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Sunday, August 25, 2019

MLB Ejection 172 - John Bacon (1; Doug Brocail)

1B Umpire John Bacon ejected Orioles Pitching Coach Doug Brocail (check swing ball one call) in the top of the 5th inning of the #Rays-#Orioles game. With two out and one on (R1), Rays batter Avisail Garcia attempted to check his swing on a 0-1 slider from Orioles pitcher Dylan Bundy, ruled a ball by HP Umpire Lance Barksdale and affirmed as no swing on appeal by 1B Umpire Bacon. This play is under review by the UEFL Appeals Board (check swing), the call was *PENDING*. At the time of the ejection, the Orioles were leading, 6-3. The Orioles ultimately won the contest, 8-3.

This is John Bacon (70)'s first ejection of 2019.
John Bacon now has X points in the UEFL Standings (-2 Prev + 2 AAA + X Call = X).
Crew Chief Ted Barrett now has X points in Crew Division (14 Previous + X Call = X).

This is the 172nd ejection report of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is Baltimore's 5th ejection of 2019, T-2nd in the AL East (NYY 7; BAL, BOS 5; TOR 4; TB 2).
This is Doug Brocail's 2nd ejection of 2019, 1st since April 14 (Stu Scheurwater; QOC = Y [Check Swing]).
This is John Bacon's first career MLB ejection.

Wrap: Tampa Bay Rays vs. Baltimore Orioles, 8/25/19 | Video as follows:

As Muncy Admits Fakery, Umps Should Be Patient

In the aftermath of HP Umpire Gabe Morales' fateful "Time" call that preceded Yankees runner Gleyber Torres' potential tying score at Dodger Stadium Saturday, Dodgers infielder Max Muncy admitted he faked the extent of his injury, putting the umpire in a vice and reminding all officials to exercise patience when making calls.

To recap, Morales called "Time" as a response to Dodgers pitcher Kenley Jansen's request after a collision between Yankees runner Brett Gardner and Muncy on a force play attempt at second base. Prior to calling "Time," from Morales' angle at home plate, it appeared Yankees runner Torres was walking slowly toward third base with his back to home plate.
Related PostMorales' Mercy - Dodgers' Key Time Call Against NY (8/24/19).

For this reason, it would have appeared to Morales that the play was over and no further action was possible, making his "Time" call proper in accordance with Rule 5.12(b)(8), which states, in part, that, "no umpire shall call 'Time' while a play is in progress."

Unfortunately for Morales and New York, the play may not have been as complete as first thought, as Torres broke for home plate a split second after Morales' decision to call "Time."

First and foremost, umpires should be patient.
What Lesson Can We Learn? In a word, it's "Patience." An umpire should take his or her time to process the entire situation to deem that the play has truly concluded and no further action is possible. Timing is a huge buzz word in umpiring, and there is a certain timing to calling "Time" at the conclusion of a play.

As callous as it may sound, umpires shouldn't "be nice" and stop the game for a hurt infielder. There's a colloquialism that holds umpires should refrain from calling "Time" after every consequential play, and certainly should never think of calling "Time" just because a player falls to the ground. First, it's not permitted in the rules until a play is complete, and second, leniency when not supported by rule leads to con artistry, such as Muncy's soccer-esque flopping and flailing. And if there's one thing an umpire doesn't like more than missing a call, it's being duped by a malfeasant player.

Will the Yankees seek to police the game themselves via a bean ball aimed at the embellishment-minded Muncy? Only time will tell.

A protest must be lodged immediately.
Finally, we have our 10% Boone moment of the day, as Aaron Boone when asked about the play after the game stated that his team might seek to protest the game as a remedy for Morales' quick trigger. Unfortunately, such a protest would be doomed to failure, as Rule 7.04 Comment, regarding protests, clearly states that a protest doesn't apply to judgment calls and, more to the point, must be filed immediately upon the conclusion of the play-to-be-protested.

Morales' judgment call here was that the play was over when he called "Time." If, instead, Morales called "Time" with knowledge that the play was not yet over, that would be a rules interpretation issue subject to protest...albeit, Boone's protest statute of limitations had long run out by the time New York ultimately lost to LA.

Gil's Call: In conclusion, managers can't afford to be patient when it comes to filing a protest, but an umpire better be patient when it comes to calling timeout. This ensures the requesting team doesn't receive an unfair advantage by a premature call not in accordance with the rules (e.g., calling "Time" while the runners are running the bases and/or the defense is not in position to hold runners at their present locations). "Don't be nice, call the rulebook."

Video as follows:

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Morales' Mercy - Dodgers' Key Time Call Against NY

As New York's Gleyber Torres arrived at home plate with the tying run after Yankees runner Brett Gardner slid into Dodgers infielder Max Muncy, HP Umpire Gabe Morales called "Time" and waved off the score, having declared the play dead at Los Angeles pitcher Kenley Jansen's request prior to Torres' feverish sprint home.

With Muncy rolling on the ground in an apparent injury after Gardner's slide—a legal slide confirmed as bona fide following Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts' unsuccesful challenge for slide rule interference—Morales granted Jansen's timeout request to load the bases for New York (after Replay Review determined that Gardner was safe at second, that is).

But with baserunner Torres careening toward home plate prior to Morales raising his arms to announce "Time," why did the plate umpire (referred to by rule as the umpire-in-chief) kill a play that appeared to be alive, and what do the rules say about calling "Time"?

Morales explains his call to Aaron Boone.
The Rule: Official Baseball Rule 5.12(b) governs this scenario, states, "The ball becomes dead when an umpire calls 'Time.' The umpire-in-chief shall call 'Time':", and is followed by a list of possible reasons for timeouts.

Relevant to this play is OBR 5.12(b)(3)—"When an accident incapacitates a player or umpire." For the purpose of this analysis, we interpret what happened to Muncy (getting hurt as a result of the video-affirmed legal collision with Gardner) as an accident that incapacitated a player.

OK, fine, but how about timing: WHEN is an umpire allowed to call "Time" for this reason?

Morales waits to call "Time" in LA.
The answer is embedded further in the rulebook's 5.12(b)(8): "Except in the cases stated in paragraph (2) and (3)(A) of this rule, no umpire shall call 'Time' while a play is in progress."

Paragraph two pertains to light failure that makes it difficult or impossible for an umpire to see the ball (that provision doesn't apply here), while (3)(A) as a subsection of the accident/incapacitation rule specifies precisely who is entitled to an immediate "Time" call under the rule: "If an accident to a runner is such as to prevent him from proceeding to a base to which he is entitled, as on a home run hit out of the playing field, or an award of one or more bases, a substitute runner shall be permitted to complete the play."

In other words, calling "Time" during play in the event of a severe injury is reserved for a hurt runner—not a fielder.

Time can be called during a runner's HR trot.
Equally important is to understand that live ball/dead ball is a separate concept from what constitutes a "play." We can have a "play" during a live ball or during a dead ball, and when the ball is live there may or may not be a play in progress (also true for dead balls...recall that the bases are usually run during live balls, but under certain circumstances [HR, dead ball base awards], can also be run when time is out, as in the OBR 5.12(b)(3)(A) exception).

In this situation, what most likely occurred is that HP Umpire Morales saw Jansen requesting "Time." At this point, he noticed that all Yankees baserunners—Torres at third, Gardner at second, and batter-runner Gio Urshela at first—appeared to be at or near their bases, with no physical indication of any intent to advance. Torres, specifically, had his back to home plate and was walking back toward third base.

This, for Morales, signaled that the play was over: everyone was where they wanted to be. With the play naturally concluded, in his estimation, Morales granted Jansen's request for "Time" which allowed Los Angeles to attend to the injured Muncy.

Like a hockey ref, Morales had prior intent.
What Morales did not count on was that Torres started breaking for home plate just as he made his decision to declare the ball dead. By the time Morales raised his arms to signal his call, Torres was already well down the third base line, such that—much like a hockey referee who intends to blow the whistle to signify a frozen puck, but hasn't yet put the whistle to his lips as the puck is jarred loose and poked into the net (the officials' intent to blow rule)—it appeared Morales was calling "Time" while a play was in progress when, in fact, Morales had already determined that the play was over before he had the opportunity to raise his arms and communicate as much.

Unfortunately for New York, LA won the game by one run, making Morales' call a significant sequence as Jansen worked out of the ninth-inning, bases-loaded jam. | Video as follows:

MLB Ejection 171 - Paul Emmel (3; Yonathan Daza)

HP Umpire Paul Emmel ejected Rockies CF Yonathan Daza (strike three call; QOCN) in the top of the 7th inning of the #Rockies-#Cardinals game. With two out and two on (R1, R3), Daza took a 1-2 fastball from Cardinals pitcher Giovanny Gallegos for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located off the outer edge of home plate and thigh-high (px 0.95, pz 2.96 [sz_top 3.54]), the call was incorrect.* At the time of the ejection, the Cardinals were leading, 5-0. The Cardinals ultimately won the contest, 6-0.

This is Paul Emmel (50)'s third ejection of 2019.
Paul Emmel now has -1 points in the UEFL Standings (1 Prev + 2 MLB - 4 Incorrect Call = -1).
Crew Chief Paul Emmel now has 6 points in Crew Division (6 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = 6).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
This pitch was located 0.43 horizontal inches from being deemed a correct call.

This is the 171st ejection report of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 83rd player ejection of 2019. Prior to ejection, Daza was 0-3 (SO) in the contest.
This is Colorado's 4th ejection of 2019, T-3rd in the NL West (SD, SF 5; ARI, COL 4; LAD 3).
This is Yonathan Daza's first career MLB ejection.
This is Paul Emmel's 3rd ejection of 2019, 1st since May 1 (Aaron Boone; QOC = Y [HBP/Ball]).

Wrap: Colorado Rockies vs. St. Louis Cardinals, 8/24/19 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejections 169-170 - Carapazza, Wendelstedt (CHC)

HP Umpire Vic Carapazza ejected Cubs PH Ian Happ (strike three call; QOCN) and 2B Umpire Hunter Wendelstedt ejected bench player Willson Contreras (USC-NEC) in the bottom of the 4th inning of the #Nationals-#Cubs game. With two out and the bases loaded, Happ took a 3-2 sinker from Nationals pitcher Joe Ross for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located off the outer edge of home plate and belt-high (px -1.08, pz 2.93 [sz_top 3.64]), the call was incorrect. Due to his status on the injured list, Contreras' call was irrecusable.^ At the time of the ejections, the Nationals were leading, 5-1. The Nationals ultimately won the contest, 7-2.

This is Vic Carapazza (19)'s fifth ejection of 2019.
This is Hunter Wendelstedt (21)'s fourth ejection of 2019.
Vic Carapazza now has 5 points in the UEFL Standings (7 Prev + 2 MLB - 4 Incorrect Call = 5).
Hunter Wendelstedt now has 13 points in the UEFL Standings (11 Prev + 2 MLB + 0 QOCU = 13).
Crew Chief Dan Iassogna now has 0 points in Crew Division (-1 Previous + 0 QOCN + 1 QOCU = 0).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
This pitch was located 1.99 horizontal inches from being deemed a correct call.
^UEFL Rule 6-2-b-5-a states that ejections of non-active players shall be irrecusable.

These are the 169th and 170th ejection reports of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 81st player ejection of 2019. Prior to ejection, Happ was 0-1 (SO) in the contest.
This is the 82nd player ejection of 2019. Prior to ejection, Contreras was on the injured list.
This is Chicago's 6/7th ejection of 2019, T-3rd in the NL Central (CIN 21; PIT 10; CHC, MIL 7; STL 3).
This is Ian Happ's first career MLB ejection.
This is Willson Contreras' first ejection since Sept 15, 2017 (Jordan Baker; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Vic Carapazza's 5th ejection of 2019, 1st since August 1 (Josh Reddick; QOC = Y [Strike/Foul]).
This is Hunter Wendelstedt's 4th ejection of 2019, 1st since July 27 (Clint Hurdle; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Washington Nationals vs. Chicago Cubs, 8/24/19 | Video as follows:

Alex Rodriguez Offers Umpire Praise in LA

In an era of umpire scrutiny, Alex Rodriguez sounded off when asked about robot umpires during Friday's Yankees-Dodgers game. A-Rod appeared alongside Michael Kay for New York's television broadcast and analyzed Ron Kulpa's strike three call to Los Angeles batter Jedd Gyorko, surmising that catcher Gary Sanchez may have blocked out the umpire on a pitch that looked to be off the inner edge of home plate.

But it didn't end there, as Kay pressed on with a very simple question: "Robot Ump—yay or nea?", prompting Rodriguez to share his thoughts on the modern state of officiating in baseball. | Video as follows:

Friday, August 23, 2019

MLB Ejection 168 - Ryan Blakney (1; Lorenzo Cain)

HP Umpire Ryan Blakney ejected Brewers CF Lorenzo Cain (strike three call; QOCN) in the bottom of the 6th inning of the #Dbacks-#Brewers game. With two out and two on (R1, R2), Cain took a 2-2 changeup from Diamondbacks pitcher Matt Andriese for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located off the inner edge of home plate and waist-high (px -1.01, pz 3.06 [sz_top 3.65]), the call was incorrect.* At the time of the ejection, the Brewers were leading, 6-0. The Brewers ultimately won the contest, 6-1.

This is Ryan Blakney (36)'s first ejection of 2019.
Ryan Blakney now has -2 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Prev + 2 AAA - 4 Incorrect Call = -2).
Crew Chief Mike Everitt now has 0 points in Crew Division (0 Previous + 0 QOCN = 0).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
This pitch was located 1.15 horizontal inches from being deemed a correct call.

This is the 168th ejection report of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 80th player ejection of 2019. Prior to ejection, Cain was 1-4 (2 SO) in the contest.
This is Milwaukee's 7th ejection of 2019, 3rd in the NL Central (CIN 21; PIT 10; MIL 7; CHC 5; STL 3).
This is Lorenzo Cain's 1st ejection since July 8, 2017 (Bill Miller; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Ryan Blakney's 1st ejection since March 20, 2017 (Nick Franklin; QOC = U [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 8/23/19 | Video as follows:

Rare History - Plate Umpire's Back-to-Back No-Hitters

One of umpiring's rarest feats passed by without much fanfare this season as an umpire worked no-hitters in consecutive plate jobs. Takahito "Taka" Matsuda of MiLB Double-A's Eastern League accomplished the rare feat on April 25 and 29, 2019, when he called two no-hitters that happened to fall across back-to-back assignments as a home plate umpire, thanks in part to inclement weather in New York.

The fun for Matsuda began in Binghamton as Taka called the Portland Seadogs' 2-0 victory and combined no-hitter over the host Rumble Ponies on Thursday, April 25, with crewmates Derek Thomas and Mike Raines in the field.

Stormy weather postponed Sunday's scheduled game between Portland and Binghamton, which pushed Matsuda's next plate assignment back a day to Monday, April 29th in Altoona, where Erie Seawolves pitcher Casey Mize spun nine innings of no-hit ball to defeat the host Curve 1-0, and cap off the rarest of rare umpiring feats.

To illustrate how rare the back-to-back umpiring no-hitter is, we looked at the Retrosheet.org record books for Major League Baseball, where such records are kept.

Bill Dinneen umpired from 1909 to 1937.
Many umpires have called two no-hitters in a season, but you'd have to go back nearly a century, to 1923, in order to find the last no-hitters on back-to-back plate assignments in the major leagues. American League Umpire Bill Dinneen called the September 4 New York (AL) no-no over Philadelphia from behind home plate and returned three days later to preside as umpire-in-chief over Boston's no-hitter over Philadelphia (poor Philly) on September 7. Dinneen, tangentially, is also the only person in AL, NL, or MLB history to have both pitched and officiated a no-hitter (he threw a no-hitter as a pitcher for the Boston Americans on September 27, 1905 and called six no-hitters as an umpire).

Before that, it was Dick Nallin benefiting from a two-person umpire crew to call the St. Louis Browns' no-hitters on May 5 and 6, 1917, both against the Chicago White Sox; the clubs played a doubleheader on May 6, which afforded Nallin the pleasure of working the plate on consecutive days, such that Nallin holds the distinction of being the only major league umpire to have called two no-hitters from behind the plate on back-to-back calendar days.

You'd have to fast forward to April 30 and May 1, 1969 to find a crew that had back-to-back no-hitters on consecutive days again, as Cincinnati no-hit Houston on April 30th (Crew Chief Frank Secory as plate umpire), while Houston returned the favor and no-hit Cincinnati on May 1 (David "Satch" Davidson as plate umpire). Paul Pryor and Tony Venzon were the other two umpires on that crew.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Tmac's Teachable Tripp - Tricky Plays at 2B

This video episode of Tmac's Teachable Moments finds 2B Umpire Tripp Gibson officiating a complex play at second base with Houston's ball-bobbling infielder Alex Bregman, who nearly collides with sliding Oakland runner Mark Canha as he flips to teammate Carlos Correa, who throws onto first baseman Yuli Gurriel just as batter Corban Joseph arrives at first base.

Quite often an umpire will clear a player by adjusting his position so that he can see around the player to make a call; this can occur with any infielder, such as a second baseman or shortstop who runs in front of an umpire just as the play occurs at the base.

In this case, Gibson in a Deep B alignment allows Bregman to clear him, as he recognizes that the infielder's momentum will open up an angle up the middle, such that Gibson moves to his left as the play develops at second base, locking into the play and sticking with the action as the Athletics throw onto first base to complete the double play on 1B Umpire Ryan Blakney's out call, which is challenged by Oakland Manager Bob Melvin and upheld via Replay Review.

Video as follows:

Case Play 2019-7 - Chicken Little Strike Zone [Solved]

You can't get much more Little League than this. Team Venezuela batter Deivis OrdoƱez, nickname Chicken Little, deployed a unique batting stance, crouching down so low that his knee-hollow and upper midpoint are just inches apart vertically.

So what is an umpire to do when such tomfoolery takes place at home plate?

Question: This Case Play has two parts. The first posits that the batter stands this way only for the first pitch of his at-bat and then reverts to a more traditional batting stance for the remainder of the game. How should an umpire officiate the first pitch of the plate appearance?

The second scenario is a bit more tricky. If the batter assumes this batting stance throughout the game, consistently entering a crouch this low for every pitch and remaining in this stance through swings and takes alike, how should an umpire call this batsman's strike zone? What would a computer K-Zone even look like here?

Answer: For part one, this is not the batter's usual stance for the batter is not prepared to swing at a pitched ball. As a result, the plate umpire shall best estimate where the batter's vertical strike zone would be if the batter were standing in a more natural manner. A more liberal interpretation of the zone may be appropriate.

For the second case, if the batter truly swings and hits from this severe crouching position, then this is indeed the batter's strike zone; perhaps a rules loophole, a batter may legally assume such a severe stance and have a strike zone adjudged based on this stance as long as it is in consistent use for every pitch and the batter legitimately swings and hits from this position. Don't punish an individual batter because that one person doesn't conform to the league average stance, but by the same token, that hitting stance best be consistent.

Gil's Call: I've never seen a batter successfully hit from this position (much less use that stance), but if someone comes along who can do it on a consistent basis, more power to that player. That said, if a plate umpire has ever seen this hypothetical batter swing or hit before, that'll make it quite simple to know whether the batter is attempting to manipulate the strike zone. Other opportunities to observe the batter's "true" strike zone include: batting practice, the on-deck circle, practice swings as the batter prepares to enter the box.

In Little League, if an umpire says in jest to a batter during a dead ball, "show me your home run swing," more than likely, the batter will revert to their "actual" hitting stance, at which point it will be evident whether the severe crouch is legitimate or not.

Official Baseball Rules Library
Definition of Terms: "The STRIKE ZONE is that area over home plate the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants, and the lower level is a line at the hollow beneath the kneecap. The Strike Zone shall be determined from the batter’s stance as the batter is prepared to swing at a pitched ball."

Video as follows: