Wednesday, February 21, 2018

2018 UEFL Draft and Registration Now Open

Announcing registration and UEFL draft, now open for the 2018 Umpire ejection Fantasy League season.
Welcome to the 2018 Umpire Ejection Fantasy League preseason. This year's registration and draft form is now available and shall be due in one month's time (see below for precise deadlines).

You may both register and draft your umpires at the same time or draft your umpires in phases, pursuant to UEFL Rule 1. All registrants will automatically be entered into both the standard and UEFL Express (umpire points only) divisions.

Relevant Links for the 2018 UEFL Season
2018 UEFL Registration and Draft Form | Free UEFL Digest E-mail Subscription
UEFL Rules Book | 2018 Season MLB Umpire Crews | Sortable Ump Roster

The UEFL Rules have been updated for 2018.
Registration Procedures, Eligibility, and the Draft
Participation in the UEFL is free and open to any visitor who wishes to play. Users play by drafting umpire crews consisting of one Crew Chief, two Primary Umpires, and two Secondary Umpires; there may be other opportunities to earn points during the season, such as through Case Play questions and scenarios.

In order to draft a crew of umpires, you will need to complete the 2018 UEFL Registration and Draft form; you may use the same username as before if you participated in the past. Although guest commenting is enabled, UEFL Rules 4-7 and 6-1 state that users must be logged into the DISQUS commenting platform in order to initiate challenges.

Registration, Draft, and Roster Deadlines as follows:
Friday, March 23, 2018: Last day to register for the 2018 UEFL (registration closed).
Monday, March 26, 2018: Last day to submit unrestricted Primary & Secondary Umpires.
Tuesday, March 27, 2018: Last day to submit unrestricted Crew Chief selections.
Thursday, March 29, 2018: Regular season begins.

Appeals Board - UEFL Rule 6-4-a
This season, there are no vacancies on the UEFL Appeals Board; thus, there will be no nominations.
The 2018 UEFL Appeals Board is as follows:
4x: Gil (Commissioner, Chair), Jeremy (Deputy), tmac (Assistant), RichMSN (Charter Member).
5x: Arik G, cyclone14, MarkCanada, jvick2017, MLBUmpireObserver.

You may reply to this post with any questions you may have. Registration form is embedded below:

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

2018 Season MLB Umpire Crews

To help with your Crew Chief draft selection, the 2018 MLB umpire crews feature 76 umpires on the staff spread over 19 umpiring squads. Visit the UEFL's Umpire Roster and Profiles page for a sortable list of all MLB and MiLB call-up umpires and their officiating profiles (you can rank by number, name, or crew). The 2018 MLB umpire crew list is subject to change prior to or during the regular season. Stay tuned for information regarding registration and draft procedures for the 2018 UEFL season, coming tomorow

2018 MLB Umpire Crews (By Umpiring Crew Chief Seniority)

Crew #Crew ChiefUmpire 2Umpire 3Umpire 4
Crew 112 Davis, Gerry6 Carlson, Mark91 Knight, Brian31 Hoberg, Pat
Crew 232 DeMuth, Dana39 Nauert, Paul87 Barry, Scott37 Torres, Carlos
Crew 322 West, Joe88 Eddings, Doug60 Foster, Marty90 Ripperger, Mark
Crew 438 Cederstrom, Gary56 Cooper, Eric89 Blaser, Cory85 Scheurwater, Stu
Crew 524 Layne, Jerry53 Gibson,Greg19 Carapazza, Vic71 Baker, Jordan
Crew 69 Gorman, Brian58 Iassogna, Dan80 Johnson, Adrian73 Gibson, Tripp
Crew 78 Kellogg, Jeff51 Hudson, Marvin92 Hoye, James81 Wolcott, Quinn
Crew 820 Hallion, Tom10 Cuzzi, Phil2 Bellino, Dan78 Hamari, Adam
Crew 933 Winters, Mike95 Timmons, Tim30 Drake, Rob76 Muchlinski, Mike
Crew 1025 Culbreth, Fieldin7 O'Nora, Brian54 Bucknor, CB98 Conroy, Chris
Crew 1165 Barrett, Ted44 Danley, Kerwin23 Barksdale, Lance93 Little, Will
Crew 1245 Nelson, Jeff63 Diaz, Laz49 Fletcher, Andy79 Gonzalez, Manny
Crew 1326 Miller, Bill5 Hernandez, Angel13 Tichenor, Todd64 Porter, Alan
Crew 1441 Meals, Jerry46 Kulpa, Ron15 Hickox, Ed47 Morales, Gabe
Crew 1527 Vanover, Larry21 Wendelstedt, Hunter68 Guccione, Chris86 Rackley, David
Crew 16 57 Everitt, Mike3 Welke, Bill11 Randazzo, Tony94 Barrett, Lance
Crew 1750 Emmel, Paul1 Dreckman, Bruce4 Fairchild, Chad83 Estabrook, Mike
Crew 1834 Holbrook, Sam72 Marquez, Alfonso28 Wolf, Jim17 Reyburn, DJ
Crew 1914 Wegner, Mark77 Reynolds, Jim16 DiMuro, Mike74 Tumpane, John

New MLB Umpires (New Hire MLBU): Stu Scheurwater.
New Crew Chiefs (Promotion to -cc): Mark Wegner.

Notes and Observations
No crews are unchanged from 2017 to 2018.
≫ Most crews kept two umpires intact year-over-year; three (GormanMeals, Holbrook) kept three.
≫ Crew 3 (West) & 17 (Emmel) were the most altered; all three supporting umpires were changed.
West regains Ripperger (together in 2016), and Foster (together in 2014).
Culbreth and O'Nora, Davis and Carlson are re-united as cc/2 for the first time since 2013.
≫ Number switches: Angel Hernandez (55 to 5 [Scott]) & DJ Reyburn (70 to 17 [Hirschbeck]).
≫ Retirement Recap: Dale Scott.

Statistical Promotions or Leftward Lateral Movement:
≫ From Umpire 2 (or Interim) to Crew Chief: Mark Wegner.
≫ From Umpire 3 to Umpire 2 (Backup Crew Chief): Bruce Dreckman, Doug Eddings.
≫ From Umpire 4 to Umpire 3: Cory Blaser.

Statistical Rightward Lateral Movement:
≫ From Umpire 2 to Umpire 3: Tony Randazzo (switched crews).

Monday, February 19, 2018

2018 Pace of Play Changes Limit Mound Visits, No Clock

After months of discussion, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announced several pace of play rule changes for the 2018 season that will limit teams' mound visits to six per game and set strict time limits for inning breaks and pitching changes. Teams will also gain new technology for internal Replay Review, while no pitch clock will be added this year.

Manfred's decision to forgo the pitch clock after bluffing for months that he could implement it in 2018 is to allow teams the opportunity to speed up the game without using a clock. Pursuant to the MLBPA's CBA, MLB retains the authority to unilaterally introduce a pitch clock ahead of the 2019 season, and the sides will meet during the season to discuss pace of play.
Related PostPlayers Reject Pace of Play Proposal, Override Probable (1/19/18).

Mound Visits Limited to Six Per Game
Baseball will limit mound visits without a pitching change to six per regulation game. If a game extends into extra innings, one additional mound visit will be afforded per team per inning. Unused mound visits from the first nine innings will carry over.

According to this rule, mound visits that count against this limit shall include the following:
> Any manager or coach who visits the mound to confer with a pitcher;
> Any position player who leaves his position to meet with his pitcher during an at-bat;
> Any pitcher who leaves the mound to confer with a teammate during an at-bat.

The following actions will not constitute a mound visit that counts against the six-per-game limit:
> Any mound visit that ultimately results in a pitching change;
> Discussions between pitchers and teammates that occur between batters and do not disrupt play;
> Fielders who visit the mound to clean their spikes in rainy or muddy conditions;
> Fielders or coaches who visit the mound to attend to a potentially injured pitcher;
> A visit that occurs after announcement of an offensive substitution (pinch hitter or pinch runner).

Exception to the Limit (Gil's Call: The Mound Visit Loophole):
> If a pitcher and catcher are "crossed-up" but a team has used its allotment of six visits, the catcher may request from the plate umpire an exception that would allow for a brief, seventh, mound visit.

Inning Break and Pitching Change Clocks
Though MLB's break clock existed during prior years, its enforcement will change somewhat in 2018. Locally televised games' breaks will span 2 minutes and five seconds (2:05), while nationally televised contests will feature 2:25 breaks. Postseason games' breaks will last 2:55. The timer begins at the last out of an inning unless the third out is a close play that may be subject to Replay Review, in which case the clock starts when it is clear a team will not challenge the call, or the out is affirmed via Review. If the pitcher ends an inning on base, at the plate, or on deck, the timer begins when the pitcher leaves the dugout for the mound.

SIDEBAR: This means local games will have at least 35 minutes of commercials, nationally televised games' breaks will total at least 41 minutes, and postseason games will feature at least 49 minutes (assuming the home team wins and there are no mid-inning pitching changes).

At 25 seconds on the countdown clock, the pitcher will throw his last warmup pitch.
At 20 seconds, the batter is announced and begins to approach home plate.
At 0 seconds, the pitcher will begin his windup or other motion to deliver a pitch to the batter.

The pitcher is not guaranteed nor limited to eight warm-up pitches; he has until :25 to warm up. Umpires may set aside the time limits under circumstances such as injury/safety considerations, equipment malfunctions, or playing field delays.

Video Replay Review for Teams
To crack down on sign stealing, MLB will install phone lines connecting the video review rooms and the dugout, and monitor those conversations to ensure legality. Video rooms will also have the capability to see direct slow motion camera angles.

Batter's Box
OBR 5.04(b)(4)(A)'s batter box rule requiring the batter to keep at least one foot in the box throughout the at-bat except during certain events (swing, bunt, check swing, inside pitch that brushes back the batter, "Time" called, pickoff/play on the bases, pitcher leaves mound, catcher leaves box, wild pitch, passed ball) remains in effect.
Related PostRob Manfred Vows Pace of Play Rules Changes for 2018 (11/16/17).

Friday, February 16, 2018

Mark Wegner Promoted to Crew Chief for 2018

Mark Wegner is now a permanent MLB crew chief, filling the vacancy left by the retirement of veteran umpire Dale Scott. His promotion and new supervisory status was quietly included alongside the 2018 Spring Training umpires' roster.

Mark Wegner is MLB's Newest Crew Chief.
With 20 years of Major League experience since his 1998 National League debut, Wegner has served as an interim crew chief on several occasions, and most recently served in the backup role ("Umpire 2") on Mike Winters' "M Crew" (the "M" stands for Mike Winters, Mark Wegner, Marty Foster, and Mike Muchlinski).

For Winters' "M crew" to persist in Wegner's absence, baseball will need to assign as a replacement Mark Carlson or Marvin Hudson (both presently Umpire 2s on other crews), or Ump3/4s Mike DiMuro, Mike Estabrook, Manny Gonzalez, or Mark Ripperger.

Wegner most recently officiated behind home plate during Game 7 of the 2017 World Series (his sixth straight postseason since suffering a torn calf muscle injury in 2011), and won the UEFL's Best Umpire of the Year Award in November.
Related Post2017 UEFL Award for Umpire of the Year - Mark Wegner (November 10, 2017)

Wegner will leave behind the fabled "M Crew."
In January, we discussed the potential candidates for baseball's only opening for the leadership position ahead of the 2018 regular season, identifying Angel Hernandez, Jim Reynolds, Alfonso Marquez, Mark Wegner, and Ron Kulpa as the top five candidates based on statistics alone.
Related Post: Running the Numbers for MLB's Next Crew Chief (1/12/18).

Wegner comes into the role as the statistical fourth-most qualified, behind Hernandez, Reynolds, and Marquez.

Wegner first assumed a regular "Umpire 2" (backup crew chief) role in 2013, as did Marquez; Kulpa became an Ump2 in 2012, Reynolds in 2010, and Hernandez in 2002. Wegner's 12 postseasons are fifth-most amongst eligibles (Hernandez [16]; Eric Cooper, Greg Gibson, Kulpa [13]), and his Review Affirmation Percentage (RAP) since 2014 ranks 12th best in the league, behind only one other candidate (Marquez, 3rd).

The statistically most-qualified Umpire 2, Hernandez, sued MLB's Officer of the Commissioner in 2017, alleging, amongst others, racially-motivated discrimination in baseball's failure to promote him to Crew Chief, while promoting less qualified white umpires instead.
Related PostAngel Hernandez Sues MLB for Racial Discrimination (7/3/17).

Keep reading to hear White Sox legend Ken "Hawk" Harrelson's thoughts on Wegner's promotion:

Thursday, February 15, 2018

2018 MLB Spring Training Umpire Roster

Announcing the first sign of baseball season, it's the 2018 Spring Training Umpire roster. Comprised of 91 umpires, including 76 full-time MLB + 15 minor league call-ups and invitees, this preseason's officiating list for Arizona's Cactus and Florida's Grapefruit Leagues contains 11 less umpires than the 2017 Spring Training list (102 umpires). This decrease is due in large part to the absence of a World Baseball Classic tournament this spring; the 2016 Spring Training roster, a year which similarly did feature a World Baseball Classic, consisted of 95 umpires.

The following roster includes sleeve numbers for all applicable umpires; Minor League Baseball umpires with numbers are deemed Call-Ups and may fill in during the regular season at the Major League level, while MiLB umpires without numbers are the Spring Training invitees and are not yet on MLB's fill-in list. The MiLB umpire in bold is new to the Spring Training list.

MLB Spring Training Umpires' Roster - 2018 Pre-Season
MLB StaffMLB StaffMiLB Invitees & Call-Ups
Baker, Jordan 71
Barksdale, Lance 23
Barrett, Lance 94
Barrett, Ted 65
Barry, Scott 87
Bellino, Dan 2
Blaser, Cory 89
Bucknor, CB 54
Carapazza, Vic 19
Carlson, Mark 6
Cederstrom, Gary 38
Conroy, Chris 98
Cooper, Eric 56
Culbreth, Fieldin 25
Cuzzi, Phil 10
Danley, Kerwin 44
Davis, Gerry 12
DeMuth, Dana 32
Diaz, Laz 63
DiMuro, Mike 16
Drake, Rob 30
Dreckman, Bruce 1
Eddings, Doug 88
Emmel, Paul 50
Estabrook, Mike 83
Everitt, Mike 57
Fairchild, Chad 4
Fletcher, Andy 49
Foster, Marty 60
Gibson, Greg 53
Gibson, Tripp 73
Gonzalez, Manny 79
Gorman, Brian 9
Guccione, Chris 68
Hallion, Tom 20
Hamari, Adam 78
Hernandez, Angel 5
Hickox, Ed 15
Hoberg, Pat 31
Holbrook, Sam 34
Hoye, James 92
Hudson, Marvin 51
Iassogna, Dan 58
Johnson, Adrian 80
Kellogg, Jeff 8
Knight, Brian 91
Kulpa, Ron 46
Layne, Jerry 24
Little, Will 93
Marquez, Alfonso 72
Meals, Jerry 41
Miller, Bill 26
Morales, Gabe 47
Muchlinski, Mike 76
Nauert, Paul 39
Nelson, Jeff 45
O'Nora, Brian 7
Porter, Alan 64
Rackley, David 86
Randazzo, Tony 11
Reyburn, D.J. 17
Reynolds Jim 77
Ripperger, Mark 90
Scheurwater, Stu 85
Tichenor, Todd 13
Timmons, Tim 95
Torres, Carlos 37
Tumpane, John 74
Vanover, Larry 27
Wegner, Mark 14
Welke, Bill 3
Wendelstedt, Hunter 21
West, Joe 22
Winters, Mike 33
Wolcott, Quinn 81
Wolf, Jim 28
Additon, Ryan 67
Barber, Sean 29
Blakney, Ryan 36
De Jesus, Ramon 18
January, Javerro "JJ" -
Lentz, Nic 59
Libka, John 84
Livensparger, Shane 43
Nick Mahrley 48
May, Ben 97
Ortiz, Roberto 40
Rehak, Jeremie -
Segal, Chris 96
Whitson, Chad 62
Woodring, Tom 75

(15 MiLB Umpires)
(76 MLB Umpires)
(91 Total Umpires)

Information obtained by
UEFL on 2/15/2018.
Some observations, year-over-year:
  • > MiLB invites decreased by 11 (from 2017, which featured a March World Baseball Classic).
  • > 2018's roster of 15 MiLBU is comprised of 2 invitees and 13 regular-season call-up umps.
  • JJ January is the only new invitee; Jeremie Rehak is the only returning, non-call-up invitee. 
  • > Umpires who appeared on the 2017 Spring Training MiLB invitee list, but who have been cut from the 2018 preseason are: John Bacon (2017 MLB Spring Training Invitee), Toby Basner (2012-17 MLB Call-Up), John Bostwick (2017 MLB Spring Training Invitee), Mike Cascioppo (2017 MLB Spring Training Invitee), Travis Eggert (2017 MLB Spring Training Invitee), Clint Fagan (2011-17 MLB Call-Up), Dan Merzel (2017 MLB Spring Training Invitee), Garrett Patterson (2017 MLB Spring Training Invitee), Ron Teague (2017 MLB Spring Training Invitee), Alex Tosi (2017 MLB Spring Training Invitee), Junior Valentine (2017 Spring Training Invitee).
  • > Toby Basner and Clint Fagan are the only two 2017 call-ups not to appear on 2018's roster.
  • > Dale Scott retired from the MLB staff, and Stu Scheurwater was hired to fill his spot.
  • > Angel Hernandez appears to have switched from #55 to #5, formerly worn by Dale Scott.
The 2018 Crew Chief promotion announcement will follow this update in the coming days.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

ABL Ejections - Takahito Matsuda & Bench Clearing

Sunday's decisive Australian Baseball League Championship Series Game 3 featured a bench-clearing incident and two ejections by 2B Umpire Takahito Matsuda en route to a Brisbane Bandits 4-2 victory and ABL win over the Canberra Cavalry.

First, the bench clearer. With two out and none on in the bottom of the 6th inning, Bandits batter Andrew Campbell took a 2-2 fastball from Cavalry pitcher Frank Gailey inside for a hit by pitch, resulting in a bench clearing incident. Replays indicate the pitch hit Campbell in the upper back, the call was irrecusable, resulting in warnings from HP Umpire Mal Mackay and an extended conversation with both managers; relief pitcher Steven Kent replaced Gailey following the at-bat. At the time of the incident, the Bandits were leading, 4-0.

One pitch later, 2B Umpire Matsuda ejected Bandits 1B Coach Adrian Lamb for fighting during a second bench-clearing event that started after Bandits baserunner Campbell was caught stealing at second base, and Manager Dave Nilsson for arguing the incident. The Bandits ultimately won the contest, and the Championship Series, 4-2.
Related Historical EjectionABL Ejections - Takahito Matsuda (Dave Nilsson, E Green) (1/9/16).

After the game the League issued a statement concerning the incidents:
The Australian Baseball League will continue to follow the established disciplinary protocols and procedures in reviewing all reported incidents from Game 3.
This review will include the behaviour of players, coaches and officials during the game.
Any official finding will be published in line with the ABL regular reporting processes.
Matsuda is a Minor League Umpire and spent the 2017 season on the Double-A Eastern League staff.

Wrap: Canberra Cavalry vs Brisbane Bandits (ABL Championship), 2/11/18 | Video as follows:

UEFL Profile of MLB Umpire Adam Hamari

Presenting the UEFL Profile of MLB Umpire Adam Hamari.
Name: Adam Curtis Hamari
Date of Birth: May 25, 1983
Place of Birth: Marquette, Michigan
MiLB Leagues Worked: New York-Penn, Midwest, California, Florida State, Southern, Eastern, International, Pacific Coast.
MLB DebutJune 25, 2013
Level: MLB
Umpire Uniform Number: 78
Crew Chief: No

2017 Ejections: 1.
Ejection 048 (SEA M Scott Servais; QOC = Y).

2016 Ejections: 4.
Ejection 179 (ATL M Brian Snitker; QOC = Y).
Ejection 178 (ATL LF Matt Kemp; QOC = Y).
Ejection 063 (NYM M Terry Collins; QOC = U).
Ejection 062 (NYM P Noah Syndergaard; QOC = U).

2015 Ejections: 3.
Ejection 174 (TEX 3B Adrian Beltre; QOC = Y).
Ejection 131 (CHC M Joe Maddon; QOC = Y).
Ejection 080 (CIN RF Jay Bruce; QOC = N).

2014 Ejections: 1.
Ejection 026 (SEA 1BC Andy Van Slyke; QOC = Y). *First Career MLB Ejection*

2013 Ejections: None.
Ejection History: 0 (2013), 1 (2014), 3 (2015), 4 (2016), 1 (2017).

UEFL History: Adam Hamari

Postseason and Special Events History
World Baseball Classic: -
All-Star Game: -
Wild Card Game: -
Division Series: -
Championship Series: -
World Series: -

UEFL Fill-In Umpire of the Year: 2016

Notes: Hired to the full-time MLB staff prior to the 2017 season.
» Graduated from the Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring (JEAPU) in 2006.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Analysis - Tennessee Wins on Walk-Off Obstruction Call

The Tennessee Lady Vols won a weekend softball game against Utah after an umpire's obstruction call on a game-ending play at the plate scored the winning run. Was the call correct pursuant to NCAA rules or should the game have continued?

Utes catcher Martinez blocks plate too early.
The Play: With the bases loaded in the bottom of the 7th inning and Utah leading, 5-3, Tennessee batter Abby Lockman hit a 2-1 pitch from Utah pitcher Miranda Viramontes to left field, scoring baserunners Chelsea Seggern and Scarlet McSwain. Utah left fielder Julia Noskin retrieved and threw the ball to catcher Kelly Martinez, who received the throw as R1 Brooke Langston arrived at home plate, resulting in a game-ending obstruction call from HP Umpire Vince Price, who signaled a delayed dead ball as soon as the violation occurred.
Video at bottom of post.

Still image of catcher's tag of baserunner.
Analysis: Replays indicate that Utah catcher Martinez caught the ball and tagged baserunner Langston before the latter touched home plate, but also suggest that Martinez positioned herself in front of home plate and between the plate and baserunner Langston before gaining possession of the ball. Key to the analysis is a college softball rules change, enacted just in time for the 2018 season.

The Rule: Pursuant to the NCAA Softball Rules Committee's recommendation over the winter, the sport's new Rule 9.5.1, regarding obstruction, states:
Obstruction occurs when a defensive player, not in possession of the ball or in the act of fielding a batted ball, impedes a batter's attempt to make contact with a pitch or impedes the progress of any runner who is legally running bases on a live ball. It can be intentional or unintentional. It is obstruction if a defensive player is blocking the whole base/plate or base path without the ball and/or the runner does not have a clear path to the base/plate. (See also Rule 12.13.)
Rationale: College softball's move toward eliminating the defense's opportunity to block the plate without the ball follows both NCAA and MLB baseball's move to eliminate this area of potential contact. For instance, both baseball and softball agree that once in possession of the ball, the catcher may be positioned between the runner and plate, and all rules codes allow for the runner to be called out if, not withstanding the catcher's positioning, she would have been out by a throw that clearly beat her. College softball's obstruction rule formerly referred to a catcher in the act of fielding a throw (baseball still allows this); softball's present rule requires possession first, in a "Catch=>Block=>Tag" sequence of legality, thus rendering "Block=>Catch=>Tag" explicitly illegal.

An example of a legally positioned catcher.
Baseball Equivalent: OBR's Rule 7.13 came into existence ahead of the 2014 season, and outlawed certain collisions at home plate by prohibiting the catcher without possession of the ball from blocking the pathway of the runner while prohibiting the runner from deviating from his path to initiate contact with the catcher.
Related PostTest Yourself: MLB Adopts Home Plate Collision Rule 7.13 (2/25/14).

The rule also allows a catcher to move up the line to catch a thrown ball, even if such a catch would take the catcher into the runner's path, and dictates that a runner shall be called out if he would have been out "notwistanding the catcher's improper positioning in front of the plate."
Related PostMLB Issues Rule 7.13 Plate Blocking Clarification (9/10/14).

After the catch, F2 legally blocks home.
SIDEBAR: One notable difference between the codes is that, in softball, this form of obstruction can occur on a force play. In MLB baseball, however, force plays are excluded from the plate blocking rule (MLB added this exclusion in June 2014 after a force play was called off due to the catcher's blocking of home plate; the formal language went into effect for the 2015 season under 6.01(i)(2)).
Related PostHow to Illegally Block the Plate with the Bases Loaded (6/4/15).

Still, this rule (now known in OBR as 6.01(i)(2)) has caused its fair share of controversy in baseball, most recently resulting in Cubs Manager Joe Maddon's ejection from Game 1 of the 2017 National League Championship Series for arguing a Replay Review decision that overturned an out call to that of a Rule 6.01(i)(2) violation, thus scoring a Dodgers run.
Related PostMLB Ejection P-2 - Mike Winters (2; Joe Maddon) (10/14/17).

An example of an illegal catcher.
As was the case during the 7th inning of Utah-Tennessee softball, Cubs catcher Willson Contreras had positioned himself in front of home plate—and, specifically, between the plate and scoring baserunner Charlie Culberson—such that even though the throw was up the line, and Contreras may have legally moved into the runner's path in order to field the throw, he nonetheless violated MLB's plate blocking rule simply because he started the play positioned illegally between the runner and the plate.

Conclusion: As such, HP Umpire Price's obstruction call to end the Utah-Tennessee softball game was correct; Utah's catcher started the play in an illegal position between the scoring runner and home plate, thus forcing the runner to alter her path toward home even before the throw arrived in the vicinity of the plate.

In other words, the NCAA wants the play-at-the-plate sequence to read "Catch=>Block=>Tag." By changing the sequence to "Block=>Catch=>Tag," Utah committed obstruction in contravention of Rule 9.5.1, and awarding Tennessee the game-winning run was indeed the proper call.

Wrap: Tennessee vs Utah (NCAA Division I Softball), 2/10/18 | Video as follows:

Friday, February 2, 2018

UEFL Profile of MLB Umpire Gabe Morales

Presenting the UEFL Profile of MLB Umpire Gabe Morales.
Name: Gabriel Morales
Date of Birth: June 21, 1984
Place of Birth: Santa Clara, California

MiLB Leagues Worked: Arizona, New York-Penn, South Atlantic, Arizona Instructional, Texas, International, Pacific Coast.
MLB Debut: April 2, 2014
Level: MLB
Umpire Uniform Number: 47
Crew Chief: No

2017 Ejections: 1.
Ejection 165 (CWS P Lucas Giolito; QOC = N).

2016 Ejections: 2.
Ejection 120 (BOS M John Farrell; QOC = Y).
Ejection 078 (DET CF Cameron Maybin; QOC = Y).

2015 Ejections: 1.
Ejection 177 (MIN M Paul Molitor; QOC = Y). *First Career MLB Ejection*

2014 Ejections: None.

Ejection History: 0 (2014), 1 (2015), 2 (2016), 1 (2017).

UEFL History: Gabe Morales

Postseason and Special Events History
World Baseball Classic: -
All-Star Game: -
Wild Card Game: -
Division Series: -
Championship Series: -
World Series: -

Notes: Hired to the full-time MLB staff prior to the 2017 season.
» Graduated from the Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring (JEAPU) in 2009.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Site Remodel Announcement

Close Call Sports & Umpire Ejection Fantasy League is getting a facelift. Over the next week, the website's appearance will be fine tuned in preparation for the upcoming 2018 UEFL season. We'll be open during construction, meaning you will still have access to all CCS content, and we'll continue posting news stories and other content as per the usual offseason schedule. The site may look odd or downright broken over the next few days, but rest assured, we'll be busy working on a new look.

What's more, you will now be able to visit Close Call Sports over an encrypted, or secure, connection. Similar to the circa-2017 address at, the encrypted link will be accessible at (adds an 's'). Both links will work for the time being, but our goal is to redirect all traffic to the secure connection at some point in the future.

Feel free to comment, tweet, or e-mail any feedback or features you'd like to see in 2018!