Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Inconclusive: Eddings' Foul HR Call Upheld After IR Review

Umpires upheld a foul ball (no-HR) call in Oakland after A's batter Chris Young nearly walked off the Houston Astros with a 0-1 screamer to deep left field in the bottom of the 9th inning of a 5-4 Astros-A's game. With two out and the tying run on base, Young hit a 0-1 curveball from Astros pitcher Chia-Jen Lo beyond the left field corner and into the seats.

The flight of the ball near the left foul pole.
Initially ruled a foul ball by 3B Umpire Doug Eddings, the umpires elected to review the play via video replay; Eddings was joined in umpires' room by 2B Umpire Paul Nauert and HP Umpire and crew chief Dana DeMuth. After a multi-minute review, the umpires upheld the foul ball call and play resumed with an 0-2 count. Young struck out on the very next pitch to end the game.

While the Oakland broadcast quickly ruled the play a home run, the umpires may have been hurt by the camera angle provided, in which the camera appears to zoom in on the baseball as it dropped along the foul pole, effectively exaggerating any visual separation that existed between the ball and the pole, so as to potentially create an illusion of the ball changing trajectory as all objects became larger on the monitor.

As the ball falls to the stairs, the
camera zooms in on the action,
creating an illusion of a potential
exaggerated change in trajectory.
In other words, as the camera zoomed in, the foul pole grew in pixelated size and so did the baseball. Logically, the space between the baseball and the foul pole itself also grew in pixelated size, which effectively created a visually exaggerated change in trajectory. Whether the ball grazed the pole or not, the umpires' ability to form a proper and fitting conclusion was hindered by the camera's zoom action.

Without clear and convincing evidence with which to suggest Eddings' initial call was wrong, DeMuth elected to uphold the foul ball call.

This is not the first time Dana DeMuth's crew has had to officiate a close or controversial boundary call involving instant replay.

On August 17, 2011, 2B Umpire DeMuth ruled a home run in Kansas City and upheld the call after consulting instant replay review, much to the chagrin of opposing Yankees manager Joe Girardi and other Yankees personnel. According to media at Kauffman Stadium after the game, MLB Umpire Supervisor Steve Palermo allegedly walked with DeMuth, Kerwin Danley, Eddings and Chad Fairchild to left field, within several feet of the earlier HR ball. One media report stated Palermo appeared to be "chewing them out."

The next day, MLB Executive Vice President Joe Torre stated that DeMuth "misunderstood" the Kauffman Stadium ground rules and had, both before and after using instant replay, made the incorrect call.

On May 8, 2013, Hernandez ejected A's Manager Bob Melvin after failing to overturn a 9th inning in-play (double) call during the A's 4-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians. Replays appeared to indicate the fly ball struck a railing atop the outfield wall, while scribe Peter Gammons accused interim crew chief Hernandez of deliberately upholding the call in protest of instant replay.

When replay was introduced in 2008, DeMuth stated his philosophy: "If my crew member says, 'I know that hit the foul pole, I know it without a doubt in my mind, I heard it, I saw it, this absolutely happened,' well, I'm absolutely going to trust my crew member and say that call stays...Foul, fair, that call stays. That's our job."

DeMuth added, "If my crew shows me without a doubt in their mind that they made the right call, I'm sticking with it. I won't even use [instant replay]."

Wrap: Houston Astros vs. Oakland Athletics, 8/14/13
Video: Initially ruled foul, umpires uphold the decision after consulting instant replay review (OAK)

10 comments :

Gil Imber said...

I think Doug got this right the first time, and even if he didn't, there just wasn't enough evidence to overturn the call. Great job!

Gil Imber said...

That's some funny math the Oakland broadcasters are using. The camera is so shaky, I can't say for sure either way whether the ball changed its course or whether the camera angle just makes it look like it's moving around. I mean, at one point, the ball is at a severe angle towards the pole, then it suddenly drops out without having even come CLOSE to the pole... I call shenanigans - what we need is a static camera, that's the only way to really fairly judge this.


I mean, why do you think umpires are taught to make the fair/foul call from a stationary spot?

Gil Imber said...

Ray Fosse, cringe-worthy as always.

Gil Imber said...

tough call i still think they got it right.

Gil Imber said...

Wow. Is that close, or what??! I think it did graze the pole, but the call as reviewed is correct as it is disputable as to whether or not it actually did hit the pole. The ball does appear to change direction ever so slightly. Hmmm ... who woulda thunk instant replay wouldn't be perfect. [:eyeroll:]

Gil Imber said...

Further proof that announcers are among the stupidest people on the planet.

Their 1st position: 'It didn't hook enough to be close to the foul pole.' Clearly admitting there is a hook going from right to left (fair to foul) which is the case for almost every fly ball down the lines. There's not even a question.

2nd position: 'It is close, look in the replay and there is a change in direction of the ball "right at the end of the green".' This is now claiming that the ball had no hook at all but was instead a straight shot all the way. Hmm, strange thing how the angle changes everything. And yet, still never coming into their minds is that the umpire making the call has a better angle than the camera.

3rd: 'The ball hit the pole solidly.' These clowns go from hooking but not enough to be close to the pole, to it was so straight that it had a slight change of direction which is proof of the ball barely hitting the pole to the ball hit the pole solidly.

I wish the world would realize how useless announcers actually are.

Not conclusive? After trying to frame-by-frame their first angle the ball (a) went in front of the foul pole and (b) clearly didn't change trajectory at all. That is easy. Then you take the 2nd angle and it is conclusive that the ball went in front of the pole. Pretty easy that way. What I would have loved is a shot of the fans on the line in the upper deck just to see how many had the "wind out of the sails" body language. Regardless, I think the 2 angels used together might have been conclusive enough to overturn a home run call.

Gil Imber said...

Of course these guys are homers.. But I literally LOL'd when they realized Angel was on the crew and said... "Oh no!"

Gil Imber said...

Now that is a homer.....The announcer that is!

Gil Imber said...

I've got to disagree with your analysis of the video.
I've looked at individual frames of the video from the camera approximately on the extended 3rd base line, and measured the width of set points on the foul pole and screen (by measuring something relatively large, the effects of pixelation from zooming the camera on the measurment are minimized). I also measured the distance from the center of the ball to the near edge of the foul pole.
From my first screen grab to the second, measuring the same place on the pole shows the magnification went up 10%, but the "ball to pole" distance went down nearly 62%. The next frame shows an increase in magnification of 14%, but the distance went back up almost to what it had been before. If camera zoom was responsible for an apparent change in the distance, zooming in should have made the center of ball to the foul pole distance go _up_, not down, and it should have gone up slightly less than the amount of zoom (to allow for the ball being further from the camera).
Since the camera is basically fixed in position (the position of the foul pole in relation to items behind it shows no change in parallax), a change in ball position can't be attriubuted to moving the camera.
The ball could have been hit straight, or it could have been hooking, but it's hard to figure some trajectory that could make the ball appear to move closer to the pole, and then further away without the ball actually changing direction through contact.
Having said all that, I think the decision to let the ruling stand was the right one. If I understand the rule correctly, they have to be sure that the call was wrong to overturn it, and they didn't have an hour to take measurments of screen grabs and do the math on a spreadsheet.
I do have a question on the replay rule--how do they determine which of the three umpires will go in and look at it?

Gil Imber said...

You misunderstand ball trajectory. No matter how much a ball is hooking, it basically acts like its flying straight for a time increment as short as three or four frames. With enough hook the straight trajectory passing the foul pole could be a line from the mound to the pole, rather than the plate to the pole. However, it still is basically straight from frame to frame.

There are really only three explanations for wat we saw.


1) the ball impacted the pole and changed direction.

2) the pole is bent

3) the camera is located to the first base side of home plate. If the camera is not in perfect alignment with home plate and the pole, a ball hooked from right to left could look like this. My gut tells me that the camera would need to be significantly misaligned, but I don't know that

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