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Thursday, March 30, 2023

Baserunner Pete Alonso Called for Pitch Clock Violation in Miami

MLB's new pitch clock took no time to make an appearance on Opening Day, with a violation in Boston striking out Red Sox batter Rafael Devers. In Miami, however, baserunner Pete Alonso was called for a clock violation by HP Umpire Larry Vanover, batter Jeff McNeil incurring an automatic strike penalty as a result of his teammate's infraction...which was...what exactly?

The Devers play at Fenway Park is fairly simple: batters must be in the batter's box and alert to the pitcher by the eight-second mark of the pitch clock. Devers wasn't, and HP Umpire Lance Barksdale assessed the automatic strike, resulting in the third strike of Devers' at-bat and a clock-induced strikeout.

But at the Mets-Marlins game, Vanover called the violation not because batter McNeil wasn't ready to go by the eight-second mark, but because New York baserunner R1 Alonso apparently took too long to return to first base after a foul ball by McNeil. Replays indicate Alonso walking back to first base after the foul, with Vanover eventually signaling "Time" and pointing to Alonso before assessing a pitch clock violation and auto-strike to McNeil.

The rules do allow umpires to call violations based on baserunners employing tactics to delay the game or hinder pace of play, such as by intentionally delaying their return to a base on a foul ball or other disruption in order to prevent the pitch timer from starting (the timer starts when all players return to their positions).

Video as follows:

2023 MLB Umpire Crew Roster & Call-Up Umpires

Major League Baseball has assigned the following umpires to its full-time staff for the 2023 season, divided into 19 crews and comprised of four umpires led by a Crew Chief. Jerry Layne is now the senior-most crew chief on staff, while seven new crew chiefs will lead permanent crews for the first time in 2023. MLB also hired 10 new full-time umpires for the 2023 season to fill vacancies left by 10 retirees. Below the Umpire Crews is the roster of the 2023 call-up officials, who are minor league (AAA-level) umpires authorized to fill in for vacationing or injured full-time MLB umpires during the regular season.

#Crew ChiefUmpire 2Umpire 3Umpire 4
A24 Layne, Jerry19 Carapazza, Vic78 Hamari, Adam48 Mahrley, Nick
B45 Nelson, Jeff54 Bucknor, CB96 Segal, Chris97 May, Ben
C26 Miller, Bill8 Drake, Rob62 Whitson, Chad40 Ortiz, Roberto
D27 Vanover, Larry68 Guccione, Chris86 Rackley, David32 Moscoso, Edwin
E50 Emmel, Paul4 Fairchild, Chad59 Lentz, Nic35 Rehak, Jeremy
F14 Wegner, Mark1 Dreckman, Bruce85 Scherwater, Stu44 Moore, Malachi
G72 Marquez, Alfonso88 Eddings, Doug16 Barrett, Lance18 DeJesus, Ramon
H58 Iassogna, Dan87 Barry, Scott47 Morales, Gabe38 Beck, Adam
I6 Carlson, Mark71 Baker, Jordan73 Gibson, Tripp55 Miller, Brennan
J63 Diaz, Laz49 Fletcher, Andy83 Estabrook, Mike12 Bacchus, Erich
K46 Kulpa, Ron89 Blaser, Cory37 Torres, Carlos52 Visconti, Jansen
L51 Hudson, Marvin21 Wendelstedt, Hunter74 Tumpane, John36 Blakney, Ryan
M23 Barksdale, Lance15 Hickox, Ed*93 Little, Will67 Additon, Ryan
N92 Hoye, James5 Hernandez, Angel17 Reyburn, DJ84 Libka, John
O80 Johnson, Adrian79 Gonzalez, Manny81 Wolcott, Quinn25 Valentine, Junior
P2 Bellino, Dan10 Cuzzi, Phil90 Ripperger, Mark43 Livensparger, Shane
Q13 Tichenor, Todd91 Knight, Brian11 Randazzo, Tony66 Tosi, Alex
R64 Porter, Alan28 Wolf, Jim76 Muchlinski Mike29 Barber, Sean
S98 Conroy, Chris7 O'Nora, Brian31 Hoberg, Pat33 Ceja, Nestor
Injured List:15 Hickox, EdCloseCallSports.com

Triple-A Call-Up Umpires:
Arrieta, David (Sleeve #100)
Bacon, John (70)
Ballou, Brock (119)
Clemons, Paul (104)
MacKay, Alex (105)
Merzel, Dan (107)
Navas, Jose (110)
Ramos, Charlie (111)
Riggs, Jeremy (112)
Rosenberg, Randy (113)
Tomlinson, Nate (114)
Vondrak, Clint (116)
Williams, Lew (117)
Wills, Ryan (118)

Video as follows:

Reggie Drummer, Umpire of Infamous Game-Ending Strike Three Call in Mississippi Valley State vs New Orleans, Tells His Story

Umpire Reggie Drummer's game-ending strike three call in the top of the 9th inning of a recent Mississippi Valley State vs New Orleans college game took on internet infamy and drew widespread condemnation ever since the game on March 10.

Sensing there may have been more behind this viral moment than first met the eye, Close Call Sports launched an investigation, reaching out to both schools involved, and uncovering a trail of ejections—including that of a fan—that precipitated the last pitch of the game.

In this Plate Meeting Podcast, we speak with Reggie Drummer, home plate umpire whose game-ending strike call took on an internet life of its own, who tells his side of the story and what led up to this fateful moment. It's a story of umpire abuse, an apparently uncooperative coach, racial slurs, and a hostile environment that pushed things too far.
Related (Original) PostCalled Third Strike Ends NCAA Game - About Umpire Power (3/11/23).

Video as follows:

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Giant Un vs Intentional Ball Attendant Interference

As Athletics left fielder Conner Capel slid in attempt to catch Giants batter Bryce Johnson's foul fly ball, San Francisco ball dude Harvey reached in front of Capel and touched the baseball, ruled no catch (foul ball) by the umpire as Oakland sought an interference call. We now review the Official Baseball Rules concerning interference by a person authorized to be on the playing field.

In the bottom of the 6th inning of the final Spring Training Battle of the Bay, Giants batter Johnson hit a fly ball into foul territory in left, Capel giving chase and going into a slide in an attempt to catch the ball at the tarp along the short wall. As Capel slid into position with his glove outstretched, however, the ball attendant ("ball dude" in SF) attempted a catch of his own, with ball dude Harvey's glove contacting the ball before Capel had a chance to play it. Capel ultimately came away with the baseball, but the damage had already been done by Harvey's premature touch, resulting in a foul ball [no catch] call by 3B Umpire Nate Tomlinson (umpires in Spring tend to switch bases every few innings; Alex Tosi was originally at third base but had moved to first base for this inning).

Official Baseball Rule 6.01(d) is called Unintentional Interference, and states, "In case of unintentional interference with play by any person herein authorized to be on the playing field (except members of the team at bat who are participating in the game, or a base coach, any of whom interfere with a fielder attempting to field a batted or thrown ball; or an umpire) the ball is alive and in play. If the interference is intentional, the ball shall be dead at the moment of the interference and the umpire shall impose such penalties as in their opinion will nullify the act of interference."

The comment to OBR 6.01(d) states, "The question of intentional or unintentional interference shall be decided on the basis of the person’s action. For example: a ball attendant, police officer, etc., who tries to avoid being touched by a thrown or batted ball but still is touched by the ball would be involved in unintentional interference. If, however, they pick up the ball, catch it, or touch the ball by intentionally pushing or kicking at the ball, this act would constitute intentional interference."

Because ball dude Harvey clearly tried to catch the ball (as opposed to avoid it), this is an example of intentional interference, the penalty for which is to call "Time" and nullify the act. In order to nullify the act, 3B Umpire Tomlinson would have had to determine whether or not fielder Capel would have caught the ball, had Harvey not interfered.

Crew Chief Bill Miller ultimately announced that Replay Review had confirmed the "safe" call, but OBR 6.01(d) interference is not reviewable (unlike fan interference, which is reviewable as a boundary call). Thus, Replay was used here simply to determine whether or not Capel caught the ball cleanly, which, thanks to Harvey's touch, he clearly did not.

Video as follows:

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Legality of Nestor Cortes' Delay from Windup Position

After HP Umpire Reed Basner called Yankees pitcher Nestor Cortes for a quick pitch (automatic ball) during Nationals batter Jeimer Candelario's 3rd inning at-bat in Washington, Cortes reacted by drawing out his windup on the very next pitch. Is this legal or a rules violation?

Official Baseball Rules 5.07(a) and 6.02(a)(5) govern the quick pitch part of the play. OBR 5.07(a) Comment states, "[Pitchers] may not step quickly onto the rubber and pitch. This may be judged a quick pitch by the umpire" and 6.02(a)(5) comment defines a quick pitch as an illegal pitch "delivered before the batter is reasonably set in the batter's box" (penalty with runners: balk; penalty without runners: ball).

The quick pitch was the correct call because pitcher Cortes began his windup motion prior to batter Candelario becoming reasonably set in the batter's box (e.g., he was not alert to the pitcher).

Immediately thereafter, Cortes responded by throwing a *slow pitch* on the ensuing offering, effectively drawing out his windup. Although OBR 5.07(a)(1) pertaining to Windup Position states, "any natural movement associated with his delivery of the ball to the batter commits him to the pitch without interruption or alteration. He shall not raise either foot from the ground, except that in his actual delivery of the ball to the batter, he may take one step backward, and one step forward with his free foot," pitcher Cortes didn't actually stop mid-delivery (no interruption). As for the alteration angle, even if it were to be adjudged a violation of 5.07(a)(1), there is no penalty other than "don't do that"—no automatic ball like a quick pitch.

Video as follows:

Monday, March 27, 2023

Spring Ejection 3 - Randy Rosenberg (1; JT Realmuto)

HP Umpire Randy Rosenberg ejected Phillies catcher JT Realmuto (pitch clock violation/resumption of play) in the bottom of the 4th inning of the #Phillies-#BlueJays game. With one out and one on, Phillies pitcher Craig Kimbrel was called for a pitch clock violation after he failed to begin his pitching motion prior to the expiration of time, resulting in an award of an automatic ball to Blue Jays batter Danny Jansen's count. After the violation, Kimbrel requested and received a replacement baseball from HP Umpire Rosenberg, who threw the replacement ball to the pitcher directly. Catcher Realmuto, having initially reached back with his catcher's mitt to receive a replacement ball, retracted his arm and mitt after realizing that Kimbrel had already received a replacement ball from the umpire. HP Umpire Rosenberg, however, had begun giving a new baseball to Realmuto and was mid-throw when Realmuto pulled his mitt away, the errant gesture resulting in the ball falling to the ground. Realmuto was then ejected. Replays indicate the pitch clock displayed zero prior to Kimbrel's delivery, the violation call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Phillies were leading, 4-0.

This is Randy Rosenberg (113)'s 1st ejection of Spring Training 2023.

This is the third ejection of MLB Spring Training 2023.
This is the third player ejection of Spring 2023. Prior to ejection, Realmuto was 1-2 (SO) in the contest.
This is Philadelphia's 1st ejection of Spring, T-1st in the Grapefruit League (PHI, WAS 1; All Others 0).
This is JT Realmuto's 1st career MLB ejection.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Pitch Clock Curiosity as Catcher Called for Violation for Slow Reaction Time

When asked about a pitch clock violation that resulted in ball four and a walk during Toronto's game against Philadelphia, Blue Jays pitcher Alek Manoah reported that HP Umpire Brennan Miller called the auto-ball because catcher Alejandro Kirk "didn't react quick enough" after requesting time with the pitch clock nearly at zero.

The newest wrinkle into MLB's pitch clock rule appears to penalize the defense if the catcher doesn't actually venture out to see the pitcher prior to the expiration of time...with some exceptions: Said Manoah, "I was told that Kirk didn't react quick enough coming out to see me. The umpire's arm band buzzed or whatever so it was a ball. I've never heard of that before"

If the pitch clock rules require a catcher to actually leave their catcher's box en route to the mound prior to the expiration of time lest it be deemed an automatic ball, that would be news to us too.

Instead, the likely explanation here involves not just the catcher's lack of urgency, but the game situation as well. Had there been runner(s) on base, the pitcher's disengagement (one of two legal penalty-free disengagements per at-bat [resets if a base runner advances]) would have on its own caused a full reset of the pitch clock.

But because the bases were empty, the pitcher stepping off doesn't actually affect the clock and the catcher's remaining in the crouch behind home plate as the clock expired—even though "Time" was requested and granted by HP Umpire Miller—resulted in a pitch clock violation call as the clock continued to run. Going forward, would you like to see this situation result in a reset, as it does with baserunners?

Video as follows:

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Spring Ejection 2 - Bill Miller (1; Ryan Tepera)

HP Umpire Bill Miller ejected Angels pitcher Ryan Tepera (failed illegal foreign substance check) before calling a pitch violation strikeout (automatic third strike) on Angels batter Taylor Jones in the 5th inning of the #Angels-#Rangers game. In the top of the 5th, Angels manager Phil Nevin substituted in relief pitcher Tepera for starting pitcher Griffin Canning. At the conclusion of the half-inning, HP Umpire Miller checked Tepera's glove, hat, and belt before ejecting the Angels pitcher for an illegal substance. At the time of the ejection, the Rangers were leading, 2-0. During the first at-bat of the subsequent bottom of the 5th inning (Rangers pitcher Joe Barlow vs Angels batter Jones), Miller called an automatic strike on Jones for failing to be alert to the pitcher with eight seconds remaining on the pitch clock. The Rangers ultimately won the contest, 6-2.

This is Bill Miller (26)'s 1st ejection of Spring Training 2023.

This is the second ejection of MLB Spring Training 2023.
This is the second player ejection of Spring 2023. Prior to ejection, Tepera's line was 0.1 IP, 2 ER, HR.
This is Los Angeles-AL's 1st ejection of Spring, 1st in the Cactus League (LAA 1; All Others 0).
This is Ryan Tepera's 1st ejection since June 26, 2022 (John Bacon; QOC = U [Fighting]).

Monday, March 20, 2023

NCAA Ejection - John Brammer (Tennessee's Tony Vitello)

HP Umpire John Brammer ejected Tennessee Volunteers head coach Tony Vitello (no step balk call; QOCY) in the bottom of the 3rd inning of the TN-Missouri game. With one out and two on (R1, R3), Tennessee pitcher Chase Burns attempted to pick off Missouri baserunner R1 Trevor Austin, ruled a balk. Replays indicate in throwing to first base, Burns failed to step toward the base pursuant to the requirements of NCAA Rule 9-3-c-1, which states, "The pitcher, while touching the pitcher's plate, must step toward the base, preceding or simultaneous with any move toward the base," the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, Missouri was leading, 5-0. Missouri ultimately won the contest, 7-4. 

Pitcher Austin's spin-off move failed to gain requisite distance or direction toward first base, which is a balk pursuant to NCAA 9-3-c-1 (OBR equivalent 6.02(a)(3) & NFHS 6.2.4b). Official Baseball Rules' 6.02(a)(3), for instance, states, "Requires the pitcher, while touching their plate, to step directly toward a base before throwing to that base." If there is any doubt as to potential disengagement on the spin or jump-turn move, see NCAA 9-3-c-5: "The jump-turn move is legal if the pitcher’s free foot steps toward and gains ground to the base that the ball is being thrown. Otherwise, a balk shall be called."

A no-step balk is subject to roughly the same argument provisions as balls/strikes calls in that a manager or coach may be ejected, as HP Umpire Brammer did here after warning the head coach to stop.

Video as follows:

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Spring Ejection 1 - Reed Basner (1; Dominic Smith)

HP Umpire Reed Basner ejected Nationals batter Dominic Smith (strike one and two calls; QOCU) in the bottom of the 6th inning of the #Marlins-#Nationals game. With one out and none on, Smith took called first and second strikes from Marlins pitcher Sandy Alcantara for called first and second strikes before striking out swinging on a later 1-2 pitch. PitchCast (StatCast) was not utilized for this game, the call was irrecusable. At the time of the ejection, the Marlins were leading, 7-0. The Marlins ultimately won the contest, 7-0.

This is Reed Basner (-)'s 1st ejection of Spring Training 2023.

This is the first ejection of MLB Spring Training 2023.
This is the first player ejection of Spring 2023. Prior to ejection, Smith was 1-3 (SO) in the contest.
This is Washington's 1st ejection of Spring, 1st in the Grapefruit League (WAS 1; All Others 0).
This is Dominic Smith's first career MLB ejection.
This is Reed Basner's first career MLB ejection.

Wrap: Miami Marlins vs Washington Nationals (Spring Training), 3/18/23 | Video as follows: