Saturday, October 27, 2012

Discussions: 2012 World Series

As the 2012 World Series gets underway, we open the umpire forum to discussion. Notes include home plate umpire performance according to pitch f/x and UEFL Rules 6-2-b-a (horizontal bound, "Kulpa Rule") and 6-2-b-b (vertical strike zone, "Miller Rule"). Plays include significant plays, if such plays occur. Listed below are home plate umpire probables for each game given MLB World Series rotational assignments.

The following games are final and include Pitch f/x-related umpiring statistics
- 10/24/12, DET@SF, Gm 1: HP Umpire Gerry Davis: pfx (96/100 Balls, 37/44 Strikes = 133/144 = 92.4%)
- 10/25/12, DET@SF, Gm 2: HP Umpire Dan Iassogna: pfx (92/98 Balls, 37/42 Strikes = 129/140 = 92.1%)
- 10/27/12, SF@DET, Gm 3: HP Umpire Fieldin Culbreth: pfx (107/111 Balls, 50/59 S = 157/170 = 92.4%)
- 10/28/12, SF@DET, Gm 4: HP Umpire Brian O'Nora: pfx (98/101 Balls, 41/44 Strikes = 139/145 = 95.8%)

Notes & Plays (Video) — Green shade indicates a QOC of Correct / Red shade indicates a QOC of Incorrect / Blue shade indicates a QOC of Irrecusable or Inconclusive/Insufficient Evidence to Determine Probable QOC
WS Game 1: Peralta's throw to Prince barely beats Scutaro to first base (1B Umpire: Dan Iassogna)
WS Game 1: Delmon Young's chopper in front of home plate ruled fair, double play (HP Umpire: Gerry Davis)
WS Game 2: Blanco-Scutaro-Posey relay retires Fielder on close play at home (HP Umpire: Dan Iassogna)
WS Game 2: Marco Scutaro slides head-first into first base, called out (1B Umpire: Fieldin Culbreth)
WS Game 2: Infante picked off and thrown out trying to steal second (2B Umpire: Brian O'Nora)
WS Game 2: Blanco bunt enthusiastically ruled fair upon settling near foul line (HP Umpire: Dan Iassogna)
WS Game 2: Pagan steals second base ahead of Laird's bullet throw (2B Umpire: Brian O'Nora)
WS Game 3: Belt stretches to keep foot on base to complete double play (1B Umpire: Brian O'Nora)
WS Game 3: Blanco slides headfirst into first as Fielder dives to catch throw (1B Umpire: Brian O'Nora)
WS Game 4: Berry out after deflection off Cain; another slide into 1st (1B Umpire: Brian Gorman)
WS Game 4: Crawford beats throw to first for an infield single (1B Umpire: Brian Gorman)

Abbreviations: WS/World Series = Detroit Tigers @ San Francisco Giants (on FOX). Gm = Game #.
*Indicates if necessary

Friday, October 26, 2012

Draft: The Inaugural Technical Foul Fantasy League (TFFL)

Close Call Sports and the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League introduce our newest league, the Technical Foul Fantasy League (TFFL), a league charting technical fouls administered during the NBA season and playoffs.
In its initial state, the TFFL will operate in a fashion similar to that employed by the UEFL during its infancy; Because the sport of basketball is highly subject to Quality of Correctness interpretation and a technical foul is less likely to consistently be directly attributed to one call as would an MLB ejection, the TFFL will not address this factor of officiating. Likewise, the TFFL will take into account the cohesive properties of NBA rotating crew dynamics and the actual administration of technical fouls on the floor as a crew call, as opposed to an individual action (for instance, because basketball players/coaches are prohibited from requesting an unofficial "time out" to argue, as in baseball, this prevents the arguer/umpire dynamic seen in baseball). Accordingly, the TFFL points structure will be fairly simple and resemble that of the UEFL's Crew Division.

TFFL Points Structure
+1 point for any technical foul called by any official during a game in which an owned official is working. Technical must be assessed to a player, coach or other team personnel (e.g., 3-sec = 0 pts).
+1 bonus point for a crew's second technical foul resulting in ejection (3 points total [1 + 1 + 1 bonus]).
+1 point for any appearance during a singular round of the NBA playoffs by an owned official. The maximum allocation is one point per round, regardless of number of series/games worked or round # of playoffs.
+1 bonus point for any appearance during the NBA Finals, regardless of # of games worked (2 points total).
+1 point for an on-floor/court working appearance during the NBA All-Star Game, if applicable.
+0 points for "Alternate" status during the postseason ("Alternate" shall not constitute an "appearance").
+0 points for any flagrant 1 or 2 fouls assessed, regardless of ejection status (auto in 2). We're not there yet.

*Appeals/Disputed Information: All appeals or challenges will be decided by the TFFL/UEFL Commissioners.
*Injuries: In the event of injury, league participants may not draft a replacement referee.

TFFL Registration & Draft
Registration for the TFFL is now open, as is the draft. To sign up for and draft your officials in the referees' TFFL, click the below link ("Read more »") to view the entire post. The roster from which to choose officials reflects full-time NBA officials and does not include "non-staff" (WNBA, D-League ... MLB's AAA) officials; MLB jersey # equivalents have been included, just for fun. Registration/draft deadline is October 30, 6:00 AM PT.

No Errors: World Series Umpires Perfect Through Game 2

Perfect game? How about two. The World Series umpires have officiated a total of six close calls (non-balls/strikes) through the first home-field portion of the Fall Classic and have come out with an accuracy of 1.000, a Pablo Sandoval in Game 1 performance times two, if you will.

Umpires Dan Iassogna and Gerry Davis flawlessly judged the two close calls from Game 1—a safe/out banger at first base and a chopper-turned-double play in front of home plate—while Iassogna, Fieldin Culbreth and Brian O'Nora combined to correctly arbitrate four more eyelid batters.

The elite artistry displayed by the men in black Thursday evening drew several instances of praise from FOX broadcasters Joe Buck and Tim McCarver—and another post-game from Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who said, "[Iassogna] made an absolute terrific call in a big, tough situation, a tough call and he made a great call."

Yet where does that leave the populace roaring for expanded replay? After all, this is the same media that railed Jim Joyce after a miss at first in the NLDS, Jeff Nelson after his postseason ejection and Bill Miller after a tag play in the NLCS, not to mention the garbage flinging, umpire bashing event known as Infield Fly-Gate.

Game 3 kicks off Saturday with Joe West—ranked as one of the best and one of the worst umpires in baseball simultaneously (huh?) and who himself is statistically the most consistent umpire in baseball—at third base, which has left some main stream journalists feeling absolutely giddy: "It's like they're just daring Cowboy Joe West to get involved somehow, no?" I suppose if a play is made at third, then yes?

Then again, this is the same fanatical world that worked itself into a frenzy when it realized that NL Wild Card umpire Sam Holbrook—he still got the call right—would be working the ALCS. How's the golf, Hawk?

Related Opinion: World Series: After Video Review, Umpire Crew Perfect in San Francisco Games [b/r]

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Squibbers: How a Batted Ball Becomes Fair or Foul at Home

All ground batted balls that result in an out are, by rule, fair—at least in today's game. In 1864's National Association of Base-Ball Players rules, also known as the first rules of base ball, foul balls caught on the first bound (bounce) resulted in an out (Sections 12, 14). In 1883, the National League specified that only balls caught on the fly were to be considered outs, while the American Association kept the 1865 ruling.
Fair territory includes a triangular
portion of the batter's boxes

Another product of the 1863 New York conference that became the '64 rules book was Section 9, which stated, "If the ball, from a stroke of the bat, first touches the ground ... behind the range of home and first base, or home and third base, it shall be termed foul and must be so declared by the umpire, unasked."

Still, Rule IV-27 of the 1880s American Association rules book defined a fair hit as a batted ball and as a ground ball that, among other possibilities, "(whether it first touches Foul or Fair Ground) bounds or rolls within the Foul Lines, between Home and First or Home and Third Bases, without first touching the person of a player."

In the modern, 21st century OBR book, caught one-hoppers do not result in a "hand out" while fair/foul ball status in front of first and third base is not determined until the ball settles or is touched by a player or object.
A FAIR BALL is a batted ball that settles on fair ground between home and first/third base ... or that while on or over fair territory touches the person of an umpire or player... (Rule 2.00 [FAIR BALL])
Be advised that in the event of a batted ball, the batter's box may protect a batter from being put out under the auspices of Rule 6.05 (Rule 6.03 exemption). Though a baseball field does not generally draw foul lines through the batter's box (for clarity), these lines do exist and, invisible as they may be, are used to determine fair/foul status (see 6.05 exemption). For a diagram, see Umpire Odds & Ends: Batter's Box Bafflement.

To learn more about batted balls hitting batters at home, please see Rule 6.05(g)(h): Batted Ball Interference.

Nonetheless, this seemingly simple concept of fair/foul status has resulted in conflict and even ejection. In a twist of the UEFL's standard "Test Yourself" section, see below for a list of play scenarios and apply a ruling—using 1864 rules and comparing those to the MLB rules in use today. To this end, home plate is a pentagon.

Batted Ball Striking Foul Territory Behind Home, Rolling into & Being First Touched/Settling on Fair Territory
Ejections: James Hoye (1)/Ozzie Guillen, B1 hits a slider into the dirt behind home plate. As the ball spins directly onto home plate, F2 picks it up and tags B1. Video features Guillen's kick of Soto's catchers' mask.
Ejection 006: Dale Scott (1)/Bud Black, B1 bunts a fastball into the dirt behind home plate. The ball spins into the LHH box and within the foul lines where F2 fields it. Disregard the mechanics demonstrated.
Ejection 089: Dan Bellino (4)/Miguel Cairo, B1 hits a sinker into the dirt behind home plate; the ball spins onto home plate and begins its roll back off the dish. F2 picks up the ball as it is no longer in contact with home plate, but the planar edge of the baseball is located graphically above the pentagon.
2012 World Series, Gm 1, B1 hits a ball into the dirt behind home plate; the ball spins into the right-handed batter's box where B1 is standing. F2 fields the ball in the fair territory triangle of the batter's box, tags B1 and throws to F6. The force removed, F6 must apply the tag on R1, which he does for a double play.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

MLB Roster: 2012 World Series Umpires

MLB has released the following 2012 World Series Umpire assignments, final round of the 2012 Playoffs.

Crew A (MLB World Series/DET@SF)
HP: Gerry Davis -cc (10 pts)`. Your Vote: 56% (1st)
1B: Dan Iassogna (10 pts)^. Your Vote: 30% (10th; 4th Alternate)
2B: Fieldin Culbreth (10 pts). Your Vote: 37% (5th)
3B: Brian O'Nora (12 pts)^. Your Vote: 39% (4th)
LF: Brian Gorman (7 pts). Your Vote: 26% (12th; 6th Alternate)
RF: Joe West (13 pts)". Your Vote: 32% (7th; 1st Alternate)

Your Voted Crew: Davis -cc (56%), Joyce (52), Hernandez (41), O'Nora (39), Culbreth (37), Hallion (33).

-cc denotes Crew Chief. Per UEFL Rule 4-3-c, all umpires assigned to appear in the World Series shall receive four bonus points for this appearance; the crew chief shall receive one additional bonus point for this role (five points total).
^ This is the first World Series assignment for umpires Dan Iassogna and Brian O'Nora.
` With this assignment, Davis will set an MLB record for most postseason games umpired in League history.
"Of all WS umpires, only West has ejected either a Tiger or Giant since 2011. Over the past two seasons, West has ejected Jim Leyland twice and Justin Verlander once (8/5/12 [Leyland]; 7/5/11 [Leyland/Verlander]).

*The rotation listed above is the umpiring alignment for Game 1 of the Series. Assignments are rotated in the following manner: RF Umpire, LF Umpire, 3B Umpire, 2B Umpire, 1B Umpire, HP Umpire.

News: MLB Announces 2012 World Series Umpires

Recent Ejections: Mid-October 2012

With today's lull in the MLB calendar, CCS reviews this past weekend's ejections in top NCAA & pro sports.

10/19/12: ACC Women's Soccer: Referee Nate Penn ejected Maryland Terrapins forward Hayley Brock and Miami Hurricanes forward Kate Howarth & defender Maddie Simms for fighting (red cards & sent off).
10/19/12: Arizona Fall League Baseball: HP Umpire Chris Segal ejected Salt River Rafters pitcher Deck McGuire for arguing balls and strikes from the dugout (9th inning/bench).
10/19/12: Arizona Fall League Baseball: 2B Umpire Quinn Wolcott ejected Mesa Solar Sox second baseman Rubi Silva for arguing during a play of defensive indifference (9th inning/field of play).
10/20/12: Pac-12 Football: Referee Jack Wood's crew ejected USC (Southern California) Trojans defensive tackle Leonard Williams for throwing a punch after a play (personal foul/unnecessary roughness).
10/21/12: AHL Hockey: Referee Jamie Koharski ejected Binghamton Senators goaltender Robin Lehner for instigating a goalie fight and defenseman Mark Borowiecki for his third major penalty (game misconducts).
10/21/12: NBA Pre-Season Basketball: Referees Jason Phillips, Kevin Cutler & Mark Lindsay ejected Utah Jazz forward Darnell Jackson for an unsporting act with 3.7 remaining in the 4th quarter (technical foul).
10/22/12: KHL Hockey: Referee Bulanov Vyacheslav ejected Dinamo Minsk forward Evander Kane for a dangerous check to an opponent's head and neck area (game misconduct).

For all the latest in ejection news, follow the @SportEjections twitter account at

Monday, October 22, 2012

Pence Play: Ball Belted By Baffling Bifurcated Broken Bat

When Hunter Pence's broken bat appeared to contact a batted baseball multiple times in front of home plate, the third inning double in a then 2-0 Game 7 of the National League Championship Series further cemented San Francisco's NL Pennant win and World Series berth, with both Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma and center fielder Jon Jay appearing fooled by the knuckleball-like spin of the up-the-middle liner.

As FOX broadcasters Joe Buck and Tim McCarver—along with many others—marveled at the odd trajectory of the batted ball, physicists and umpires alike pondered the orb's unique journey. Replays indicate that after initially striking the pitch, Pence's bat splintered with the bat's partially disembodied barrel appearing to contact the baseball a second and third time before the ball finally left the confines of the dirt surrounding home plate.

Quick Quiz Question: Fair or foul, in play or dead ball? Relevant Rules: OBR 6.05(h), NCAA 7-11-m.

In Batted Ball Batter's Interference, we discussed pro Rule 6.05(h), whose comment states that a batted ball struck by a broken bat while over fair territory is exempted from 6.05(h) interference, making the ball fair and in play. Meanwhile, a batted ball struck by a whole (unbroken) bat a second time in fair territory is dead.

In 2011, Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki's whole bat struck a pitched ball twice at home plate during his swing. As discussed previously (Tulo's at-bat is Example 3), Rule 6.05(h) is invoked only when, "After hitting or bunting a fair ball, his bat hits the ball a second time in fair territory." As the Tulowitzki play related to 6.05(h), Tulo had not completed the "hitting" action referred to above as he was still engaged in the hitting action's commission; the multiple contact therefore did not occur "after" the hitting action, resulting in a correctly ruled ball in play.

A similar rationale applies to the Pence at-bat. Since Pence's hitting action was still in progress, the multiple contact with the bat (either broken or whole) does not satisfy 6.05(h)'s primary condition of "after."

Quick Quiz Answer: Pence's ball was correctly ruled in play, fair/foul judged pursuant to standard criteria.

*Note: Do not confuse the above Pence/Tulowitzki plays with this backswing multi-contact situation*

Video: Pence breaks his bat, which in turn contacts a pitch multiple times before bounding through the infield

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Discussions: 2012 ALCS and NLCS

As the ALCS and NLCS get underway, we again open the umpire forum to discussion. Notes include home plate umpire performance according to pitch f/x and UEFL Rules 6-2-b-a (horizontal bound, "Kulpa Rule") and 6-2-b-b (vertical strike zone, "Miller Rule"). Plays include significant plays, if such plays occur. Listed below are home plate umpire probables for each game given MLB Championship Series rotational assignments.

The following games are final and include Pitch f/x-related umpiring statistics
- 10/13/12, DET@NYY, Gm 1: HP Umpire Jeff Kellogg: pfx (134/144 Balls, 70/80 Strikes = 204/224 = 91.1%)
- 10/14/12, DET@NYY, Gm 2: HP Umpire Rob Drake: pfx (87/90 Balls, 36/43 Strikes = 123/133 = 92.5%)
- 10/14/12, STL@SF, Gm 1: HP Umpire Gary Darling: pfx (96/100 Balls, 53/59 Strikes = 149/159 = 93.7%)
- 10/15/12, STL@SF, Gm 2: HP Umpire Chris Guccione: pfx (87/88 Balls, 47/54 Strikes = 134/142 = 94.4%)
- 10/16/12 NYY@DET, Gm 3: HP Umpire Sam Holbrook: pfx (97/104 Balls, 34/44 Strikes = 131/148 = <90%)
- 10/17/12 SF@STL, Gm 3: HP Umpire Bill Miller: pfx (85/87 Balls, 42/51 Strikes = 127/138 = 92.0%)
- 10/18/12 NYY@DET, Gm 4: HP Umpire Jeff Nelson: pfx (96/102 Balls, 49/57 Strikes = 145/159 = 91.2%)
- 10/18/12 SF@STL, Gm 4: HP Umpire Greg Gibson: pfx (102/105 Balls, 46/50 Strikes = 148/155 = 95.5%)
- 10/19/12 SF@STL, Gm 5: HP Umpire Ted Barrett: pfx (91/92 Balls, 50/60 Strikes = 141/152 = 92.8%)
- 10/21/12 STL@SF, Gm 6: HP Umpire Jerry Layne: pfx (86/89 Balls, 38/43 Strikes = 124/132 = 93.9%)
- 10/22/12 STL@SF, Gm 7: HP Umpire Gary Darling: pfx (118/122 Balls, 36/49 Strikes = 154/171 = 90.1%)

Notes & Plays (Video) — Green shade indicates a QOC of Correct / Red shade indicates a QOC of Incorrect
ALCS Game 1: Alex Rodriguez forces out Ibanez at second to end 1st inning (2B Umpire Sam Holbrook)
ALCS Game 1: Ichiro ruled safe on ground ball, infield single to Peralta (1B Umpire Rob Drake)
ALCS Game 1: Cano declared out 1-6-4 on bang-bang play at first base (1B Umpire Rob Drake)
ALCS Game 1: Jackson hits a liner ruled fair/no fan interference for a triple (Drake/RF Umpire Mike Winters)
ALCS Game 2: After rounding second, Infante called safe trying to return (2B Umpire Jeff Nelson)
NLCS Game 2: Holliday takes out Scutaro with hard slide, no interference (2B Umpire Greg Gibson)
NLCS Game 2: Attempting to avoid B1, Carpenter throws ball away, no interference (HP Umpire Guccione)
NLCS Game 2: Craig attempts to tag Blanco for double play, ruled no tag (1B Umpire Bill Miller)
NLCS Game 3: Blanco grounds out, Belt safe at second on beaten tag (2B Umpire Ted Barrett)
NLCS Game 4: Carpenter scores safely on Holliday single, dropped throw (HP Umpire Greg Gibson)
NLCS Game 5: Lance Lynn attempts pickoff of Gregor Blanco, ruled safe (1B Umpire Jerry Layne)
NLCS Game 5: Pablo Sandoval collides with Kozma on error, no obstruction (2B Umpire Gary Darling)
NLCS Game 7: Molina returns to third on Posey's pick attempt, ruled safe (3B Umpire Greg Gibson)

Abbreviations: ALCS = Tigers @ Yankees (on TBS) / NLCS = Cardinals @ Giants (on FOX). Gm = Game #
*Indicates if necessary