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Friday, July 31, 2015

MLB Ejection 140: Jerry Meals (2; Bryce Harper)

HP Umpire Jerry Meals ejected Nationals RF Bryce Harper for arguing a strike three call in the top of the 11th inning of the Nationals-Mets game. With one out and none on, Harper took a 2-2 fastball from Mets pitcher Hansel Robles for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located off the outer edge of home plate and thigh high (px -1.151, pz 2.523), the call was incorrect. At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 1-1. The Mets ultimately won the contest, 2-1, in 12 innings.

This is Jerry Meals (41)'s second ejection of 2015.
Jerry Meals now has 2 point in the UEFL Standings (4 Previous + 2 MLB - 4 Incorrect Call = 2).
Crew Chief Jerry Meals now has 13 points in Crew Division (13 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = 13).

This is the 140th ejection of the 2015 MLB Regular Season.
This is the 66th player ejection of 2015. Prior to ejection, Harper was 0-5 (SO) in the contest.
This is the Nationals' 6th ejection of 2015, 1st in the NL East (WAS 6; NYM 4; ATL, PHI 3; MIA 1).
This is Bryce Harper's 3rd ejection of 2015, 1st since May 20 (Marin Hudson; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Jerry Meals' first ejection since July 12, 2015 (Jose Bautista; QOC = Y [Balk]).

Wrap: Washington Nationals vs. New York Mets, 7/31/15
Video: Harper objects to an extra-inning strikeout by barking at Meals for a quick heave-ho (WAS)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

MLB Ejection 139: Tom Woodring (1; Terry Francona)

HP Umpire Tom Woodring ejected Indians Manager Terry Francona for arguing an ejection no-call (Unsportsmanlike-NEC) in the bottom of the 5th inning of the Royals-Indians game. With one out and none on, Indians batter Michael Brantley took a 0-1 fastball from Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie for a hit-by-pitch. Replays indicate the pitch was located inside and hit Brantley's calf; warnings had previously been issued after two previous hit batsmen, the call was irrecusable. At the time of the ejection, the Indians were leading, 2-0. The Indians ultimately won the contest, 12-1.

This is Tom Woodring (75)'s first ejection of 2015.
Tom Woodring now has 1 point in the UEFL Standings (-2 Previous + 3 AAA + 0 Irrecusable = 1).
Crew Chief Gary Cederstrom now has 7 points in Crew Division (6 Previous + 1 Irrecusable Call = 7).

This is the 139 ejection of the 2015 MLB Regular Season.
This is the 63rd Manager ejection of 2015.
This is the Indians' 5th ejection of 2015, T-3rd in the AL Central (KC 10; CLE, CWS, DET 5; MIN 3).
This is Terry Francona's 3rd ejection of 2015, 1st since June 28 (Ron Kulpa; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Tom Woodring's first ejection since March 23, 2015 (Glenn Sherlock; QOC = U [Throwing At]).

Wrap: Kansas City Royals vs. Cleveland Indians, 7/29/15
Video: Francona wants Guthrie removed on HBP after warnings, but Woodring rules it unintentional (CLE)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

To Establish a Catch, Voluntary Release is Mandatory

With two dropped fly balls ruled "no catch" via replay review on Tuesday night, now might be a good time to review the criteria of the air putout more commonly known as a catch. A catch is addressed in two different 'official' documents: The Official Baseball Rules and the Major League Baseball Umpire Manual (MLBUM).

F8 Mookie Betts goes over the short wall.
Rule 2.00 [Catch] (2015 OBR Appendix Definition of the term, 'Catch') defines a catch as: "The act of a fielder in getting secure possession in his hand or glove of a ball in flight and firmly holding it...In establishing the validity of the catch, the fielder shall hold the ball long enough to prove that he has complete control of the ball and that his release of the ball is voluntary and intentional. If the fielder has made the catch and drops the ball while in the act of making a throw following the catch, the ball shall be adjudged to have been caught."

In other words, as the MLBUM interprets it, "A ball will be ruled caught when the momentum of the catch is completed and the player voluntarily releases the ball."

The first such play Tuesday evening occurred in Cleveland, when Royals batter Lorenzo Cain hit a fly ball to deep right field. As Indians RF Brandon Moss attempted to corral Cain's fly, he ran into the outfield wall and, in doing so, dropped the baseball. Replays indicate that F9 Moss indeed gained possession of the baseball in his glove, but failed to satisfy the requirement that his release must be voluntary and intentional.
Video: Cain is awarded third base on umpire Eric Cooper's safe call confirmed via replay review (KC)

The more complex of the two plays occurred in Boston on White Sox batter Jose Abreu's long fly ball to right-center field, where Red Sox CF Mookie Betts attempted to catch the sinking fly. Replays indicate that after capturing the ball in his glove, Betts' momentum took him up over the wall and into the Fenway Park bullpen, whereupon the ball popped out of his glove. In addition to an involuntary release, Betts' effort was not ruled a catch by the New York Replay Official because, pursuant to the MLBUM interpretation, his momentum was not completed with the ball still in his control. As Rule 6.09 (OBR 2015 Rule 5.05(a)(9)) states, a four-base award (home run) shall be granted if "any fair fly ball is deflected by the fielder into the stands [in fair territory]." If deflected into foul territory, the award is second base. Had there been less than two outs on this play and Betts was ruled to have legally caught the ball before carrying it out of play, any existing runners would be awarded one base (and B1 would be declared out).
Video: Abreu hits a home run when Betts accidentally juggles his deep drive out of the park (CWS)
Easter Egg: Watch Bullpen Cop, Boston Police Officer Steve Horgan, do his thing at 3:48.

As for the more intricate and complex issue of a ball dropped on the transfer after having been legally caught vs. a ball bobbled and never caught, refer to MLB's May 2014 interpretation of the Catch/Transfer rules.

Monday, July 27, 2015

MLB Ejections 137-138: Davis (3-4; Gomez, Counsell)

3B Umpire Gerry Davis ejected Brewers CF Carlos Gomez and Manager Craig Counsell for arguing a Replay Review decision that overturned 2B Umpire Phil Cuzzi's safe call in the top of the 9th inning of the Brewers-Giants game. With none out and one on, Brewers baserunner Gomez attempted to steal second base off Giants catcher Buster Posey, who threw to second baseman Joe Panik as Gomez slid into second base, ruled safe by 2B Umpire Cuzzi. Upon Replay Review as the result of a challenge by Giants Manager Bruce Bochy, Cuzzi's call was reversed to an out, the call was irrecusable. At the time of the ejections, the Giants were leading, 4-2. The Giants ultimately won the contest, 4-2.

These are Gerry Davis (12)'s third and fourth ejections of 2015.
Gerry Davis now has 11 points in the UEFL Standings (7 Previous + 2*[2 MLB + 0 Irrecusable] = 11).
Crew Chief Gerry Davis now has 4 points in Crew Division (2 Previous + 2 Irrecusable Call = 4).

These are the 137th and 138th ejections of the 2015 MLB Regular Season.
This is the 65th player ejection of 2015. Prior to ejection, Gomez was 0-4 in the contest.
This is the 62nd Manager ejection of 2015.
This is the Brewers' 4/5th ejection of 2015, T-1st in the NL Central (CHC, CIN, MIL, STL 5; PIT 4).
This is Carlos Gomez's first ejection since April 20, 2014 (Fieldin Culbreth; QOC = U [Fighting]).
This is Craig Counsell's first career MLB ejection.
This is Gerry Davis' first ejection since July 2, 2015 (John Gibbons; QOC = U [Replay Review]).

Wrap: Milwaukee Brewers vs. San Francisco Giants, 7/27/15
Video: Bochy files a successful Manager's Challenge, bringing the Giants an out closer to victory (SF)
Video: After reversal, Gomez' repeat helmet toss, Counsell's argument prompt ejections in the 9th (MIL)

MLB Ejection 136: Toby Basner (2; Mike Napoli)

HP Umpire Toby Basner ejected Red Sox 1B Mike Napoli for arguing a strike three call in the bottom of the 1st inning of the White Sox-Red Sox game. With two out and none on, Napoli took a 0-2 fastball from White Sox pitcher John Danks for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the inner half of home plate and thigh high (px -.338, pz 1.992 [sz_bot 1.460]), the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the White Sox were leading, 4-2. The White Sox ultimately won the contest, 10-8.

This is Toby Basner (99)'s second ejection of 2015.
Toby Basner now has 8 points in the UEFL Standings (3 Previous + 3 AAA + 2 Correct Call = 8).
Crew Chief Bill Miller now has 4 points in Crew Division (3 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 4).

This is the 136th ejection of the 2015 MLB Regular Season.
This is the 64th player ejection of 2015. Prior to ejection, Napoli was 0-1 (SO) in the contest.
This is the Red Sox's 8th ejection of 2015, 1st in the AL East (BOS 8; TOR 6; BAL, NYY 4; TB 3).
This is Mike Napoli's 3rd ejection of 2015, 1st since June 28 (Tripp Gibson; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Toby Basner's first ejection since May 28, 2015 (Manny Machado; QOC = Y [Check Swing]).

Wrap: Chicago White Sox vs. Boston Red Sox, 7/27/15
Video: After striking out to end the 1st, Napoli tosses his helmet, which rebounds and hits Basner (BOS)

Real 'Fake Umps' Return on Sunday Night Baseball, Aug 2

The original "Fake Umpires" are returning to Sunday Night Baseball at Citi Field for a one-evening engagement on August 2, benefitting UMPS CARE Charities, the non-profit established by MLB Umpires (click here for the Real Fake Umpires campaign). These real fake umps appeared in the seats behind Major League home plates throughout the United States and Canada from the 2008 through 2010 seasons before retiring to the "normal" spectating duties of attending games in street attire. Prior to their 2010 retirement, the real fake umpires forged an association with UMPS CARE Charities, raising approximately $8,875 during their then-last hurrah in June 2010 and over $10,000 during their original run.

Real Fake Umpires Tim Williams (L) and Joe Farrell.
Who are they? Real Fake Umpires Tim Williams (Blue Sleeve #78, Black #42) and Joe Farrell (Blue #53, Black #71) work for an institutional stock brokerage firm in Toronto and are season ticket holders for the Toronto Blue Jays. From the broadcast camera looking in from center field, Williams can be identified by the black mask with throat guard; Farrell wears Wilson's doe skin mask. [Related Video: Fake Ump Farrell, Left; Williams, Center; Real Ump Bucknor, Right, call the June 20, 2010 Giants-Jays game (Father's Day) in Toronto.]

How do they get on TV? Perhaps a similar answer to why they retired: "Fake umpiring is no easy task. A lot of preparation has to go into every performance and it's extremely costly with travel, tickets, and stadium prices on food and beer. One also needs to be an expert in stadium schematics and typically only 6-8 seats in the front row in the TV shot work out of the 48,000 or so stadium seats. This act just doesn't fly 30 rows up down the left field line." As was the case during their trips from 2008-2010, the real fake umpires will be paying for the Citi Field finale trip entirely out of their own pockets. Expensive? Maybe not as much as Fenway Park in 2009, when Boston was regularly sold out!

Why use the phrase "Real 'Fake Umpires'"? Williams explains best: "Joe and I were disgusted as were a few of the umpires working the game in San Francisco that day [July 8] that two guys stole the act we invented in 2008 and put on a Double A act at a Major League Stadium [Related Video: A pair of umpires call game from stands]. We couldn't let our legacy end like this and thus decided to come out of retirement one last time to reclaim our rightful identities and restore honour back to the craft known as Fake Umpiring." [Related: Cubs' broadcast deems the real fake umpires' practice, "Fantasy Umpiring" / ESPN E:60 Profile "Fake Umps"]

After all, how else are international fake umpires supposed to learn?

Notable: Williams and Farrell officiated the June 20, 2009 Presidents' Race in Washington, DC, whereupon the umpires ejected George Washington, who drew a one-game suspension for the misconduct [Video: George Gets Tossed]. They also taught Blue Jays mascot Ace how to call a strikeout.

When and Where: You can catch the real Fake Umpires Tim Williams and Joe Farrell in their farewell game at Citi Field in New York on Sunday, August 2 during ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball, first pitch is scheduled to begin shortly after 8:00 PM Eastern Time (5:00 PDT). They will be joined by the real real umpires' crew led by chief Jerry Meals, whose listed crew features Paul Emmel, Andy Fletcher, and Jordan Baker. Fletcher was the plate umpire for the July 8 game in San Francisco while 'Turtle' was UMPS CARE President Gary Darling's number two (backup crew chief) before being promoted to the full-time supervisory position. Emmel also was part of the Darling-Meals crew in 2013.

Their performance will benefit UMPS CARE Charities (FB/@UmpsCare), the 501(c)(3) non-profit established by Major League Baseball umpires to provide financial, in-kind and emotional support for America’s youth and families in need. To contribute your fully tax deductible donation to the Real Fake Umpires campaign benefitting UMPS CARE Charities, visit http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/tim-williams-4/the-real-fake-umpires.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Just Back from DL, Jim Joyce Leaves Game with Leg Injury

Having just returned from injury, umpire Jim Joyce left Sunday's game in Seattle following a foul ball to the leg in the bottom of the 10th inning of the Blue Jays-Mariners contest. Joyce previously tore his calf muscle during a game on June 24, 2015 and, after finishing that contest, was placed on the umpires' Disabled List, with a prognosis for return of 3-4 weeks.

Joyce returned to game duty with his crew of Greg Gibson (who served as acting crew chief), Sam Holbrook, and Chad Fairchild on Friday, July 24 and worked home plate on Saturday. Sunday's injury to Joyce's right leg occurred during his third game back in service. Replays indicate the ball bounded to the left (foul) side of third base before striking Joyce on the right calf.

Footage of the Sunday TOR-SEA game indicated a limp prior to Joyce's removal from the game. During Saturday's contest, Joyce appeared to have also been attempting to stretch or exercise his leg.

Video: An already-ailing Jim Joyce is nailed in the right calf on Sunday, prompting him to leave the game

MLB Replay Reviews, Week 16 (July 20 - July 26, 2015)

MLB umpires experienced 61 instant replay reviews during the week of July 20 - July 26, 2015 (+39 over prior week). Games played during this period featured the following MLB Replay Review decisions:
New York MLBAM Replay Official Crew Chiefs: 38 Gary Cederstrom and 26 Bill Miller.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

MLB Ejection 135: Jeff Nelson (1; Paul Molitor)

HP Umpire Jeff Nelson ejected Twins Manager Paul Molitor for arguing a strike three (check swing) call in the bottom of the 6th inning of the Yankees-Twins game. With two out and three on, Twins batter Aaron Hicks attempted to check his swing on a 3-2 slider from Yankees pitcher Adam Warren for a swinging third strike. This play has been referred to the UEFL Appeals Board for further review (Check Swing). At the time of the ejection, the Twins were leading, 5-1. The Yankees ultimately won the contest, 8-5.

This is Jeff Nelson (45)'s first ejection of 2015.
Jeff Nelson now has ? points in the UEFL Standings (3 Previous + 2 MLB + ? Call = ?).
Crew Chief Jeff Nelson now has ? points in Crew Division (5 Previous + ? Call = ?).

This is the 135th ejection of the 2015 MLB Regular Season.
This is the 61st Manager ejection of 2015.
This is the Twins' 3rd ejection of 2015, 5th in the AL Central (KC 10; CWS, DET 5; CLE 4; MIN 3).
This is Paul Molitor's 2nd ejection of 2015, 1st since June 10 (Mark Ripperger; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Jeff Nelson's first ejection since March 29, 2015 (Terry Pendleton; QOC = U [Balk]).

Wrap: New York Yankees vs. Minnesota Twins, 7/25/15
Video: Molitor doesn't like a bases-loaded strike three call to end the inning, is tossed (MIN)

2015 No-Hitter 3: Phil Cuzzi (2; Cole Hamels)

HP Umpire Phil Cuzzi called Phillies P Cole Hamels' no-hitter, the third of 2015. Cuzzi was joined for Saturday's Phillies-Cubs game by crew chief Gerry Davis (1B), Will Little (2B), and Tony Randazzo (3B). This is Cuzzi's second career no-hitter (Bud Smith; September 3, 2001).

Saturday's is the first MLB no-hitter since June 20, 2015 (Mike Muchlinski; Max Scherzer).

Cuzzi received 68 callable pitches from Hamels, a total of 44 balls and 24 called strikes. The look:

Balls: 42 called balls outside of strike zone / 2 called balls within strike zone = 42/44 = 95.5% Accuracy.
Strikes: 20 called strikes inside strike zone / 4 called strikes outside strike zone = 20/24 = <90.0% Accuracy.
Total Raw Accuracy Score = 63/68 = 92.6% Accuracy (+2 for Hamels).

Pitch f/x plot courtesy Brooks Baseball. Note: This plot is a graphical approximation of the strike zone and is
not the basis for analysis.