Saturday, June 9, 2012

Ejection 063: Tim McClelland (2)

HP Umpire Tim McClelland ejected A's Manager Bob Melvin for arguing balls and strikes in the bottom of the 5th inning of the A's-Diamondbacks game. With two out and three on, Diamondbacks batter Miguel Montero took a 0-1 fastball from A's pitcher Jarrod Parker for a called second ball. Montero would hit the next pitch into deep right-center field for a grand slam home run. Replays indicate that of 12 called balls (not including intentional balls), McClelland missed one (.798, -.14) [coordinates reported in the format of {norm_ht, px}], the second pitch of an early-inning at-bat that resulted in a double. With an accuracy rating of 91.7 percent for these pitches, the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Diamondbacks were leading, 6-1. The Diamondbacks ultimately won the contest, 8-3.

This is Tim McClelland (36)'s second ejection of 2012.
Tim McClelland now has 8 points in the UEFL (4 Previous + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 8).
Crew Chief Tim McClelland now has 3 points in the UEFL's Crew division (2 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 3).
*This ejection has been granted a Post-Inning Exemption (px ranges bound .768 and .935).

UEFL Standings Update

This is the 63nd ejection of 2012.
This is the 32nd Manager ejection of 2012.
This is the A's 3rd ejection of 2012, which leads the AL West (2; TEX). Bob Melvin was tossed all 3 times.
This is Bob Melvin's first ejection since May 19 (James Hoye; QOC = Irrecusable).
This is Tim McClelland's first ejection since June 2 (Yorvit Torrealba; QOC = Correct).

Wrap: Athletics at Diamondbacks, 6/9/12
Video: A's Melvin ejected between innings for arguing Tim McClelland's strike zone (UEFL Embed)

AHL: How to Lose the Calder Cup without Really Trying

On the day of a possibly decisive Game 5 of the NHL's Stanley Cup Final between the Los Angeles Kings and New Jersey Devils, we turn to the American Hockey League for a truly devastating way to lose a playoff game, much less a championship series contest.

Because playoff hockey's overtime is truly sudden death, any goal scored after the third period is truly a walk-off, a golden goal, an instant win—or is it?

Toronto reacts to the goal (News services/Rene Johnston)
Thursday: the AHL's Norfolk Admirals and Toronto Marlies were locked in a scoreless draw by regulation's end, necessitating a decisive OT period. With fatigued players abound, goalies Dustin Tokarski (Norfolk) and Ben Scrivens (Toronto) had displayed the type of Martin Brodeur-Jonathan Quick showdown that necessitated overtime during Games 1 & 2 of the NHL's Stanley Cup Final.

So when the AHL affair came to an abrupt end nearly halfway through the OT period, it was fitting that Scrivens had left the crease to play a dumped puck along the quad boards. Unfortunately, that dumped puck took the oddest of caroms off the glass and rebounded between the pipes for the game-winner.

Or an apparent game-winner that should have been disallowed.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Umpire Odds & Ends: Combined No-Hitter

Major League Baseball and the UEFL witnessed the fourth no-hitter of the 2012 season Friday night, a six-pitcher effort by the Seattle Mariners and the 276th regulation no-hitter in Major League Baseball history (starting pitcher Kevin Millwood left after six innings with a groin injury). This is the first combined no-hitter of the season, the 10th combined no-hitter in MLB history, and the first since the Houston Astros' of the New York Yankees on June 11, 2003. It comes exactly one week Johan Santana's Adrian Johnson-aided no-hitter and was umpire Brian Runge (18)'s second Major League no-hitter of the season. Runge's previous no-hitter was also at Safeco Field, when Phil Humber of the Chicago White Sox pitched a perfect game against the Mariners on April 21st. Runge becomes the 10th umpire in Major League history to call balls and strikes for multiple no-hitters in a single season. The Mariners threw a total of 114 pitches, 67 of which were callable (43 balls and 24 called strikes).

As in the three previous no-hitters this season, there was one noteworthy and close call that kept this no-hitter intact. The first was in Humber's perfect game, when Runge's ruled Brendan Ryan swung on the final pitch of the game (QOC: Correct). The second call was made by Umpire Angel Hernandez on a foul ball during Weaver's no-hitter (QOC: Correct). The most recent controversial call was Adrian Johnson's ruling of a foul ball on a batted ball by Carlos Beltran that hit the foul line during Santana's no-hitter (QOC: Incorrect).

Tonight's close and noteworthy call occurred in the top of the 9th with no outs, when Dee Gordon grounded out to shortstop Brendan Ryan. 1B Umpire Ted Barrett ruled Gordon out at first, drawing a brief argument from Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly. Though Quality of Correctness from individual replays appeared inconclusive, split screen footage of the call appears to show Gordon's foot on the bag prior to Justin Smoak's catch, rending this QOC Incorrect.

Ejection 062: Doug Eddings (2)

HP Umpire Doug Eddings ejected Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkillis for arguing a strike three call in the bottom of the 6th inning of the Nationals-Red Sox game. With two out and three on, Youkillis took a 3-2 fastball from Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located at the hollow of the knee (norm_ht of -1.000) and over the heart of home plate, the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Nationals were leading, 7-2. The Nationals ultimately won the contest, 7-4.

This is Doug Eddings (88)'s second ejection of 2012.
Doug Eddings now has 8 points in the UEFL (4 Previous + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 8).
Crew Chief Dana DeMuth now has 2 points in the UEFL's Crew division (1 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 2).

This is the 62nd ejection of 2012.
This is the 23rd player ejection of 2012.
Prior to his ejection, Youkillis was 0-3 in the contest.
This is the Red Sox's 3rd ejection of 2012, which ties them with the Yankees for 2nd in the AL East (4; TOR).
This is Kevin Youkillis' first ejection since August 2, 2011 (Gerry Davis [2]).
This is Doug Eddings' first ejection since May 29, 2012.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Papelbon to Grandy: The Psychology of Blaming Umpires

Blaming umpires: It's what Jonathan Papelbon, Curtis Granderson and even Tim Duncan (with referees, of course) have in common. From a 1,800-year-old gladiator's tombstone that blames his death during battle on a referee's mistake to tennis' John McEnroe's career of childish temper tantrums, scapegoating appears especially en vogue these days, what with instant replay and video evidence easily manipulated in the whistle sports and the bulky graphics of K-Zone and FoxTrax given too much credit in the bat & ball sports—indeed, Beth Mowens and the ESPN crew used K-Zone for the NCAA Softball World Series, even though the technology is not meant for stadiums without triangulated systems (three cameras, as in MLB ballparks).

Distortion is demonstrated by former Red Sox manager
Terry Francona. The quality of inside/outside pitch location
 is not truly apparent from the team dugout, yet Francona is
adamant a called strike was significantly outside. Umpire
Dale Scott is not amused.
We've seen Rick Pitino escape into victim mentality: "I have a problem with the officials ... [they] are really starting to get under my nerves. I don't know who the hell they think they are. The level of arrogance, I just cannot believe it."

Serena Williams allegedly threatened to maim or even kill a lineswoman by shoving a ball down her throat after the official correctly called Williams for a foot fault. Williams also blamed a chair umpire when she correctly enforced a rule Williams had violated.

Fast forward to Monday and Papelbon's defeat at the hands of the LA Dodgers and a Dee Gordon triple, the scapegoating was back: "I thought [home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn] was terrible."

The psychology of blaming umpires, referees and others references classic Freudian defense mechanisms, unconscious strategies employed to cope with reality and to maintain self-image. The following are a few instances of the psychology involved in poor sportsmanship, the defense mechanisms behind this behavior:

Monday, June 4, 2012

NFL Fails to Agree With Officials, Seeking Replacements

After a long and contentious lockout with its players at the close of the 2011 season that went throughout the summer, the National Football League has headed for yet another work stoppage. On Monday, the NFL announced that it had failed to reach an agreement with the National Football League Referee's Association (the union that represents all of the League's officials and replay assistants) on a new collective bargaining agreement. The League also announced that it would immediately begin the hiring process and training of replacement officials. This news comes after attempted negotiations Sunday managed by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, which helped in mediation between the League and its players during last year's lockout. What came out of those meetings certainly was not an agreement, but rather a war of words between the League and the NFLRA.

Ejections 060, 061: D.J. Reyburn (1, 2)

HP Umpire D.J. Reyburn ejected Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly and Bench Coach Trey Hillman for arguing a strike call in the top of the 6th inning of the Dodgers-Phillies game. With two out and none on, Dodgers batter Jerry Hairston, Jr. took a 3-2 slider from Phillies pitcher Joe Savery for a called third strike. Replays indicate the strike three pitch was located within the bounds of the strike zone (norm_ht of 0.986), but the strike two pitch was located thigh high and inside (px of -1.073) the call was incorrect. At the time of the ejection, the contest was tied, 3-3. The Dodgers ultimately won the contest, 4-3.

These are D.J. Reyburn (70)'s first and second ejections of 2012.
D.J. Reyburn now has -4 points in the UEFL (0 Previous + 2*[3 AAA + -1 Penalty + -4 Incorrect Call] = -4).
Crew Chief Derryl Cousins now has 1 point in the UEFL's Crew division (1 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = 1).

These are the 60th and 61st ejections of 2012.
This is the 31st Manager ejection of 2012.
This is Don Mattingly's 3rd ejection of 2012.
This is Trey Hillman's first ejection since March 11, 2010 when he was manager of the Royals.
This is D.J. Reyburn's first ejection since September 7, 2011.
These are the Dodgers' 5th and 6th ejections of 2012, which is second to the Tigers (7) in MLB.

Yankees, Granderson: The Call for Umpire Accountability

An MLB umpire incorrectly calls a runner out on the bases and is disciplined, suspended or even sent down to Triple-A. If the Yankees had their way, this is exactly what would happen if an umpire were to be wrong one too many times.

Davidson and Girardi. Photo: Rick Osentoski/US Presswire
After Yankees batting coach Kevin Long and manager Joe Girardi were ejected by plate umpire Bob Davidson over the weekend after Davidson incorrectly called a strike on a pitch located outside of the strike zone, the affected batter, Curtis Granderson, took to the New York Times to request greater umpiring accountability.

Said Granderson, "You’ve seen a lot of missed plays. They’re humans back there. They’re going to make some mistakes. But part of the game is, sometimes there have to be some consequences for it. As players, if we make mistakes, there are consequences for us. You get errors; you get pulled out, possibly sent down. Different stuff happens to us. There has to be a similar type of situation on the other end."

In 2010, ESPN released a study declaring that umpires miss one out of every five non-balls/strikes close calls, though as further analysis was quick to point out, only 1.3 calls per game were deemed "close," and of these 20 percent were missed: In other words, an average of 0.26 calls per game were missed.

A regulation baseball game must have, at the very least, 55 calls per game (27 outs + 27 outs + 1 run-producing play that does not result in an out [e.g., a home run]): most ballgames feature considerably more than 55 calls, but for illustrative purposes and because several calls may be via the called third strike, 55 it is. Based on ESPN's study, umpires missed 0.26 out of these 55 calls. For the sake of clarity, 0.26 is assumed to be one-fourth of a call, which is multiplied by four to allow for whole unit analysis. 55 multiplied by four is 220.

In other words, an umpire misses one non-ball/strikes call every 220 chances, an accuracy of 99.545 percent, which seems rather high given that of the 18 non-balls/strikes, non-fighting/throwing at ejections thus far in 2012, just 10 of them have resulted from a correct call—eight of the 18 ejections resulted from a conclusively incorrect call, which is just a 55.6 percent accuracy rate, less than the ESPN study's 65.7 percent confirmed correct rate for those 1.3 close calls per game.