Saturday, August 17, 2013

Ask the UEFL: Minor League Umpiring Procedure

The newest "Ask the UEFL" feature pertains to umpiring in Minor League Baseball. Steven writes:
(1) What say the Minor League rules regarding waiting to call the resumption of a suspended game in the visitor's city early, with a consequence of postponing the regularly scheduled game?
Reference: Las Vegas 51s vs. Sacramento River Cats, 7/28/13 & SAC-LV, 7/29/13
Original start date (suspended game): 05/06/13 (in Sacramento)
(2) By the way, what say the same rules, if anything, about replacing umpires possibly on the MLB fill-in list (Jordan Ferrell, I believe, specifically)/general vacations?
Reference: Las Vegas 51s vs. Salt Lake Bees, 8/16/13
Jonathan expressed a similar sentiment, adding: "Why do MiLB doubleheaders go just 7 innings, not 9?"

(1) Minor League convention, though similar to Major League guidelines, allows for the shortening of a game in the event of a doubleheader, generally two seven inning games instead of the full nine. Pursuant to OBR Rule 4.10(a), "National Association leagues may adopt a rule providing that one or both games of a doubleheader shall be seven innings in length." The "National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues" (NAPBL) is the former name of the governing entity now known as Minor League Baseball.

Rule 4.11(d): "A called game ends at the moment the umpire terminates play, unless it becomes a suspended game pursuant to Rule 4.12(a)."

Rule 4.12(a) contains several provisions exclusive to NAPBL or MiLB ball (a game is suspended when—):
(7) The game has not become a regulation game (4 1⁄2 innings with the home team ahead, or 5 innings with the visiting club ahead or tied).
(8) If a game is suspended before it becomes a regulation game, and is continued prior to another regularly scheduled game, the regularly scheduled game shall be seven innings in length. See the exception described in Rule 4.10(a).
(9) If a game is suspended after it is a regulation game, and is continued prior to another regularly scheduled game, the regularly scheduled game shall be a nine-inning game.
In regards to suspending play during the resumption of a suspended game, each delay occurs on its own merits and all games—whether regularly scheduled or the resumption of a suspended affair—are subject to Rule 4.12(a) Note, which states, in part, "Weather and similar conditions—Rules 4.12(a)(1) through 4.12(a)(5)— shall take precedence in determining whether a called game shall be a suspended game." If a game, however, "has progressed far enough to have been a regulation game pursuant to Rule 4.10(c)," it shall be called and terminated and the final score approved. In the event of Vegas-Sacramento on July 28, the "wind delay" effected the administration of Game 2 of the doubleheader, though the first game was played to regulation, a 13-4 score after 7 innings.

(2) In Salt Lake, PCL umpires Chris Segal and Kolin Kline worked with 3B Umpire Randy Upton, a local official who has previously worked collegiate games at the University of Utah and other locations in the southwestern United States. Prior to the crew's appearance in Salt Lake, Kline and Segal worked in Colorado Springs with Rocky Mountain Athletic and PCL alum umpire Ted Bergquist.

When Angel Campos worked his last game June 28, 2013 before succumbing to an apparent concussion injury, local California umpire Greg Schoonard filled in at third base with crewmates Nick Bailey and Greg Stanzak. He remained at third through June 30 before Bailey and Stanzak traveled to Las Vegas, where they were joined by Lance Barrett, returning from his MLB stint.

Because the Triple-A call-up umpires most likely to work MLB contests are generally assigned as fourth-man rovers that create temporary four-man crews out of three-umpire teams, most absences by virtue of a call-up umpire getting "the call" have the sole effect of taking a four-man crew down to three. Still, the situation occasionally arises, whether through injury or other absence, that an otherwise three-person crew finds itself missing an umpire (though Ferrell was not on the call-up list).

Until MiLB is ready to officially promote an umpire from Double-A or another lower league, the League at its discretion may assign emergency replacement umpires, effectively creating a MiLB "fill-in" system similar to yet distinct from that used at the Major League level.

If you have a question for the UEFL, send us an e-mail (info at closecallsports dot com) or visit our Ejection/Report form, selecting the "Misc. Rules Question" or "Other Discussion Request" submission type.


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