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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Gil's Call: Stop the Charade (Will to Win Trumps Fair Play)

Gil's Call for September examines the philosophy of personal business, fair play and the desire to win and how the competing goals of the latter two create situations in which managers, players and coaches tend to get into other people's business.

Gil's Call is the monthly column or publisher's memo featured in The Left Field Corner newsletter. The September 2014 edition of TLFC is on its way; while we wait, here is Gil's Call.

Gil's Call: Stop the Charade
Staying in the Lane: Where Desire to Win Trumps "Fair Play"

Let’s talk philosophy.

In 2006, Yankees batter Hideki Matsui attempted to check his swing on a two-strike pitch and was rung up by plate umpire Bill Miller.

As Matsui retreated to the dugout, on-deck batter Johnny Damon of all people argued with Miller, who removed his mask, asking, “Johnny, do you want to get in my business? Do you want to argue balls and strikes?” Damon was ejected.

Lesson learned: Don’t get in other people’s business.

There are really three kinds of “business” in the world: (1) yours, (2) other people’s, and (3) the intangible—nature’s, Doug Harvey’s, or what have you.

In the real world, I might show up to work, do a fantastic job and, yet, find my assignments have become undesirable simply because the company itself is changing approaches or is working with a new client whose requests require unsatisfying tasks.

In the officiating world, an influx of new officials or association/conference realignment might cause the quantity and quality of my game assignments to decrease.

Bum rap? Sure. I could complain, I could demand a return to the comfort zone; I could look for another job or officiating group to join. In essence, I could expend much energy fretting over issues I have no control over and get under others’ skin, showing true colors in the process.

This is where our craft comes into play. We’ve all had experiences of the coach or player who has pried his or her way into our business, someone who has gotten under our skin. If not in baseball, then surely in life.

On the Major League fields, we see managers argue and—every so often—justify the act with the phrase, “I just want to get it right.”

As Vin Scully would say, “that is fertilizer.”

The problems begin when Coach A tries to get in Coach B and Umpire C’s business.

Our last ejection for arguing Warnings was Toby Basner’s dismissal of Mariners skipper Lloyd McClendon on August 7 (E-147) after Kendrys Morales was hit in the knee by a first-pitch fastball. McClendon got in Basner’s business by demanding an ejection and was met with one of his own.

Baseball recently denied Rays Manager Joe Maddon’s protest over Toronto’s Replay Review on August 23. Maddon claimed Jays skip John Gibbons took too long to challenge a safe call that was overturned by replay. Replay Regulations state the Manager must exercise his challenge before commencement of the next play or pitch—this or statement gives the Crew Chief much leeway to decide on timeliness—and Maddon protested the game based on Bob Davidson’s decision to allow Gibbons to challenge the play after the pitcher returned to the rubber and batter to the box. Replay Regulations also state that no protest shall ever be permitted for violation of any rule or procedure concerning Replay Review, yet Maddon still filed one.

In his postgame comments, Davidson said he just wanted to get the call (safe/out at 1st base) right. Gibbons obviously agreed.

Let’s be honest; let’s drop the charade.

Maddon—and most Major League managers—have a vested interest for umpires to get the play wrong as long as the call favors the skipper’s team. Gibbons—and most managers—would rather overlook the timeliness restriction as long as it meant having a chance to get a call overturned in their favor.

Maddon’s argument against Davidson’s allowance was essentially an a la carte view of baseball rules: Let’s disregard the incorrect safe call at first because a replay procedure may have been violated. Maddon would say the fact that the safe call benefited TB meant nothing. In reality, it meant everything.

As for Davidson’s desire to just get it right? When managers start arguing against that, we begin to see that MLB’s “umpiring problem” goes far deeper than instant replay. I wonder if roles were reversed…


Monday, September 1, 2014

MLB Instant Replay Reviews 1069-1076: September 1, 2014

September 1, 2014 featured the following MLB Instant Replay Review decisions:

R10692BDiMuro, Mike18BOS40John Farrell10SafeStands
R10701BCederstrom, Gary17BAL32Buck Showalter5OutConfirmed
R10712BHernandez, Angel18COL37Walt Weiss8OutStands
R10721BDrake, Rob11TEX39Ron Washington2OutStands
r10733BPorter, Alan14TEX40Ron Washington7SafeOverturned
R10741BBarrett, Ted14WAS34Matt Williams3SafeOverturned
r1075HPRipperger, Mark11WAS35Matt Williams7OutConfirmed
R10761BBarrett, Ted15WAS36Matt Williams8OutConfirmed

MLB Instant Replay Review Videos (MLB Advanced Media):
Video 1069: BOS@TB: Red Sox challenge safe call, stands in 10th
Video 1070: MIN@BAL: Orioles challenge out, confirmed in 5th
Video 1071: SF@COL: Rockies challenge out call, stands in 8th
Video 1072: TEX@KC: Rangers challenge out, call stands in 2nd
Video 1073: TEX@KC: Umpires review safe call, overturned in 7th
Video 1074: WSH@LAD: Nats challenge safe call, overturned in 3rd
Video 1075: WSH@LAD: Umpires review out at home, confirmed in 7th
Video 1076: WSH@LAD: Nats challenge out, confirmed in 8th

Solution for Case Play 2014-4: Batter-Runner Obstruction

Our Athletics-Angels obstruction up the line Case Play 2014-4 is now in the books with the solution below. Play:
With none out and none on, B1 hit a ground ball up the first base line, where B1, F1 and F3 converged, F1 and F3 colliding before F1 fielded the baseball and collided with B1. PU ruled obstruction on F3 and awarded B1 first base. Q: Is this the proper call and application of rules?
Relevant Video: Umpires rule obstruction on odd play in the 9th inning of A's-Angels (LAA)

Answer: To help us along in our quest, Wendelstedt Umpire School Chief Of Instruction and Administrative Director Brent Rice has provided the School’s position on this play (my notes are in italics):

Rule 7.09(j) provides that when two fielders attempt to field the same batted ball, the umpire must determine which player is actually in the "act of fielding". In this case, umpire Gibson determined that Otero was that player. This means that Moss could not have been fielding the ball.

Gil’s Note: Even though 7.09(j) pertains to interference, MLB Umpire Manual #43 (7) clarifies that only one fielder may be in the actual act of fielding for the purposes of both interference and obstruction.

Rule 2.00 [Obstruction] provides that a fielder not in possession of the ball, nor in the act of fielding the ball, has violated the rule when he impedes the progress of the runner. Acts of impediment include where the runner must run around, jump over, slow down, or stop to avoid the fielder.

Since Aybar had to run around both players while the ball was not in possession of a fielder, both fielders impeded his progress. Otero was protected from this action, but Moss was not.

Rule 7.06(a) provides that in this situation the ball is dead immediately and the batter-runner is awarded at least first base.

As a side, had the obstruction by Moss occurred while both players were fielding a fly ball, Aybar would not have been awarded first base if Otero were to have made the catch. This is because the interpretation of 7.06(a) only applies to balls that ultimately become ground balls to the infield (the fly ball play would result in a Type B obstruction call).

Gil’s Note: Some have brought up the baseline and runner’s lane arguments. These rules, however, do not apply to this play. Here’s why.

Rule 7.08(a)(1): The baseline (proper term: “base path” - a runner runs along a base path; the shortest distance between two bases is a baseline) only applies during an active tag attempt. If the ball is loose in the air, there is no tag attempt and Aybar cannot be out for deviating more than 3 feet from his established base path.
Likewise, as in 6.05(k), the runner’s lane (3-foot lane at 45’) only applies when the ball is being fielded to (e.g., thrown to) first base and the batter interferes with the fielder taking the throw at first base. There was no throw, so no 6.05(k) call to make.

In conclusion, Gibson’s call was correct. F3 Moss obstructed batter Aybar (Type A), who is awarded first base.

Thanks to all [Legitimate] Contributors: afaber12arpee, Bill, BkSl14812, Bob Abouy, Bobby Dobbins, Confucious cyclone14, Dodiad, Doupetrob, jfkoo, Kyle Goluba, MarkCanada, RadioPearl, RichW, rgoldar2, Scott, SJR, Softballumpire, tmac, toss 'em, Tyler Durden, yawetag, Zac Montgomery.

1 point has been awarded to all aforementioned who are UEFL league participants. An additional point has been awarded to all names in bold, representing rules-correct responses to this group Case Play.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

MLB Ejection 170: Gerry Davis (3; Bob Melvin)

HP Umpire Gerry Davis ejected Athletics Manager Bob Melvin for arguing balls and strikes in the bottom of the 2nd inning of the Athletics-Angels game. With one out and three on, Angels batter Kole Calhoun took a 3-1 fastball from A's pitcher Scott Kazmir for a called fourth ball. This ejection occurred during a pitching change; a UEFL Rule 6-5-d-2 Balls/Strikes Exemption has been applied. Replays indicate that prior to Melvin's ejection, the bottom of the second inning featured 22 callable pitches. Of these 22 callable pitches, Davis officiated 21 correctly for a 95.5% rate of accuracy, the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Angels were leading, 3-0. The Angels ultimately won the contest, 8-1.

This is Gerry Davis (12)'s third ejection of the 2014 season.
Gerry Davis now has 0 points in the UEFL Standings (-4 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 0).
Crew Chief Gerry Davis now has 3 points in the Crew Division (2 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 3).
*The Athletics have accused Gerry Davis of intentionally squeezing Kazmir during the second inning. Replays and pitch f/x analysis indicate the entirety of the Calhoun, penultimate Gordon Beckham, David Freese and Howie Kendrick at-bats were officiated at 100% accuracy; the sole missed pitch was a 2-2 fastball to Chris Iannetta two batters prior (px .157, pz 1.807 / sz_bot 1.560). Pursuant to the terms of UEFL Rule 6-5-d, a 95.5% rate of accuracy during a partial inning prior to ejection for arguing the umpire's general strike zone is sufficiently strong to merit a positive Quality of Correctness determination and, objectively, likely does not meet the threshold to verify a claim of a pitcher being "intentionally squeezed on several calls."

This is the 170th ejection of the 2014 MLB Regular Season.
This is the 82nd Manager ejection of 2014.
This is the Athletics' 6th ejection of 2014, 3rd in the AL West (SEA 8; TEX 7; OAK 6; LAA 3; HOU 2).
This is Bob Melvin's first ejection since July 11, 2014 (Nick Punto; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Gerry Davis' first ejection since August 13, 2014 (Joe Girardo; QOC = N [Interference/Obs]).

Wrap: Oakland Athletics vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 8/31/14
Video: Melvin is tossed after taking out Kazmir, who walked a handful of Halos leading to 3 runs (OAK)

MLB Instant Replay Reviews 1064-1068: August 31, 2014

August 31, 2014 featured the following MLB Instant Replay Review decisions:

R10641BGonzalez, Manny19CIN28Bryan Price4SafeOverturned
r10653BBarber, Sean10TEX38Ron Washington1Not HRConfirmed
r1066HPRandazzo, Tony14HOU33Bo Porter8OutConfirmed
R10672BHoberg, Pat13CWS34Robin Ventura1OutOverturned
R10681BGuccione, Chris16MIA31Mike Redmond9OutStands

MLB Instant Replay Review Videos (MLB Advanced Media):
Video 1064: CIN@PIT: Reds challenge safe, overturned in 4th
Video 1065: TEX@HOU: Umpires review double, confirmed in 1st
Video 1066: TEX@HOU: Umpires review out, confirmed in 8th
Video 1067: DET@CWS: White Sox challenge out, overturned in 1st
Video 1068: MIA@ATL: Marlins challenge out call, stands in 9th

Saturday, August 30, 2014

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Takes to Anaheim, Phil Cuzzi

Bob Costas and MLB Umpire Phil Cuzzi brought the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to Anaheim, enlisting crewmates Gerry Davis, Greg Gibson and Will Little following the A's-Angels game broadcast on MLB Network Thursday, August 28. Gibson's interesting night as alluded to produced our Case Play 2014-4: Batter-Runner Obstruction Up the Line.

As Costas mentioned, Cuzzi is active in several ALS endeavors, including the ALS Association and Robert Luongo ALS Fund, which he started in 2003.

Video: ALS Ice Bucket Challenge : Bob Costas and Umpire Phil Cuzzi (YouTube)

Several MLB umpires have already accepted the challenge, including David Rackley, Hunter Wendelstedt, Jerry Meals and Adrian Johnson, in addition to Matt McKendry (Director, Umpire Administration) and Cathy Davis (Specialist, Umpiring Administration).

In a related story, the Gwinnett Officials Association has challenged Tom Hallion, Marvin Hudson, Toby Basner & Paul Nauert (Video: GOA Ice Bucket Challenge MLB Umpire Challenge).

MLB Ejection 169: Clint Fagan (1; Bud Black)

1B Umpire Clint Fagan ejected Padres Manager Bud Black for arguing a check swing (ball three) call in the top of the 10th inning of the Dodgers-Padres game. With two out and one on, Dodgers batter Yasiel Puig attempted to check his swing on a 2-2 fastball from Padres pitcher Tim Stauffer for a called third ball affirmed on appeal as no swing. Replays indicate Puig attempted to strike the pitch, the call was incorrect. At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 1-1. The Padres ultimately won the contest, 2-1, in 10 innings.

This is Clint Fagan (82)'s first ejection of the 2014 season.
Clint Fagan now has 0 points in the UEFL Standings (2 Prev + 3 AAA - 1 Penalty - 4 Incorrect Call = 0).
Crew Chief Tim Timmons now has -1 points in the Crew Division (-1 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = -1).
*The pitch itself was located off the inner edge of home plate (px .989), the location ball call was proper.

This is the 169th ejection of the 2014 MLB Regular Season.
This is the 81st Manager ejection of 2014.
This is the Padres' 4th ejection of 2014, 5th in the NL West (LAD 8; COL, SF 7; ARI 5; SD 4).
This is Bud Black's first ejection since August 14, 2014 (Bob Davidson; QOC = Y [Replay Review]).
This is Clint Fagan's first ejection since June 12, 2013 (D'Backs-Dodgers x6; QOC = U [Fighting]).

Wrap: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Diego Padres, 8/30/14
Video: As Puig's check swing is affirmed, Black erupts at Fagan for an extra inning ejection (SD)

MLB Ejection 168: Bill Welke (3; Mickey Callaway)

3B Umpire Bill Welke ejected Indians Pitching Coach Mickey Callaway for arguing a check swing (ball two) call in the bottom of the 1st inning of the Indians-Royals game. With two out and three on, Royals batter Raul Ibanez attempted to check his swing on a 1-2 slider from Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer for a called second ball affirmed on appeal as no swing. Replays indicate Ibanez attempted to strike the pitch, the call was incorrect. At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 0-0. The Indians ultimately won the contest, 3-2, in 11 innings.

This is Bill Welke (52)'s third ejection of the 2014 season.
Bill Welke now has -1 points in the UEFL Standings (1 Prev + 2 MLB - 4 Incorrect Call = -1).
Crew Chief Paul Emmel now has 5 point in the Crew Division (5 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = 5).

This is the 168th ejection of the 2014 MLB Regular Season.
This is the Indians' 2nd ejection of 2014, 5th in the AL Central (KC, MIN 5; CWS, DET 4; CLE 2).
This is Mickey Callaway's first career MLB ejection.
This is Bill Welke's first ejection since August 24, 2014 (Jose Bautista; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Cleveland Indians vs. Kansas City Royals, 8/30/14
Video: Trying to escape a bases-loaded jam, Callaway is tossed arguing for a swinging strikeout (CLE)

MLB Instant Replay Reviews 1056-1063: August 30, 2014

August 30, 2014 featured the following MLB Instant Replay Review decisions:

r1056HPPorter, Alan13CHC53Rick Renteria2OutOverturned
R10572BWegner, Mark18MIN33Ron Gardenhire4OutOverturned
R10581BEstabrook, Mike14TB50Joe Maddon4OutStands
R10591BKulpa, Ron10PHI34Ryne Sandberg4SafeOverturned
R10601BDiaz, Laz12DET35Brad Ausmus6OutStands
R10611BMarquez, Alfonso9ARI37Kirk Gibson5OutStands
R10622BWolcott, Quinn17MIL25Ron Roenicke6SafeOverturned
Late Add: (R 1063 2B Wolcott, Quinn 18 MIL 26 Ron Roenicke 9 Out Confirmed)

MLB Instant Replay Review Videos (MLB Advanced Media):
Video 1056: CHC@STL: Out call at home overturned by review in 2nd
Video 1057: MIN@BAL: Twins challenge call at second in 4th, overturned
Video 1058: BOS@TB: Rays challenge out call at first in the 4th, stands
Video 1059: PHI@NYM: Phils challenge safe call at first in 4th, overturned
Video 1060: DET@CWS: Tigers challenge out call at first in 6th, stands
Video 1061: COL@ARI: D-backs challenge out call at first in 5th, stands
Video 1062: MIL@SF: Brewers challenge no-catch call in the 6th, overturned
Video 1063: MIL@SF: Brewers challenge out at second in the 9th, confirmed

Friday, August 29, 2014

MLB Instant Replays 1049-1055: August 29, 2014

August 29, 2014 featured the following MLB Instant Replay Review decisions:

R1049HPCulbreth, Fieldin13PIT41Clint Hurdle8HBPStands
r10503BWegner, Mark17MIN32Ron Gardenhire5HRStands
R1051HPEveritt, Mike12TOR48John Gibbons9SafeOverturned
r1052HPEveritt, Mike13NYY28Joe Girardi9OutConfirmed
R10531BLittle, Will19LAA36Mike Scioscia7SafeStands
R10541BTichenor, Todd14SD30Bud Black6SafeOverturned
R10551BBlaser, Cory12WAS33Matt Williams2OutOverturned

MLB Instant Replay Review Videos (MLB Advanced Media):
Video 1049: CIN@PIT: Phillips' hit-by-pitch stands in the 8th
Video 1050: MIN@BAL: Young's two-run homer stands in the 5th
Video 1051: NYY@TOR: Ellsbury out [overturned]
Video 1052: NYY@TOR: Ellsbury out, no violation confirmed in 9th
Video 1053: OAK@LAA: Sogard safe as call stands in the 7th
Video 1054: LAD@SD: Ramirez out after challenge in the 6th
Video 1055: WSH@SEA: Harper out after challenge in the 2nd