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Umpire Rosters: 2019 MLB Umpire Crews | Listen to our Podcast: Episode 16 - Dave Phillips

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Case Play 2019-7 - Chicken Little Strike Zone

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?

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:

Saturday, August 17, 2019

MLB Ejections 161-163 - May, Cuzzi (NYY)

HP Umpire Ben May ejected Yankees Manager Aaron Boone and 1B Umpire Phil Cuzzi ejected Yankees CF Brett Gardner and pitcher CC Sabathia (strike three call; QOCN) in the bottom of the 6th inning of the #Indians-#Yankees game. With one out and none on, Yankees batter Cameron Maybin took a 3-2 fastball from Indians pitcher Nick Wittgren for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located off the outer edge of home plate and thigh-high (px 0.93, pz 1.94 [sz_bot 1.79]), the call was incorrect.* At the time of the ejection, the Yankees were leading, 6-4. The Yankees ultimately won the contest, 6-5.

This is Ben May (97)'s first ejection of 2019.
These are Phil Cuzzi (10)'s fourth and fifth ejections of 2019.
Ben May now has -2 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Prev + 2 AAA - 4 Incorrect Call = -2).
Phil Cuzzi now has 12 points in the UEFL Standings (12 Prev + 2*[2 MLB - 2 QOCN-Crewmate] = 12).
Crew Chief Tom Hallion now has 14 points in Crew Division (14 Previous + 3*[0 QOCN] = 14).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
This pitch was located 0.19 horizontal inches from being deemed a correct call.

These are the 161st, 162nd, and 163rd ejection reports of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 77th Manager ejection of 2019.
These are the 76th and 77th player ejections of 2019.
This is New York's 5/6/7th ejection of 2019, 1st in the AL East (NYY 7; BOS 5; BAL, TOR 4; TB 1).
This is Aaron Boone's 4th ejection of 2019, 1st since July 18 (Brennan Miller; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Brett Gardner's 2nd ejection of 2019, 1st since August 9 (Chris Segal; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is CC Sabathia's 1st ejection since Sept 27, 2018 (Vic Carapazza; QOC = U [Throwing At]).
This is Ben May's 1st ejection since Sept 15, 2018 (Paul Molitor; QOC = Y-c [Check Swing]).
This is Phil Cuzzi's 4/5th ejection of 2019, 1st since June 15 (Rick Renteria; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Cleveland Indians vs. New York Yankees, 8/17/19 | Video as follows:

Friday, August 16, 2019

2019 Replay Stats & Leaders at Review 1,000

With Friday evening's first Replay Review—an upheld caught steal call at second by 2B Umpire Laz Diaz in Tampa Bay—comprising MLB's 1,000th use of Replay during the 2019 regular season, we present our statistics and sabermetrics of baseball's video technology thus far.

Totals to Date: 1,000 Replay Reviews.
> .536 Review Affirmation Percentage (RAP).
  > 536 Upheld & 464 Overturned.

Remaining "Perfect" Umpires (No Overturns):
Brian Gorman (2/2 = 1.000 RAP).
Scott Barry (1/1 = 1.000 RAP) [Injured].
Related PostInjuries - Everitt, Hallion & Barry Hurt on Tuesday (6/4/19).

Top 20 Umpires in RAP (Upheld-for-Total Chances):
1. Gorman, 2. Barry = 1.000 RAP.
3. Greg Gibson & DJ Reyburn (both 6-for-7) = .857 RAP.
5. Bill Miller & Mike Muchlinski (8-for-10) = .800 RAP.
7. Manny Gonzalez & Tom Woodring (4-for-5) = .800 RAP.
9. Ted Barrett & Marvin Hudson (7-for-9) = .778 RAP.
11. Laz Diaz (10-for-13) = .769 RAP.
12. Kerwin Danley (9-for-12) = .750 RAP.
13. Tim Timmons (5-for-7) = .714 RAP.
14. Adrian Johnson (12-for-17) = .706 RAP.
15. Todd Tichenor, Larry Vanover & Quinn Wolcott (9-for-13) = .692 RAP.
18. Adam Hamari (14-for-21) = .667 RAP.
Brian Gorman has been perfect (in 2 tries).
19. Chris Segal (12-for-18) = .667 RAP.
20. Roberto Ortiz (8-for-12) = .667 RAP.

Most Overturned Calls, Raw Number:
1. Ron Kulpa = 12 Overturns / 20 Total (.400 RAP).
1. Dan Iassogna = 12 Overturns / 19 (.368 RAP).
3. Bill Welke = 11 Overturns / 18 (.389 RAP).
4. Andy Fletcher = 10 OTs / 19 (.474 RAP).
5. Vic Carapazza = 10 OTs / 14 (.286 RAP).

Most Successful Teams (Success Percentage):
1. Royals = 17 Overturns-for-23 Total = .639 TSP.
2. Yankees = 11-for-17 = .647 Team Success Pct.
3. Rangers = 27-for-42 = .643 TSP.

Reviews by Type (Uphold + Overturn = RAP):*
Out/Safe (Force-lite - 1st): 77 + 176 = .304 RAP.
Out/Safe (Tag - Into Base): 93 + 65 = .589 RAP.
Out/Safe (Tag - Stolen Base): 74 + 57 = .565 RAP.
Out/Safe (Pulled Foot): 39 + 35 = .527 RAP.
HBP/No HBP: 39 + 30 = .565 RAP.

*Above list includes Top 5 uses of Replay Review. For full list and other statistics, see our Umpire Replay Review Statistics and Sabermetrics page.

Podcast - Disco Demo Davey Phillips (Part 2)

We continue our interview with longtime AL umpire Dave Phillips, picking up with the infamous Disco Demolition Night in Chicago as Davey delights us with more tales of his 31-year, 3,933-game career in the major leagues.

In Part 2 of the show, we start with the forfeited game known as Disco Demolition Night and continue with the resumption-of-play for George Brett's pine tar game in New York, with Joe Niekro's emory board ejection and a massive brawl between Oakland and and Milwaukee thrown in as well.

Click the below play (▶) button to listen to "Episode 18 - Disco Demo Davey Phillips (Part 2)" or visit the show online at https://anchor.fm/the-plate-meeting. The Plate Meeting is also available on iTunes (Apple Podcasts), Google, Castbox, RadioPublic, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, and several other podcast apps.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Runner Struck by Batted Ball Behind Infielder Not Out

Home plate umpire Greg Gibson reversed a dead ball out call in Kansas City after Cardinals batter Randy Arozarena's ground ball hit St. Louis runner Yadier Molina between second and third, explaining to Royals Manager Ned Yost that because the batted ball struck a runner after the ball had already passed all infielders, Official Baseball Rule 5.09(b)(7), which ordinarily holds that a runner is out when struck by a batted ball, did not apply. Why?

Thanks to Umpire-Empire for this Ask the UEFL submission.

The Rule: OBR 5.09(b)(7) states that a "runner is out when—He is touched by a fair ball in fair territory before the ball has gone through, or by, an infielder and no other infielder has a chance to make a play on the ball. The ball is dead and no runner may score, nor runners advance, except runners forced to advance."

All infielders are playing inside the runner.
When the infield plays in and the ball bounds past all infielders before striking the runner, as was the case in Kansas City, Rule 5.09(b)(7) does not apply to the situation. Had an infielder been positioned even-with or behind the runner when the runner was touched by the batted ball, the "Time" & out call would be the proper ruling (as long as the umpire deemed that the infielder(s) had a play on the ball).

GG explains to Yost his basis for reversal.
The Recovery: Gibson relied on Rule 8.03(c) to correct that which he knew was wrong the moment he called it: "If the umpires consult after a play and change a call that had been made, then they have the authority to take all steps that they may deem necessary, in their discretion, to eliminate the results and consequences of the earlier call that they are reversing."

Gibby explained to Yost the error of his initial "Time" call and corrected the mistake by calling R2 Molina safe and placing each Cardinals baserunner at their next base, keeping the bases loaded and scoring one run for the visiting team while ruling that Molina—not exactly known for his speed—would most likely have remained at third base had the original call been the ultimate one.

Video as follows:

Officiating Positives - The Kids Who Inspire Umpires

Umpires and referees know that officiating can be a thankless and mentally fatiguing job. When hurtful grownups try to tear officials down, think of the child who loves nothing more than to see a dedicated referee or umpire at work. To help in that regard, we've put together a video featuring children of all ages who are fans of the officiating team. Consider it an anecdotal response to the tired phrase, "nobody buys a ticket to watch the umpire."

In this modern maelstrom of malicious mockery, recall that, "Personal insults of an official generally have nothing to do with the official personally...The act often concerns some underlying issue within the person committing the abuse and may represent a personal struggle that person has with authority, lack of control, or accepting a result in conflict with one's own desires."
Related PostLet's Talk - Mental Health in an Abusive Environment (10/10/17).

For instance, when an angry Danny Duffy accused umpire John Tumpane of personal animus—Tumpane, the umpire best known for saving a life—Duffy spoke from a place of personal hurt: Kansas City had lost six in a row and Duffy hadn't been playing well. When Todd Frazier said, "these umpires have got to get better," it followed a series of poor offensive output and ignored statistics showing that umpires had performed quite well as Frazier himself had struggled in the batter's box.
Related PostEjected Duffy Makes it Personal in KC vs Tumpane Claim (6/18/18).
Related PostTodd Frazier - "These Umpires Have Got to Get Better" (5/3/18).

As Jim Joyce once wrote, Nobody's Perfect, and sports officials will miss calls here and there. Even the Official Baseball Rules accepts this fate and includes this phrase in its General Instructions to Umpires: "You no doubt are going to make mistakes." It happens and it's okay to acknowledge this...but it's not okay to harass and berate. When unhappy grownups fail to stop when no means no, remember the kids, including those who come to the stadium specifically to watch the umpires—those young and young-at-heart referee fans who want nothing more than to see the most responsible adults on the field succeed at the task of calling a kid's game.
Related PostPodcast - Episode 12 - The Jim Joyce Jubilee (4/2/19).

Video as follows:

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

What We Learned from Segal, Gardner, and Torre

After MLB Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre publicly backed HP Umpire Chris Segal's ejection of Yankees slugger Brett Gardner in Toronto, we decided to read between the lines, tracing the Commissioner's Office-Umpires Association relationship back to Manny Machado's ejection and one-game suspension in June 2019, and noticing that ever since the fallout from that incident, Torre has made an effort to publicly bolster his sport's officials.

To recap, Bill Welke ejected Machado on June 15, 2019, leading to MLBUA's June 18 tweet criticizing the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball for inaction when MLB suspended Machado, a player with a purported history of misconduct, for just one game. MLBUA invoked the term "workplace violence," and MLB responded that it was inappropriate for the umpires' union to comment on a suspension levied against a player.
Related PostA Kick Too Far? Manny Machado's History of Misconduct (10/17/18).
Related PostMLB Ejections 092-94 - Welke, Everitt (SD) (6/15/19).
Related PostMLBUA Objects to MLB "Inaction" on Machado (6/18/19).
Related PostMLB Rejects MLBUA's Workplace Violence Tweet (6/19/19).

Less than a week later, after HP Umpire Doug Eddings ejected Asdrubal Cabrera in Texas on June 20, MLB suspended Cabrera four games when Cabrera's post-ejection batting glove toss from the dugout wound up at Crew Chief (and MLBUA President) Bill Miller's feet.
Related PostMLB Ejection 096 - Doug Eddings (1; Asdrubal Cabrera) (6/20/19).
Related PostMLB Suspends Cabrera - Too Harsh or Just Right? (6/21/19).

And ever since, with MLB-MLBUA contract negotiations in the middle, Torre seems to have been going out of his way to be kind to umpires in public, going so far now as to back Segal's ejection of Gardner because Gardner was unsporting enough to have earned an ejection, even though Segal mistakenly ejected him for something teammate Cameron Maybin said.
Related PostTorre Doesn't Want Robot Umpires in MLB (7/26/19).
Related PostJoe Torre Backs Ump Segal in Gardner Ejection (8/13/19).

In Gil's opinion, MLB feels badly about MM.
So what have we learned? Gil's Call: MLB feels badly about the underwhelming quality of its Machado suspension and has been making it up to the umpires ever since, going so far as to support an umpire who clearly made an error.

Second, we've learned that umpires should be 100% sure when communicating a reason for ejection. Had Segal told Aaron Boone he ejected Gardner for his bashing the bat against the dugout ceiling or had Segal ejected Maybin for the unsporting verbal comments, we likely wouldn't be here today. Maybe in the future, the bat-roof-slam necessitates immediate attention and possible dismissal to prevent an untenable situation from festering further and giving teammates (e.g., Maybin) the green light to say something worse.

In the end, umpires can learn a lesson from Segal's apparent misattribution of Maybin's comments to Gardner: Sometimes less is more. If the proof isn't in the pudding, the phrase "unsportsmanlike conduct" works wonders. Video as follows:

Injury Scout - Fairchild Hurt in Miami

Chad Fairchild exited Tuesday's Dodgers-Marlins game in Miami following a foul ball off the mask.

With two out and the bases loaded in the top of the 9th inning, Dodgers batter Russell Martin fouled a 95-mph 2-1 fastball from Marlins pitcher Bryan Holaday into the lower-center portion of Fairchild's facemask, knocking his mask off.

2B Umpire Nic Lentz moved behind the plate for the remainder of the contest, with 1B Umpire Mike Estabrook and 3B Umpire/Acting Crew Chief Bruce Dreckman remaining on the lines.

Relevant Injury History: Fairchild has previous encountered head trauma.

On June 18, 2015, Fairchild remained in that evening's Rangers-Dodgers game after a 97-mph fastball resulted in a foul ball off his mask-covered jaw. He did not appear in the series finale a day later.
Related PostFairchild Sits Out Thurs After Foul to Face on Wed (6/19/15).

Last Game: August 13 | Return to Play: TBD | Time Absent: TBD | Video as follows:

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

MLB Ejection 160 - Eric Cooper (1; Tim Laker)

HP Umpire Eric Cooper ejected Mariners Hitting Coach Tim Laker (strike two call; QOCY) in the top of the 7th inning of the #Mariners-#Tigers game. With one out and one on (R1), Mariners batter Tom Murphy took a 0-1 fastball from Tigers pitcher Matt Hall for a called second strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the heart of home plate and at the midpoint (px 0.10, pz 3.45 [sz_top 3.34 / RAD 3.46]) and that all other pitches during the at-bat were properly officiated, the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Mariners were leading, 9-6. The Mariners ultimately won the contest, 11-6.

This is Eric Cooper (56)'s second ejection of 2019.
Eric Cooper now has 3 points in the UEFL Standings (-1 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 3).
Crew Chief Joe West now has -9 points in Crew Division (-10 Previous + 1 Correct Call = -9).
*This pitch was located 1.12 vertical inches from being deemed an incorrect call.
QOC value subject to correction pursuant to postgame processing.

This is the 160th ejection report of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is Seattle's 4th ejection of 2019, T-2nd in the AL West (OAK 6; SEA, TEX 4; HOU, LAA 3).
This is Tim Laker's 1st ejection since August 20, 2003 (Scott Nelson; QOC = U [Out/Safe]).
This is Eric Cooper's 2nd ejection of 2019, 1st since May 25 (Terry Francona; QOC = N [Check Swing]).

Wrap: Seattle Mariners vs. Detroit Tigers, 8/13/19 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejection 159 - Greg Gibson (1; Ned Yost)

1B Umpire Greg Gibson ejected Royals Manager Ned Yost (runner's lane interference no-call by HP Umpire Pat Hoberg; QOCY) in the top of the 5th inning of the #STLCards-#Royals game. With two out and none on, Cardinals batter Kolten Wong hit a 1-2 curveball from Royals pitcher Glenn Sparkman on the ground in front of home plate to catcher Meibrys Viloria, who threw to first baseman Ryan O'Hearn as Wong arrived at first base, ruled safe by 1B Umpire Gibson as O'Hearn did not catch the baseball, and also that Wong at some point during his journey to first base did not run within the three-foot runner's lane. Runner's lane interference (RLI) rule 5.09(a)(11) applies to the fielder taking the throw (F3 O'Hearn) and not the fielder making the throw (F2 Viloria); accordingly, because Wong did not interfere with O'Hearn's ability to receive Viloria's throw, there was no running lane interference; because, all else equal (e.g., assuming Wong was invisible), Viloria's throw was poor and would likely not have been caught by O'Hearn, the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Cardinals were leading, 2-0. The Cardinals ultimately won the contest, 2-0.

This is Greg Gibson (53)'s first ejection of 2019.
Greg Gibson now has 6 points in the UEFL Standings (3 Prev + 2 MLB + 1 Correct-Crewmate = 6).
Crew Chief Gerry Davis now has -5 points in Crew Division (-6 Previous + 1 Correct Call = -5).
*Rule 5.09(a)(11) states, "A batter is out for interference when—In running the last half of the distance from home base to first base, while the ball is being fielded to first base, he runs 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 interferes with the fielder taking the throw at first base, in which case the ball is dead."
Related PostRunner's Lane Interference - 2018 World Series Edition (10/28/18).

This is the 159th ejection report of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 76th Manager ejection of 2019.
This is Kansas City's 8th ejection of 2019, T-2nd in the AL Central (DET 9; CWS, KC 8; MIN 3; CLE 1).
This is Ned Yost's 3rd ejection of 2019, 1st since June 8 (Bruce Dreckman; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Greg Gibson's 1st ejection since August 8, 2018 (Kevin Long; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: St. Louis Cardinals vs. Kansas City Royals, 8/13/19 | Video as follows: