Saturday, September 29, 2012

College Football Ejection: Dan Capron's Crew

Referee Dan Capron's crew (Big Ten Conference) ejected Illinois Fighting Illini safety Earnest Thomas III for helmet-to-helmet contact during a Penn State touchdown in the second quarter of the Illini-Nittany Lions game. With 3:11 remaining, Matt Lehman received a 21-yard pass attempt from QB Matt McGloin for a touchdown as Thomas delivered the illegal hit, resulting in a personal foul/unnecessary roughness penalty, enforced on the ensuing kickoff. Replays indicate Thomas delivered the illegal helmet-to-helmet contact after Lehman had already scored the touchdown and was several feet into the end zone, the call was correct. The flag appeared to have been thrown by back judge Jack Lyman. At the time of the ejection, the Nittany Lions were leading, 21-0.

*When not officiating, Capron is an attorney and name partner at the law firm Capron & Avgerinos, P.C., located in Illinois. He received his JD from Indiana's Bloomington School of Law and his BA in history from the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign).

Wrap: Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Illinois Fighting Illini, 9/29/12
Video: McGloin holds on for TD as Thomas launches an illegal hit to the head, is ejected (ESPN)

No-Hitter #7 Ties MLB Record for Most in Single Season

Homer Bailey captured the 7th no-hitter of the 2012 MLB season on Friday, as called by home plate umpire Ed Hickox, tying the all-time record for no-nos in one season, which was set in 1990 and tied in 1991 (including one perfect game). Of all the home plate umpires who worked the 1990 and '91 no-hitters, only Jerry Layne (June 29, 1990; Fernando Valenzuela) and Tim Tschida (May 1, 1991; Nolan Ryan) are still active. With 3 perfect games this year, 2012 has broken the previous record of 2, established in 2010.

Friday marked Hickox's second career no-hitter (first: July 26, 2010; Matt Garza), joining the likes of Tschida, Eric Cooper, Jeff Kellogg, Brian Runge and Ted Barrett as the only active umpires to have called multiple no-hitters. Barrett, Cooper and Runge have called three no-hitters each while Barrett is the only umpire in MLB history to have called two perfect games in his career (Cooper and Runge have called one perfecto apiece). Runge and Tom Hallion are the only active umpires to have officiated a combined no-hitter.

With 60 callable pitches, including 40 balls and 20 called strikes, here is how Hickox called Bailey's no-hitter:

Balls: 39 called balls outside of strike zone / 1 called ball within strike zone = 39/40 = 97.5% Accuracy
Strikes: 15 called strikes inside strike zone / 5 called strikes outside strike zone  = 15/20 = <90.0% Accuracy
Total Raw Accuracy = 54/60 = 90.0% Accuracy (+4 in favor of CIN/Bailey).
Wrap: Cincinnati Reds vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, 9/28/12

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Drought: Five Days with No Ejections Most Since July 2011

Through Thursday, MLB has experienced five consecutive days with no ejections, the most recent occuring on Saturday, September 22 with Ejection 175: Ed Hickox (2), Robin Ventura's dismissal for arguing a balk call.

More meetings, shuffling of the crews and...less ejections?
The UEFL has been here before. After Marty Foster ejected four Red Sox and Orioles on July 10, 2011, no ejections were recorded until Cory Blaser's dual dismissal of Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta and Manager Jim Tracy over a safe call on July 16. Dedicated observers will be quick to note the 2011 All-Star Game was played on July 12, which correctly suggests that the current drought of five consecutive playing days with no ejections has surpassed all playing day droughts from the 2011 season, not withstanding Opening Week, with no EJs recorded from March 31 (Opening Day) until Tim Tschida's ejection of Nats pitcher Todd Coffey on April 6.

As for mid-season, the most recent six-day (with at least one game played each day) drought occurred from June 8-13, 2011, between Eric Cooper's ejection of Oakland batting coach Jim Skaalen on June 7 and ending with Larry Vanover's ejection of then-Padres catcher Yorvit Torrealba on June 14.

If you're thinking of a long-haul week of peace, the most recent seven-day (with at least one game played each day) drought occurred from August 27-September 2, 2009, bookended by Todd Tichenor's ejection of then-Twins shortstop Orlando Cabrera (8/26/09) and Jim Wolf's ejection of legendary Braves manager Bobby Cox (9/3/09). Cox would also be ejected the very next night (9/4) by umpire Brian Gorman.

Though at the current rate of 175 ejections per 2340 games played—or one heave-ho every 13.37 games—the 2012 regular season is projected to finish with 182 ejections, 17 shy of the 199 mark reached in 2011 (down from 201 in 2010), 2012 already has surpassed the '09 season's 165 ejections, though 2012 is on pace to become a season with the second-fewest ejections since the AL/NL merger in 2000, a year which owned 225 ejections of its own. On the opposite side of the spectrum, 2003 holds the 21st century record for single season ejections with 289, followed by 2001 with 243 and 2005 with 227.

All above information is available for reference as part of the UEFL Portal's Historical Data spreadsheet.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

NFL, Referees End Lockout, Reach Deal in Time for Week 4

The NFL and the National Football Referees Association reached a deal Wednesday to end the summer-long lockout during which professional officials were replaced by those from the sub-Division I college ranks or other similar leagues.

The Deal: Valid through the 2019 season, current officials will be grandfathered into the current benefit pension plan through 2016 or until the official reaches 20 years of NFL service, at which point the plan will freeze.

New Retirement Plan: For all new hires and begining in 2017 for those grandfathered in, the league will contribute an average of $18,000 annually per official ($23,000 in 2019) and will partially match any additional the official makes to his 401(k) account.

Compensation: Officials will earn an average of $173,000 per year beginning in 2013, reaching $205,000 by 2019. By comparison, in 2011, officials earned an average of $149,000 annually.

Employment Status: Beginning in 2013, the NFL will have the option to hire a portion of NFLRA officials on a full-time basis. These full-timers may be called upon to execute duties other than on-field obligations.

Growing the Pool: The NFL may also retain additional officials for training and development purposes.

Referee Ed Hochuli, speaking with, explained he had put together 18 extensive rules tests, video sessions and conference calls with other NFLRA officials during the lockout period so the professionals would be ready to hit the ground running upon the lifting of the lockout: "As soon as I heard the rumors, I got down on the floor and started doing pushups," said Hochuli.

Neither side stated whether a series of high-profile controversial calls, such as Monday Night Football's Seahawks-Packers End-of-Game sequence, played a role in finalizing the deal at this time.
polls & surveys

News: NFL, NFLRA reach eight-year agreement

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

NFL: Seahawks-Packers End-of-Game Play Making Rounds

Down a score, NFL's Seattle Seahawks defeated the Green Bay Packers 14-12 thanks to a successful Hail Mary play at the end of regulation during Monday Night Football... or was it?
The New York Post portrays its opinion

From newspaper headlines to ESPN and FOX Sports talk shows, Twitter, Facebook and even's new 140 Club, the replacement officials making the call(s) in the end zone found themselves as football culture's newest poster children for settling the NFLRA's labor dispute with the League.

The Play: As time expired, Seattle QB Russell Wilson threw a deep 24-yard pass to WR Golden Tate, who jockeyed with Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings for position in the air. As the two players fell to the ground, side judge Lance Easley signaled a touchdown as back judge Derrick Rhone-Dunn siglaned to stop the clock. After a brief discussion, referee Wayne Elliott ruled "touchdown," while the replay official Howard Slavin affirmed the call on the field.

The Rule: Rule 8-1-3 of the NFL Rule Book is the relevant citation:
If a pass is caught simultaneously by two eligible opponents, and both players retain it, the ball belongs to the passers. It is not a simultaneous catch if a player gains control first and an opponent subsequently gains joint control. 
Mechanics Analysis: Non-withstanding the play itself, the first component of analysis regarding this play pertains to the mechanics employed by Easley and Rhone-Dunn. As explained by former NFL referee Jim Tunney, both officials were further away from the play, initially, than is generally preached.

Second, of course, is the perception that two different calls were made by the officials. Technically, this is correct. Easley called "touchdown," while Rhone-Dunn called "timeout." Contrary to popular fan belief, an interception in the end zone is not signaled by simply stopping the clock. Because this interception would have resulted in a touchback, the proper mechanic would have been that of a touchback, wherein one arm is waved above the head, or "half" of the timeout signal). Because Rhone-Dunn signaled "timeout" so as to stop the game clock (apparently unaware that time had already expired, effectively making this mechanic unecessary), it is apparent Rhone-Dunn desired further investigation of the play before rendering a verdict whereas Easley, from his angle, found sufficient evidence of a simultaneous catch with which to call a Rule 8-1-3 touchdown. At no point, however, did either official signal an interception.

The Call: Because the officials were further away from the play than is prescribed, one may conclude that their angle with which to see this play was wider, so that the officials may have seen more action surrounding the final scrum. Unfortunately, in real time, neither official saw the offensive pass interference that preceded the final jump (Tate shoving Packers CB Sam Shields), a common uncalled penalty—even amongst "regular" officials—during Hail Mary plays. This penalty, had it been called, would have ended the game.

Nonetheless, video evidence suggests Jennings (Packers) attempted to catch the ball first while still in the air; however, he was airborne as he attempted to gain possession and as he fell to the ground, video evidence is ultimately inconclusive as to whether Tate (Seattle) gained simultaneous possession prior to Jennings gaining sole control of the football; upon instant replay review, the call on the filed was upheld, not confirmed.

Three elements are required of a catch (8-1-3): (1) The player must secure control of the ball before the ball touches the ground; (2) The player must touch the ground inbounds (with both feet or non-hand parts of the body); (3) The player must maintain control of the ball long enough to complete a game-action, such as a pitch, pass, advancement, juke, etc.

When a player goes to the ground with a football, he furthermore must maintain control throughout the process of contacting the ground (e.g., until his momentum-inspired movement has ceased) (8-1-3-1).

Sunday, September 23, 2012

World Baseball Classic Ejection 02: Chris Segal (1)

HP Umpire Chris Segal ejected Israel catcher Charles Cutler for arguing a ball call in the top of the 10th inning of the Spain-Israel game. With none out and none on, Spain batter Engel Beltre took four pitches from Israel pitcher Josh Zeid for a walk. Replays indicate the 3-0 pitch may have been borderline, the call was inconclusive. At the time of the ejection, the contest was tied, 7-7. Spain ultimately won the contest, 9-7.

This is Chris Segal (40)'s first ejection of the 2013 World Baseball Classic Qualifier Stage.

This is the 2nd ejection of the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
This is the 1st player ejection of the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
This is Israel's first ejection of the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

Wrap: Spain at Israel (Jupiter), 9/23/12
Video: Cutler argues ball call to put Beltre, the eventual winning run, on base; is ejected (UEFL/WBC)