Saturday, June 17, 2017

MLB Ejection 068 - Stu Scheurwater (2; Bryan Price)

HP Umpire Stu Scheurwater ejected Reds Manager Bryan Price (strike three call; QOCY) in the bottom of the 2nd inning of the Dodgers-Reds game. With two out and two on, Reds batter Billy Hamilton took a 3-2 cutter from Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer half of home plate and knee-high (px .321, pz 1.549 [sz_bot 1.535]), the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 1-1. The Dodgers ultimately won the contest, 10-2.

This is Stu Scheurwater (85)'s second ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Stu Scheurwater now has 10 points in the UEFL Standings (5 Previous + 3 AAA + 2 Correct Call = 10).
Crew Chief Jim Reynolds now has 11 points in Crew Division (10 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 11).

This is the 68th ejection report of 2017.
This is the 36th Manager ejection of 2017.
This is Cincinnati's 1st ejection of 2017, T-4th in the NL Central (PIT, STL 3; MIL 2; CHC, CIN 1).
This is Bryan Price's first ejection since September 16, 2016 (Gerry Davis; QOC = Y [Replay Review]).
This is Stu Scheurwater's 2nd ejection of 2017, 1st since April 30 (Buck Showalter; QOC = Y [Balk]).

Wrap: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Cincinnati Reds, 6/17/17 | Video via "Read More"

Friday, June 16, 2017

MLB Ejection 067 - Gary Cederstrom (1; Bruce Bochy)

HP Umpire Gary Cederstrom ejected Giants Manager Bruce Bochy (ball four call) in the bottom of the 7th inning of the Giants-Rockies game. With none out and none on, Rockies batter DJ LeMahieu took a 3-2 slider from Giants pitcher Jeff Samardzija for a called fourth ball. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the inner edge of home plate (px -.729, pz 3.214), the call was incorrect. At the time of the ejection, the Rockies were leading, 7-5. The Rockies ultimately won the contest, 10-8.

This is Gary Cederstrom (38)'s first ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Gary Cederstrom now has 0 points in the UEFL Standings (2 Previous + 2 MLB - 4 Incorrect = 0).
Crew Chief Gary Cederstrom now has -4 points in Crew Division (-4 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = -4).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.

This is the 67th ejection report of 2017.
This is the 35th Manager ejection of 2017.
This is San Francisco's 2nd ejection of 2017, T-2nd in the NL West (LAD 5; COL, SF 2; SD 1; ARI 0).
This is Bruce Bochy's first ejection since July 15, 2016 (Mike Estabrook; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Gary Cederstrom's first ejection since Sept 2, 2015 (Miguel Cabrera; QOC = Y-C [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: San Francisco Giants vs. Colorado Rockies, 6/16/17 | Video via "Read More"

MLB Ejection 066 - Jeff Kellogg (1; Joe Maddon)

3B Umpire Jeff Kellogg ejected Cubs Manager Joe Maddon (Replay Review; HR/Foul call by 1B Umpire Clint Fagan) in the top of the 1st inning of the Cubs-Pirates game. With none out and none on, Cubs batter Anthony Rizzo hit a 2-2 fastball from Pirates pitcher Trevor Williams on a fly ball to deep right field near and past the foul pole, initially ruled fair by 1B Umpire Fagan and reversed to a foul ball after umpire consultation. Upon Replay Review as the result of a Crew Chief Review by Kellogg, the foul call stood, the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 0-0. The Cubs ultimately won the contest, 9-5.

This is Jeff Kellogg (8)'s first ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Jeff Kellogg now has 4 points in the UEFL Standings (1 Previous + 2 MLB + 1 QOCY-Crewmate = 4).
Crew Chief Jeff Kellogg now has 0 points in Crew Division (-1 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 0).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-c-1-a: "All classifications in regards to calls that are upheld or overturned after umpire consultation or instant replay challenge shall revert to whichever umpire would have had primary responsibility (calling) had the consultation or challenge not occurred."

This is the 66th ejection report of 2017.
This is the 34th Manager ejection of 2017.
This is Chicago-NL's 1st ejection of 2017, 4th in the NL Central (PIT, STL 3; MIL 2; CHC 1; CIN 0).
This is Joe Maddon's first ejection since September 12, 2016 (Joe West; QOC = U [USC-NEC]).
This is Jeff Kellogg's first ejection since July 30, 2016 (Terry Collins; QOC = Y [Replay Review]).

Wrap: Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, 6/16/17 | Video via "Read More"

Doug Harvey Set for CAL League Hall of Fame Induction

Class-A's California League (Single-A) named Doug "God" Harvey to its 2017 Hall of Fame class, alongside former Major Leaguers Dave Duncan, Mike Piazza, Kirby Puckett, and manager Tony La Russa. Harvey's induction into the California League's Hall of Fame follows a 2010 induction into the  National Baseball Hall of Fame for his service as a Major League umpire. Harold Douglas Harvey's HOF plaque in Cooperstown describes him as a "commanding arbiter whose unique combination of integrity, heart and common sense earned universal praise."

The California League is the only league in Minor League Baseball to honor its umpires, which it does with the "Doug Harvey Award" for top Cal League umpire, bestowed annually since 2010.

Cal President Charlie Blaney, Gibbs & Harvey.
Past Doug Harvey Award winners include:
Year Umpire Name
2016 Patrick Sharshel
2015 Reid Gibbs
2014 Sean Allen
2013 Ronnie Teague
2012 Chris Gonzalez
2011 Ryan Goodman
2010 Blake Davis

Harold Douglas Harvey's Hall of Fame plaque.
Harvey served in the National League for 30 years and 4,673 games from his 1962 NL debut until his retirement following the 1992 season. He worked the California League from 1958 through 1960, and the Pacific Coast League in 1961.

Born in South Gate, California, on March 13, 1930, Harvey began as a local basketball referee, officiating college basketball and football while also working minor league baseball, joining the NL staff in 1962 and experiencing the first-ever regular season game at Dodger Stadium on April 10, 1962.

Harvey was the last umpire hired to the big leagues not to have attended umpire school.

Harvey appeared in seven All-Star Games (1963, 64, 71, 77, 82, 87, 92) and his postseason career featured nine National League Championship Series (1970, 72, 76, 80, 83, 84, 86, 89, 91), and five World Series (1968, 74, 81, 84, 88); he was the plate umpire when Kirk Gibson hit the famous walk-off home run during Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.

Harvey also appeared during the rules-centric "You Make the Call" segment that occasionally aired on Mel Allen's "This Week in Baseball" program before the original program's retirement in 1998.

His sleeve #8 is presently worn in the Major Leagues by crew chief Jeff Kellogg.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Catcher Tiff Clears Benches in Rockies-Pirates Game

Benches emptied in Pittsburgh after Francisco Cervelli's HBP and spat with Rockies catcher Tony Wolters.

With none out and Andrew McCutchen aboard at first base in the bottom of the 5th inning of Wednesday's Rockies-Pirates game, Cervelli took a first-pitch fastball from Rockies pitcher German Marquez, resulting in a bench- and bullpen-clearing incident when Cervelli's catcher counterpart, Wolters, engaged him in a verbal dispute.

Replays indicate the pitch struck Cervelli on his upper left arm; it was the first hit batsman of the game and no warnings were issued by HP Umpire Chris Conroy, who coincidentally will work his first All-Star Game next month in Miami.

At the time of the bench clearing incident, the Rockies were leading, 3-0. Colorado ultimately on the contest, 5-1. Video via "Read More"

MLB Ejections 064-65 - Paul Emmel (3-4; Garcia, Renteria)

1B Umpire Paul Emmel ejected White Sox RF Avisail Garcia and Manager Rick Renteria (check swing strike three call) in the bottom of the 5th inning of the Orioles-White Sox game. With one out and none on, Garcia attempted to check his swing on a 0-2 slider from Orioles pitcher Chris Tillman, ruled a swinging strike on appeal by Emmel from HP Umpire Ramon De Jesus. Play reviewed and adjudicated by the UEFL Appeals Board (8-1-0), the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 1-1. The White Sox ultimately won the contest, 5-2.

This is Paul Emmel (50)'s third, fourth ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Paul Emmel now has 9 points in the UEFL Standings (1 Previous + 2*[2 MLB + 2 QOCY] = 9).
Crew Chief Paul Emmel now has 7 points in Crew Division (5 Previous + 2 Correct Call = ?).

This is the 64th, 65th ejection report of 2017.
This is the 27th player ejection of 2017. Prior to ejection, Garcia was 2-3 (SO) in the contest.
This is the 33rd Manager ejection of 2017.
This is Chicago-AL's 3/4th ejection of 2017, 1st in the AL Central (CWS 4; DET, KC, MIN 2; CLE 0).
This is Avisail Garcia's first ejection since March 24, 2017 (Mike Winters; QOC = U [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Rick Renteria's 2nd ejection of 2017, 1st since May 7 (Paul Emmel; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Paul Emmel's 3/4th ejection of 2017, 1st since May 7 (Rick Renteria; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Baltimore Orioles vs. Chicago White Sox, 6/15/17 | Video via "Read More"

Rare Real-Time Appeal Retires Runner over Retouch Rule

Rules lesson: If your idea of an appeal starts with the pitcher on the mound, you're doing it wrong and opening up a can of worms known as "losing the chance to appeal." Furthermore, a team that waits for the standard pitcher-to-base appeal loses out on the possibility of beating out a scoring time play.

Yes, today's lesson is about strategy, appeals, and two types of appeal plays (Delayed and Real-Time).

Runner Bradley fails to retouch third base.
In 2013, we discussed The Retouch Rule 7.08(d): A Game of Acting and Knowing. That post covers runner's retouch responsibilities, while this one will cover appeals. To recap, although the modern number for this rule has changed from 7.08(d) to 5.09(b)(5), the language is still the same, and states that a runner is out when, "He fails to retouch his base after a fair or foul ball is legally caught before he, or his base, is tagged by a fielder. He shall not be called out for failure to retouch his base after the first following pitch, or any play or attempted play. This is an appeal play."

Rule 5.09(b)(5)/5.09(c)(1) is the "he left early" play, generally relating to the runner's base of origin.

Rule 5.06(b)(1) governs baserunning and states, "In advancing, a runner shall touch first, second, third and home base in order. If forced to return, he shall retouch all bases in reverse order, unless the ball is dead."

Appealable: Failure to return to first base.
Rule 5.09(c)(2) states that a runner is out on appeal when, "With the ball in play, while advancing or returning to a base, he fails to touch each base in order before he, or a missed base, is tagged."

Other appeal plays include overrunning/oversliding first base and failing to return to the base immediately, and failing to touch home base while making no attempt to return to that base (Rules 5.09(c)(3) and 5.09(c)(4), respectively).

Onto today's lesson regarding appeal plays and the problem with the standard pitcher-to-base appeal:

Recall Rule 5.09(c) Comment: "Time is not out when an appeal is being made" (except in NFHS ball and NCAA softball, for instance, where dead ball appeals are allowed, in addition to live ball appeals). Under OBR, appeals must occur during live ball action.

Furthermore, appeals themselves are time limited: "Any appeal under this rule must be made before the next pitch, or any play or attempted play...If the defensive team on its first appeal errs, a request for a second appeal on the same runner at the same base shall not be allowed by the umpire."

There are two types of live ball appeal plays—Delayed and "Real-Time"—and the time limit provision of the appeal rule always applies to the Delayed variety, also known as the pitcher-steps-off-the-mound (or "Standard") appeal, which occurs when an appeal originates with the pitcher, with the ball on the mound.

Problems (for the defense) with the Delayed Appeal: Let's begin with a rule: "If a pitcher balks when making an appeal, such act shall be a play," which causes the defense to lose its opportunity to appeal. If the pitcher throws the ball into the stands while trying to throw to a base, or the pitcher makes a play on another runner, the defense forfeits the opportunity to appeal (e.g., the pitcher plans to appeal that a scoring runner left third base early. Another runner, R1, decides to try and steal second while the pitcher has the ball, and the pitcher throws to second base to attempt a play on R1. As a result, the defense loses its ability to appeal whether R3 left third base early). At this rate, why even risk giving the pitcher the ball?
RelatedLeisurely Appeal with Runner on Proves Costly for China [Appeal with a runner stealing].
RelatedRule 7.10: How a Runner is Out on Appeal [Appeal at 3rd base with R2 trying to steal 3rd].

Real-Time appeals can prevent mistakes.
The "Real-Time Appeal": When an appeal is made during the play in which the rules infraction occurred (e.g., before the ball is thrown to the pitcher and play is reset), the time limit provision of the appeals rule is relaxed: Because other action may still occur during the continuation of a standard batted ball (or thrown ball) play, an attempted play on another runner, for instance, does not immediately cause the defense to lose its chance to appeal, as it does in a Delayed appeal. Also—and this goes without saying—appealing "in real-time" means that the pitcher won't balk and, thus, cost the defense the opportunity to appeal.

The MLB Umpire Manual refers to the Real-Time appeal's relaxed timeframe as, "the continuous action created by and following the batted [or thrown, or pitched] ball." Continuous action basically suspends the standard appeal time limit regarding plays or attempted plays until such action comes to a complete stop. For instance, if, with R1 and R2, a wild pitch or pickoff attempt results in both runners attempting to achieve two additional bases, and, the defense attempts to throw R1 out at third base as R2 crosses home plate, the throw to third base on R1 is deemed to be part of "continuous action." Therefore, if, after the play comes to a natural conclusion (or even prior to this point), the defense wishes to appeal at third base that lead runner R2 failed to touch third, that appeal is authorized since any throws on R1 would be deemed part of the continuous action created by the batted/thrown/pitched ball.

MLBUM looks for a "definite break in the original continuous action" before ruling that the "play or attempted play" time limit has begun: a Delayed appeal, as described above, qualifies as such a "definite break." A Real-Time appeal, as described in the preceding paragraph, does not.

Appeals are time plays.
The rule is also important to know because appeal plays, with two out, are time plays—if the inning's third out is recorded before another runner touches home plate, the run will not score. A Delayed appeal on a third-party baserunner has absolutely no chance of beating the scoring runner's touch of home plate due to the delay's definite break, but a Real-Time appeal retains that (remote) possibility. Appeals aren't force plays (unless, naturally, the runner's failure to achieve the next base would, itself, be a force out, e.g., a bases-loaded situation where the runner from first fails to touch second base).
RelatedUEFL Series: Baseball Rules in the Real World (Fourth Out) [Appeals are time plays].

On Wednesday, the Phillies attempted such an appeal when, with one out and one on (R2), Red Sox batter Sandy Leon flied out to Phillies first baseman Tommy Joseph as Boston baserunner R2 Jackie Bradley, Jr., running with the pitch, had to reverse course and retreat back to second base before the Phillies could retire him based on the base-of-origin retouch Rule 5.09(b)(5).

Appeals can be Delayed or Real-Time.
In his haste to return, Bradley, who had reached, touched and passed third base, failed to retouch third base on his way back to second, which drew the attention of Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis, who called for the ball and tagged Bradley while he stood on second base, appealing to 3B Umpire Stu Scheurwater for a ruling, resulting in the inning's third out as Scheurwater called Bradley out for failing to retouch third base on appeal, pursuant to Rule 5.09(c)(2).

Had this play occurred with baserunner R3 on third base, and had he tagged up and attempted to score, HP Umpire Jim Reynolds would have had to rule on whether the runner touched home plate before the out was recorded on Bradley on appeal.

U1 Wendelstedt rules on a Real-Time appeal.
In 2016, Boston first baseman Hanley Ramirez made such a "Real-Time" appeal to retire Mariners batter-runner Nelson Cruz after both players missed first base; Ramirez followed Cruz up the right field foul line as Cruz legally overran first base, and tagged him, appealing to 1B Umpire Hunter Wendelstedt that Cruz failed to touch first base, as in OBR 5.09(c)(2). After verifying the appeal, Wendelstedt declared Cruz out for failing to touch the base. Had there been a runner on third base who advanced to home plate during this play, the run would not count: "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" (Rule 5.08(a) EXCEPTION).

Conclusion: When on defense, always opt for a Real-Time appeal, when possible. The potential for error during a Delayed appeal may be low, but is nearly non-existent in Real-Time. As an umpire, understand which type of appeal the defense is attempting so as to properly enforce rules-prescribed time limits and regulations. Determine when continuous action has ended and a definite break has occurred. Furthermore, when entertaining a potential Real-Time appeal, always verbally or otherwise confirm the defense's actual intent to appeal. If the player fails to initiate some manner of communication to express their intent to appeal, then it is not a valid appeal play and should not be ruled upon as such. If the player holds the ball while touching a base/player and saying something of the sort, "the runner didn't touch the base," this is a valid appeal and should be ruled on as such.

Video via "Read More"

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

UEFL Invokes Injury Rule for Owners of Ump Scott

It is now two months since umpire Dale Scott suffered a game-ending foul ball head injury in Toronto, and he has not returned to the Major League field since. With no further status update from the League, we continue to wish him the best. His presence on the field is truly missed.

Dale Scott has not umpired since April 14.
At this time, the UEFL is invoking League Rules 1-2-b and 1-5-a for any team owner who has drafted Dale Scott and wishes to replace him on their crew. The membership voted during last year's Rules Summit to allow owners to replace an umpire who becomes injured or bereaved during the season. This is the first implementation of that rule.

Because Scott is a crew chief, two separate injury clauses have been invoked: one for Crew Chiefs and one for Crew Chiefs/Primary/Secondary umpires.

As mentioned in last month's A Look at the Dale Scott Crew Without Their Crew Chief, Scott's regular season crew consists of Jim Reynolds, Brian Knight, and Lance Barrett.

Reynolds, as the number two umpire on the crew, has served as acting crew chief in Scott's absence and has remained the senior-most umpire on the unit, with limited exception (e.g., Joe West joined the crew from May 16-21 to replace Brian Knight).

Meanwhile, Triple-A call-up umpire Stu Scheurwater has remained with Scott/Reynolds' crew ever since the day after West returned to captain his own crew on May 22.

UEFL Midseason Replacement Procedure
If your Crew Chief is Dale Scott and you wish to make a replacement, pursuant to UEFL Rule 1-2-b, you may select Jim Reynolds as your crew chief; OR,

If you own Scott in any capacity (Crew Chief, Primary, or Secondary), and you wish to make a replacement, pursuant to UEFL Rule 1-5-a, you may select any umpire who has fewer points than Scott for that classification.

Scott has two points in Primary and Secondary classifications, and -2 points in Crew Division.
Reynolds has 10 points in Crew Division. Pursuant to UEFL Rule 1-2-b, if you drafted Scott as your Crew Chief, you may replace him with Reynolds. If you wish to replace Crew Chief Scott with a Crew Chief other than Reynolds—or wish to replace Primary/Secondary Umpire Scott with any other umpire (other than those you already own)—you may do so, provided this alternate replacement has fewer than -2 points in Crew Division, or +2 points as a Primary/Secondary Umpire, as applicable.

List of Legal Replacements (as of June 14, 2017; Subject to Change After This Date)
Crew Division - Eligible Replacement Crew Chiefs (ranked by UEFL points, in parentheses):
Reynolds, Jim (10) [Rule 1-2-b replacement]
Nelson, Jeff (-3) [Rule 1-5-a replacement]
Cederstrom, Gary (-4) [1-5-a]
Meals, Jerry (-6) [1-5-a]
Davis, Gerry (-8) [1-5-a]

Primaries & Secondaries - Refer to UEFL Standings (umpires must have less than 2 UEFL points)

To effect a midseason replacement, post a comment to this announcement indicating your username, classification to be changed (Crew Chief, Primary, or Secondary), and proposed replacement name.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

NCAA Rule - Reversing a Catch Call's Runner Placement

NCAA's "Getting the Call Right" rule regarding runner placement on a reversed no catch call may have incidentally put the offensive team at a disadvantage during the Gainesville Super Regional, as a Florida baserunner was forced to return to a base he likely would have advanced from if not for an NCAA-specific rule specifically prohibiting such advancement.

Wake Forest requests a replay reversal.
The Play: With none out and two on (R1, R2), the batter flies to right field, whereupon the outfielder drops the ball in the process of catching and transferring the ball to his throwing hand, ruled "no catch" (safe) by the first base umpire. The baserunner from second successfully advances to third base, while runner R1 fails to vacate first base (forced to do so due to the batter becoming an unretired runner), and the defense tags second base for the force out: score it a fielder's choice to make the situation one out, R1, R3.

Replay Review: The defensive (Wake Forest) coach argues that the right fielder caught the ball and dropped it during the transfer process, alleging the proper call should have been a fly out. After video review, the umpires reverse the on-field ruling, declare the batter out, and send the two base runners back to the bases they occupied at the beginning of the play: One out, R1, R2.

Florida questions the runner placement rule.
Logical Argument: The offensive (Florida) coach in turn argues that R2 successfully ran to third base during the play, and would have ended up on third base no matter the call in the outfield: he would have either advanced due to his being forced to do so, or as a result of tagging up with a play that deep into right field.

The Rule: NCAA Appendix E-1-C-10 (Getting the Call Right) states that if the umpires reverse the call of "no catch" to that of "catch," then:
a) The ball is dead;
b) All action prior to the ball becoming dead shall be disallowed;
c) The batter shall be declared out;
d) All base runners shall be returned to the base they occupied at the time of the pitch.
Analysis: Accordingly, college baseball's Getting the Call Right rule requires that on a reversed no catch-to-catch call, the runners be returned to the bases occupied at time of pitch (TOP). This is a mandatory provision of the rule and not subject to further interpretation, negotiation, or crew chief discretion. Therefore, R1 was correctly returned to first base and R2 was correctly returned to second base.

Commentary: The intent of the Getting the Call Right rule in regards to no catch/catch is to declare the play dead immediately upon the incorrect call being made, so as not to put any team in jeopardy by having the offense run into an unnecessary out (failing to tag up, trying to take an extra base, passing a preceding runner, etc.) or the defense into committing an unnecessary play (errors or throws to bases) that could further confuse or complicate the situation (and then having to adjudicate such contingencies). By killing play immediately, the rule effectively takes discretion away from the umpires, who have erred during the original play, so as to take all potential arguments away from impacted teams. Batter out, runners returned to their bases at TOP, end of discussion. Naturally, this unique play—wherein the situation would likely have ended up as one out, R1, R3 no matter what the first base umpire's catch/no catch call was—pigeonholed the crew into (correctly) applying a rule that likely was not intended to address this precise all-else-equal type of play (or, if it was designed to govern the identical-outcome play, then perhaps the rule should be changed).

MLB and NFHS codes do not have this rule.
MLB Difference: In Major League Baseball, Replay Regulation IV.A tasks the Replay Official with runner placement responsibility, with the following standard: "the Replay Official shall place the base runners on the bases he believes they would have reached had the reviewed call been made correctly."

Under the Official Baseball Rules, there is no requirement to return runners to their TOP bases in the event of a reversed no catch call; thus, had this play occurred at the professional level, the runners likely would have been placed at first and third base if the Replay Official deemed that the runners would have ended up at those bases had the correct call been made in real-time.

This discretionary authority also applies to the minor leagues and non-Replay plays, pursuant to OBR 8.02(c), which states, "If the umpires consult after a play and change a call that had been made, then they have the authority to take all steps that they may deem necessary, in their discretion, to eliminate the results and consequences of the earlier call that they are reversing, including placing runners where they think those runners would have been after the play, had the ultimate call been made as the initial call."

NFHS Rule: In high school, there is similarly no return-of-runners rule for reversed no catch calls. Instead, discretionary authority is delegated to the umpire-in-chief, who shall "Rectify any situation in which an umpire’s decision that was reversed has placed either team at a disadvantage" (Rule 10-2-3-l).

Thus, the return-of-runners to TOP on a no catch-to-catch reversal is, for now, an NCAA exclusive.

Video via "Read More"

Monday, June 12, 2017

NCAA Super Regional - Play at the Plate Obstruction?

A home plate obstruction no-call during the Florida-Wake Forest NCAA Super Regional's Game 2 action on Monday plagued Wake Forest as baserunner Keegan Maronpot was thrown out attempting to score to end the bottom of the 5th inning of what was, at the time, a one-run ballgame.

Is this play at the plate an out or obstruction?
The situation occurred during a single to center field with two out and two on (R1, R2), as R2 Maronpot attempted to slide around Florida catcher JJ Schwarz. Initially ruled an out, the call was affirmed via video replay review, keeping Wake Forest's lead at one.

The question before us is not whether the baserunner successfully reached out and touched home plate with the tips of his fingers—the touch vs no touch issue is the simple out/safe question that doesn't require any rules analysis to determine—it is whether catcher Schwarz obstructed baserunner Maronpot during this play.

Rules Review: The definition of obstruction at the college (NCAA) and professional level (OBR) is, essentially, the same: NCAA Rule 2-55 defines obstruction as, "the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of or in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner," while OBR holds that, "OBSTRUCTION is the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball and not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner."

NCAA Rule 2-55 Note 6 states, "The catcher, without the ball in his possession, has no right to block the pathway of the runner attempting to score. The base line belongs to the runner and the catcher should be there only when he is fielding the ball or when he already has the ball in his hand. If a fielder is about to receive a thrown ball and if the ball is in flight toward and near enough to the fielder so he must occupy his position to receive the ball, he may be considered 'in the act of fielding' a ball. It is entirely up to the judgment of the umpire as to whether the fielder is in the act of fielding a ball."

Is the catcher's path occupancy legal?
NCAA Rule 8-7-c Note provides further clarity: "A catcher shall not be deemed to have hindered or impeded the progress of the runner if, in the judgment of the umpire, the runner would have been called out notwithstanding the catcher having blocked the plate."

OBR is similar: "Unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is attempting to score...it shall not be considered a violation of this Rule 6.01(i)(2) (Rule 7.13(2)) if the catcher blocks the pathway of the runner in a legitimate attempt to field the throw...A catcher shall not be deemed to have hindered or impeded the progress of the runner if, in the judgment of the umpire, the runner would have been called out notwithstanding the catcher having blocked the plate." (6.01(i)).

As for college's video replay, Appendix E-2-f states, "Following plays will be reviewable: Deciding scoring plays at home plate inclusive of collisions (illegal and/or malicious slides) or time plays."

NCAA's standard for changing a call is "indisputable video evidence to reverse the call" (E-2-a). The MLB standard is "clear and convincing evidence" (Replay Review Regulation III).

The catcher's position as the runner slides past.
Analysis: At the time the bouncing throw first makes contact with the catcher's glove directly over the baseline, the runner has already begun his slide, and is physically past the catcher's position. The catcher's left leg appears to block the runner's pathway deep in the right-handed batter's box.

From the plate umpire's mechanics (no signal given after the play at the plate), it is apparent that the runner missed home plate.

As the runner slides past him, the catcher is clearly blocking the runner's access to home plate, but recall that if certain criteria are fulfilled ("act of fielding," "must occupy his position"), he is legally allowed to do so.

If, in the umpire's judgment, the runner was unable to touch home plate due to the catcher's leg (or other body) positioning prior to his receipt of the ball, and, if the umpire deems the catcher did not need to occupy the right-handed batter's box with his right leg/foot in order to receive the throw, then this is obstruction and the runner shall be awarded home plate. If the umpire deemed that the runner would have been out notwithstanding the catcher's conduct, or if the umpire deemed that the catcher legally occupied his position in the right-handed batter's box in order to receive the throw, this is not obstruction.

Unfortunately, at this time only the one high-first angle exists online, so we are unable to determine to an "indisputable video evidence" standard whether the catcher afforded the runner the opportunity to score on the inside of the third base line prior to fielding the ball, or whether the catcher needed to occupy his position in the right-handed batter's box in order to field the ball.

To review:
> If the catcher left a pathway for the runner to score to his right (the runner's left), then the catcher has complied with the plate-blocking rule and is not guilty of obstruction.
> If the catcher, in the umpire's judgment, blocked the runner's path by occupying his position because he needed to do so in order to field the throw, this is not obstruction.
> If the runner would have been out whether or not the catcher blocked him, this is not obstruction.
> If any of these aforementioned criteria are not fulfilled, then this is obstruction.

One final note (NCAA vs OBR): In college, the catcher may only legally block the runner's access to home plate if "he must occupy his position to receive the ball." In professional baseball, the catcher may legally block the runner if he is otherwise making "a legitimate attempt to field the throw." Thus, the legality standard is higher in NCAA than in OBR, for in NCAA, the catcher is only legal if he must occupy his position whereas in OBR, the catcher is legal as long as he makes a "legitimate attempt" to field the throw.

Where's NFHS? High school is simple. NFHS Rule 2-22-3 states it is obstruction if, "The fielder without possession of the ball denies access to the base the runner is attempting to achieve." Thus, under NFHS, the catcher would be guilty of obstruction because he denied access to home plate prior to gaining possession of the ball. There is no "act of fielding" exemption at this level of play.

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Sunday, June 11, 2017

MLB Ejection 063 - Marvin Hudson (1; Carlos Gonzalez)

HP Umpire Marvin Hudson ejected Rockies RF Carlos Gonzalez (strike three call) in the top of the 5th inning of the Rockies-Cubs game. With none out and the bases loaded, Gonzalez took a 1-2 sinker from Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the inside edge of home plate and thigh-high (px .822, pz 2.143 [sz_bot 1.627]) and that all pitches during the at-bat were properly officiated, the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Cubs were leading, 4-1. The Cubs ultimately won the contest, 7-5.

This is Marvin Hudson (51)'s first ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Marvin Hudson now has 7 points in the UEFL Standings (3 Previous + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 7).
Crew Chief Jerry Layne now has -1 points in Crew Division (-2 Previous + 1 Correct Call = -1).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.

This is the 63rd ejection report of 2017.
This is the 26th player ejection of 2017. Prior to ejection, Gonzalez was 0-3 (SO) in the contest.
This is Colorado's 2nd ejection of 2017, 2nd in the NL West (LAD 5; COL 2; SD, SF 1; ARI 0).
This is Carlos Gonzalez's first ejection since Sept 9, 2011 (Mark Carlson; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Marvin Hudson's first ejection since September 14, 2016 (Jose Ramirez; QOC = U [Throwing At]).

Wrap: Colorado Rockies vs. Chicago Cubs, 6/11/17 | Video via "Read More"