Saturday, July 30, 2016

Ejection Drought - Expulsions Drop After Torre Memo

Ejections are down in baseball since Joe Torre's warning to team managers and GMs surfaced on July 15, with just seven ejections over the nearly two-week period that has followed, with zero ejections from July 22-25, and none since July 27: That's a two days-per-ejection pace over this period, compared to a 1.1 ratio prior to the Torre missive (or, conversely, a 50% decrease in ejections-per-day).

More discussion is preempting arguments.
Droughts are nothing new to the ejection game, as baseball also experienced a seven-day drought in August-September 2009, six-day drought in September 2015, and five day drought in April-May 2015.

Excluding the All-Star Break, the present drought is 2016's longest since June 20-22 (three days) and June 1-4 (four days).

Torre's bulletin cautioned managers over the use of instant replay and its relationship with ball/strike ejections: namely, that Torre found managers' use of Replay Review technology to analyze ball/strike calls and argue based on this video evidence as unacceptable. At the time of Torre's memo, ejections of managers for arguing balls and strikes had increased approximately 33% since 2013, with a steady climb ever since baseball adopted expanded replay in 2014.

Since Torre's correspondence, however, managerial ejections for arguing the strike zone have completely stopped (zero over two weeks), while just two coaches and one player have been tossed during the second half of July for arguing balls and strikes.

And the present ejections decrease is not for lack of disagreement with the strike zone, either.

On Friday, for instance, Manny Gonzalez entertained several passionate arguments from Orioles players concerning balls and strikes. Early in the game, Adam Jones carried on an animated discussion after striking out in his first at-bat.

In the 8th inning, Manager Buck Showalter had to run interference when Matt Wieters disagreed with a strike two call. In addition to balls and strikes, Wieters had taken exception to Gonzalez's attempt to enforce pace-of-play regulations by ordering Wieters into the batter's box. For instance, a similar argument with Bill Welke in 2015 resulted in Joey Votto and skipper Bryan Price's ejections.

More calls are being overturned via replay.
Neither Orioles player was ejected on Friday (nor was Showalter, who stated in postgame comments that Gonzalez "had a bad [night]," while Wieters said he "didn't appreciate" Gonzalez's manner of officiating).

Finally, we saw Replay Review history made this week when the number of overturned calls outnumbered those upheld (stands or confirmed) for the first time since the expansion of replay prior to the 2014 regular season.

This greater efficiency—by both teams and umpires—in utilizing the Replay Review system as intended has not only resulted in teams becoming more adept at challenges and Team Success Percentage (TSP) improvement, but the umpires too have become better at ruling out frivolous Crew Chief reviews while nonetheless maintaining that referral to New York on those plays most in need of replay revision.

The corresponding "human" attitude perhaps even led John Hirschbeck to admit overturning a balk in error Thursday night while still keeping Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny & company in the game, even though the call would deprive St. Louis of a tie-breaking run.

The only question, of course, is, "how long will it last?"


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