Saturday, June 30, 2012

Rule 4.09: How A Team Scores and the Time Play

The objective of each team in baseball is to win by scoring more runs than the opponent (Rule 1.02). To accomplish such a feat, the bat & ball sport is unique in that, unlike football, basketball or hockey, a team's status as offensive or defensive does not change during each half inning—no interception may be returned for a touchdown, turnovers are not converted for two points the other way and one-timers cannot deflect all the way back for an own goal, though Jose Canseco might have found a loophole.

Rule 4.09 specifies how a team scores:
One run shall be scored each time a runner legally advances to and touches first, second, third and home base before three men are put out to end the inning. EXCEPTION: A run is not scored if the runner advances to home base during a play in which the third out is made (1) by the batter-runner before he touches first base; (2) by any runner being forced out; or (3) by a preceding runner who is declared out because he failed to touch one of the bases.
The following approved ruling clearly delineates the principle established in 4.09: "One out, Jones on third, Smith on first, and Brown flies out to right field. Two outs. Jones tags up and scores after the catch. Smith attempted to return to first but the right fielder’s throw beat him to the base. Three outs. But Jones scored before the throw to catch Smith reached first base, hence Jones’ run counts. It was not a force play." The aforementioned scenario is also known in umpiring circles as a Time Play.

What is a Time Play and how is it manifested?
A Time Play occurs when a preceding runner has an opportunity to score during a play in which a subsequent runner or batter-runner commits the third out of an inning. Umpires must be vigilant as to the possibility of a Time Play, which generally may occur during a play that begins with a runner in scoring position and two out. Most Time Plays result from a runner approaching home plate as a play is made on a subsequent runner at second or third base.

Test Yourself: Examples: 1, 23, 4

Read on for the answer key.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

How the Visiting Team Can Walk-Off: Touch 'em All

Rule 4.09 of the MLB & Official Baseball Rules is titled, "How a Team Scores," and is one of the most vital parts of the rules book; without it, no teams would ever plate runs and games could never end.

The very first sentence of Rule 4.09 is the simplest of the entire subsection: "One run shall be scored each time a runner legally advances to and touches first, second, third and home base before three men are put out to end the inning." Simple, right?

Well, not if you forget to touch one of the bases.

This week, Raul Mondesi, Jr.—yes, that Mondesi—stepped up to the plate with his Helena Brewers in the bottom of the 10th inning. When Missoula Osprey pitcher Dexter Price left a 0-1 curveball over the heart of the plate, Mondesi smacked it into the outfield bleachers for an apparent game-tying home run.

Only he forgot to touch one important piece of the field—he missed home plate entirely.

Under the confines of Rule 7.10(d), "Any runner shall be called out, on appeal, when ... He fails to touch home base and makes no attempt to return to that base, and home base is tagged."

Sure enough and after some bumbling about proper appeal procedures (remember, ball has to be live; after a HR it is not), Osprey catcher Michael Perez called for the newly distributed baseball and stepped on home plate to appeal. After looking into the Helene dugout and finding Mondesi, HP Umpire Blake Mickelson signaled, "out," effectively ending the game with the tying run wiped off the board.

For his part, Helena manager Jeff Isom reluctantly believed Mickelson's version of events—not to mention instant replay and video evidence: "On any home run, the umpire has one job and that's to watch the plate and make sure the runners touch it. He said [Mondesi] missed it by eight inches."

Fred Merkle, is that you? As George Santayana wrote way back in 1924, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Well, as long as the umpire is doing his "one job," that is.

Article: Raul Mondesi, Jr. Misses Home Plate, Recalls Memories of Merkle's Mistake [b/r]
Video: Game Ends as Mondesi Forgets to Touch Home Plate After Game-Tying Home Run [ds]

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ejection 080: Manny Gonzalez (1)

1B Umpire Manny Gonzalez ejected Mets first baseman Ike Davis for arguing a safe call in the bottom of the 8th inning of the Mets-Cubs game. With one out and two on, Cubs batter Reed Johnson swung on and missed a 2-1 fastball from Mets pitcher Miguel Batista for strike two as catcher Josh Thole attempted to pick off Cubs baserunner Steve Clevenger at first base. Replays indicate Davis' swipe tag attempt contacted Clevenger's right arm while the runner was not in contact with the first base bag, the call was incorrect.* At the time of the ejection, the Cubs were leading, 4-3. The Cubs ultimately won the contest, 5-3.

This is Manny Gonzalez (79)'s first ejection of 2012.
Manny Gonzalez now has -2 points in the UEFL (0 Previous + 3 AAA + -1 Penalty + -4 Incorrect Call = -2).
Crew Chief Gerry Davis now has 2 points in the UEFL's Crew Division (2 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = 2).
*After review, Quality of Correctness has been affirmed in a 5-0 decision by the UEFL Appeals Board.
*Historical UEFL Appeals Board decisions may be consulted via the UEFL Portal.*

UEFL Standings Update

This is the 80th ejection of 2012.
This is the 31st player ejection of 2012.
This is the Mets' fourth ejection of 2012, first in the NL East (ATL, PHI 3; MIA 1; WSH 0).
This is Ike Davis' first career ejection.
This is Manny Gonzalez's first career ejection.

Wrap: Mets at Cubs, 6/26/12
Video: Ike Davis Argues Safe Call, Touches Gonzalez with Glove During Argument, No Apparent Bump

Ejection 079: Dan Bellino (3)

HP Umpire Dan Bellino ejected Marlins Manager Ozzie Guillen for arguing ball calls in the top of the 7th inning of the Cardinals-Marlins game. With two out and two on, Cardinals batter Allen Craig took a 1-2 fastball from Carlos Zambrano for a called second ball followed by a 3-2 slider for a called fourth ball. Replays indicate both pitches were located off the outer edge of home plate (px values of 0.876 and 0.897, respectively), the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Cardinals were leading, 5-2. The Cardinals ultimately won the contest, 5-2.

This is Dan Bellino (2)'s third ejection of 2012.
Dan Bellino now has 6 points in the UEFL (2 Previous + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 6).
Crew Chief Jerry Layne now has 5 points in the UEFL's Crew Division (4 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 5).
ThePeoplesChamp has received two points for a prop prediction wager closest to the date of this ejection.

UEFL Standings Update

This is the 79th ejection of 2012.
This is the 40th Manager ejection of 2012.
This is the Marlins' first ejection of 2012, fourth in the NL East (ATL, NYM, PHI 3; WSH 0).
This is Ozzie Guillen's first ejection since June 20, 2011 (James Hoye; QOC = Correct).
This is Dan Bellino's first ejection since May 17 (Mike Aviles; QOC = Correct).
This ejection comes on the heels of Guillen and Bob Davidson's disagreement over a lineup card issue Monday.

Wrap: Cardinals at Marlins, 6/26/12
Video: Ozzie Guillen Earns First Career Ejection as Marlins Manager Arguing Umpire Bellino's Strike Zone
Audio: Guillen's Big League Tirade Over Bellino's Ball Calls (PG-13)

Ejection 078: Mike DiMuro (2)

3B Umpire Mike DiMuro ejected Indians third baseman Jack Hannahan for unsportsmanlike conduct in the bottom of the 8th inning of the Indians-Yankees game. With two out and one on in the top of the 7th, Hannahan hit a 1-2 fastball from Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes to left fielder Dewayne Wise, who was ruled to have caught a ball while tumbling into the stands to end the half inning. Though replays indicate the catch was never made (indeed a fan several seats away from where Wise landed came up with the loose ball), this call is irrecusable under UEFL Rule 6-2-b-5.* At the time of the ejection, the Yankees were leading, 5-0. The Yankees ultimately won the contest, 6-4.

This is Mike DiMuro (16)'s second ejection of 2012.
Mike DiMuro now has 6 points in the UEFL (4 Previous + 2 MLB + 0 Irrecusable Call = 6).
Crew Chief Tom Hallion now has 1 point in the UEFL's Crew Division (0 Previous + 1 Irrecusable = 1).
*After review, Reason for Ejection has been affirmed in a 5-1 decision by the UEFL Appeals Board.
*Historical UEFL Appeals Board decisions may be consulted via the UEFL Portal.*

UEFL Standings Update

This is the 78th ejection of 2012.
This is the 30th player ejection of 2012.
This is the Indians' fifth ejection of 2012, 2nd in the AL Central (DET 7; CWS, MIN 4; KC 3).
This is Jack Hannahan's first ejection since April 14 (Gary Darling; QOC = Irrecusable [Fighting]).
This is Mike DiMuro's first ejection since April 8 (Bruce Bochy; QOC = Correct).
On May 9, 2011, DiMuro also ejected Dodgers 3B Juan Uribe and Mattingly for arguing a previous call.

Because of the nature of this call, DiMuro spoke with a pool reporter after the game.
"Now that I see the tape it's obvious that the ball fell out of his glove. In hindsight, I should have asked him to show me the ball since he fell into the stands and out of my line of vision. [In the 8th, Hannahan] told me to reference the tape replay and that is why I ejected him."
This mea culpa is not to be confused with an apology, such as the one given by Tim Welke after his big miss.

Wrap: Indians at Yankees, 6/26/12
Video: Wise Dives into Stands in Catch Attempt, DiMuro Incorrectly Declares Batter Out
Video: "Must C: Call"; Hannahan Ejected After Controversial and Conclusively Incorrect Call

Ozzie Guillen Key Figure in Cardinals-Marlins Lineup Snafu

A lineup snafu in Florida—and Ozzie Guillen was not ejected? Substitutions might still be tricky for Cardinals rookie manager Mike Matheny, who was forced to take first baseman Allen Craig out of the game due to a miscommunication with plate umpire Bob Davidson.

As Marlins manager Guillen watched Hanley Ramirez rounded first base after singling in the bottom of the ninth inning, something didn't look quite right to the veteran skipper, who immediately exited the third base dugout and waltzed straight toward Davidson and eventually crew chief Jerry Layne, who was making his first appearance since being hit with a broken bat in Cincinnati.

Turns out, Matheny had asked Davidson to double-switch his pitcher into the fifth spot, though the Cardinals internally penciled in the substitution as having occurred in lineup spot No. 7.

In what might as well be a case play straight out of the MLB Rules Book or umpiring manual, a glance at the Marlins Park scoreboard indicated the Cardinals had intended to bat first baseman Craig at No. 5, catcher Yadier Molina at No. 6 and pitcher Victor Marte at the No. 7 spot for third baseman David Freese. With No. 8 hitter Daniel Descalso slated to lead off the eventual 10th inning, colloquial baseball strategy pegged the logical pitcher's slot as seventh, meaning Marte (or his spot) would not have to bat for another nine hitters.

Instead, Matheny incorrectly had placed Marte in Craig's fifth spot, meaning that on appeal from Guillen, Craig had to come out of the ball game (he was replaced defensively by Tony Cruz, who took over Freese's seventh spot in the batting order).
Huh? For the visually inclined, refer to the above table to see what happened in Florida Monday night.

Rules 3.06 and 3.07 govern substitutions, stating that the manager must notify the umpire-in-chief of any substitutions (3.06), who in turn shall notify all personnel of the switch (3.07).

Wily Ozzie Guillen has finally done it, taking the effort he used to expel in getting ejected and turning into real manager know-how. Well done. Nonetheless, Matheny and the Cardinals got the final laugh, winning the ball game in the 10th—with a pitcher producing the game-winning RBI. Too bad Ozzie didn't wait until the 10th before executing a batting-out-of-order appeal (Rule 6.07(a)).

Wrap: Cardinals at Marlins, 6/25/12
Video: Cards forced to remove Allen Craig after Matheny miscommunication with umpire Davidson

Retrosheet Introduces Umpire Ejection Information

Baseball data powerhouse Retrosheet recently added a key umpire statistic to their 100,000-game database. The new section, appropriately titled "Ejection Information," is similar in part to the season-by-season portion of the UEFL Portal's Historical Data page, though Retrosheet's data, in consistency with the theme of that website, remains more concise in nature.

The logo, copyright Retrosheet
To access the new feature, visit any Retrosheet umpire page (e.g., Joe West) and navigate to the bottom. For West, all 147 of his 1977-2011 ejections are logged on the website, including date, team, ejected person's name and probable reason for ejection.

As discovered in comparing UEFL Historical Data with Retrosheet ejection data and similar to Retrosheet president Dave Smith's explanation Retrosheet's occasional discrepency with official data, the data is subject to official scorer or other baseball-related error.

Now, at least, when you see the following message on the UEFL, you will know exactly what it means:

The information used here was obtained free of charge from and is copyrighted by Retrosheet.  Interested parties may contact Retrosheet at "".

Monday, June 25, 2012

Umpire Odds & Ends: Seeking Advice on Road to the Show

Umpires Derryl Cousins, Ron Kulpa & Jim Wolf took time out of their pre-game routine to share their umpiring knowledge with prospect Malachi Moore; their visit—which also featured Triple-A call-up Alan Porter—took place about 60 minutes prior to first pitch of an April Braves-Dodgers game at Dodger Stadium. Originally reported by UEFL'er Russ and published online just recently, Moore asks the veteran crew about the home plate umpire's ability to decipher whether a batted ball has hit the batter and whether this contact results in a foul ball or an interference out. (Video)

Aspiring Umpire Malachi Moore
Malachi Moore is a 22-year-old Compton native, who attended MLB's first Urban Youth Academy (UYA) in Southern California. With previous dreams of becoming a professional baseball player, Moore changed course in late 2010 before his sophomore season at El Camino College, squaring his sights on becoming the UYA's first alum to reach the Major League level as an umpire.

After missing the PBUC cut at the Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School in early 2011, Moore attended MLB's one-week November Umpire Camp later that year and returned to Florida. With a UYA umpiring school sponsorship in hand, Moore made the most of his second go-around and was selected for the PBUC evaluation course following the month-long course. Moore was also a 2011 umpire in the Northwoods League.

Back to the Dodger Stadium umpires' dressing room and the umpires are discussing mechanics on a fairly difficult play. Moore's question comes just days after Tim Welke and his crew of Paul Schrieber and Mikes Estabrook and Everitt incorrectly determined a bunted ball did not strike the batter during a Tigers-Rangers game. The resulting RBI bunt single proved to be decisive in the outcome of that particular contest.

As previously reported by the UEFL, Rules 6.05(g) and (h) govern batter's interference.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Ejection 077: Dan Iassogna (3)

3B Umpire Dan Iassogna ejected Angels Manager Mike Scioscia for arguing an out call in the bottom of the 5th inning of the Dodgers-Angels game. With one out and one on, Angels batter Kendrys Morales hit a 0-0 fastball from Dodgers pitcher Aaron Harang into left field for a single. As Angels runner Albert Pujols attempted to advance to third base, Dodgers left fielder Juan Rivera fired to third baseman Elian Herrera, who applied the tag as Pujols slid into the bag. Replays indicate the tag was applied to Pujols' left knee prior to his right foot contacting third base, the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Angels were leading, 3-2. The Angels ultimately won the contest, 5-3.

This is Dan Iassogna (58)'s third ejection of 2012.
Dan Iassogna now has 6 points in the UEFL (2 Previous + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 6).
Crew Chief Dale Scott now has 5 points in the UEFL's Crew Division (4 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 5).

This is the 77th ejection of 2012.
This is the 39th Manager ejection of 2012.
This is the Angels' second ejection of 2012, third in the AL West (OAK 4; TEX 3; SEA 0).
This is Mike Scioscia's second ejection and first since May 9 (Sam Holbrook; QOC = Correct).
This is Dan Iassogna's first ejection since June 14 (Ned Yost; QOC = Correct).

Ejection 076: Marty Foster (4)

HP Umpire Marty Foster ejected Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle for arguing a swinging strike call in the bottom of the 4th inning of the Tigers-Pirates game. With one out and none on, Pirates batter Casey McGehee was ruled to have swung on a 2-2 curveball from Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander for a third strike. Replays indicate that McGehee unsuccessfully checked his swing, the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Tigers were leading, 2-0. The Tigers ultimately won the contest, 3-2.

This is Marty Foster's (60)'s fourth ejection of 2012.
Marty Foster now has 2 points in the UEFL (-2 Previous + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 2).
Crew Chief Jeff Kellogg now has 2 points in the UEFL's Crew Division (1 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 2).

UEFL Standings Update

This is the 76th ejection of 2012.
This is the 38th Manager ejection of 2012.
This is the Pirates' 3rd ejection of 2012, 2nd in the NL Central (HOU 4, CHC 3, STL 2).
This is Clint Hurdle's second ejection and first since May 2nd (Angel Campos; QOC = Correct).
This is Marty Foster's first ejection since May 26th (Henderson Alvarez QOC = Irrecusable).

Wrap: Tigers at Pirates 6/24/12
Video: Foster rules a swing; Hurdle argues and is quickly ejected by Marty Foster

Major League Umpiring Debut: Toby Basner

MLB Umpiring Debut: Toby Basner (99)

After the Rays-Phillies series opener was postponed due to rain on Friday, the make-up doubleheader was scheduled for Sunday, necessitating an additional umpire to provide base services for both games. Because fill-in umpire Vic Carapazza had already been working in Philadelphia with Jim Joyce's crew due to Jim Reynolds' regularly scheduled vacation, the doubleheader necessitated a second call-up to supplement the base absences left by Vic Carapazza (Plate for Game 1) and James Hoye (Plate for Game 2). Toby Basner got the call this weekend and made his MLB debut at second base during Game 1. Mike DiMuro worked first base, while Joyce was at third.

Basner is a 2012 member of the International League staff, his third season in the IL and ninth as a professional umpire. The Snellville, Georgia resident previously umpired in the minor's Gulf Coast, Appalachian, Florida Instructional, South Atlantic, Carolina, Southern and Pacific Coast Leagues. Basner has also worked the Dominican, Venezuelan, Puerto Rican Winter and Arizona Fall Leagues. He has been a Major League Spring Training umpire since 2010.

Basner was recently named to the Triple-A All-Star Game, where he will serve as second base umpire. His crew mates for the July 11 contest at Buffalo's Coca-Cola Field will include Mark Lollo (HP; 4th season, IL), Shaun Francis (1B; 3rd season, PCL) and Clint Fagan (3B; 3rd season, PCL).