Saturday, September 1, 2012

Umpire Count Error & a Lesson in Situation Handling

HP Umpire Paul Emmel missed a strike during A's LF Seth Smith's 5th inning at-bat on Thursday, yet Emmel's situation handling after the fact resolved the incident and while it did not resolve the error, Smith and Oakland Manager Bob Melvin's tempers were quelled after a calm discussion. (Video: Emmel's discussion)

With none out and one on, Smith stepped to the plate against Cleveland pitcher Chris Seddon...
  • Pitcher
    C. Seddon
  • Batter
    S. Smith
190Fastball (Four-seam)Foul
289Fastball (Four-seam)Ball In Dirt
381SliderSwinging Strike
475SliderSwinging Strike

After pitch #2, Smith attempted to check his swing on a low-and-away slider, with Emmel ruling "no swing" before third base umpire Gary Darling called "swinging strike" on appeal. Nonetheless, Emmel appeared to communicate to Smith the count was two balls, one strike, as opposed to 1-2. After Smith swung and missed the ensuing pitch, Darling whistled to Emmel, alerting him of the strikeout.

When Emmel then informed Smith, "strike three," Smith understandbly responded with an emotional plea: "You just told me it was 2-1!"

Instead of arguing the point, Emmel immediately conceded, claiming responsibility for his crew's error in communication: "I know, I did. I told you it was 2-1," before addressing Melvin:
Listen Bob, he's got a beef. I told him the pitch was 2-1, but they're saying the pitch was strike three ... we've got make what's right, right. I'm admitting to that, I told him it was 2-1 before the pitch. By the books, it was strike three and that's what we've got to go with ... You've got an argument.
Whether Emmel's calm approach and demeanor helped end the argument and prevent its escalation or whether it was the lopsided score at the time, 8-2, Oakland, Emmel's proper handling of the situation was what all administrators like to see: Professionalism, accountability, understanding and a firm adherence to rules enforcement.

Nonetheless, Emmel did not fare as well with Indians pitching coach Ruben Niebla in inning 7, whom Emmel ejected for arguing an incorrectly ruled ball during George Kottaras' at bat (Ejection 144).

Wrap: A's-Indians, 8/30/12
Video: Emmel and Darling suffer communciation breakdown, yet Emmel peacefully resolves dispute (UEFL)


Anonymous said...

Great entry here. As a non-umpire, this site has taught me a lot about the dynamics of umpiring at the MLB level. It has also shown me there are alot of very good people (and a lot of jerks) on both sides of the controversies that arise. Kudo's to Emmel here. I know that umpires can't do this every single time there is a controversy, but given the reaction Joyce received when he acknowledged he blew a perfect game with his error, why don't umpires want to be more open with their mistakes? We fans struggle the most when human umpires act like they are perfect.

Burrdawg said...

While I respect Emmel's approach here, I wonder why this is not practiced in other areas of the game. We preach on this board that "the goal of the umpire is to get the call right." That is all well and good. Emmel did that here. Why is this not shown with other calls? It's okay to rule a guy out after you missed the count...even if it changed his approach at the plate? If that is so, then why is it not okay for another umpire to correct an out/safe, fair/foul call? I'm sure Jim Joyce would have appreciated "a little help" from his peers to get the call right...? I mean, after all, "they have to make what's right, right." Right?

Anonymous said...

What a nonsensical argument.

Burrdawg said...

What? Why is it nonsensical? I'm just asking why there is an inequality regarding "overruled" calls. Ask Jim Leyland if he thinks my argument is "nonsensical" and get back with me. My "argument" goes right along with the first Anon post asking why umps are not more open about their mistakes. I am just asking why they arn't more open about them during the game, when they can make it right before compounding the problem.

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