Friday, September 24, 2021

MLB Ejection 182 - John Libka (3; Bryan De La Cruz)

HP Umpire John Libka ejected Marlins CF Bryan De La Cruz (check swing strike three call by 1B Umpire Manny Gonzalez) in the top of the 1st inning of the #Marlins-#Rays game. With two out and none on, De La Cruz attempted to check his swing on a 3-2 knuckle curve from Rays pitcher David Robertson, ruled a ball by HP Umpire Libka and a swinging third strike on appeal by 1B Umpire Gonzalez. This play is under review by the UEFL Appeals Board, the call was *PENDING*. At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 0-0. The Rays ultimately won the contest, 8-0.

This is John Libka (84)'s 6th ejection of 2021.
John Libka now has ? points in the UEFL Standings (20 Previous + 2 AAA + ? Call-Crewmate = ?).
Crew Chief Jeff Nelson now has ? points in Crew Division (3 Previous + ? Call = ?).

This is the 182nd ejection report of the 2021 MLB regular season.
This is the 73rd player ejection of 2021. Prior to ejection, De La Cruz was 0-1 (SO) in the contest.
This is Miami's 8th ejection of 2021, 2nd in the NL East (PHI 9; MIA 8; NYM, WAS 7; ATL 1).
This is Bryan De La Cruz's first career MLB ejection.
This is John Libka's 6th ejection of 2021, 1st since July 23 (Tim Anderson; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Miami Marlins vs. Tampa Bay Rays, 9/24/21 | Video as follows:

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Passing Runners - When a Home Run Becomes a Single

In this passing runners Teachable Moment, tmac reviews 1B Umpire Sam Holbrook's out call on batter-runner Adam Duvall after an apparent home run when Braves baserunner R1 Austin Riley, by jogging back toward first base, enabled Duvall to inadvertently pass a preceding runner, comparing this play to Robin Ventura's grand slam single from Game 5 of the 1999 Braves-Mets National League Championship Series when Ventura was declared out for passing preceding New York runner Todd Pratt.

The relevant rule itself is Official Baseball Rule 5.09(b)(9), which states that a runner is out when "they pass a preceding runner before such runner is out." The rule's comment goes on to clarify that "A runner may be deemed to have passed a preceding (i.e., lead) runner based on their actions or the actions of a preceding runner."

The rule applies during any live ball period as well as any dead ball period in which ordinary base-running rules and responsibilities are in effect (e.g., during a home run or "ground rule" double base award, as opposed to during a foul ball, when the rule does not apply because no bases are being run and no runners are advancing once the ball is declared foul).

Because Duvall passed Riley after touching first base but before reaching second, Duvall is credited with a single. Had there been two outs when Duvall hit the not-quite-a-HR, the passing call for the inning's third out would result in a time play for any potential runs scoring.

For more information, refer to our previous series on passing runners.

Video as follows:

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

MLB Ejections 180-181 - Greg Gibson (6-7; OAK x2)

HP Umpire Greg Gibson ejected A's bench coach Ryan Christenson and manager Bob Melvin (foul ball no-call; QOCN) in the top of the 6th inning of the #Mariners-#Athletics game. With one out and one on (R1), Mariners batter Dylan Moore attempted to check his swing on a 0-2 sinker from A's pitcher Geolis Guerra as Mariners baserunner R1 Jared Kelenic attempted to steal second base, ruled ball two. Replays indicate that Moore's bat made contact with the pitched ball and that A's catcher Sean Murphy did not catch the ball (it was not a foul tip), the call was incorrect. At the time of the ejections, the Mariners were leading, 3-1. The Mariners ultimately won the contest, 4-1.

These are Greg Gibson (53)'s sixth and seventh ejections of 2021.
Greg Gibson now has 8 points in the UEFL Standings (12 Prev + 2*[2 MLB - 4 Incorrect Call] = 8).
Crew Chief Greg Gibson now has 4 points in Crew Division (4 Previous + 0 Incorrect Calls = 4).

These are the 180th and 181st ejection reports of the 2021 MLB regular season.
This is the 82nd manager ejection of 2021.
This is Oakland's 7/8th ejection of 2021, 1st in the AL West (OAK 8; SEA 5; HOU, TEX 4; LAA 3).
This is Ryan Christenson's first career MLB ejection.
This is Bob Melvin's 6th ejection of 2021, 1st since Sept 18 (James Hoye; QOC = Y-c [Replay Review]).
This is Greg Gibson's 6/7th ejection of 2021, 1st since Sept 11 (Vance Wilson; QOC = U [USC-NEC]).

MLB Ejections 178-179 - Joe West (3-4; TOR x2)

3B Umpire Joe West ejected Blue Jays pitcher Ryan Borucki and pitching coach Pete Walker (throwing at Rays batter Kevin Kiermaier) in the bottom of the 8th inning of the #BlueJays-#Rays game. With none out and none on, Rays batter Kiermaier took a first-pitch sinker from Borucki for a hit-by-pitch, resulting in a crew consultation and ejection for intentionally pitching at the batter. Replays indicate the pitch was located inside and struck Kiermaier in the mid-back, the call was irrecusable. At the time of the ejections, the Rays were leading, 7-1. The Rays ultimately won the contest, 7-1.

These are Joe West (22)'s 3rd and 4th ejections of 2021.
Joe West now has 5 points in the UEFL Standings (1 Previous + 2*[2 MLB + 0 QOCU] = 5).
Crew Chief Joe West now has 3 points in Crew Division (1 Previous + 2 Irrecusable Calls = 3).

These are the 178th and 179th ejection reports of the 2021 MLB regular season.
This is the 72nd player ejection of 2021. Prior to ejection, Borucki's line was 1.0 IP, H, HBP.
This is Toronto's 6/7th ejection of 2021, 2nd in the AL East (NYY 11; TOR 7; BOS 5; BAL 2; TB 0).
This is Ryan Borucki's first career MLB ejection.
This is Pete Walker's 3rd ejection of 2021, 1st since August 24 (Mark Carlson; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Joe West's 3rd ejection of 2021, 1st since May 26 (Mike Shildt; QOC = U [Foreign Substance]).

Baseball's Foul Tip Rules Change in Real Life

In this short video, we review professional baseball's 2020 rules change for foul tips at home plate using a real-life example from the Pacific League of Nippon Professional Baseball (Japan). The umpire's call on this foul tip would have been different had this 2021 play occurred just two years earlier.

Play: With two strikes, the batter hits a ball that goes sharp and direct from the bat to the catcher's armpit and is ultimately held with the hand and caught.

2019 OBR: The Official Baseball Rules definition of FOUL TIP in 2019 would have ruled this a foul ball (not a foul tip): "A batted ball that goes sharp and direct from the bat to the catcher's hands and is legally caught. It is not a foul tip unless caught and any foul tip that is caught is a strike, and the ball is in play. It is not a catch if it is a rebound, unless the ball has first touched the catcher's glove or hand."

2020 OBR: Baseball's Rules Committee changed the foul tip definition in 2020: "A batted ball that goes sharp and direct from the bat to the catcher and is legally caught. It is not a foul tip unless caught, and any foul tip that is caught is a strike, and the ball is in play."

In other words, the 2019 rule required the batted ball to first contact the catcher's hand (or mitt) before, eventually, being firmly held by the catcher, as in a catch. The 2020 rules change thus eliminated the first touch requirement while keeping the final requirement that the ball be legally caught. This rule is shared by NCAA (college), while NFHS (high school) opted not to change from the circa-2019 rule, at least not quite yet.

As for the precise example from Japan, the only question is whether or not this ball could be considered lodged or stuck. Recall in the case of Dan Bellino "catching" a pitch in the crook of his arm in 2018, the ball was considered dead because Bellino held the ball against his body, thus satisfying OBR 5.06(c)(7)'s requirement of a ball remaining out of play: "The ball becomes dead and runners advance one base, or return to their bases, without liability to be put out, when—A pitched ball lodges in the umpire’s or catcher’s mask or paraphernalia, and remains out of play, runners advance one base."

In Japan, the catcher released the ball from his armpit in a timely manner and, OBR 5.06(c)(7)'s "remains out of play" clause unsatisfied, the umpire declared the batter out on the caught third strike via foul tip.

This is an illustration of the importance of knowing rules changes. | Video as follows:

Monday, September 20, 2021

MLB Ejection 177 - Doug Eddings (8; Dave Martinez)

3B Umpire Doug Eddings ejected Nationals manager Dave Martinez (runner's lane interference call by HP Umpire Adam Beck; QOCY) in the top of the 10th inning of the #Nationals-#Marlins game. With two out and the bases loaded, Nationals batter Josh Bell hit a 3-2 changeup from Marlins pitcher Dylan Floro on the ground to first baseman Lewin Diaz, who threw to catcher Nick Fortes to retire Marlins baserunner R3 Luis Garcia, and back to Diaz at first base, ruled runner's lane interference as the throw hit Bell in the back as Bell hit Diaz's glove off of his hand. Replays indicate Bell failed to run within the 3-foot running lane at any point during his journey to first base, and, in doing so, interfered with the fielder taking the throw at first base, the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 7-7. The Marlins ultimately won the contest, 8-7, in 10 innings.

This is Doug Eddings (88)'s 8th ejection of 2021.
Doug Eddings now has 3 points in the UEFL Standings (1 Prev + 2 Correct-Crewmate = 3).
Crew Chief Bill Miller now has 7 points in the UEFL Standings (6 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 7).
*Official Baseball Rule 5.09(a)(11) states that a batters are out when—"In running the last half of the distance from home base to first base, while the ball is being fielded to first base, they run outside (to the right of) the three-foot line, or inside (to the left of) the foul line, and in the umpire’s judgment in so doing interfere with the fielder taking the throw at first base, in which case the ball is dead...The batter-runner is permitted to exit the three-foot lane by means of a step, stride, reach or slide in the immediate vicinity of first base for the sole purpose of touching first base."
Related EjectionMLB Ejection P1 - Sam Holbrook (3; Dave Martinez) (10/29/19).

This is the 177th ejection report of the 2021 MLB regular season.
This is the 81st manager ejection of 2021.
This is Washington's 7th ejection of 2021, T-2nd in the NL East (PHI 9; MIA, NYM, WAS 7; ATL 1).
This is Dave Martinez's 3rd ejection of 2021, 1st since Sept 4 (Ryan Wills; QOC = N [Check Swing]).
This is Doug Eddings' 8th ejection of 2021, 1st since Sept 12 (Matt Carpenter; QOC = N [Check Swing]).

Wrap: Washington Nationals vs. Miami Marlins, 9/20/21 | Video as follows:

Heave the Hawk? When a Broadcast Misinforms

What happens when a team's TV broadcast doesn't see a play or know a rule? Unfortunately, as was the case with a Chicago Cubs vs White Sox game featuring Hawk Harrelson in 2007, it often results in derision of the umpires, even when the umpires get the call right. Joe West may have ejected Ozzie Guillen after just such a play, but even after the game, both indicated a shared understanding about what had transpired.

With none out and runners on first and second base in the top of the 8th inning of the Cubs-White Sox June 24, 2007 matinee, Cubs batter Mark DeRosa hit a fly ball to deep right field. 

If you watched the White Sox broadcast, it went something like this: Hit to the outfield, yada yada yada, Sox tag out two Cubs runners with bad base-running for a double play. 2B Umpire Ed Rapuano called baserunner R1 Angel Pagan out and HP Umpire CB Bucknor called R2 Felix Pie out. Umpires discuss it, inexplicably load the bases and take the outs off the board, and Joe West ejects Ozzie Guillen because in a few year's time, Joe will become a joke to the umpiring profession.

In other words, the Sox were bewildered by the play in front of them, assured their TV audience that they saw everything and the umpires missed something, and that the call was incorrect and egregiously so. After all, replays shown on the Sox broadcast clearly indicated that two runners were tagged out.

If you watched the Cubs broadcast, on the other hand, it went something like this: Hit to the outfield, Cubs runner R1 Pagan runs into White Sox shortstop Juan Uribe who was standing on second base for some reason even though the ball was still in right field, Pagan gets up and runs to third, spurring lead baserunner R2 Pie to run toward home plate, all manners of rundowns ensue, and the White Sox tag two runners, but wait, the umpires will fix it after the play is over.

During their post-play analysis, the Cubs' cast identified the obstruction as well as 2B Umpire Rapuano calling it (and showed a second angle in which 3B Umpire Ed Hickox also called it). For the record, this was a case of Obstruction Type B / Type 2. Official Baseball Rule 6.01(h)(2) states: "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 his judgment will nullify the act of obstruction."

The umpires allowed play to conclude then ruled that had obstruction not occurred, the most likely outcome would be bases loaded, none out, as the obstruction impeded or disoriented the runner from seeing the base coach/lead runner or having the wherewithal to remain on second base.

After the game, ejected White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said of West's crew, "I think they got it right," while Crew Chief Joe West said of Guillen, "You can't blame him. It was a messed-up play that you don't see very often. Uribe is not known for trying to cheat or get in somebody's way, but it happens. He got two outs and he ended up getting no outs and that's why Ozzie said, 'You're just going to have to run me.'

In conclusion, sometimes the broadcast gets it right and sometimes it does not. The purpose of this video is to show how sometimes even a TV broadcast with all of its replays and cameras can miss the crucial element of an entire play and how sometimes the analysis broadcast to the public is therefore inaccurate or misleading.

Postscript: Perhaps most egregious of all is that the White Sox feed showed a replay featuring a camera angle (and maybe two) that would have shown the obstruction, but the replay was started from a point AFTER the obstruction had already occurred. Was this simple negligence or deliberate omission of a material fact?

Video as follows:

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Losing an Appeal - Astros Draw D-Backs Into a Play

After Astros batter Carlos Correa hit a sacrifice fly to score baserunner Yuli Gurriel from third base, the Arizona Diamondbacks began pointing toward third, seemingly convinced Gurriel had left early. If 3B Umpire Jeff Nelson were to agree, all the Diamondbacks would need to do is appeal the base-running infraction and Houston's game-tying run would come off the board.

What happened next suggests that Astros third base coach Omar Lopez and runner Kyle Tucker also knew that Houston's tying run was in jeopardy, so they devised a plan.

When D-Backs pitcher Bradyn Sittinger stepped off the rubber to throw the ball to third baseman Josh VanMeter for the appeal on Gurriel, Tucker suddenly took off for home. In doing so, he drew Sittinger's attention. Sittinger ran the runner back toward third base before throwing to third baseman VanMeter, who (without touching third base) pursued and tagged Tucker out in front of home plate.

By then, however, Houston's plan had worked and the Diamondbacks lost their opportunity to appeal Gurriel's early departure. Why?

Official Baseball Rule 5.09(c) governs appeals and states, "Any appeal under this rule must be made before the next pitch, or any play or attempted play." This time limitation meant that as soon as Arizona committed to retiring Tucker, their play on the runner closed the door on a potential appeal of Gurriel, and this is what HP Umpire Mike Estabrook likely explained to Arizona manager Torey Lovullo after the play.

To fix this, if you're the defense, you have two options. The first pertains to what we call a "real-time appeal," which is an appeal effected during the play in which the infraction allegedly occurred. For example, a real-time appeal here would consist of third baseman VanMeter stepping on third base and appealing to Nelson for a ruling directly after baserunner Tucker slid into third base on the sacrifice fly.

The point is a real-time appeal occurs prior to the ball becoming dead or prior to the ensuing batter entering the box following the play.

As our 2017 article linked above illustrates, the real-time appeal is preferable for many reasons, and the risk of the "play or attempted play" statute of limitations closing after-the-fact is one of the risks inherent with the traditional "delayed" appeal, as opposed to the real-time appeal. During the play itself, the MLB Umpire Manual relaxes the "play or attempted play" standard because, as the manual states, the real-time appeal occurs during "the continuous action created by and following the batted [or thrown, or pitched] ball."

By rule, until the ball is returned to the pitcher on the mound or time is called, the action of the play is continuous and thus appeals are unaffected by the "play or attempted play" clause. MLBUM looks for a "definite break in the original continues action" before starting the "play or attempted play" clock. Calling "Time" or a pitcher returning to the mound is a definite break. A fielder holding the ball after tagging a runner is not.

That said, if the D-Backs had to appeal in "delayed" fashion because the pitcher didn't realize the runner had left early until after "Time" was called or for some other reason, there is no rule that requires the pitcher to throw the ball to the base. The pitcher could have run the ball to the base or run to the foul line and chased the runner back to the base while making a point to tag the base first before tagging the runner or throwing to the catcher to retire the runner (if applicable). There is similarly no rule that would require the pitcher to run directly toward the base to effect the appeal. The pitcher's circuitous route is not a play or attempted play: tagging the base or throwing/attempting to retire a runner is.

Finally, in a level of baseball or softball that has dead ball appeals (e.g., NFHS has such a rule), the defense can avoid this headache simply by conducting its appeal during a dead ball. MLB, naturally, requires live ball appeals.

Video as follows:

Saturday, September 18, 2021

MLB Ejection 176 - Chad Whitson (2; Willson Contreras)

HP Umpire Chad Whitson ejected Cubs catcher Willson Contreras (strike three call; QOCY) in the top of the 9th inning of the #Cubs-#Brewers game. With one out and two on (R1, R2), Contreras took a 3-2 fastball from Brewers pitcher Josh Hader for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer half of home plate and thigh-high (px -0.60, pz 1.85 [sz_bot 1.54 / RAD 1.42 / MOE 1.33]), the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Brewers were leading, 6-4. The Brewers ultimately won the contest, 6-4.

This is Chad Whitson (62)'s 2nd ejection of 2021.
Chad Whitson now has 8 points in the UEFL Standings (4 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 8).
Crew Chief Tony Randazzo now has 5 points in Crew Division (4 Previous + 1 QOCY = 5).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
*This pitch was located 6.19 horizontal inches from being deemed an incorrect call.

This is the 176th ejection report of the 2021 MLB regular season.
This is the 71st player ejection of 2021. Prior to ejection, Contreras was 1-4 (SO) in the contest.
This is Chicago's 8th ejection of 2021, 3rd in the NL Central (MIL 16; CIN 12; CHC 8; STL 3; PIT 3).
This is Willson Contreras' 2nd ejection of 2021, 1st since July 24 (Pat Hoberg; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Chad Whitson's 2nd ejection of 2021, 1st since June 3 (Aaron Boone; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 9/18/21 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejection 175 - James Hoye (3; Bob Melvin)

HP Umpire James Hoye ejected Athletics manager Bob Melvin (Replay Review decision that overturned 1B Umpire Erich Bacchus' out call at first base) in the bottom of the 7th inning of the #Athletics-#Angels game. With one out and two on (R1, R2), Angels batter Luis Rengifo hit 2-2 changeup from A's pitcher Deolis Guerra on the ground to first baseman Matt Olson, who threw to shortstop Elvis Andrus to retire Angels baserunner R1 Jared Walsh, and onto first base as Rengifo arrived, originally ruled out. Upon Replay Review as the result of a manager's challenge by Angels manager Joe Maddon, Bacchus' out call was overturned to safe. Replays indicate A's pitcher Guerra did not maintain possession of the ball as necessary to establish a catch for the required tag of first base, the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the A's were leading, 3-0. The A's ultimately won the contest, 3-1.

This is James Hoye (92)'s 3rd ejection of 2021.
James Hoye now has 5 points in the UEFL Standings (2 Prev + 2 MLB + 1 Correct-Crewmate = 5).
Crew Chief Mark Carlson now has 4 points in Crew Division (3 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 4).

This is the 175th ejection report of the 2021 MLB regular season.
This is the 80th manager ejection of 2021.
This is Oakland's 6th ejection of 2021, 1st in the AL West (OAK 6; SEA 5; HOU, TEX 4; LAA 3).
This is Bob Melvin's 5th ejection of 2021, 1st since Aug 28 (Tony Randazzo; QOC = N [Replay Review]).
This is James Hoye's 3rd ejection of 2021, 1st since July 9 (Terry Francona; QOC = N [Out/Safe]).

Wrap: Oakland Athletics vs. Los Angeles Angels of Wasting Trout's Contract, 9/18/21 | Video as follows: