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Thursday, December 8, 2022

Jackpot Umpire Tom Hallion Retires After Lengthy Career

Longtime Major League umpire and Crew Chief Tom Hallion retires after an NL and MLB career spanning across five decades, hanging up his mask 37 years after first suiting up in the National back in 1985.

During his big league career, Hallion officiated more than 3600 regular season games, to go along with 78 postseason games—and two separate journeys through Minor League Baseball.

Like retired umpire Bob Davidson, Tom Hallion had to start over in the low minors after losing his National League umpiring job in 1999 as the result of a failed mass resignation negotiation strategy as umpires looked toward a new deal with professional baseball.

In 2003, Hallion began calling games in the Class A New York-Penn League, the same minor league Hallion began his professional umpiring journey with back in 1979.

Hallion, who was hired back to MLB in 2005 thanks to a bargaining agreement with the league the prior offseason, officiated a total of 10 Division Series (1996, 97, 2008, 12, 13, 14 16, 18, 19, 21), five League Championship Series (1998, 2007, 09, 10, 11), and two World Series (2008, 21).

Hallion initially said he planned to retire following the 2021 World Series, but came back to work one more season before calling it a career. He announced his 2022 retirement on a podcast. Hallion retires with 102 career NL and MLB ejections.

Video as follows:

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Twins Retire Angels' Sierra on Failed Inside-the-Park HR Try

Minnesota's relay throw to retire Angels batter-runner Magneuris Sierra trying for an inside-the-park home run in Anaheim brought HP Umpire Dan Bellino into position to rule on several factors, such as the home plate collision/blocking rule as well as checking to see that Twins catcher Gary Sanchez's tag attempt was timely.

This call was ultimately confirmed via Replay Review.

Video as follows:

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Watching 1B Umpire Wills on a Wild Throw to 1st Base

When Replay Review upheld HP Umpire Phil Cuzzi's ruling that a Reds wild throw at first base remained on the playing field, it gave us a chance to take a closer look at 1B Umpire Ryan Wills officiating the backend of this play with Cubs batter-runner Christopher Morel sliding back into first base after making an initial attempt toward second.

Wills adjusts his position by moving toward first base and preparing for a potential tag play on the runner's dive back into the base, properly declaring the runner safe on the untimely tag.

This Teachable Moment illustrates the importance of remaining with one's responsibilities (Wills has the batter-runner) while allowing your crewmate to take other elements of the play that may need to be officiated (Cuzzi takes the boundary call near the dugout).

Video as follows:

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Arizona Runs into Double Play on Force Play Confusion - Teachable

Diamondbacks baserunners ran themselves into a crucial 9th inning double play as confusion on the bases moved Pittsburgh that much closer to a tense win in Arizona. 2B Umpire Adam Hamari is our focus for this Tmac's Teachable Moment.

With none out and the bases loaded in the top of the 9th, D-Backs batter Carson Kelly hit a ground ball to Pirates third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes, who threw to second baseman Rodolfo Castro, who stepped on second base before throwing back to third base, where Pirates shortstop Kevin Newman stepped on third base before running Arizona runner R2 Emmanuel Rivera back to second base and then tagging Rivera.

Despite initial confusion with an errant "safe" call, umpires correctly officiated the play by declaring both Arizona runners R1 Sergio Alcantara out on the force play at second base and declaring R2 Rivera out on a tag off of second base for a double play. Pirates F6 Newman's touch of third base proved immaterial, as Castro had already forced R1 Alcantara out at second base, removing the force from third.

But, by virtue of Alcantara remaining on the field at second base, preceding runner R2 Rivera hesitated to retouch second base, allowing Pittsburgh fielder Newman enough time to tag Rivera off the base for the second out of the inning, with Alcantara serving as the first out.

Video as follows:

Monday, November 21, 2022

Asdrubal Cabrera Punches Batter During HR Trot - Call?

HP Umpire Kenny Garcia ejected Caribes 1B Asdrubal Cabrera for unsportmsanlike conduct in punching Tiburones batter-runner Carlos Castro during a home run, so what happens? The umpires properly ruled the play Obstruction (Type 2), and awarded Castro base touches and advancements to second, third, and home plate, deeming that had Cabrera not physically obstructed Castro, the batter-runner would have scored a run.

Although this differs from the Carlos Gomez vs Brian McCann play in Atlanta in which McCann obstructed Gomez during an out-of-the-field home run, both plays share the same ultimate game play ruling of obstruction: "If no play is being made on the obstructed runner, the play shall proceed until no further action is possible. The umpire shall then call “Time” and impose such penalties, if any, as in their judgment will nullify the act of obstruction" (Official Baseball Rule 6.01(h)(2)).

The Gomez play is slightly more complex as replays indicate Gomez verbally taunted the opposing Braves throughout his home run trot, but the ruling of Obstruction 2 on McCann still prevailed despite both players being ejected for unsporting conduct.

The reason is found within OBR 8.01(d), which states, "Each umpire has authority to disqualify any player, coach, manager or substitute for objecting to decisions or for unsportsmanlike conduct or language, and to eject such disqualified person from the playing field. If an umpire disqualifies a player while a play is in progress, the disqualification shall not take effect until no further action is possible in that play."

Because the ejection doesn't take effect until the end of the play, the obstruction thus becomes the enforced infraction; however, upon the award's completion, the batter is ejected (in the MLB/Gomez play, not the Venezuelan play).

Video as follows:

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Teachable - Manny's Keyhole Look and Call Patience

For this Teachable Moment, 2B Umpire Manny Gonzalez finds the keyhole angle with which to take a slide play at second base as Baltimore's Rougned Odor tried to avoid Toronto middle infielder Bo Bichette's tag, ruling the runner safe after taking the time to see the entirety of the play, a call eventually confirmed via Replay Review as a result of Blue Jays manager John Schneider's unsuccessful challenge.

With a position to see the tag play from above, Gonzalez observes Bichette's glove miss Odor's right arm. A split second later, this same position enables Gonzalez to see Odor's fingertips on second base when Bichette lunges for a second tag try.

Video as follows:

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Wendelstedt Umpire School Announces Updated MLB Plan

After MLB decided to replace its traditional umpire training school-to-Minor League Baseball model with a greater emphasis on its Umpire Camps system, the Wendelstedt Umpire School announced it will continue sending graduates to MiLB, pursuant to an arrangement with MLB that allows the independent school in Ormond Beach to continue its operations.

The Wendelstedt Umpire School announced today that its updated arrangement with MLB will keep the 85-year-old school in operation and preserve its tradition. According to the school:

> Today's arrangement offers top graduates of the Wendelstedt Umpire School—the only open-access and independently operated school in the U.S. for training umpires to work at all levels of professional and amateur baseball—an opportunity to participate in MLB's new umpire development program, and enter the ranks of professional umpiring.

Under MLB's new Umpire Camps program, top performers at the camps will join top graduates of the Wendelstedt Umpire School for advanced training at the Jackie Robinson Training Complex in Vero Beach, where top performers will then be offered Minor League umpiring jobs.

School owner-operator Hunter Wendelstedt notes that unlike in years past, "There is no advanced course" (it's advanced "training"). "We will be sending our top graduates to Vero to show their skills and possibly place in the Minor Leagues. We will also send graduates to MLB placement leagues—Appalachian League, etc. If those students do not get placed into the minors, they will go to Vero (guaranteed) on MLB the following year."

For more information about the Wendelstedt Umpire School or to enroll, visit umpireschool.com.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Will Bankrupt FTX Patches Disappear from Ump Uniforms?

MLB's first-ever umpire patch partner FTX, a cryptocurrency exchange platform, filed for bankruptcy just 18 months after signing a sponsorship deal with Major League Baseball and replacing uniform sleeve real estate previously occupied by memorial patches honoring fallen umpires. Does FTX's bankrupcy failure mean that the patches will disappear and umpires will get their beloved left sleeves (and right chests) back?

According to Columbia University's Joe Favorito, it's a distinct possibility: "If there's no company, the branding goes away"...but with precedent to sell ad space already established, what ill-fated financial alchemy tech company will take doomed-to-fail FTX's place?

Video as follows:

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Teachable Tripp - Moving to a Tricky Double Whacker

Tmac's Teachable Moment
 this Thursday features 1B Umpire Tripp Gibson moving to adjust his position as Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins stretches to catch a throw wide of first base as Nationals batter-runner Joey Meneses arrives at the bag.

The key to officiating this play is to read the fielder, in this case Hoskins. As the play develops, Hoskins appears poised to lunge into foul territory to try and field the throw, which tells U1 Gibson to similarly move toward foul territory in order to officiate the pulled foot vs tagged base aspect of the play.

By virtue of attaining a keyhole angle to see the foot and base interaction, Gibson is able to rule the runner safe by virtue of a pulled foot.

Video as follows:

2022 CCS Year-End Umpire Awards Nominations Open

Close Call Sports announces its annual Umpire Ejection Fantasy League Postseason Awards and opens nominations and elections at this time. You may vote for 7 different award categories. Reply to this post if you wish to campaign for or explain why you chose a certain umpire for a specific award.

Link to Postseason Awards Ballot (also appears below):
a. Umpire of the Year (min. 1 / max. 1 umpire) +5
b. Promising Umpire of the Year (min. 1 / max. 2) +3
c. Bernice Gera Honorable Umpire (min. 0 / max. 1) +2
d. Fill-In Umpire of the Year (min. 0 / max. 1) +2
e. Most Improved Umpire (min. 0 / max. 1) +1
f. Crew Chief of the Year (min. 0 / max. 1) +1
g. Best Ejection of the Year (min. 0 / max. 2) +1
h. Most Disappointing Season (min. 0 / max. 1) -1

An eligible umpire may be selected for as many or as few awards as that umpire is eligible for; Ballots will be accepted until 11:59pm on Wednesday, November 16, with awards distribution beginning shortly thereafter.

Ballot as follows: