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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Tmac's Teachable Moments - Let's Fix Replay

Tmac's Teachable Moments presents a review of ways to fix instant replay.

It's a new year and would you believe it's less than one month until pitchers and catchers report. If you're a baseball fan and if you're frequenting Close Call Sports, and there's a really good chance you are, then you've probably been frustrated about the way MLB has handled replays since their 2014 expansion. I propose some ways to fix MLB instant replay in this offseason addition of Tmac's Teachable Moments.

First of all, how many times have I said MLB is horrible at communication. To begin, let's fix part of that problem.

Umpires in Japan's NPB have access to a mic.
1) Give the Crew Chief a microphone
Football and hockey refs have mics, and basketball officials can communicate what's going on because the media table is court side. Not knowing a ruling is like missing twenty minutes of a movie. The result is the fans become informed by announcers who don't know what they're talking about. We get announcers making stuff up while attempting to fill in the blanks. A simple explanation after every replay would suffice. It also allows the CC to explain ejections, complicated situations, or perhaps a strange play. We have the technology, so lets do this. It makes it easier for people in the press box (well above the playing field) or sitting at home to understand the call on the field. Communication can always be better.
Gil's Note: The Nippon Professional Baseball Organization (Japan's MLB-equivalent) outfits its umpires with access to microphones on the playing field level. When a ruling requires explanations, the umpire-in-chief can simply walk over to the warning track, pick up a microphone, and explain the play over the stadium PA for all to hear. SEE IT IN ACTION: Dropped Third Strike = Home Run.

2) A manager gets two challenges, and a challenge must be IMMEDIATE
Quick decisions may eliminate delays.
Let's eliminate the Crew Chief-initiated challenges. A manager should use his challenges judiciously.  When games are delayed for 30 seconds here and 30 seconds there, it adds up. We had some great postseason games, but they routinely went over four hours. Even the most arduous of baseball fans can't spend that kind of time watching baseball in October. Gil and I tried to cover every post season game and I was worn out by the end. There are some people saying this was the best WS ever and many people missed the crucial moments because the games lasted forever.

Let's get rid of "turning the umpire" strategy.
So, what does "Immediate" mean? By definition, "occurring or done at once; instant." When a call was missed in the "old" days before replay, a manager would come out IMMEDIATELY to dispute or seek clarification. He didn't wait for 30 seconds or more to hear from his replay technician on whether it's worth a challenge. What does this do? It eliminates the sliding challenges were a guy is clearly safe and his butt or his legs comes off the bag for s split second. There's a difference between coming off a base by over sliding it and having your front foot come off a base because a base is hard. Replay is designed to fix the egregious errors.

If a manager is successful with each of his two challenges then he gets another and another until his challenge is not successful. Now there's no penalty for an incorrect challenge after the 6th inning.  Managers are bailed out by getting a Crew Chief Review every time they ask.

Umpires tend to not miss three calls against a team in a game (according to my records, it happened just twice this year), so if you use your challenges properly you will be fine.

I'm adaptable to "immediate," but considering Stadiums have clocks why not have a 5 second countdown clock after every play? You could even hire a 5th umpire to man the clock. This takes the replay technicians out of the game where they don't belong.

How does a manager challenge, you must be asking!

HBP or Foul? This play should be reviewable.
3) Give the manager a beanbag
You can make it a flag or whatever; just something that keeps him off the field.
Gil's Note: As of 2015, managers have been ordered to remain in the dugout to challenge most plays, but the manager is still notably permitted to hold play while consulting with the replay coordinator and bench coach about whether to challenge the call.

4) Let's replay more things
Fair/fouls in the infield, batted balls off batters, and full swings that turn into HBPs are some of the disasters that are not reviewable. I've been asked where to draw the line. We're currently reviewing interference, so why can't we also review obstruction? I'm not sure where the line is drawn, but let's get it right. This is a slippery slope, but we can make it an exciting one.

Let's put those stadium clocks to good use.
4) Ninety second limit once headsets are put on.
We can waive this in the postseason, but I can't tell you how many times in the late stages of a game we have had a 3+ minute replay delay in a game that was all but decided. While I agree the classy thing to do is to let the play be, managers are constantly fighting for players, trying to get them a base knock or lower a pitcher's ERA. So I don't begrudge them for challenging, but with the technology there is no reason MLB replay should take two to three times longer than NFL, NBA, or NHL.

These changes are simple.  There is no question replay is here to stay and there is also no question MLB is obsessed with shorter game times.  This might not take a large chunk of time but it would help with game flow which was just brutal last year.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Source - Jim Joyce Retires, Holbrook & Emmel Promoted

"Imperfect Game" umpire Jim Joyce has retired with crew chief promotions to Sam Holbrook and Paul Emmel, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. No official announcement has yet been made.

In 2014, Joyce granted an interview to the Portland Tribune in which he stated that he "could very easily have walked away from the game of baseball" after the infamous June 2, 2010 game in Detroit featuring Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga and the so-called 28-out perfect game after Joyce's safe call with two outs in the ninth inning extended the game by one batter. At the time, Joyce said in postgame comments that he "blew the call" and eventually co-authored the book Nobody's Perfect with Galarraga concerning sportsmanship and lessons learned from that night.

Joyce was in the right place at the right time two years later when a Diamondbacks stadium employee entered cardiac arrest; Joyce performed CPR on Levy employee Jayne Powers and received praise by many who said that Joyce had saved Powers' life.

In the 2014 Tribune interview, Joyce also mentioned that he had "a couple of more [years]" left, "if my knees hold up." The 2015 and 2016 seasons make for a couple of years and, according to a source, Joyce is following through on that retirement projection. News of Joyce's retirement was also broadcast over the air via Portland, Oregon radio station AM 1080 The Fan.

Joyce, who entered the American League in 1987, officiated 3,268 regular season games during his three decades in the Majors, ejecting 73 people, and additionally called three All-Star Games, 10 Division Series, four League Championship Series, and three World Series.

His obstruction call to end Game 3 of the 2013 World Series constituted the first Fall Classic game-ending obstruction or interference play, and capped off a stretch run for Joyce during which he received two UEFL Honorable Umpire of the Year awards (2010 and 2012) and two UEFL Umpire of the Year awards (2009 and 2013).

Joyce is a member of the Central Catholic High School Sports Hall of Fame (2000) and Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame (2009).

Sam Holbrook, Paul Emmel Promoted to Crew Chief
Umpires Sam Holbrook and Paul Emmel have purportedly been tapped to replace retiring crew chiefs Joyce and John Hirschbeck, according to a source.

Holbrook is just shy of 2,000 games in his Major League career (AL debut: 1996, NL debut: 1997) while Emmel is over the 2,000-game mark (NL debut: 1999); both have officiated all levels of special events, with Holbrook most recently presiding over Game 7 of the 2016 World Series.

Mike Everitt, meanwhile, has served as fill-in crew chief since January 2016, in the stead of Tim Welke, who has since retired after spending one year on umpiring's Disabled List. Everitt has 2,388 games of regular season experience heading into 2017.

All three have served as acting or interim crew chief on several occasions throughout the past few seasons, including Holbrook's extended stint as crew chief in place of regular Joe West when West missed the first few months of 2013; Hawk Harrelson has the story.

Holbrook himself missed the 2014 season upon the death of his wife Laura "Susie" Glass, and worked the 2016 World Series with Hirschbeck, who himself spent time on bereavement after losing two sons.

Joyce's retirement comprises the fourth since September 2016 (Bob Davidson, Hirschbeck, T Welke), accounting for MLB's purported quadruple hire of umpires Adam Hamari, Pat Hoberg, Gabe Morales and Carlos Torres, while the Hirschbeck/Joyce/Welke retirements as crew chiefs account for the purported Holbrook/Emmel/Everitt promotions.

Friday, January 13, 2017

ABL - Bell Ejects River Stevens for Obscene Bird

HP Umpire Andrew Bell ejected Cavalry 2B River Stevens for flipping off the crowd in Adelaide during his 2 RBI double in the top of the 6th inning of the ABL's Cavalry-Bite game. With two out and two on, Stevens hit a fastball from Bite pitcher Matthew Williams down the right field line for a double, scoring two runs for Canberra. Replays indicate that as Stevens ran down the first base line, he raised his right arm and extended his middle finger while looking at either the Adelaide dugout and/or the "Shark Tank" fan section directly behind the dugout, resulting in an ejection for an unsporting obscene gesture, the call was irrecusable. At the time of the ejection, the Cavalry were leading, 4-1. The Cavalry ultimately won the contest, 4-1.

Related: MLB Ejection 189 (Joe West/Jonathan Papelbon; Lewd Gesture, 9/14/14)
Wrap: Canberra Cavalry vs. Adelaide Bite (Australian Baseball), 1/8/17 | Video via "Read More"

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Minor League Umpires Receive New 5-Year CBA

Minor League Baseball Umpire Development reached agreement with the Association of Minor League Umpires on a five-year collective bargaining agreement that will ensure continuous labor peace through the 2021 MiLB season.

Notable elements of the 2016-21 MiLBUD-AMLU CBA include:

Salary and Wages: Umpires across all levels of Minor League Baseball will receive nominal wage increases. Rookie and Short-A will start at $2,000-per-month (previously $1,900) and increase to $2,300 for a fourth-year umpire. Full/Advanced-A will start at $2,100 (from $2,000) with $2,600 at the seventh season. Double-A starts at $2,500 (from $2,300) to $3,100 at the ninth season, and Triple-A starts at $2,900 (from $2,600) to $3,900 at the 14th season.

Per Diems: League-wide per diems will increase by two dollars annually. In 2017, these figures are: $44.50 for Single-A, $50 for Double-A, and $58 for Triple-A. At the CBA's conclusion in 2021, the Single-A per diem will be $52.50, $58 at Double-A, and $66 at Triple-A.

> Family Leave: Umpires will receive five paid days of family leave for the birth of a child, and may receive additional time off at the discretion of management.

> Mandatory Day Off: Umpires are capped at working no more than 30 consecutive days.

> Hotels: Requires that hotel facilities feature interior room entrances as opposed to exterior room entry, such as entrance directly into the motel room from the parking lot or exterior staircase/breezeway.

> Uniforms: In lieu of being provided uniforms, Single-A and higher Umpires will be given a uniform and equipment allowance, which marks a new benefit wherein umpires will be given cash credit from the League that may be used to purchase equipment items such as chest protectors, shin and throat guards, marks, shoes, etc., that previously were not covered through credits.

> Concussion Management: Stadiums throughout MiLB must supply a refrigerator or freezer to chill medical items, such as ice packs and specialized headgear, such that the item will be cold if and when an umpire requires use of the concussion pack.

> Evaluation Advancement: Forthcoming technological changes to MiLB's method of evaluating ALMU's umpires will now be subject to disclosure and discussion before the Association.

The most recent labor stoppage in Minor League Baseball occurred in 2006 when umpires went on strike after the two sides failed to reach a satisfactory agreement.

Monday, January 9, 2017

2017 Hires Include Hamari, Hoberg, Morales & Torres

MLB hired umpires Adam Hamari, Pat Hoberg, Gabe Morales & Carlos Torres to the full-time staff, according to a source.* Since their respective MLB debuts as Triple-A call-up umpires, the foursome has a combined 1,364 games of big league experience going into the 2017 regular season, with Hamari the most experienced and Torres the least.

As reported in 2016, retirements include Bob Davidson, John Hirschbeck, and Tim Welke.

Adam Hamari: With 461 of Major League experience over four seasons (2013-16), Marquette, Michigan native Adam Curtis Hamari joins the big league staff as the most experienced member of the 2016 Call-Up staff. After graduating from the Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring (JEAPU) in 2006, Hamari worked the New York-Penn, Midwest, California, Florida State, Southern, Eastern, International, and Pacific Coast Leagues. He also officiated the 2011 Arizona Fall League. Hamari won the 2016 UEFL Fill-In Umpire of the Year award and is fellow MLBU Cory Blaser's brother-in-law.
> Age on Opening Day 2017: 33 (5/25/1983).
> MLB Debut: June 26, 2013 (CHC-MIL; -cc Kellogg).
> First MLB Ejection: March 8, 2014 (Bob Melvin).
> Notable: Called Tim Lincecum's no-hitter on June 25, 2014.
> Most Recent MLB Ejection: Sept 23, 2016 (Kemp/Snitker).

Gabe Morales: Santa Clara, California-born Gabriel Morales joins the big league staff with 389 games of MLB experience, which is third as of the 2016-17 offseason, behind fellow hire Hamari (461) and call-up Clint Fagan (453). Morales is a 2009 graduate of the Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring (JEAPU), and since has officiated the Arizona, New York-Penn, South Atlantic, Arizona Instructional, Texas, International, and Pacific Coast Leagues, in addition to the 2013 Arizona Fall League and XM All-Star Futures Game. Morales finished third in the 2016 UEFL Fill-In Umpire of the Year award vote.
> Age on Opening Day 2017: 32 (6/21/1984).
> MLB Debut: April 2, 2014 (CLE-OAK; -cc Winters).
> First MLB Ejection: August 23, 2015 (Paul Molitor).
> Most Recent MLB Ejection: July 31, 2016 (John Farrell).

Pat Hoberg: With a birthdate of September 11, 1986, Patrick Hoberg is the youngest hire (30 years old), and also has the most big league ejections to his name (11). Born in Des Moines, Iowa (think: Tim McClelland and Eric Cooper, and tangentially Mike Everitt and Mike Reilly), Hoberg is the third new hire to have graduated from the Evans Academy, and was in Morales' 2009 class at the school. Hoberg has worked the Arizona, Appalachian, Florida State, Texas, and Pacific Coast Leagues, additionally joining Morales on the 2013 AFL and XM Futures Game staffs. After Hoberg ejected disgruntled minor league manager Mark Haley in 2011, Haley ominously predicted, "it's going to be a long ways to go before [Hoberg] reaches his goal." Consider that goal reached. Hoberg finished second in the 2016 UEFL Fill-In Umpire of the Year award vote.
> Age on Opening Day 2017: 30 (9/11/1986).
> MLB Debut: March 31, 2014 (SF-ARI; -cc Hallion).
> First MLB Ejection: May 28, 2014 (Elvis Andrus).
> Notable: Called Jake Arrieta's no-hitter on Aug 30, 2015.
> Most Recent MLB Ejection: September 20, 2016 (Mike Scioscia).

Carlos Torres: The eldest (38 years old) and only foreign-born umpire in MLB's Class of 2017, Venezuela's Carlos Torres Nuldis (born in Barquisimeto, Lara) officiated the most big league games in 2016 of any single MLB or MiLB umpire, save for Ryan Blakney (Torres officiated 141 games; Blakney called 142), yet has worked cumulatively fewer games than the other three hires. Unlike the others, however, Torres has more consistent experience working his native Venezuelan League, one of baseball's Winter Leagues. Like Morales and Hoberg, Torres has been a Minor League umpire since graduating from Evans' Academy in 2009 and worked the Gulf Coast, New York-Penn, South Atlantic, Carolina, Southern, Arizona Fall, and International Leagues. He is the second Venezuelan to umpire a Major League game (Manny Gonzalez).
> Age on Opening Day 2017: 38 (9/14/1978).
> MLB Debut: July 17, 2015 (CLE-CIN; -cc Kellogg).
> First MLB Ejection: May 14, 2016 (Terry Collins).
> Most Recent MLB Ejection: Sept 10, 2016 (Hernan Perez).

Most Games Officiated as a Call-Up Umpire (Bold Text denotes umpires hired for 2017 season)
1) Adam Hamari - 461 Games (48 in 2013, 127 in 2014154 in 2015, 132 in 2016).
2) Clint Fagan - 453 Games (5 in 2011, 16 in 2012, 69 in 2013, 119 in 2014, 131 in 2015, 113 in 2016).
3) Gabe Morales - 389 Games (123 in 2014, 135 in 2015, 131 in 2016).
4) Pat Hoberg - 354 Games (123 in 2014, 92 in 2015, 139 in 2016).
5) Toby Basner - 323 Games (19 in 2012, 17 in 2013, 106 in 2014, 93 in 2015, 88 in 2016).
6) Chris Segal - 248 Games (111 in 2014, 116 in 2015, 21 in 2016).
7) Ryan Blakney - 230 Games (88 in 2015, 142 in 2016).
8) Sean Barber - 217 Games (92 in 2014, 58 in 2015, 67 in 2016).
9) Tom Woodring - 192 Games (102 in 2014, 54 in 2015, 36 in 2016).
10) Ben May - 187 Games (30 in 2014, 88 in 2015, 69 in 2016).
11) Carlos Torres - 160 Games (19 in 2015, 141 in 2016).
12) Nic Lentz - 105 Games (105 in 2016).
13) Stu Scheurwater - 100 Games (24 in 2014, 23 in 2015, 53 in 2016).

*Refer to the UEFL's Best Practices for more information on news reporting from a source.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Harrelson's Ballad of Cowboy Joe West and The Hawk

Ken "Hawk" Harrelson and Joe West have become the unlikeliest of friends, and the veteran White Sox broadcaster sat down with CSN Chicago and the White Sox Talk podcast to tell the tale of how a seemingly bitter feud from the days of Mark Buehrle and Ozzie Guillen has transformed into a story bigger than baseball.

Joe West and Hawk Harrelson at a golf outing.
Photo from @ChuckGarfien.
In 2010, you might recall, Joe West ejected then-Sox skipper Ozzie Guillen for arguing a balk called against pitcher Mark Buehrle, before ejecting Buehrle himself for arguing a similar call one inning later. In one of the Hawk's famous rants, Harrelson tore into the long-time umpire:
[West]'s a joke, he's becoming a joke is what he's doing. He's becoming a joke to the umpiring profession. Joe is, uh, getting to be that time for Mr. Joe West...Joe West deserves a suspension is what—he needs a rest, he needs a rest. I tell you what, Mark Buehrle is one of—Joe West just wanted to stick it right up his behind and he did. He should be suspended. That is a flat out absolute disgrace to the umpiring profession what this guy has been doing.
Harrelson, of course, has levied similarly impassioned criticism toward other objects of ire over the years, namely Mark Wegner ("You gotta be bleepin' me! What are you doing Wegner? That is so bad, it is absolutely brutal"), Angel Hernandez ("NO! NO! And ANOTHER blown call by Hernandez!"), Gary Darling ("These are times I wish I could cuss"), Lance Barrett ("He is absolutely brutal"), and even the White Sox themselves.

To be fair, Harrelson has been consistent in his level of decorum throughout his career, as evidenced by this 1991 diatribe against Joe Brinkman ("That is absolutely unbelievable").

In 2012, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig met with Harrelson over his rant against Wegner, with White Sox Senior VP Brooks Boyer stating, "I think moving forward those types of bursts and snaps will be limited if not eliminated."

And they have.

Although Harrelson has continued to use phrases like "horsebleep judgement" (Alfonso Marquez) and "that's BS and he's right" (Jeff Nelson), his tenor has certainly been more restrained...although he did go after the home plate collision rule ("this rule is BS, pure simple BS"), at one point stating that "next thing you know, they'll have catchers wearing skirts out there."

It all started with Joe West's absence and delayed return to baseball in 2013 (See: Rehab report from 4/26/13). The Hawk explains how and why:
Joe West is the best umpire in the game. He and I butted heads for 30 years...[In 2013], We were doing a game down in Texas and [Steve] Stone tells me that this is going to be the first day a couple months into the season that Joe's back, and I say, 'back, where's he been?' 'Well, he had throat cancer,' Steve said. I didn't know that. So after the game was over, I went down and knocked on the umpire's room. And one of the umpires was shocked when he opened the door and I was standing there. I said, 'Where's Joe?' Said, 'He's in the shower.' So I walked in, went back, and Joe was in the shower, soap all over his face. And finally rinsed his face off, looked at me and said, 'Hawk!' I said, 'Joe, let me tell you something right now.' I said, 'I don't mind arguing with you, I don't mind fighting ya. But the one thing I cannot have is you getting sick on me.' And he started laughing, and since that time, Joe and I have become good buddies.
Harrelson told CSN that he and West play golf together, and said he keeps a copy of West's country music CD (Blue Cowboy, available from cowboyjoewest.com) in his car.

Hawk's story and discussion on West, umpiring, and his passion for baseball begins at the 25-minute mark.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Truly Offseason - Joe West & the Caddyshack Yacht

In the spirit of the offseason, what do Joe West, Caddyshack, and Reel Deal Yachts have in common?

Apparently, not much anymore. According to UPI, November's World Series brought umpire Joe West and Caddyshack actor Bill Murray together, where West reportedly told Murray during Game 7 that he was purchasing the famous "Seafood" yacht from the movie.

Yet, here we are in January and the 1979 striker, real name "Big Dog," is still listed for sale on YachtWorld with the infamous sales pitch, "Being a Striker and built like a Tank, she can handle anything you throw at her! So if you are in the market for a fabulous rough water fishing boat with a bit of movie history thrown in, this is your boat! And at a great price as well! She needs some TLC but well worth the effort...."

Turns out, according to Striker Yacht Corp. CEO Edward Ennis, "it's a total piece of junk": The hull is damaged, the engine needs work, and there's mold afoot, which is slightly more significant than Rodney Dangerfield-as-Al Czervik's silver screen exclamation, "you scratched my anchor."

The January update in regards to the Big Dog/Caddyshack yacht situation suggests that the vessel's state of disrepair following years of service as a Dominican Republic fishing boat may have been enough to keep it on the market, where Reel Deal Yachts lists it for $129,000.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Top 20 Ejections of 2016 - UEFL Year in Review

Presenting baseball's best ejections, this is the UEFL's Top 20 Ejections of 2016, a year in review. With assistance from voter input gathered during the 2016 year-end Awards Nomination process, we present the Top 20 Ejections of 2016.

*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 2016
Note: Click each umpire's name & ejection # to be taken to the associated ejection report from the season.
20: E-107|108: Mark Wegner (1-2); A's 1B Yonder Alonso & Mgr Bob Melvin (K3 Call; QOC = Y).
19: E-067: Tripp Gibson (1); Cubs Manager Joe Maddon (Check Swing Ball Four; QOC = N).
18: E-055: Dale Scott (6); Angels 3B Yunel Escobar (Strike Three Call; QOC = N).
17: E-088|089: Ben May (2-3); Pirates' Branson & Mgr Clint Hurdle (Strike One Call; QOC = Y).
16: E-127: Alan Porter (3); Astros 2B Jose Altuve (Strike Three Call; QOC = N).
15: E-010: Sean Barber (1); Padres LF Melvin Upton Jr (Strike Two Call; QOC = Y).
14: E-141: Mike Winters (3); Nationals RF Bryce Harper (Strike Three Call; QOC = Y).
13: E-023: Chris Guccione (1); Yankees Manager Joe Girardi (Balk No-Call; QOC = Y).
12: E-079: Mike Everitt (1); Braves Interim Manager Brian Snitker (Replay Review; QOC = Y-C).
11: E-024: Cory Blaser (1); Braves C AJ Pierzynski (Strike Three Call; QOC = N).
10E-087: Hunter Wendelstedt (2); Braves LF Jeff Francoeur (Replay Review; QOC = Y).
#9: E-062|063: Adam Hamari (1-2); Mets P Syndergaard, Mgr Collins (Throwing At; QOC = U).
#8: E-049: Doug Eddings (1); Tigers Manager Brad Ausmus (Strike Three Call; QOC = N).
#7: E-199: Jeff Kellogg (5); Mets Manager Terry Collins (Replay Review; QOC = Y).
#6: E-090: Bill Miller (2); Padres Manager Andy Green (Runner's Lane Interference NC; QOC = N-C).
#5: E-042-47: Scott & Iassogna; Blue Jays and Rangers (Fighting, Throwing At; QOC = U).
#4E-139: Scott Barry (3); Red Sox 3B Coach Brian Butterfield (Ball Two Call; QOC = Y).
#3E-032: Brian Knight (1); Nationals RF Bryce Harper (Strike Three Call; QOC = Y).
#2: E-142-145Mike Everitt (3-6); Tigers' Martinez x2, Joyner, Ausmus (Strike CallsQOC = & N).
HONORARY: Unofficial: Bob Davidson; Philly spectator (Vulgar/Obscene Conduct; QOC = U).
#1: E-159: Joe West (5); Cubs Manager Joe Maddon (Stalling/Pace of Play Enforcement; QOC = U).

Total Correct: 10.5 / Total Incorrect: 6.5 / Total Irrecusable: 3 = 61.8% Accuracy (Compare to 66.7% in 2015).

Links to previous year's Top Ejections countdowns: 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

ABL All-Star Game Umpires - Taka Leads Off

MiLB and veteran ABL umpire Takahito Matsuda served as All-Star Game crew chief in the Australian Baseball League's Summer (our Winter) Classic on Thursday, where he was joined by fellow ABL umpires Stewart Howe at first base, David Milton at second base, and Greg Howard at third base for the sixth annual World vs Team Australia All-Star Game at Melbourne Ballpark.

Streamed live on YouTube and simulcast on MLB Network, this season it was Team Australia that prevailed against a World All-Star Cast as the home team walked off for the second year in a row, drawing its historical record to 4-2 over the World.

Due to ABL's unique configuration as an international offseason league in partnership with Major League Baseball, the ABL All-Star Game features a World vs Australians matchup without regard to team affiliation (for instance, Aces pitcher Jeremy Guthrie played for the World squad while teammate Allan de San Miguel fielded the catcher's position for Team Australia).

The 2016 ABL All-Star Game is available on demand from ABL.TV on YouTube.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Non-Video ABL Ejections; Clark Ejected Twice

Melbourne's 11-inning victory in Game 1 of the Aces-Bite doubleheader wasn't televised, but featured two ejections, including one we would have especially liked to see. Adelaide also logged one ejection two games later, which we would really liked to have seen, in which Rangers prospect LeDarious Clark allegedly charged an opposing ABL player after Clark's time at bat.

Click here for the ABL homepage.
In the top of the 2nd inning, with one out and two on (R2, R3), Aces batter Josh Davies hit a ground ball toward shortstop Bite Josh Altmann, who was hindered in his ability to field the batted ball due to interference by Aces baserunner R2 Mike Walker. As the penalty for this brand of interference is a dead ball out, B1 Davies' award of first base due to the fielder's choice out, and the return of runner R3 Allan de San Miguel to third base, Aces Assistant Coach Damian Shanahan was ejected by Field Umpire Blake Halligan for arguing the interference call. At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 0-0.

In the bottom of the 11th inning, with one out and none on, Bite batter LeDarious Clark was ejected by HP Umpire Ian Reval for arguing a strike two call: Clark drew a line in the dirt following the call. At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 2-2. The Bite ultimately won the contest, 3-2.

During Adelaide's subsequent game against Canberra, Clark was ejected once again, this time by 1B Umpire Takahito Matsuda in the middle of the 6th inning after flying out to Cavalry first baseman Boss Moanaroa. According to the Cavalry, Clark was ejected for "charging down" Moanaroa as he attempted to field the pop fly. At the time of the ejection, the Cavalry were leading, 5-4. The Cavalry ultimately won the contest, 8-4.

The 2016/17 ABLTV schedule features one televised/streamed game per time slot, meaning that some ejections, such as those above, may not be available via video.

Wrap: Melbourne Aces vs. Adelaide Bite (Australian Baseball League), 11/26/16
Wrap: Adelaide Bite vs. Canberra Cavalry (Australian Baseball League), 12/2/16