. With two out and two on (R1, R3), Pirates batter John Jaso hit a 1-2 knuckleball from Braves pitcher RA Dickey on the ground to catcher Kurt Suzuki, who attempted to tag Pirates baserunner R3 Josh Bell for the inning's third out. Replays indicate that in attempting to avoid Suzuki's tag, Bell ran more than three feet away from his base path, the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Pirates were leading, 1-0. The Braves ultimately won the contest, 6-5.

*Rule 5.09(b)(1) states that "Any runner is out when—He runs more than three feet away from his base path to avoid being tagged unless his action is to avoid interference with a fielder fielding a batted ball. A runner’s base path is established when the tag attempt occurs and is a straight line from the runner to the base he is attempting to reach safely."

This is Nic Lentz (59)'s second ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Nic Lentz now has 10 points in the UEFL Standings (5 Previous + 3 AAA + 2 Correct Call = 10).
Crew Chief Tom Hallion now has 3 points in Crew Division (2 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 3).

This is the 47th ejection report of 2017.
This is the 25th Manager ejection of 2017.
This is Pittsburgh's 3rd ejection of 2017, T-1st in the NL Central (PIT, STL 3; MIL 1; CHC, CIN 0).
This is Clint Hurdle's 2nd ejection of 2017, 1st since May 22 (Phil Cuzzi; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Nic Lentz's 2nd ejection of 2017, 1st since May 19 (Mike Matheny; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Atlanta Braves, 5/23/17 | Videos via "Read More"