Friday, July 21, 2017

Injury Scout - Line Drive Hits Marvin Hudson at Hot Corner

Taking a line drive off the mid-section at third base, Marvin Hudson became the second field umpire in as many days to suffer the fate of meeting a batted ball's journey down the foul line.

3B Umpire Marvin Hudson is hit by a ball.
With none out and none on in the top of the 3rd inning of Friday's Rangers-Rays game, Rangers batter Carlos Gomez hit a fair ball, line drive to third base and off of Hudson, the ball caroming to the middle infield as Gomez held at first with a single.

Hudson remained in the game following the play.
Related PostInjury Scout - Randazzo Buzzed by Batted Ball (7/20/17).

Relevant Injury History: While working the bases in 2016, Marvin Hudson suffered a leg injury while following a foul ball, though the ball did not hit Hudson.

Video as follows:

Case Play 2017-8 - Batter Interferes on Strike 3 [Solved]

Prior to ejection, Rays batter Tim Beckham tangled with A's catcher Bruce Maxwell during an uncaught third strike situation, resulting in Beckham's safe arrival at first base after Maxwell was unable to field the ball.

Is Beckham's tripping an interference call?
The Play: With one out and none on in the top of the 2nd inning, Rays batter Beckham attempted to strike a 0-2 changeup from A's pitcher Daniel Gossett, the pitched ball bouncing away from catcher Bruce Maxwell, who was unable to retrieve the ball; Gossett's throw to first base failed to retire Beckham, and the play was officially scored as a strikeout and wild pitch.

Case Play Question: Replays indicate that as catcher Maxwell attempted to retrieve the wild pitch, he tripped over batter Beckham's outstretched right foot, causing him to fall. Is this interference or did HP Umpire Lance Barrett properly officiate this play as "that's nothing"?

Answer: To answer this question requires a short glimpse at the history of Rule 6.01(a)(1), formerly known as Rule 7.09(a) up until 2014, when the number was changed to 6.01(a)(1).

In 2012, Rule 7.09(a) called for interference on the batter when—"After a third strike he hinders the catcher in his attempt to field the ball."

As the 2013 season approached, Rule 7.09(a) was changed to, "After a third strike he clearly hinders the catcher in his attempt to field the ball. Such batter-runner is out, the ball is dead, and all other runners return to the bases they occupied at the time of the pitch." The underlined text represents the rules change; a new Comment was added to the rule at this time as well (see the Rules Library, below, and OBR 6.01(a)(1) Comment.

Similarly, a 2012-era MLB Umpire Manual rule interpretation for OBR 7.09(a) stated that the batter shall not be considered to have hindered the catcher if the impeding act occurs in the home plate area, and the interference is not intentional. If the impeding act occurs up the base line or if the act is intentional regardless of where it occurs, then interference shall be called under 7.09(a).

However, the 2013 rules change also produced a change in the MLBUM: "The previous interpretation of this rule is no longer valid. Under the new rule, it no longer matters if the batter is in the vicinity of home plate or up the first baseline when the infraction occurs. If, in the umpire's judgment the batter-runner 'clearly hinders the catcher in his attempt to field the ball,' the batter-runner is declared out, the ball is dead, and runner(s) return to the base occupied at the time of the pitch. The location of the batter-runner is no longer relevant."

Rule 6.01(a)(10) Comment might provide a clue: "When a catcher and batter-runner going to first base have contact when the catcher is fielding the ball, there is generally no violation and nothing should be called." It is important, however, to note that Rule 6.01(a)(10) is the "fails to avoid a fielder who is attempting to field a batted ball" interference rule (as opposed to a related MiLBUD/PBUC interpretation that does not make reference to whether the ball is batted or an uncaught third strike). By virtue of the MiLDUD/PBUC's language which does not associate Rule 6.01(a)(10) Comment's language with whether a ball is batted or an uncaught third strike—it only matters that the batter has become a runner—this interpretation would apply in Minor League Baseball (or anywhere PBUC's material is used).
Related PostMLB Ejection 017: Dan Iassogna (1; Charlie Manuel) [B1 INT No-call] (4/25/13).
Related Video: Quinn Wolcott calls interference on static Cueto on collision w/ catcher (4/18/14).
Related Video: Kemp is out for interference for contact with Conger in front of the plate (7/4/11).

Beckham's leg moves during Maxwell's stride.
Nonetheless, under the modern 6.01(a)(1), unintentional contact with between batter and catcher is not necessarily interference, unless the batter-runner "clearly hinders the catcher in his attempt to field the ball." If Beckham's unintentional tripping action meets this threshold (or, alternately, creates a collision that otherwise would have been avoidable), or if his action is intentional, then interference is the correct call. If Beckham's actions are unintentional and did not clearly hinder the catcher in his attempt to field the ball, then this is not interference.

My read on this play is that Beckham created avoidable contact which clearly hindered the catcher in his attempt to field the ball: he would have been able to field the ball if not for Beckham's wayward foot extended beyond its natural position. To support this stance, I replayed the video to indicate that Beckham's right leg was still in motion and still extending after Maxwell had already raised and began to lower his right leg in striding toward the ball. Because Beckham's leg was still moving into the area one would expect Maxwell's striding right foot to land in as Maxwell passed Beckham's position, this is avoidable contact initiated by the batter-runner (as opposed to, say, contact initiated by the catcher).

Obviously, "clearly hinders" is the golden ticket here and whether the contact is avoidable or not is of little significance based on MLBUM's words: I reference it solely as evidence to support a conclusion that B1 clearly hindered F2, as opposed to F2 running into B1. In real time, however, maybe the hindrance wasn't so "clear." I have interference, but your mileage may vary.

Official Baseball Rules Library
OBR 5.04(b)(5): "The batter’s legal position shall be with both feet within the batter’s box."
OBR 5.05(a)(2): "The batter becomes a runner when—The third strike called by the umpire is not caught, providing (1) first base is unoccupied, or (2) first base is occupied with two out."
OBR 6.01(a)(1): "It is interference by a batter or a runner when—After a third strike that is not caught by the catcher, the batter-runner clearly hinders the catcher in his attempt to field the ball. Such batter-runner is out, the ball is dead, and all other runners return to the bases they occupied at the time of the pitch."
OBR 6.01(a)(1) Comment: "If the pitched ball deflects off the catcher or umpire and subsequently touches the batter-runner, it is not considered interference unless, in the judgment of the umpire, the batter-runner clearly hinders the catcher in his attempt to field the ball."

Video as follows:

Injury Scout - Randazzo Buzzed by Batted Ball

Tony Randazzo's hat received a line drive's glancing blow while umpiring first base in Seattle.

1B Umpire Randazzo jumps out of the way.
With none out and none on in the top of the 5th inning of Thursday's Yankees-Mariners game, Yankees batter Didi Gregorius hit a foul ball down the right field line, where it made contact with Randazzo's head and dislodged his chapeau as he ducked out of the way.

Replays indicate the ball hit the top of Randazzo's hat and head before continuing into foul territory along the right field short wall. Randazzo remained in the game following the play.

Relevant Injury History: Though Randazzo fortuitously escaped more than a skimming baseball to the top of his cap, he previously left a game on May 12, 2017 as the result of a direct shot-pitched ball injury as the plate umpire. Randazzo was absent from the field for 28 days following the injury.

Video as follows:

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Umpire Appreciation Night Coming to MiLB Ballpark

Umpire Appreciation Night: Utopian officiating fantasy or 2017 reality? The Charleston RiverDogs Minor League Baseball team will bring the promotion to the ballpark on Saturday, July 22, complete with a limited edition umpire "bobble-wrist" figurine giveaway to the first 1,000 fans.

Presented by NASH FM and Fox24, Umpire Appreciation Night will take over the Class-A Yankees affiliate's Riley Park in Charleston, South Carolina during the RiverDogs' series opener against the Lakewood BlueClaws.

The bobblehead/wrist giveaway features a masked umpire brushing off home plate. Planned activities include a "Strike 3" call contest, Dress Like an Umpire race, baseball rules trivia event, and umpire autograph session.

Here's hoping the Dogs' promotion—which appears to be a legitimate salute to umpiring—plays better than the Lancaster JetHawks (California League)'s 2009 fake "Umpire Appreciation Night" promotion, when the home team planned to distribute 500 pairs of what the Hawks called "umpire glasses."

The Cal League now has a top ump award.
In reality, the official promotion that evening was "Optometry Appreciation Night," and the team put out a statement as a result of backlash for their attempt at an umpiring tie-in: "Upon further examination of our planned promotion for tonight, we realized the distasteful and offensive nature of the umpire appreciation night aspect of it. Our California League umpires exhibit a great work ethic and do an excellent job on a daily basis. Out of respect for these Minor League Baseball umpires, we will not distribute eyeglasses to the first 500 fans. The rest of the elements of Optometry Appreciation Night will proceed as planned."

The California League (also Single-A) is the only league in the minors to honor its umpires annually with its newly-named "Doug Harvey Award," given out every season since 2010.
Related PostDoug Harvey Set for CAL League Hall of Fame Induction (6/16/17).

Frank Walsh (R) is gifted silver on Ump Night.
Meanwhile, real-life umpire Frank Walsh—whom the NL released in 1963 after his 1961 debut due, perhaps, to an incident with Duke Snider in San Francisco—transitioned to a life in San Antonio and career in the Texas League, where he was treated to a bona fide Umpire Appreciation Night in honor of his 4,000th game at Turnpike Stadium in Arlington.

You might recognize umpire Dave Phillips (white shirt) delivering the silver tray to Walsh (plate umpire, right), who stands alongside fellow former NL umpire and native Texan Dusty Boggess (suit, center). Texas League President Hugh Finnerty (left) is at the microphone.

The Charleston Riverdogs play in the Southern Division of the Class-A South Atlantic League.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Batman Bellino and Officiating T-Shirt Traditions

Is Dan Bellino secretly Batman? Spotted wearing a Batman logo t-shirt underneath his black umpire uniform polo in Houston this week, Bellino's potential superhero allegiance adds another wrinkle to the age-old question of what to wear underneath an officiating uniform shirt.

Look closely: Dan Bellino might be Batman.
Though MLB's guidelines vaguely account for just a "neat [and] professional" appearance, black and blue are baseball's unofficial umpiring colors and often make an appearance as a base layer.

Generally speaking, MLB issues or makes available to its umpires a variety of base layers, some of which have even been available to the public on websites like majorleagueumpires.com (Copyright 2003, Joe West Co.), such as the black and blue t-shirts with MLB Umpiring logo located in the upper left quadrant.
Related PostUmpire Uniform History & Return of the Shoulder Rings (3/31/17).

Here are the most common base layers in the game today:
MLB Umpire Logo Tee-Shirt
This shirt, which comes in black and blue to match the two uniform polo styles, first made its appearance after the AL and NL staffs merged, and the black-and-blue uniform tops became standard.

It is manufactured by Majestic Athletic, which also provides MLB's outerwear.

Greg Gibson, for instance, used to routinely wear the blue tee as his base, though the black shirt was always more common.

Moisture-Wicking Undershirt
Nike is the brand that generally supplies Dri-FIT material, which the company advertises as a high-performance microfiber fabric made of polyester that keeps athletes dry and comfortable by moving sweat away from the body and to the fabric surface, where it evaporates.

The aforementioned MLB Umpire Logo Tee, by contrast, is 100% heavy weight cotton, which itself absorbs moisture. Pictured to the left is Bob Davidson in the moisture-managing black Nike shirt.

MLB Umpire Logo Turtleneck (Mock Neck) Shirt
The modern turtleneck and mock neck is born out of a National League tradition from the 1970s, when NL umpires began wearing black turtlenecks under blue blazers for more comfort, compared to stiff collared shirts that were worn at the time. In an attempt to unify the League's look, baseball issued umpires a mock turtleneck shirt with MLB logo on the collar, especially useful for colder climates. Nike's mock necks also have made appearances.

Jim Joyce would often wear the turtleneck when temperatures allowed.

Here are a few unique shirts that have appeared in baseball:

Mike Reilly's Notre Dame T-Shirt
We recall the story of former AL and MLB umpire Mike Reilly, who wore the same Notre Dame t-shirt underneath his chest protector for nearly 30 years-worth of plate assignments.

At some point along the way, the shirt finally fell apart, and Reilly cut it into pieces, placing one in his pocket before every game. Former crew-mate  Eric Cooper also is a fan of Notre Dame, and they occasionally would be seen pre-game in various Fighting Irish gear or jerseys.

John Hirschbeck's White Shirt
Hirschbeck also wore the moisture-wicking material undershirts, but would opt for white instead of black. Several other umpires over the years have also worn white base layers—the brothers Welke come to mind—but black still remains the overwhelming standard.

Nothing at All
Several umpires throughout the league prefer no base layer whatsoever, especially when the weather conditions are hot and humid.

Sam Holbrook, pictured in a sky blue polo, is one of a handful of umpires who have subscribed to the au naturel look.

The Reverse-Nothing at All
In 1969, NL Umpire Ed Sudol wore a white t-shirt during a game in Chicago after the day's weather proved too hot for his uniform jacket. As the story goes, Sudol began the day in the traditional plate umpire blazer, but removed it between the fifth and sixth innings as the temperature surpassed 90-degrees with 93% humidity, and officiated the remainder of the contest in a white t-shirt and inside chest protector worn outside of his base layer.

Related: When Uniforms Get Lost
Sometimes, the umpire's uniform doesn't quite make it to the ballpark, and the umpires are forced to improvise. On more than a few occasions throughout Major League history, teams have helped outfit the umpires for the game, making for some entertaining photos showing umpires dressed in team logo apparel officiating a regulation contest.

Pictured to the right is long-time National League umpire Eric Gregg wearing a Cubs jacket, supplied by Chicago when the umpiring crew's luggage went missing en route to Wrigley Field.

The best improvised uniform in professional umpiring history, however, might just belong to Ed Montague, who called a Phillies-Mets game behind the plate in 1982 wearing a red Philadelphia Phillies home jersey (pinstripes, shin guards, chest protector, and all) topped with a backwards-billed blue Mets ball cap.

Related PostTrain Delay: Umpires Stuck in Traffic, Game Stalled 16 Min (4/10/13).

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

MLB Ejection 102 - Dan Bellino (1; Mel Stottlemyre)

HP Umpire Dan Bellino ejected Mariners Pitching Coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. (balls/strikes) in the bottom of the 2nd inning of the Mariners-Astros game. With one out and none on, Mariners batter Alex Bregman took a 3-1 fastball from Mariners pitcher Sam Gaviglio for a called fourth ball. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the inner half of home plate and below the midpoint (px -.488, pz 3.204 [sz_bot 3.371]), the call was incorrect. At the time of the ejection, the Astros were leading, 2-0. The Astros ultimately won the contest, 6-2.

This is Dan Bellino (2)'s first ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Dan Bellino now has -3 points in the UEFL Standings (-1 Prev + 2 MLB - 4 Incorrect Call = -3).
Crew Chief Kerwin Danley now has 0 points in Crew Division (0 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = 0).
*Ejection credited pursuant to UEFL Rule 7-2 regarding Disputed Information. Source.

This is the 102nd ejection report of 2017.
This is Seattle's 4th ejection of 2017, T-1st in the AL West (OAK, SEA 4; TEX 3; HOU 2; LAA 1).
This is Mel Stottlemyre's first ejection since October 1, 2009 (Hunter Wendelstedt; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Dan Bellino's first ejection since June 29, 2016 (Adrian Gonzalez; QOC = Y [Check Swing]).

Wrap: Seattle Mariners vs. Houston Astros, 7/18/17 | No Video.

MLB Ejection 101 - Bill Welke (6; Kevin Cash)

HP Umpire Bill Welke ejected Rays Manager Kevin Cash (strike three call; QOCY) in the top of the 5th inning of the Rays-Athletics game. With none out and one on (R1), Rays batter Steven Souza Jr. took a 3-2 fastball from A's pitcher Chris Smith for a called third strike as Rays baserunner R1 Peter Bourjos attempted to steal second base, ruled out on the play by 2B Umpire Brian Knight. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the inner half of home plate and above the knees (px -.507, pz 1.736 [sz_bot 1.627]), the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the A's were leading, 3-2. The Rays ultimately won the contest, 4-3.

This is Bill Welke (3)'s sixth ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Bill Welke now has 10 points in the UEFL Standings (6 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 10).
Crew Chief Bill Welke now has 4 points in Crew Division (3 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 4).

This is the 101st ejection report of 2017.
This is the 54th Manager ejection of 2017.
This is Tampa Bay's 6th ejection of 2017, 1st in the AL East (TB 6; NYY, TOR 4; BAL, BOS 3).
This is Kevin Cash's 3rd ejection of 2017, 1st since May 9 (Bill Welke; QOC = Y [Balk]).
This is Bill Welke's 6th ejection of 2017, 1st since May 27 (Ned Yost; QOC = Y-C [Check Swing]).

Wrap: Tampa Bay Rays vs. Oakland Athletics, 7/18/17 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejections 099-100 - Mike Muchlinski (3-4; MIL x2)

HP Umpire Mike Muchlinski ejected Brewers 3B Travis Shaw and Manager Craig Counsell (strike three call; QOCN) in the top of the 8th inning of the Brewers-Pirates game. With none out and none on, Shaw took a 3-2 fastball from Pirates pitcher Daniel Hudson for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located off the outer edge of home plate and thigh-high (px -1.037, pz 2.253), the call was incorrect. At the time of the ejection, the Pirates were leading, 4-3. The Pirates ultimately won the contest, 4-3.

This is Mike Muchlinski (76)'s third, fourth ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Mike Muchlinski now has -5 points in the UEFL Standings (-1 Prev + 2*[2 MLB - 4 QOCN] = -5).
Crew Chief Mike Winters now has 4 points in Crew Division (4 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = 4).

This is the 99th, 100th ejection report of 2017.
This is the 42nd player ejection of 2017. Prior to ejection, Shaw was 3-4 (SO) in the contest.
This is the 53rd Manager ejection of 2017.
This is Milwaukee's 4/5th ejection of 2017, 1st in the NL Central (MIL 5; PIT 4; CIN, STL 3; CHC 1).
This is Travis Shaw's first career MLB ejection.
This is Craig Counsell's 2nd ejection of 2017, 1st since May 26 (Jim Reynolds; QOC = Y [Replay Review]).
This is Mike Muchlinski's 3rd/4th ejection of 2017, 1st since May 4 (Ryon Healy; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Milwaukee Brewers vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, 7/18/17 | Video as follows:

MiLB Ejection - Ryan Additon (Yoan Moncada)

What are fill-in umpires up to when not working MLB games? Minor league ejections, naturally...

Ryan Additon ejects Moncada for helmet toss.
Though ejections are one of many aspects of umpiring that the fill-in class hones down on the farm, they are illustrative of what to expect at the next level...at least sometimes they are...

Take the case of 2B Umpire Ryan Additon's ejection of Charlotte Knights second baseman Yoan Moncada during Tuesday's Knights-Red Wings game in Rochester.

With two out and one on (R1), Knights baserunner R1 Moncada attempted to steal second base as Red Wings catcher John Ryan Murphy threw to Engelb Vielma, who applied a tag as Moncada's hand arrived at the bag.

These days, a head-first slide on a stolen base attempt likely won't result in an ejection at the Major League level due to Replay Review's existence, but no such recourse is available at the Minor League level. As a testament to video review's unavailability in Triple-A, replays are inconclusive as to the caught stealing call.

Cue Moncada, who spiked his helmet in response to Additon's out call, and in doing so, earned a near-automatic ejection for violation of one of baseball's Standards for Removal from the Game (throwing equipment in disgust).

Wrap: Charlotte Knights vs. Rochester Red Wings (International League), 7/18/17 | Video as follows:

Monday, July 17, 2017

MLB Ejection 098 - Lance Barrett (1; Tim Beckham)

HP Umpire Lance Barrett ejected Rays 2B Tim Beckham (strike three call) in the top of the 4th inning of the Rays-Athletics game. With one out and none on, Beckham took a 0-2 slider from A's pitcher Daniel Gossett for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the heart of home plate and above the midpoint (px -.127, pz 3.508 [sz_top 3.411 / MOE 3.494 / + 1.5" R = 3.536]), the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Rays were leading, 2-0. The Rays ultimately won the contest, 3-2.

This is Lance Barrett (94)'s first ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Lance Barrett now has -1 points in the UEFL Standings (-5 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = -1).
Crew Chief Bill Welke now has 6 points in Crew Division (5 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 6).

This is the 98th ejection report of 2017.
This is the 41st player ejection of 2017. Prior to ejection, Beckham was 0-2 (2 SO) in the contest.
This is Tampa Bay's 5th ejection of 2017, 1st in the AL East (TB 5; NYY, TOR 4; BAL, BOS 3).
This is Tim Beckham's first career MLB ejection.
This is Lance Barrett's first ejection since August 7, 2016 (Mike Napoli; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Tampa Bay Rays vs. Oakland Athletics, 7/17/17 | Video as follows: