Saturday, May 21, 2011

Ejections: Gary Darling (1)

HP Umpire Gary Darling ejected Rockies Third Base Coach Rich Dauer for arguing a ball (no swing) call in the bottom of the 6th inning of the Rockies-Brewers game. With two out and one on, Brewers batter Yuniesky Betancourt successfully attempted to check his swing on a 2-2 slider from Rockies pitcher Clayton Mortensen. Replays indicate Betancourt did not appear to attempt to strike the ball, the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Brewers were leading, 3-1. The Brewers ultimately won the contest, 3-2.

This is Gary Darling (37)'s first ejection of 2011.
Gary Darling now has 4 points in the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League (0 Previous + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 4).
Gary Darling was not drafted in 2011.

This is the 43rd ejection of 2011.
Video: N/A

Friday, May 20, 2011

Ejections: Rob Drake (1)

HP Umpire Rob Drake ejected Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki for arguing an illegal pitch non-call in the top of the 8th inning of the Rockies-Brewers game. With one out and none on, Tulowitzki took a 2-2 fastball from Brewers pitcher LaTroy Hawkins for a called strike three. Replays indicate the called third strike was slightly above the belt and caught the outer half of the plate. Replays indicate that Hawkins delivered the ball immediately to home after receiving the previous pitch from the set position; he did not disengage the rubber, and had the ball in hands in front of his body before delivering. Hawkins did not come to a complete stop, but is not required to when no runners are on base under Rule 8.01(b) Comment; he did not throw an illegal "quick" pitch. The call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Rockies were leading, 4-3. The Brewers ultimately won the contest, 7-6, in 14 innings.

This is Rob Drake (30)'s first ejection of 2011.
Rob Drake now has 4 points in the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League (0 Previous + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 4).
Rob Drake is owned as a Secondary Umpire by BSBALLUMP, who is now in 16th place in the UEFL with 3 points.

This is the 42nd ejection of 2011.
This is the 19th player ejection of 2011.
Prior to his ejection, Tulowitzki was 1-4 in the contest.
This is Troy Tulowitzki's second career MLB ejection.

Pitch f/x courtesy Brooks Baseball

Umpire Odds & Ends: I Protest

In baseball, as in any other sport, officials should carry an expert understanding and knowledge of their sport's rules. Even so, some officials carry with them a lapse in their rules knowledge, while others may fall into the unenviable position of incorrectly applying or failing to apply a pertinent rule or action. In professional baseball, the end result of an incorrectly applied rule is the potential for a protest by the afflicted party. Rule 4.19 deals with protesting games:
4.19 PROTESTING GAMES. Each league shall adopt rules governing procedure for protesting a game, when a manager claims that an umpire's decision is in violation of these rules. No protest shall ever be permitted on judgement decisions by the umpire. In all protested games, the decision of the League President shall be final.
As specified by rule, a protest is a valid one if a manager is claiming that an umpire has incorrectly applied a rule; a protest will not be entertained if the manager is only claiming an umpire has incorrectly judged a play. To further illustrate the valid protest, we turn to a situation sent in by UEFL follower Jon Terry

In the Class-A Midwest League, the Hot Rods and Whitecaps were locked in a close contest. With the score 4-3 in favor of the Whitecaps, B1 stepped to the plate in the bottom of the fifth inning with three on and one out. B1 hit a line drive to F8, who caught the ball on a fly for the second out of the inning. R1 (from first base), R2 (from second base), and R3 (from third base) each attempted to tag up and advance; all three runners crossed home plate while F8 had trouble getting the ball back in. R1 was ruled out on appeal for failure to properly tag up, and after consultation, the umpires decided to disallow R1, R2, and R3's runs: the score remained 4-3, Whitecaps leading. The offensive team's manager protested, the game continued and concluded with a 6-3 score, and the League later ruled to uphold the protest: the game would be replayed from the top of the 6th inning with the score 5-4, the Hot Rods leading. This time around, the Hot Rods would win the contest, 5-4.
7.10 Any runner shall be called out, on appeal, when - (a) After a fly ball is caught, he fails to retouch his original base before he or his original base is tagged. 
7.12 Unless two are out, the status of a following runner is not affected by a preceding runner's failure to touch or retouch a base. If, upon appeal, the preceding runner is the third out, no runners following him shall score. If such third out is the result of a force play, neither preceding nor following runners shall score. 
R1 was definitely out, but R2 and R3's runs should have scored as specified by Rule 7.12. Though no runners following R1 may score (there were no runners following R1), the runners preceding R1 (R2 and R3 preceded R1) should have been allowed to score. Because failure to retouch one's base under Rule 7.10 is not a force play, the last sentence of Rule 7.12 is inapplicable and provides further counterpoint to see that preceding runners shall be permitted to score on an appeal play which results in the third out. In this situation, R2 and R3's runs should have been scored. Had R3 been called out on appeal instead, R1 and R2 would properly not have been permitted to score.

It is vital that umpires and officials at all levels maintain expert knowledge of the rules book. Even though we might reference a Major League book and the play in question occurred at the Minor League level, the fundamentals of these rules are the same and constant. Appeal plays might occur during the "slower" part of live ball action, but officials must remain alert at all times, lest they find their game being played under (upheld) protest.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Polls: Strike Mechanic

The Umpire Ejection Fantasy League wants to know: Which umpire has the best called strike and/or strike three mechanic? Baseball umpires can display highly individual traits, especially when calling balls and (especially) strikes. We've gone ahead and picked out a few umpires who have rather notable called strike and/or strike three mechanics and we ask, which mechanic is your favorite?

Previous Poll (Bowa) Results: Our previous poll, Polls: Bowa on Umpire Ejections, asked whether you thought TV analyst Larry Bowa was right in his recent commentary on umpires and ejections. Here's what you thought (Total Votes: 221):

  • 22% thought Bowa was right about West/Gardenhire... Joe was over the line
  • 35% thought Bowa was right about West/Francona... West should have let Hernandez deal with it
  • 34% thought Bowa was right about DiMuro... he should have asked for help
  • 25% thought Bowa wasn't exactly right about anything, but made some good points
  • 32% thought Bowa was dead wrong about all three instances

Current Poll: Which Umpire has the Best Called Third Strike Mechanic?
The poll is below, you may vote for only one option. Video links are available as well so that you may review each umpire's mechanics before making your selection. If you would like to add your own option to the poll, visit our Facebook Page; the Facebook poll's functionality allows you to add your own options! Poll results will be a combination of votes received on the UEFL blog as well as the UEFL Facebook page... yes, you can vote twice that way...

Which Umpire has the Best Called Third Strike Mechanic?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ejections: Dan Bellino (2)

HP Umpire Dan Bellino ejected Orioles pitcher Michael Gonzalez for throwing at Yankees batter Chris Dickerson in the top of the 15th inning of the Yankees-Orioles game. With none out and one on, Dickerson took a 1-1 fastball from Gonzalez in the head for a hit by pitch. It was Gonzalez's third pitch of the at-bat after surrendering two runs to the Yankees. The call was correct under Rule 6.b.ii.e.* At the time of the ejection, the Yankees were leading, 3-1. The Yankees ultimately won the contest, 4-1, in 15 innings.

This is Dan Bellino (93)'s second ejection of 2011.
Dan Bellino now has 8 points in the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League (4 Previous + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 8).
Dan Bellino is owned as a Secondary Umpire by sachmet, who is now tied for 2nd place in the UEFL with 11 points.
*This ejection is correct under Rule 6.b.ii.e.

This is the 41st ejection of 2011.
This is the 18th player ejection of 2011.

Wrap: Yankees at Orioles 5/18/11

Video (1): Condensed Game (Ejection at 17:10)

Video (2): Yanks, O's shuffle after HBP

Discussions: Dropped Third Strike

The baseball diamond was a place of mass confusion as a result of this play. Matt and Jon Terry wrote to us:
Did anybody see the dropped strike three call in the Reds game? The Cubs rookie catcher didn't catch the ball and the Reds got to continue hitting in the inning, but the Cubs announcers said the umpires got it wrong because the batter didn't start to first base and had left the dirt area around the batter's box.
While the pitch was certainly in the dirt, the Cubs announcers make a good point. Shouldn't Cairo have been determined to be out when he left the dirt circle? 
They both are referring to a play which occurred with two outs in the bottom of the 6th inning of the 5/18/11 Cubs-Reds game. With a 0-2 count, Cubs pitcher Matt Garza throws a breaking ball which winds up in the dirt. Reds batter Miguel Cairo attempts to check his swing, but is ruled as having swung by HP Umpire John Hirschbeck. Cairo then begins to retreat to his dugout as the Cubs begin to retreat to theirs. At some point on his way towards his team's first base dugout, Cairo takes off for first base and is ruled safe at first base as the result of a dropped third strike under Rule 6.09(b). Garza would strike out the next batter to end the inning, with no runs given up after the dropped third strike play.

Discussion point: Should Cairo have been ruled out under Rule 6.09(b) Comment? Do the defensive team's actions have any bearing on this ruling? Does the location of the batter's dugout have any affect on this ruling? Posted below are relevant Rule 6.09(b) and its Comment.
6.09 The batter becomes a runner when - (b) The third strike called by the umpire is not caught, providing (1) fist base is unoccupied, or (2) first base is occupied with two out;
Rule 6.09(b) Comment: A batter who does not realize his situation on a third strike not caught, and who is not in the process of running to first base, shall be declared out once he leaves the dirt circle surrounding home plate. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ejections: Jerry Meals (1)

2B Umpire Jerry Meals ejected Mariners Manager Eric Wedge for arguing an out call in bottom of the 9th inning of the Twins-Mariners game. With one out and one on, Mariners batter Jack Cust hit a 0-0 fastball from Twins pitcher Matt Capps to third baseman Danny Valencia, to second baseman Alexi Casilla to force out Mariners baserunner Miguel Olivo. Replays indicate although the throw was wide, Casilla briefly possessed the baseball while in contact with second base, the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Twins led the contest, 2-1. The Twins ultimately won the contest, 2-1.

This is Jerry Meals (41)'s first ejection of 2011.
Jerry Meals now has 8 points in the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League (0 Previous + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 4)
Jerry Meals was not drafted in 2011.

This is the 40th ejection of 2011.
This is the 21st Manager ejection of 2011.

Wrap: Twins @ Mariners 5/17/11

Video: Wedge is ejected arguing a play at second (Freeze Frame 1:05)

Rule 6.08(b)(2): Hit by Pitch, Stay Here!

A rare play occurred in today's Astros-Braves game. In the top of the 11th, Astros batter Matt Downs took a 1-2 slider to the elbow from Braves pitcher Cory Gearrin. However, HP Umpire Alfonso Marquez (72) immediately signaled dead ball and did not award Downs 1st base, telling him to stay put. Marquez was met with protest from Downs and Astros Manager Brad Mills, but neither were ejected. Downs later struck out to end the at-bat.

Marquez signaled dead ball, did not award Downs 1st base, and called ball two because, in Marquez's judgement, Downs had the opportunity, but did not attempt to avoid being hit by the ball. Marquez made the ruling under MLB Rule 6.08(b)(2) and the corresponding approved ruling, which states:

"The batter becomes a runner and is entitled to first base without liability to be put out (provided he advances to and touches first base) when --(b) He is touched by a pitched ball which he is not attempting to hit unless...(2) The batter makes no attempt to avoid being touched by the ball;... If the ball is outside the strike zone when it touches the batter, it shall be called a ball if he makes no attempt to avoid being touched.
APPROVED RULING: When the batter is touched by a pitched ball which does not entitle him to first base, the ball is dead and no runner may advance."

As the announcers noted, this is a call you rarely see, however, Marquez properly applied Rule 6.08(b) exactly as written. He determined that there was an opportunity to avoid the pitch and that Downs did not attempt to avoid it, he ruled the ball was out of the strike zone and called ball, and immediately signaled dead ball, as the the approved ruling calls for.

One of the most famous instances in which a batter was not awarded 1st base after being hit by a pitch allowed for Don Drysdale to continue his scoreless streak to 45 innings (eventually reaching a record 58 2/3 innings). In 1968, Drysdale hit Giants catcher Dick Dietz in the elbow with the bases loaded, however HP Umpire Harry Wendelstedt ruled Dietz did not attempt to avoid the pitch. Drysdale went on to retire Dietz and the side. He pitched 13 2/3rd more scoreless innings.

Umpire Odds & Ends: 3 Pitch Walk

In basketball, the referee shall call a violation when a player intentionally kicks a live ball (Rule 10.V.a); in football, illegal cut/chuck restrictions shall end if the quarterback pitches the ball to a back; in hockey, the referee shall signal a minor penalty if the goalkeeper participates in play past the center red line (IV. Rule 27.7); in baseball, the umpire shall ensure the pitcher does not violate the provisions of Rule 8.02. This rule specifies "the pitcher shall not," followed by four sections (one of which contains six further subsections).
8.02 (a) (1) Bring his pitching hand in contact with his mouth or lips while in the 18-foot circle surrounding the pitcher's plate, provided, however that the pitcher may touch his mouth or lips in that area, so long as he is not in contact with the pitcher's plate while doing so and so long as he clearly wipes the fingers of his pitching hand dry before touching the pitcher's plate. EXCEPTION: Provided it is agreed by both managers, the umpire prior to the start of a game played in cold weather, may permit the pitcher to blow on his hand.
For an example of 8.02(a)(1), we turn to the 5/15/11 Mets-Astros game, during which 2B Umpire Angel Hernandez had to rule on a violation of Rule 8.02(a)(1). Field umpires (1B/2B/3B) take concurrent jurisdiction with the umpire-in-chief (HP) in calling illegal pitches, under Rule 9.04(b)(2).

Fairchild ruled that while facing Mets batter Daniel Murphy, Astros pitcher Aneury Rodriguez illegally brought his pitching in contact with his mouth while in contact with the pitcher's plate under Rule 8.02(a)(1). The penalty for violation of Rule 8.02(a)(1) is also specified by rule:
PENALTY: For violation of this part of this rule the umpires shall immediately call a ball. However, if the pitch is made and a batter reaches first base on a hit, an error, a hit batsman or otherwise, and no other runner is put out before advancing at least one base, the play shall proceed without reference to the violation. Repeat offenders shall be subject to a fine by the League President.
After the 2-0 pitch was fouled off making the count 2-1, Hernandez signaled the infraction and HP Umpire Chad Fairchild signaled the count as 3-1. The play-by-play lists this infraction as "Automatic Ball," and appropriately adds a ball to the count. The infraction occurs 33 seconds into the video.

Last season, 1B Umpire Joe West ruled on a similar violation of 8.02(a)(1) during the 6/8/10 Braves-Diamondbacks game, when West ruled that Diamondbacks pitcher Blaine Boyer brought his pitching hand in contact with his mouth while within the 18-foot circle surrounding the pitcher's plate and subsequently failed to wipe the fingers of his pitching hand dry before touching the pitcher's plate, much less the baseball itself. As a result, Braves batter Troy Glaus drew an automatic 3-0 walk.

Undoubtedly, Rule 8.02(a)(1) is intended to prevent the illegal pitch known as the spitball, moreover, the potential of spitball. The spitball moves differently than a 'dry' ball in flight, due to its lopsided status (with the added weight of 'spit' on one side of the ball), resulting in an unfair advantage for the pitcher and defensive team. In an effort to reduce all kinds of unfair advantages, umpires must remain vigilant and watch for all potential rules violations. As the only representative of baseball on the field, the umpire crew is responsible for the conduct of the game, maintaining discipline, and keeping order as specified by Rule 9.01(a). Keeping the game 'fair' is a very great part of maintaining conduct, discipline, and order.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ejections: Chris Conroy (2)

HP Umpire Chris Conroy ejected Pirates catcher Chris Snyder for arguing a strike three call in top of the 6th inning of the Pirates-Brewers game. With two out and one on, Snyder took a 1-2 fastball from Brewers pitcher Marco Estrada . Replays indicate the ball caught the inner corner of the plate thigh high and there were no incorrect callable pitches during the at bat. The call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Brewers led the contest, 8-5. The Brewers ultimately won the contest, 9-6.

This is Chris Conroy (98)'s second ejection of 2011.
Chris Conroy now has 10 points in the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League (5 Previous + 3 AAA + 2 Correct Call = 10).
Chris Conroy was not drafted in 2011.

This is the 39th ejection of 2011.
This is the 17th player ejection of 2011.
Prior to his ejection, Snyder was 1-3 in the contest.

Wrap: Pirates at Brewers 5/15/11
Video: SOON

Pitch f/x courtesy Brooks Baseball