Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Umpire Odds & Ends: All-Star & July Ejections

With yesterday's All-Star game in the books, we reflect on the only three day stretch between the beginning of April and the end of September in which there are no regular season games on the docket. Anonymous asks us the following UEFL-relevant question:
No ejections in this year's game, when was the last All-star game ejection?
The answer to this question produced all sorts of error messages for Microsoft Excel. Why? There simply have not been any MLB All-Star Game ejections since the first Midsummer Classic was played July 6, 1933 (American League 4, National League 2... "Bill of Famers" Klem and McGowan worked 1B and 2B, respectively, alongside HP Umpire Dinneen [another Bill] and 3B Umpire Cy Rigler, we assume Rigler paid the dinner... well... bill). Perhaps we need NBA Coach Red Auerbach to Manage one of the teams (in 1967, Auerbach became the first coach ever to be ejected during an All-Star Game). Is this because everyone is on their best behavior after receiving All-Star honors? Or because, like Dale Scott with his line-up cards, laughter is the best medicine? We'll let you be the judge of that. Close Ball/Strike and Safe/Out calls don't take vacations, but neither does the broadcasting staple of second guessing an umpire (this year, the broadcasters questioned Dan Iassogna and Jerry Layne ruling "swing" on two calls that replay would confirm were correctly judged).

Speaking of second guessing an umpire, there has been a lot of that in the past week. With the much-publicized fact of 26 ejections in the period of July 1 - July 10, 2011, we see a pace that would result in a projected 72 ejections during the month of July 2011 (2.6 ejections/day * 28 playing days = 72.8 ejections). 72 ejections would be more than twice the number of ejections seen in June (n = 34), slightly less than half of those during May (n = 38), and more than three times the number seen in April (n = 21). Surely, we won't see 72 ejections this month... will we?

Consider the fact that eight of these ejections (Ejections: Marty Foster (1, 2, 3, 4) and Ejections: Mike Estabrook (3, 4, 5, 6)) occurred as a result of the Beanball Series in Beantown (Boston coincidentally has seen the most ejections in the Majors for Throwing At and Fighting since HP Umpire Jeff Kellogg ejected three fighters in the Rays-Red Sox Coco Crisp mound charge on June 5, 2008). The Red Sox make their way to Baltimore on July 18, so stay tuned, but even with the elimination of the Throwing At/Fighting ejections in projecting future activity, we are left with 18 non-Beanball ejections through the break, or a projected 58 ejections in July (1.8 per day * 28 playing days = 50.4 + 8 already-occured Beanball ejections = 58). Can this really happen?

Fear not, for ejection obsession tends to lose momentum. Consider June 2008, which featured the Crisp/Shields fight. In the period spanning June 2, 2008 - June 11, 2008, or 10 days, there were 21 ejections. June does not feature an All-Star Break, and accordingly contains 30 playable days, leading to a projected 63 ejections for the month of June 2008, using only the June 2-11, 2008 data. In the end, there were only 42 ejections from June 1, 2008 - June 30, 2008, or 21 less than predicted.

Secondly, the All-Star Break often serves as a time of catharsis. The month of July generally contains 28 playable days, with a three day break. The pre-break portion of July generally contains nine or 10 playable days and the post-break portion of the month contains the remaining 18 or 19 playable days. Roughly splitting July into thirds, we see the pre-break portion of July is the first trimester, and the remaining two trimesters occur post-break. Since 2008, the distribution of ejections in July has occurred thusly: 45 pre-break ejections and 62 post-break ejections, which means for every pre-break ejection (1st Trimester), we can expect approximately 1.3777 post-break ejections (2nd & 3rd Trimesters). In other words, for every 1st Trimester ejection, we would expect 0.688 2nd Trimester ejections and 0.688 3rd Trimester ejections as well.

Using this trend of ejection obsession momentum cessation, we look at the 1st Trimester of July 2011 and see 18 non-Beanball Series ejections. Using the above ratio of 1:1.3777, we would expect July 2011 to produce roughly 42-45 ejections. Of course, this is all speculation using raw data, statistics, and completely untested formulas, but in the sport of sabermetrics, almost anything objective and empirical goes. How many ejections do you think will take place between July 1 and July 31?

Update (8/1/11): Now that July 2011 is in the books, we see the UEFL prediction of 42-45 was quite accurate, as MLB saw 44 ejections from 7/1/11-7/31/11. Chalk up another victory for statistics and the UEFL.


Anonymous said...

I would be great if we could hear what was being said, as in alot of cases the wrong word was said.

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