Thursday, May 26, 2022

MLB Ejection 049 - Will Little (2; David Ross)

HP Umpire Will Little ejected Cubs manager David Ross (warnings/ejection no-call for potential throwing at HBP) in the top of the 7th inning of the #Cubs-#Reds game. With none out and none on, Cubs batter Willson Contreras took a first-pitch fastball from Reds pitcher Joel Kuhnel for a hit-by-pitch. Replays indicate the pitch was located inside and struck Contreras in the left arm; no warnings had previously been issued and Contreras was the first (and only) hit batter of the game, the call was irrecusable. At the time of the ejection, the Reds were leading, 13-5. The Reds ultimately won the contest, 20-5.

This is Will Little (93)'s 2nd ejection of 2022.
Will Little now has 7 points in the UEFL Standings (5 Previous + 2 MLB + 0 Irrecusable Call = 7).
Crew Chief Chris Conroy now has 1 point in Crew Division (0 Prev + 1 Irrecusable Call = 1).
Related Ejection: MLB Ejection 048 - Dan Merzel (1; David Ross), 5/25/22.

This is the 49th ejection report of the 2022 MLB regular season.
This is the 23rd manager ejection of 2022.
This is Chicago's 4th ejection of 2022, 1st in the NL Central (CHC 4; PIT, STL 2; CIN, MIL 0).
This is David Ross' 2nd ejection of 2022, 1st since May 25 (Dan Merzel; QOC = U [Warnings NC]).
This is Will Little's 2nd ejection of 2022, 1st since May 7 (Andrew Knapp; QOC = Y-c [Check Swing]).

Wrap: Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds, 5/26/22 | Video as follows:

Ask UEFL - Batter-Runner's 1B Miss Can Be Covert Appeal

After Athletics batter Chad Pinder grounded out to Mariners first baseman Ty France, we were asked to further examine 1B Umpire John Libka's out call as the runner missed first base, turning this into an appeal play that may have appeared so subtle it looked like a standard out at first.

This Ask the UEFL is a follow-up of sorts to the April 14, 2022 Teachable "Missed Base Appeal at First, Tosi's Tally," in which we reviewed what happens when the batter-runner misses first base and the fielder misses their attempted tag.

Briefly, an appeal is "the act of a fielder in claiming violation of the rules by the offensive team" while Official Baseball Rule 5.09(c)(2) puts the runner who misses the base out when the fielder appeals by tagging either the runner or the base they missed. Note that if the batter-runner's failure to touch first base (e.g., is put out, declared out, or appealed out) is the third out of the inning, no run will score regardless of timing: no play in which the third out is a force out or a batter-runner out before touching first base is a time play, meaning no run may score in those situations.

When the batter-runner returns to touch first base, it is too late to appeal | Video as follows:

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

MLB Ejection 048 - Dan Merzel (1; David Ross)

HP Umpire Dan Merzel ejected Cubs manager David Ross (warnings/ejection no-call for potential throwing at HBP) in the top of the 9th inning of the #Cubs-#Reds game. In the bottom of the 8th inning, with one out and one on (R1), Reds batter Joey Votto took a first-pitch fastball from Cubs pitcher Rowan Wick for a called ball, located near Votto's head. Upon walking on four pitches, Wick and Votto exchanged words. In the 9th, with one out and none on, Cubs batter Patrick Wisdom took a first-pitch fastball from Reds pitcher Hunter Strickland for a hit-by-pitch. Replays indicate the pitch was located inside and struck Wisdom on the hand. The crew did not convene to determine intentionality and no warnings were issued, the call was irrecusable. At the time of the ejection, the Reds were leading, 4-2. The Reds ultimately won the contest, 4-3.

This is Dan Merzel (107)'s 1st ejection of 2022.
Dan Merzel now has 2 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Previous + 2 AAA + 0 Irrecusable Call = 2).
Crew Chief Chris Conroy now has 0 points in the UEFL Standings (-1 Previous + 1 Irrecusable = 0).

This is the 48th ejection report of the 2022 MLB regular season.
This is the 22nd manager ejection of 2022.
This is Chicago's 3rd ejection of 2022, 1st in teh NL Central (CHC 3; PIT, STL 2; CIN, MIL 0).
This is David Ross' 1st ejection since August 3, 2021 (Adam Hamari; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Dan Merzel's first career MLB ejection.

Wrap: Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds, 5/25/22 | Video as follows:

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Ask UEFL - NCAA Loss After Runner-Umpire Collision

Saturday's Henderson State-Northeastern State NCAA DII Tournament game ended on a play in which RiverHawks batter-runner Blaze Brothers collided with the first base umpire while running the bases before getting up and being tagged out sliding into second base.

By the end of the Reddies-RiverHawks NCAA Central Regional game, Northeastern State had cut into Henderson State University's 11-5 lead to begin the 9th inning, tallying five times before the final out at second base.

The rally was cut short thanks to a baseball (and basketball, and football, and hockey) rule common across all levels of play that prescribe no penalty in the event of a runner-umpire collision.

We (very recently) published an Ask the UEFL entitled "Player/Ump Collsions & Umpire Interference" and encourage you to refer to that article and instructional video for an in-depth analysis of the two types of umpire interference.

As for the Reddies-RiverHawks game-ending play, knowing that absent these two circumstances the umpire is considered part of the field—alive and in play—the umpire's task is simple: to do the best job possible in avoiding a runner or fielder. Head on a swivel and try to maintain situational awareness to know where the players are.

If an accident does occur, knowing the rules—that there's nothing that can be done—makes moving on easy, at least by rule. Emotionally, it becomes much harder as game management becomes paramount. Although objectively it is quite obvious what the rule is, this does little to appease a coach who possibly just lost an out or a run.

If this occurs earlier in the game then the final out, offer an explanation. Allow a vent if you will, eject if necessary, and move on with it.

However, if like this game, this results in the final out. The game is indeed over, so there is little value in remaining on the field to confer or discuss the matter with the coach other than to explain what happened, what the rule is, and then to leave.

Video as follows:

Monday, May 23, 2022

Teachable - Expect the Unexpected on Texas Torpedo

After wild throws flew into both the right and left field walls in foul territory behind first and third base during Corpus Cristi's Friday night victory over Frisco in Double-A's Texas League, we revisited the umpire crew of three's task to officiate such a broken play.

Play: Leading off the bottom of the 1st inning, Frisco RoughRiders batter Jonathan Ornelas hit a line drive to left field, where CC Hooks left fielder Wilyer Abreu fielded the ball on a bounce. Abreu then threw to...second base?...in an attempt to hold Ornelas to a single, but overthrew his target, Abreu's throw launching itself all the way to the right field wall in foul territory near the field's tarp. First baseman Luke Berryhill retrieved the ball and then threw wildly past third base and to the left field wall in foul territory as Ornelas circled the bases for a single + three-base pair of errors.

In this quick Teachable, tmac reminds umpires to expect the unexpected and follows the paths and calls of 1B Umpire Harrison Silverman and 3B Umpire Willie Traynor, who both rule their respective overthrows alive and in play by giving the safe mechanic, signaling that the ball remained on the playing field and did not fall out of play (note that HP Umpire Tanner Dobson was likely screened from seeing the overthrow beyond the bases).

Video as follows:

Sunday, May 22, 2022

MLB Ejection 047 - Greg Gibson (2; Matt Blake)

HP Umpire Greg Gibson ejected Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake (fair ball call; QOCN) in the top of the 3rd inning of the #WhiteSox-#Yankees game. With one out and one on (R1), White Sox batter Tim Anderson hit a 1-1 changeup from Yankees pitcher Luis Severino on the ground, fielded along the third baseline by Severino and ruled a fair ball by HP Umpire Gibson. Replays indicate the batted ball appeared to strike Anderson's foot in the batter's box (this is not a reviewable play), the call was incorrect. At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 0-0. The White Sox ultimately won the contest, 5-0.

This is Greg Gibson (53)'s 2nd ejection of 2022.
Greg Gibson now has -2 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Previous + 2 MLB - 4 Incorrect Call = -2).
Crew Chief Greg Gibson now has 2 points in Crew Division (2 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = 2).
RelatedTmac's Teachable Moments - Let's Fix Replay (1/19/17).

This is the 47th ejection report of the 2022 MLB regular season.
This is New York's 4th ejection of 2022, 2nd in the AL East (TOR 5; NYY 4; BOS 3; BAL, TB 2).
This is Matt Blake's 1st ejection since Sept 8, 2021 (Edwin Moscoso; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Greg Gibson's 2nd ejection of 2022, 1st since April 12 (Antoan Richardson; QOC = U [NEC]).

Wrap: Chicago White Sox vs. New York Yankees, 5/23/22 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejection 046 - Bill Welke (2; Kevin Cash)

HP Umpire Bill Welke ejected Rays manager Kevin Cash (strike three call; QOCY) in the top of the 5th inning of the #Rays-#Orioles game. With none out and none on, Rays batter Ji-Man Choi took a 3-2 fastball from Orioles pitcher Bryan Baker for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the inner half of home plate and below the midpoint (px -0.50, pz 3.23 [sz_top 3.25 / RAD 3.37]) and that all other pitches during the at-bat were properly officiated the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Orioles were leading, 2-1. The Orioles ultimately won the contest, 7-6.

This is Bill Welke (3)'s 2nd ejection of 2022.
Bill Welke now has 2 points in the UEFL Standings (-2 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 2).
Crew Chief Bill Welke now has 2 points in Crew Division (1 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 2).
*This pitch was located 2.68 vertical inches from being deemed incorrect.

This is the 46th ejection report of the 2022 MLB regular season.
This is the 21st manager ejection of 2022.
This is Tampa Bay's 2nd ejection of 2022, T-4th in the AL East (TOR 5; BOS, NYY 3; BAL, TB 2).
This is Kevin Cash's 1st ejection since Sept 1, 2020 (Chad Fairchild; QOC = U [Warnings]).
This is Bill Welke's 2nd ejection of 2022, 1st since May 14 (Marcus Thames; QOC = N [Check Swing]).

Wrap: Tampa Bay Rays vs. Baltimore Orioles, 5/22/22 | Video as follows:

Same Pitch Nets Different RoboUmp Calls by Feed

TV's home and away broadcast feeds disagreed with each other over whether HP Umpire Gabe Morales' ball four call during Eduardo Escobar's at-bat during Tuesday's Cardinals-Mets game was correct as one broadcast showed ball while the other had strike. Determining QOC from the visual strike zone box alone, thus, depends on whether one watched St Louis or New York's broadcast, as the TV called the same pitch two different ways depending on which feed was being used.

Although alarmingly common, RoboUmp's mostly-hidden secret of occasionally displaying two different strike zone and pitch representations for the same exact pitch took center stage during Game 1 of STL-NYM's doubleheader, but only to an esoteric few who actually watched both broadcast feeds and noticed the ambiguous absurdity on a ball four call that produced very little fanfare.

If you were to have watched the home Mets feed, you would have seen an apparent strike but if you were to have watched the visiting Cardinals feed, you would have seen an apparent ball. Video analysis indicates the two broadcasts used different on-screen graphic strike zone boxes for the same batter, on the same pitch.

The pitch data, however, is direct from MLB and confirms that Cardinals pitcher Miles Mikolas 3-2 sinker to Mets batter Escobar was correctly ruled ball four: With a px value of 0.25, pz 3.47, sz_bot 3.14 and RAD 3.26, the pitch missed high by 2.52 vertical inches, well outside of both UEFL f/x and Zone Evaluation's respective margins of error—the pitch was a ball, though if you were to have watched the wrong broadcast, you'd never know it.

Video as follows:

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Ask the Teachable - Rotation Replay & Plate Blocking

This Ask the Teachable takes us to Milwaukee, where Nationals batter-runner Lane Thomas was tagged out at home plate by Brewers catcher Omar Narvaez on an unsuccessful inside-the-park home-run attempt, ruled out by 1B Umpire Stu Scheurwater, who rotated home to fill in for HP Umpire Charlie Ramos, who rotated to third base to fill in for 3B Umpire CB Bucknor, who rotated to second base to fill in for 2B Umpire Jeff Nelson, who went into the outfield to officiate Thomas' fly ball to deep right-center field. This is an example of an umpire rotation on a batted ball to the outfield with no runners on base at the time of the pitch.

As we followed the batted ball off the wall, we saw Thomas hustling around the bases as Milwaukee right fielder Hunter Renfroe gathered the ball and threw to second baseman Kolten Wong, who threw to catcher Narvaez as Thomas arrived at home plate.

Replay Review
: Despite earlier issues with the clubhouse replay system in the 1st inning, by the time of this play in the top of the 7th inning, replay had been restored for both teams and thus as soon as Scheurwater made the out call at home plate, the 20-second decision timer began. Replays indicate the 20-second timer expired before Nationals manager Davey Johnson requested a review, meaning that Crew Chief Nelson properly denied Johnson's untimely request for a Manager's Challenge.

Plate Blocking Rule: Another issue here is whether or not catcher Narvaez blocked the runner Thomas' path to home plate. Recall that, pursuant to Official Baseball Rule 6.01(i)(2) pertaining to Collisions At Home Plate, the catcher is allowed to block the pathway of the runner under very specific circumstances. One of these is as follows: "Not withstanding the above, it shall not be considered a violation of this Rule 6.01(i)(2) if the catcher blocks the pathway of the runner in a legitimate attempt to field the throw (e.g., in reaction to the direction, trajectory or the hop of the incoming throw, or in reaction to a throw that originates from a pitcher or drawn-in infielder)."

Thus, because Wong's throw bounced and the trajectory of said through took the catcher into foul territory to receive it, the catcher is legally allowed to block the pathway of the runner.

Video as follows:

Sox-Yankees Donaldson Fight - Officiating Provocateurs

Benches cleared during Saturday's White Sox-Yankees game in New York during Josh Donaldson's 5th inning at-bat after a confrontation with Chicago catcher Yasmani Grandal, resulting in Umpire Greg Gibson issuing warnings to both teams. Of the four general types of game participants, adversaries and abusers are most likely to be involved in unsporting situations and we revisit our 2017 "Let's Talk - Mental Health in an Abusive Environment" article in the context of the Chicago-New York feud.

This, of course, invites the disclaimer and reminder that the game participant label applies to the participant's role in the game, not the participant's personal off-field attributes.

These two teams' animosity stems from, amongst others, Josh Donaldson's physical play in pushing Chicago baserunner Tim Anderson off of third base earlier in May, a play featured as an Ask the UEFL video that highlights 3B Umpire Chris Guccione's success in both properly calling Donaldson for illegally forcing Anderson off his base and effectively diffusing a potential fighting situation through strong game management. Rewinding the tape even further, Donaldson was upset with a strike call Grandal got from HP Umpire Dan Bellino in 2020, when Bellino ejected Donaldson for actions intended to ridicule in kicking dirt on home plate after hitting a home run against Chicago.

In studying the history of Chicago and New York's interdivisional bickering, we note that Donaldson appears to have historically been involved in other unsporting situations with other teams, as well as with umpires. For instance, Donaldson was one of our Top 10 MLB Hothead Players by Ejection Frequency in 2019, Donaldson's history of ejections—which doesn't include situations like the Anderson push or hard slide into second—suggests the possible presence in Chicago-New York of a player that would be classed as an adversary or abuser pursuant to the 2017 framework.

To review, the four types of game participants are allies, neutralsadversaries, and abusers, with allies comprising the most helpful and cordial team personnel who work with officials to help a game run smoothly and help diffuse volatile situations, whereas adversaries and abusers provoke the vast majority of on-field problems, with abusers crossing a definitive sportsmanship boundary.

When a player further provokes animosity with the opposing team, they cross into perhaps a new category of disruptor, a label borrowed from basketball that runs ancillary to the four types described above.

Thus, a player who is both an abuser and a disruptor may routinely harass or otherwise cause problems—just a general air of hostile tension—as well as disrupt the game, perhaps due to this hostility, and perchance cross over into causing problems with their opponents as well. (Similarly a player can be both an apparent ally and a disruptor in that the player appears cordial with officials but routinely incites and provokes with the other team).

As we stated in 2017, "Although getting away from an abuser may temporarily halt the potentially unsporting behavior—and it is appealing to keep the ejection- or technical foul-gun in its holster—chances are that a future call that goes against the abuser's team will be met with an episode of greater harassment. Remember, intimidation or being made to feel guilty is a tactic of abuse and must be dealt with assertively. Bullies thrive on passive victims' behavior."

The key here is to rely on both psychological game management and situation handling techniques as well as application of book rules to support disciplinary and other mitigative measures to remove problem players (and/or coaches) from the game.

In New York, Crew Chief Greg Gibson sought fit to issue warnings rather than eject personnel. In Chicago, Guccione simply separated the two players and prevented further escalation. In 2016, Dale Scott ejected Donaldson for his active role during the Blue Jays-Rangers benches-clearing brawl, as did Brian Gorman in 2019 when Donaldson's Atlanta Braves fought with the Pittsburgh Pirates after Donaldson was hit by a pitch.

Officiate evenhandedly, or as the rulebook's General Instructions to Umpires section states, "be courteous, impartial and firm, and so compel respect from all." You might just find that once you eject a problem player, your game will all of a sudden appear to run much more smoothly.

Video as follows: