Featured Posts

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Teachable - Whitson's Haywire Hot Corner Tag

Chad Whitson, new to the MLB full-time staff, showed his mettle during a White Sox-Angels Teachable in Anaheim. Tmac breaks down the 3B Umpire's haywire play at third base in which Whitson gets knocked down, only to get back up again and rule on the sliding runner at the hot corner.

With a runner on second and none out, Whitson anticipates a tag-up situation and potential play at third base on a fly ball to Angels center fielder Mike Trout.

As Trout's throw arrives at the glove of third baseman Matt Thaiss, Whitson moves into foul territory on the home plate side and behind third base, having read White Sox baserunner R2 James McCann's slide to the home plate side of third base, thus giving himself a keyhole angle to see this leading edge of the bag.

Even on ground, Whitson keeps his angle.
As McCann's hook slide veers past third base, the runner inadvertently trips up the umpire, who scrambles back toward the foul line as the runner overslides the base: the keyhole angle now concerns the edge of third base facing foul territory and Whitson adjusts his position to see it...to the best of his ability.

Although McCann's trip momentarily stumbles Whitson, he does his best to stay on the foul line just in time to observe the runner's diving effort into the gloved arm of the fielder, ruling the runner out on the tag in a call affirmed via Replay Review following Chicago manager Rick Renteria's challenge.

This play serves as a reminder to stay engaged with the play—even when things go sideways—and find a way to observe and confidently call the action. By calmly adhering to angle and position adjust principles, an umpire can put him or herself into the best position possible, all things considered, to see a play, even if the most optimal angle is sacrificed due to an unexpected circumstance.

This Tmac's Teachable Moment was sponsored by Umpire Placement Course (UmpCourse.com).

Video as follows:

Friday, December 6, 2019

ABL Ejection - Joshua Weschler Ejects Two Tuatara

Australian Baseball League HP Umpire Joshua Wechsler ejected Auckland SS Josh Morgan and Manager Steve Mintz (strike three call) in the bottom of the 6th inning of the Cavalry-Tuatara game. With one out and two on (R2, R3), Morgan took three consecutive pitches from Cavalry pitcher Steven Kent for called first, second, and third strikes. At the time of the ejections, the game was tied, 5-5. The Cavalry ultimately won the contest, 7-5.

Notice anything about the difference in commentary quality between the local vs American broadcasters?

Umpires were Josh Wechsler (as Joshua Weschler) (HP), Warren Van Rooyen (1B), and Travis Watson (3B).

Wrap: Canberra Cavalry vs. Auckland Tuatara, 12/5/19 | Video as follows:

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Teachable Tripp Gibson's Scramble at First Base

In today's Teachable, Tmac takes to Tripp's transit on a play at first base as 1B Umpire Gibson adjusts his position on a diving tag attempt in New York, a safe call affirmed via Replay Review.

During a Nationals-Mets game, Nats batter Juan Soto hits a slowly bouncing ground ball up the first base line, fielded by Mets first baseman Pete Alonso. With Soto hustling down the line, Alonso gloves the ball and immediately lunges toward Soto in an attempt to tag him out.

In this Teachable, we watch umpire Gibson's positioning as he jogs into position to observe the attempted play on the runner. Tripp slots into the keyhole angle to see the missed tag while still maintaining a look as to Soto's touch of first base. Having ruled the runner safe, Gibson patiently waits for the action to somewhat subside before indicating "safe" due to the missed tag.

Gibson's read of a potential tag and subsequent positioning to observe said tag attempt while still peeking at his secondary play of the base touch allows him to prepare to rule on any potential appeal play that may occur in the aftermath of the initial tag attempt. HP Umpire and Crew Chief Mark Carlson, meanwhile, observes whether the batted ball was fair or foul; this is a play wherein the home plate umpire, who ordinarily has fair/foul responsibility for batted balls in front of first/third base, clearly has the fair/foul call pursuant to the standard mechanic.

This Tmac's Teachable Moment was sponsored by Umpire Placement Course (UmpCourse.com).

Video as follows:

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

By Rule - Legal Analysis of Angel's Amended Complaint

Update: MLB umpire Angel Hernandez's team filed an amended complaint in his racially-motivated discrimination lawsuit against Major League Baseball based on new evidence that the umpiring/crew chief promotion selection process is subjective and, thus, as Hernandez argues, open to discriminatory practice that has a disparate impact on minorities.

Gil's Call:  This is based on the premise—also in use by sports officials—that objectivity & following the rules as written are more ethical and reliable activities than discretion, subjectivity, and "winging it." That's why many an explanation from an umpire or referee to a coach or player begins with "by rule." When something is objective, it carries more weight—realistically and legally too—than when subjectivity is involved and goalposts may be moved without warning.

With Hernandez's prima facie case made (protected class, adverse employment decision, non-protected favored despite stats to contrary), MLB has the burden to respond to why Hernandez hasn't been promoted/assigned.

As Hernandez's team stated when it first filed this suit in 2017, objective reports and performance metrics indicated that Hernandez was an above-average umpire comparable or better than other, "less qualified" white umpires who received promotion/assignments to crew chief and World Series.
Related PostAngel Hernandez Sues MLB for Racial Discrimination (7/3/17).

By admitting in the following depositions that its process is subjective—and that Hernandez performed well during the relevant period—MLB's difficulty now lies in defending its decisions not to promote Hernandez to crew chief or assign him to the World Series despite favorable evaluations while awarding positions to non-protected class (white) umpires who may not have been more than or equally qualified for the job or, as Hernandez originally alleged, were "less qualified."

Monday, December 2, 2019

2019 UEFL Rules Summit Results & Runoff

The first round of voting for the 2019 UEFL Rules Summit is now complete, with all but one proposal final. The sole question for runoff consideration is whether to eliminate the Margin-of-Error for preliminary, but not post-game processed pitch location data.

Run-Off Ballot:
Prop 6-2-a: Qualified Elimination of Margin of Error
Proposes elimination of all references to Margin of Error for pitch location data if numbers have been adjusted pursuant to postgame processing. Margin of Error rules would remain in place for all numbers not adjusted via postgame processing. PRESENT RULE: Margin of error exists in multiple locations (Kulpa Rule, Miller Rule) to acknowledge various errata that exist with pitch-tracking system, including those errors indicated by the manufacturer and acknowledged by Major League Baseball including but not limited to calibration, vertical zone, 2D vs 3D zone, tracking, modeling, and capture errors. Postgame processing addresses vertical zone error by adjusting sz_bot and sz_top where appropriate. For more information about postgame processing, refer to: Postgame Processing Changes Gibson's Strike EJ QOC (9/21/19).

Prop 6-2-a: Should the proposed qualified elimination of Margin of Error be adopted?

Yes, eliminate post-game processing MOE
No, maintain present rule (MOE used to create borderline ranges)

Items that passed and Appeals Board retentions are indicated in green highlight below while items that did not pass are indicated in red highlight. Proposals that gained a majority of votes will become rules for the 2020 Umpire Ejection Fantasy League Season.

Rule 1 - Selection of Umpires
Prop 1-4: Live Secondary Draft - 83.6% YES.
> Eliminates obsolete language from UEFL Rules.

Rule 3 - Crew Division
Prop 3-6: Bonus Points for Postseason Chiefs - 58.6% YES.
> Incorporates postseason crew chief bonus points for Crew Division (+1/2/3/4).

Rule 4 - League Scoring
Prop 4-2 A: Ejection by Non-Calling Umpire - 49.3% YES.
> Would have eliminated QOC for all ejections on behalf of a crew-mate.

Prop 4-2 B: Replay-Oriented Ejection QOC Points - 42.9% YES.
> Would have applied ejection points based on Replay's Confirmed/Stands as opposed to QOC Y/N.

Prop 4-7: Replay-Oriented Replay QOC Points - 39.1% YES.
> Would have established a +2 (Confirmed) and +1 (Stands) system for Replay Review points.

Prop 4-3: Postseason Incorrect Crewmate Ejections - 47.7% YES.
> Would have changed postseason QOCN/crewmate ejection points to -3 instead of -2.

Prop 4-4: Defining Start and End of Season - 22.7% YES.
> Would have added a rule declaring when an individual umpire's season begins and ends.

Prop 4-4 AR: Fill-Ins Eligibility for Ejection of Year Award - 82.6% YES.
> Adds language to rule allowing any umpire with an ejection to receive this award.

Rule 6 - Challenges and Appeals

Prop 6-2-a: Elimination of Margin of Error - 21.4% YES.
> Would have eliminated all references to MOE. See Run-Off, Above.

Prop 6-2-b: Ball/Strike QOC Delay - 41.8% YES.
> Would have delayed ball/strike QOC until adjustment or 24 hours after game.

Appeals Board Retention
Arik G - 64.5% YES (Retained)
cyclone14 - 59.7% YES (Retained)
jvick2017 - 54.8% YES (Retained)
MarkCanada - 71.4% YES (Retained)
MLBUmpireObserver - 79.7% YES (Retained)

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Call for Questions - Mike Reilly Podcast

Close Call Sports is pleased to announce Mike Reilly as our next guest on The Plate Meeting podcast. An umpire in the AL and MLB for 34 years (1977-2010), Reilly officiated 4,491 regular season games, six DivisionSeries, nine League Championship Series, and four World Series.

His 64 career ejections span from Earl Weaver and Jack McKeon to Jay Payton and Joe Torre.

The Sioux City, Iowa-born Reilly moved to Battle Creek, Michigan (the cereal capital of the world), which inspired his nickname of "Cornflakes."

In October, Reilly joined CCS to celebrate the life of Eric Cooper and was recently the subject of a game-management oriented Teachable.
Related PostPodcast - Mike Reilly Recalls Crew Mate Eric Cooper (10/24/19).
Related PostTeachable - Reilly Handles a Bean Ball Situation (11/26/19).

Comment with what you'd like to ask Mike during his upcoming Plate Meeting appearance.

The Plate Meeting, a Left Field Umpire Podcast, Close Call Sports/UEFL's official audio show, features interviews and discussions of officiating topics with umpires.

To subscribe to The Plate Meeting, visit the show's Anchor.fm page, or Apple Podcasts page, which offers external links to popular podcast providers, such as iTunes, Spotify, Radio Public, and Google Podcasts.

Follow us on Twitter 🐦 (@UmpireEjections) and like on Facebook 👍 (/UmpireEjections).

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Teachable - Reilly Handles a Bean Ball Situation

A pair of pitchers trading hit-by-pitches is our pre-Thanksgiving Tmac's Teachable Moment as HP Umpire Mike Reilly issues warnings to both teams while Cubs Manager Dusty Baker and Cardinals skipper Tony La Russa yell across the field at each other.

Situation handling sometimes requires a heavy hand while other scenarios call for a light touch and Reilly delves into the toolbox to use distance, guiding Baker back to Chicago's dugout when discussing warnings starts to turn into blanket insults toward the opposing squad.

On September 3, 2003, the 73-67 Cardinals faced the 72-67 Cubs at Wrigley Field with crew chief Reilly behind home plate, 1B Umpire Bill Hohn, 2B Umpire Eric Cooper, and 3B Umpire Tim Timmons.

In the top of the 2nd inning, Cubs pitcher Matt Clement hit Cardinals batter (and St. Louis' starting pitcher) Dan Haren with a pitch. During Clement's very next plate appearance to lead off the bottom of the 3rd, Haren returned the favor and hit Clement with a pitch, resulting in warnings from Reilly.

Reilly warns both teams after the second HBP.
Official Baseball Rule 6.02(c)(9) lists two options for addressing a case of a pitcher intentionally throwing at a batter: "Expel the pitcher, or the manager and the pitcher, from the game, or...warn the pitcher and the manager of both teams that another such pitch will result in the immediate expulsion of that pitcher (or a replacement) and the manager."

Note that ignoring the infraction is not one of those two options. Given the location of the Haren-Clement HBP, Reilly surmised that a warning was more useful to manage the game and handle the situation than an ejection, and thus warned both teams.

Cooper officiates the backend tag play.
Not entirely out of the woods yet, with the hit Clement now on first base, 2B Umpire Cooper knew that Kenny Lofton's subsequent ground ball to first base would set up a potential play at second base, and knew that the offended party (Clement) may try to target St. Louis' middle infielder.

Coop set up for the play at second and although Clement did slide into the shortstop more-so than into the base, Cooper was in the midst of the action and ready to handle any further situation that might have arisen had shortstop Edgar Renteria sought to press the issue (he did not and the game proceeded without incident).

This Tmac's Teachable Moment was sponsored by Umpire Placement Course (UmpCourse.com).

Video as follows:

Sunday, November 24, 2019

2019 UEFL Rules Summit Ballot and Voting

The process of changing rules for the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League continues with the 2019 Rules Summit ballot. UEFL Rule 8-3 describes this voting process.

More detailed descriptions of the propositions on the ballot are available in the UEFL Rules Summit Discussion.

This year's ballot will close Wednesday, November 27, at 11:59 pm Pacific Time.

The 2019 Rules Summit includes 10 rules proposals and five Appeals Board retention polls. The ballot is available as follows:

Friday, November 22, 2019

Podcast - AL Umpire Drew Coble

Longtime American League umpire Drew Coble joins The Plate Meeting Podcast in an interview featuring stories ranging from an organist playing Three Blind Mice, Billy Martin interactions, ejecting Cal Ripken (both Sr and Jr), correcting Lou Piniella on a grammatically incorrect balls/strikes argument (Coble was an English major at Elon College), the famous Kent Hrbek/Ron Gant play during the 1991 World Series, and other notable events from Drew's time in baseball.

Coble's MLB career spanned 18 years, 2303 AL games, two Division Series, 3 ALCS, and the '91 World Series. Coble ejected 71 players, coaches, and managers during his big league career

Click the below play (▶) button to listen to "Episode 22 - AL Umpire Drew Coble" or visit the show online at https://anchor.fm/the-plate-meeting. You can also access The Plate Meeting on Apple Podcasts/iTunes, Google, Castbox, Spotify, TuneIn, and other podcast services.

Alternate Link: Episode 22 - AL Umpire Drew Coble

Additional Links, Videos, and Other Media:
The Plate Meeting is brought to you by OSIP, where Outstanding Sportsmanship Is Paramount.

And by Umpire Placement Course. Continue your career at UMPCourse.com.

Donate/Store Buttons
Support the UEFL
Shop the CCS Store.

Related Video #1: Pine Tar Incident with George Brett & Tim McClelland (14:00)

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Umpire Walks off Field After Fan Abuse at Youth Game

An umpire officiating a youth baseball game in Newport Beach, California walked off the field following abuse from parents, having warned that he would forfeit the game if the unsportsmanlike conduct continued. It did, and he followed through by leaving the Newport Harbor field.

The 13u or 14u game, reportedly, between the Nomar Garciaparra-infused GPG (Garciaparra Baseball Group) and a team called Riptide, took place on the campus of Newport Harbor High School over the weekend, and is just the latest example of poor sportsmanship at sporting events.

The event captured on video likely had been brewing far ahead of the recording, given that the coaches were on the field when the umpire called the game and the umpire's first comments on the video were an issuance of an ultimatum: "Enough. I'm not hearing another word out of anyone."

The problem started prior to the video.
The parents protested the umpire's warning ("then be fair!"), to which the umpire clarified the solemnity of the situation: "Did you hear me? If you want to have a game here, quiet down."

Though a parent quipped, "stay professional for the kids and do your job, that's it," what caused the umpire to terminate the game was one final taunt: "Are you mad 'cause the kids are taller than you?"

True to his word, the umpire stopped the game and walks off the field.

Gil's Call: At the MLB, NCAA level or equivalent, this probably doesn't turn into a forfeited game simply because the working conditions for umpires are superior to that of youth travel ball.

Here, the two youth teams playing on a Sunday are using a rented-out high school facility with likely little-to-no game management in attendance. Whereas Bob Davidson in 2016 could call for Phillies security to remove an abuse fan in Philadelphia, there is no such recourse here. The youth umpire is in a precarious position in a crew of one, with no administrative support, and little-to-no incentive to continue the game.
Related PostUnofficial Ejection - Bob Davidson Requests Fan Removal (11/21/19).

Codes of Conduct prohibit poor behavior.
Sportsmanship is a problem in modern sports, despite code of conducts imploring parents and others to maintain such decorum. For instance, the Little League Baseball Sport Parent Code of Conduct lists, amongst others, "I (and my guests) will not engage in any kind of unsportsmanlike conduct with any official, coach, player, or parent such as booing and taunting; refusing to shake hands; or using profane language or gestures."

Earlier this year, 13-year-old umpire Josh Cordova game between seven-year-old teams in Lakewood, Colorado ended due to a massive stands-clearing brawl amongst parents, garnering national attention and a big league experience with Chris Guccione's crew during a Rockies game.
Related PostWorkplace Violence - Parents Brawl at Youth Game (6/20/19).
Related PostUmpires Host Cordova in Colorado (7/1/19).

If you have experienced issues of poor sportsmanship, bullying, abuse, anxiety, or depression in connection with officiating, visit our sponsor, The OSIP Foundation, where Outstanding Sportsmanship is Paramount.

Video as follows: