Saturday, June 23, 2012

Ejection 075: Tony Randazzo (1)

HP Umpire Tony Randazzo ejected A's center fielder Coco Crisp for arguing a strike call in the bottom of the 6th inning of the Giants-A's game. With one out and none on, A's batter Coco Crisp took a 3-2 slider from Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located thigh high and over the outside corner of the plate (px value of 0.877), the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Giants were leading, 6-4.The Giants ultimately won the contest, 9-8.

This is Tony Randazzo (11)'s first ejection of 2012.
Tony Randazzo now has 4 points in the UEFL (0 Previous + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 4).
Crew Chief Brian Gorman now has 3 points in the UEFL's Crew Division (2 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 3).
*After review, Quality of Correctness has been affirmed in a 6-0 decision by the UEFL Appeals Board.
*Historical UEFL Appeals Board decisions may be consulted via the UEFL Portal.*

UEFL Standings Update

This is the 75th ejection of 2012.
This is the 29th player ejection of 2012.
This is the A's' 4th ejection of 2012 (first non-Bob Melvin ejection for the A's), 1st in the AL West.
This is Coco Crisp's first ejection since 2010 (Bob Davidson; QOC = Incorrect).
This is Tony Randazzo's first ejection since June 4, 2011 (Jason Varitek and Jonathan Papelbon; QOC = Correct).

Wrap: Giants at A's 6/23/12
Video: Crisp is ejected by Randazzo for arguing strike three call (11:10)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Mask vs. Helmet: Jerry Layne Latest Casualty in Umpiring Head Injury Epidemic

Concussion claimed another home plate umpire this year as Jerry Layne took a broken bat barrel to the side of the head while working out of the slot in Cincinnati. Though MLB veteran umpire Marvin Hudson advised Ump-Attire fans during spring training in 2010, the slot is the safest umpire plate position when it comes to batted or otherwise deflected balls.

However, as the UEFL witnessed this week with Chad Fairchild's reception of a 95 mile-per-hour sinker directly to the mask, there is little protection from projectiles when a catcher fails to field a throw. On Friday, we have added broken bats to the list.

After Reds batter Devin Mesoraco swung at a Nick Blackburn pitch in the bottom of the 4th inning of the Twins-Reds contest, his bat broke into pieces, with the large barrel spiraling back and hitting umpire Jerry Layne square in the side of the head.

As Layne lay prostrate on the grass behind home plate, fellow umpires Dan Bellino and Mike Muchlinski hustled in to check on their fallen crew chief while Bob Davidson retreated to the umpire's dressing room to don his plate gear. Though tests returned normal, Jerry Layne will sit the rest of the series as a AAA call-up will fill in for the two weekend contests.

Meanwhile in the Great American Ball Park press box, MLB Director of Umpires Randy Marsh saw the whole thing unfold: "We're not sure if there's a concussion yet ... That's one of the things that can happen. You get hit on the side of the head and there's nothing to protect you there."

Or is there?

In a debate all-too familiar amongst baseball umpires, it all boils down to the helmet vs. mask argument.

Umpires: Mask or Helmet?

Major League Umpiring Debut: Jordan Baker

Friday night's opener between the Cleveland Indians and Houston Astros featured a Major League debut. Umpire Jordan Baker made his first Major League appearance. Baker joined Gerry Davis' crew and umpired at second base. Baker also worked alongside plate umpire Phil Cuzzi and fellow AAA call-up Manny Gonzalez (who has worked primarily in the majors this year).

Baker has been working the 2012 season in the Pacific Coast League, which is his first full season in the PCL and as a AAA umpire. In 2011, Baker was assigned to the AA Southern League. 2012 marked his first season as a MLB call-up umpire. The 6 foot, 7 inch Baker graduated from the Harry Wendelstedt Umpire school in 2005 and currently serves as an instructor at the school.

Baker, who wears # 71 for the majors, is filling in for Greg Gibson. While in the PCL, Baker wears # 19 and works with Clint Fagan and Mike Jarboe.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Chad Fairchild Suffers Concussion, Sits Out as Precaution

Concussion Alert: Umpire Chad Fairchild took a fastball to the face mask during Wednesday's Rockies-Phillies game, remaining in the contest despite the direct shot from the Jeremy Guthrie sinker, which missed the batter's bat and catcher's glove, careening directly into Fairchild's protective headgear at 95 miles per hour.

MLB Umpire Chad Fairchild
Fortunately, the face mask served its protective purpose and absorbed most of the pitch's impact, redirecting the ball's kinetic energy by twisting off of Fairchild's head and onto the ground as Chad staggered backwards due to the severe force of the impact.

When umpires Alfonso Marquez and crew chief Tom Hallion rushed in to check on Fairchild, they were met by the Phillies' training personnel, who determined Fairchild was fit to continue and conclude the contest, which had stopped for the injury delay with a 2-2 count and two outs in the bottom of the 7th inning.

After ensuring Fairchild was alright, Hallion addressed Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario, appearing to instruct the Colorado sophomore, "You've got to catch that ball," as manager Jim Tracy came out of the dugout to investigate the odd conference between third base umpire and catcher at home plate.

Rosario and Guthrie were seen discussing their signs after the play, suggesting that Rosario likely was fooled on the wayward 2-1 pitch, admitting that he expected a slider away instead of a sinker in.

On Thursday, Fairchild was absent from Hallion's crew as a precaution concerning the potentially severe implications of returning to work too soon after enduring a concussion. AAA call-up umpire David Rackley filled in for Fairchild at third base during the Rockies' 4-1 victory over Philadelphia.

In 2011, MLB and the players' and umpires' unions adopted a universal concussion policy, which established a procedure for any player or umpire who suffers a head injury during a baseball event. According to the policy, ball clubs must submit a "Return to Play" form to MLB's medical director, Dr. Gary Green, on behalf of each and every player who suffers or is suspected to have suffered a concussion during play.

As for umpires, their process is fairly similar. Director of Umpire Medical Services Mark Letendre served as an MLB trainer with the Giants and Yankees for 18 years before joining the MLB Executive Office as the resident umpire trainer. In that role, Letendre is responsible for drafting the umpires' "Return to Play" forms. Medical consultant to Major League umpires Steven Erickson, MD, has also been involved with umpire head injuries. Erickson, a Fellow in the American College of Physicians (FACP), is the head team physician at Arizona State University and has specialized experience concerning sports medicine and the Return to Play/Work issue involving mild traumatic brain injury.

No one plays until Green & MLB approve the "Return to Play" form, clearing the player or umpire for activity.

Video: Fairchild Takes 95 mph Hit Directly to Face Mask, Remains in Game
Wrap: Colorado at Philadelphia, 6/20/12 (Fairchild's plate game)
Wrap: Colorado at Philadelphia, 6/21/12 (Rackley at third base in place of Fairchild)

NFL Referees File Unfair Labor Practice Charge Against League

Earlier this month, the NFL and the referee's union failed to come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). At the time, the NFL announced it might bring in replacement officials if the stalemate were to continue into the pre- or regular football season, while the NFLRA accused the NFL of engaging in bad faith practices related to negociating the new CBA.

Apparently the NFL's bad faith practices were so egregious that the NFLRA has filed a charge of unfair labor practices with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), alleging that since talks broke down in early June, the NFL has twice sent letters to its referees, linesmen, judges and umpires that supposedly contains "inaccurate, false and incomplete information" about the bargaining process.

Specifically, the Referees Association has accused the League of blatantly violating the National Labor Relations Act by bypassing the NFLRA in going straight to its members instead of through the union.

According to the NFL, the League and NFLRA had agreed on a seven-year agreement that would have bestowed salary raises between 5 and 11 percent for the League's professional football referees—In 2011, for instance, a rookie official earning $78,000 annually would expect to earn $165,000 by the conclusion of the proposed agreement period—the official's eighth year in the League, assuming the official had not promoted to Referee and not including bonuses and special event/assignment pay, such as Wild Card, Playoff or Super Bowl fees.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ejection 074: Tim Tschida (3)

HP Umpire Tim Tschida ejected Rays pitcher Joel Peralta for illegal substance-defense in the bottom of the 8th inning of the Rays-Nationals game. With none out and none on, Nationals Manager Davey Johnson requested that crew chief Tschida inspect Peralta's glove. After inspection, Peralta was ejected and his glove confiscated for possessing an illegal/foreign substance (pine tar), the call is irrecusable. At the time of the ejection, the Rays were leading, 5-4. The Rays ultimately won the contest, 5-4.

UEFL Standings Update

This is Tim Tschida (4)'s third ejection of 2012.
Tim Tschida now has 6 points in the UEFL (4 Previous + 2 MLB + 0 Irrecusable Call = 6).
Crew Chief Tim Tschida now has 5 points in the UEFL's Crew Division (4 Previous + 1 Irrecusable = 5).

This is the 74th ejection of 2012.
This is the 28th player ejection of 2012.
This is the Rays' first ejection of 2012, last place in the AL East (BOS, TOR 4; NYY 3; BAL 2).
This is Joel Peralta's first career MLB ejection.
This is Tim Tschida's first ejection since May 28, 2012 (Gene Lamont; QOC = Incorrect).

Wrap: Rays at Nationals, 6/19/12
Video: Peralta Ejected for Illegal/Foreign Substance Pine Tar on Glove; Equipment Confiscated

Missed Goal: Do Two Wrongs Make a Right?

Soccer refereeing has long relied on just three on-field officials—a referee and two assistants, one on each side line. In 2010, and in response to technology confirming a slew of missed calls at or near the goal line, the UEFA Executive Committee in 2010 approved a proposal to add two assistant referees to either goal line, effectively giving the sport two goal judges authorized to rule handballs, penalties and other issues of play involving the scoring of a goal.

Replays appear to indicate this ball, ruled no goal,
actually and fully crossed the goal line. (Video link)
Since the two-year trial was adopted following UEFA's proposal to FIFA, five on-field officials (one referee and four assistants) have become a welcome sight on European football pitches, with the fourth and fifth goal officials added to the 2012 UEFA EURO qualifying phase and final tournament.

Yet in opting for additional on-field officials at the expense of incorporating instant replay technology, the UEFA has maintained the status quo of the human element, a fate that significantly factored into play during Tuesday's England-Ukraine Group D match.

With England at a one goal advantage and the Ukraine needing a win to remain alive in UEFA EURO tournament play, the Ukraine found themselves with an opportunity to equalize in the 62nd minute. At 61:40, an attempted score appeared to fully cross the goal line before being kicked out by an English defenseman.

Rule 1.04 [2.01] Note (a): Minimum Field Dimensions

Baseball is a sport like no other. Football, basketball, hockey and soccer at a given level of play have playing uniform dimensions, constant from arena to arena. Baseball's playing fields, however, vary from stadium to stadium. The dimensions of ballparks are rarely identical, with different playing field area, distance of walls, height of walls, and even unique angles or materials that comprise the wall. Wrigley Field has ivy and bricks, Minute Maid Park has Tal's Hill and a flag pole in play, and Petco Park has the Western Metal Supply Co. building as its left field foul pole. These unique characteristics of baseball stadiums exist in both the new and old. Though the Official Baseball Rules hardly limit the more unique characteristics of ballparks, the rules specifically address one unique attribute of Major League ball fields, the minimum dimensions from home plate to the outfield wall (for playing fields constructed after June 1, 1958).

Official Baseball Rule 1.04 Note (a) [2014 Note: The current Rule # is 2.01] states:
Any Playing Field constructed by a professional club after June 1, 1958, shall provide a minimum distance of 325 feet from home base to the nearest fence, stand or other obstruction on the right and left field foul lines, and a minimum distance of 400 feet to the center field fence.
Rule 1.04 Note (a) seems pretty clear; it requires the dimensions of any modernly built playing fields to be built at a minimum of 325 feet down the lines and 400 feet to center field. But what happens if this rule is ignored by a professional club in a newly built stadium? What is the penalty, if there is any? Is that penalty imposed by the game umpires or the league office? Before looking into what Rule 1.04 Note (a) entails, it is noteworthy to look at the basis for the rule's creation.

The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, home of the Dodgers
from 1958 through 1961.
There is, of course, a reason Rule 1.04 Note makes specific mention of the year 1958. That season, the Dodgers began a new chapter in franchise history with a move from Brooklyn to Los Angeles. With no baseball-specific stadium in Los Angeles at the time, the Dodgers moved into the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, home of USC Football. Not surprisingly, the LA Coliseum was hardly designed for baseball, having been built for football and track & field. Nonetheless, the Dodgers tried to convert the facility and engineers made it happen. While the field fit, the stadium possessed very odd dimensions, with a nearly non-existent foul territory down the first base line, but an expansive foul territory down the third base line.

With the left field fence just 251 feet from home plate, MLB Commissioner Ford Frick ordered Los Angeles to construct two screens—one up against the left field wall and another in the stands, some 333 feet away from home plate. Frick approved the adoption of a ground rule that would have made any ball clearing the first, but not second screen to be a ground-rule double, while balls clearing both screens would be a home run. The Dodgers agreed to construction of the first screen—a 42-foot high barrier designed to prevent pop flies from becoming home runs—though California earthquake laws prevented the second screen from being built.

It was this short, yet steep porch in left that Dodgers outfielder Wally Moon took advantage of, clubbing several fly balls over the tall screen and coining the phrase, "Moon Shot."

As Frick and baseball's rules panel passed Rule 1.04 Note later that season, most ballclubs abided by its terms, though some requested provisional exemptions:

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Andy Fletcher Injured, Joe West Loses Count

MLB Umpire Andy Fletcher suffered a broken wrist and Joe West lost track of the count during a 2-1 walk-off victory during the Giants-Mariners Father's Day contest.

Fletcher Injured (Video): With none out and none on in the top of the 8th inning, Mariners pitcher Brandon League bounced a pitch in the dirt, the carom bounding up and directly into HP Umpire Andy Fletcher's right forearm. Fletcher, clearly in immediate pain, was attended to by the Seattle training staff before exiting the contest and retreating to the home clubhouse. Once in the training room, x-ray results came back positive, indicating a fractured scaphoid. With the broken wrist, Fletcher will be out of the game indefinitely as he recuperates from this injury.

West Loses Track of Count (Video): As medical personnel attended to Fletcher, crew chief Joe West left the field to don the plate gear—paying attention to detail so far as to affix the MLB Father's Day/Prostate Cancer Awareness ribbon sticker to his plate coat lapel. With one out and one on in the top of the 9th inning, with Giants batter Gregor Blanco at the plate, West and remaining umpires Rob Drake and Sam Holbrook lost track of a 3-1 count, as West visited the Mariners dugout to call the press box to verify that he had indeed seen ball four on a pitch low and away. Instead, the official scorer informed West that he had only seen ball three and the at-bat continued. Blanco walked on the very next pitch.

West is not the first MLB umpire to have lost track of the count and called the press box to consult the official record: On September 27, 2011, HP Umpire and crew chief Gary Cederstrom lost track of a 3-1 count, mistakingly believing it was 2-2, resulting in a false strikeout declaration when batter Adam Dunn swung on and missed the next pitch. After confering with the official scorer, Cederstom discovered the count had run full and resumed the at-bat with a 3-2 count.

Wrap: Giants at Mariners, 6/17/12

Ejection 073: Dale Scott (2)

HP Umpire Dale Scott ejected Astros Pitching Coach Doug Brocail for arguing a strike call in the top of the 9th inning of the Astros-Rangers game. With one out and one on, Astros batter Matt Downs took a 0-0 sinker from Rangers pitcher Michael Kirkman for a called strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located thigh high and over the heart of home plate (norm_ht of -.976), the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Rangers were leading, 9-3. The Rangers ultimately won the contest, 9-3.

This is Dale Scott (5)'s second ejection of 2012.
Dale Scott now has 2 points in the UEFL (-2 Previous + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 2).
Crew Chief Dale Scott now has 4 points in the UEFL's Crew Division (3 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 4).

UEFL Standings Update

This is the 73rd ejection of 2012.
This is the Astros' 4th ejection of 2012, 1st in the NL Central (CHC, PIT, STL 2; MIL 1; CIN 0).
This is Doug Brocail's first ejection since 2008 and first as a coach (six as a player).
This is Dale Scott's first ejection since April 25 (Bud Black; QOC = Incorrect).

Wrap: Astros at Rangers, 6/17/12 
Video: Brocail ejected by plate umpire Scott for arguing ninth inning strike call in 9-3 blowout of Astros

Ejection 072: Jerry Meals (2)

3B Umpire Jerry Meals ejected Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly for arguing an out (appeal play) call in the bottom of the 6th inning of the White Sox-Dodgers game. With one out and two on, Dodgers batter Elian Herrera hit an apparent sacrifice fly to right fielder Alex Rios, baserunner R3 Matt Treanor scoring, ruled safe by HP Umpire Gary Darling as White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers dropped the throw. The defense appealed R3 Treanor had left third base early, Treanor called out by Meals on appeal. Replays indicate Treanor successfully tagged up concurrent with the catch and after first touch, the call was incorrect. At the time of the ejection, the White Sox were leading, 1-0.

This is Jerry Meals (41)'s second ejection of 2012.
Jerry Meals now has 2 points in the UEFL (4 Previous + 2 MLB + -4 Incorrect Call = 2).
Crew Chief Gary Darling now has 7 points in UEFL's Crew Division (7 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = 7).

This is the 72nd ejection of 2012.
This is the 37th Manager ejection of 2012.
This is the Dodgers' 7th ejection of 2012, 1st in the NL West (SD 2; SF, COL 1) & tied for 1st in MLB (DET).
This is Don Mattingly's first ejection since June 4 (D.J. Reyburn; QOC = Incorrect) and 4th of 2012.
This is Jerry Meals' first ejection since May 23 (Lloyd McClendon; QOC = Correct).