Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Forum: American, National League Championship Series

As the 2013 AL and NL Championship Series 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. For future games, notes include home plate umpire probables. Call +/- also included/highlighted.

- 10/11, LAD@STL 1: HP Umpire Gerry Davis: pfx (148/156 Balls, 51/62 Strikes = 199/218 = 91.3%) +1 STL.

- 10/12, LAD@STL 2: HP Umpire Mark Carlson: pfx (81/87 Balls, 36/45 Strikes = 117/132 = <90.0%) +6 STL.
- 10/12, DET@BOS 1: HP Umpire Joe West: pfx (110/115 Balls, 46/52 Strikes = 156/167 = 93.4%) +1 BOS.

- 10/13, DET@BOS 2: HP Umpire Rob Drake: pfx (90/95 Balls, 36/42 Strikes = 126/137 = 92.0%) +2 BOS.

- 10/14, STL@LAD 3: HP Umpire Mike Everitt: pfx (80/84 Balls, 42/46 Strikes = 122/130 = 93.8%) +3 STL.

- 10/15, BOS@DET 3: HP Umpire Ron Kulpa: pfx (83/83 Balls, 40/46 Strikes = 123/129 = 95.3%) +4 BOS.
- 10/15, STL@LAD 4: HP Umpire Bruce Dreckman: pfx (102/108 B, 47/49 S = 149/157 = 94.9%) +4 STL.

- 10/16, STL@LAD 5: HP Umpire Ted Barrett: pfx (93/94 Balls, 50/53 Strikes = 143/147 = 97.3%) +1 STL.
- 10/16, BOS@DET 4: HP Umpire Alfonso Marquez: pfx (100/105 B, 46/54 S = 146/159 = 91.8%) +4 BOS.

- 10/17, BOS@DET 5: HP Umpire Dale Scott: pfx (111/113 Balls, 45/50 Strikes = 156/163 = 95.7%) +3 DET.

- 10/18, LAD@STL 6: HP Umpire Greg Gibson: pfx (100/107 B, 40/46 S = 140/153 = 91.5%) +5 STL.
Series Complete: NLCS Cardinals defeat Dodgers (4-2), net advantage St. Louis, +20 pitches (won series).

- 10/19, DET@BOS 6: HP Umpire Dan Iassogna: pfx (84/88 Balls, 48/53 Strikes = 132/141 = 93.6%) +4 BOS.
Series Complete: ALCS Red Sox defeat Tigers (4-2), net advantage Boston, +12 pitches (won series)

- LAD@STL, NLCS 1: HP Umpire Gerry Davis rules Ellis out at the plate on Beltran's throw for DP*
- LAD@STL, NLCS 1: 1B Umpire Mark Carlson in his first CS doubles up Jay on Puig's outfield DP
- LAD@STL, NLCS 1: RF Umpire Greg Gibson doesn't fall for the catch sell job, rules the trap in right
- LAD@STL, NLCS 2: 3B Umpire Ted Barrett rules Freese left timely on appeal after Jon Jay's sacrifice fly
- LAD@STL, NLCS 2: 1B Umpire Mike Everitt completes the double play on Matt Holliday's ground ball
- DET@BOS, ALCS 1: 1B Umpire Rob Drake finds Victor Martinez safe on backend of force out
- DET@BOS, ALCS 2: 1B Umpire Ron Kulpa rules no interference as fans do not reach onto field
- STL@LAD, NLCS 3: 2B Umpire Ted Barrett sees Ethier trap Molina's fly ball for a single
- STL@LAD, NLCS 3: 1B Umpire Bruce Dreckman rules Descalso beat the return throw from 2nd
- STL@LAD, NLCS 3: HP Umpire Mike Everitt calls Crawford safe ahead of Molina's tag on play at home plate
- STL@LAD, NLCS 4: 1B Umpire Ted Barrett rules Puig safe at first base ahead of Carpenter's throw
- STL@LAD, NLCS 4: 2B Umpire Greg Gibson calls Nick Punto out on pickoff to Kozma
- BOS@DET, ALCS 4: 1B Umpire Dale Scott punches out Dustin Pedroia on barehanded Miggy play
- BOS@DET, ALCS 4: 1B Umpire Dale Scott again bangs Pedroia on Miguel Cabrera groundout
- BOS@DET, ALCS 5: 1B Umpire Dan Iassogna captures the tail end of the Tigers' 4th inning double play
- BOS@DET, ALCS 5: 1B Umpire Dan Iassogna rules Iglesias out on razor thin margin sac bunt play
- BOS@DET, ALCS 5: 1B Umpire Dan Iassogna calls Pedroia safe on infield single ahead of throw
- BOS@DET, ALCS 5: 3B Umpire Rob Drake obstructs Pena's tag attempt on Middlebrooks
- LAD@STL, NLCS 6: 1B Umpire Gerry Davis calls Crawford safe on lead-off infield hit
- DET@BOS, ALCS 6: 1B Umpire Joe West calls Iglesias out at first base on second half of Pedroia's DP

*No, tag was not made. Yes, a collision occurred. As pointed out in Comments, this is an issue of a philosophical (bracing for impact; expected) vs. technical call. Pursuant to baseball & umpiring philosophy, the call of out is correct; technically, we have no tag. It is unknown whether replay in 2014 would reverse this call.

Monday, October 14, 2013

MLB Umpire Wally Bell Dead at 48

WB Patch for Wally Bell21-year MLB veteran umpire Wally Bell has died of a heart ailment, which has been updated to be a heart attack suffered while at a Youngstown area hospital. Bell was in town after attending the weekend's Austintown Fitch Hall of Fame Dinner. Bell was 48 years old. Throughout the 2013 postseason and 2014 regular and postseason, umpires will wear the memorial WB patch in Bell's honor.

Wally Bell officiated over 2,750 MLB games.
Born January 10, 1965 in Ravenna, Ohio, Bell (sleeve number 35) graduated from the Joe Brinkman Umpire School in 1984 and joined the Major League staff in 1992, appointed as a National League umpire. After working his first MLB All-Star game in 1997, Bell officiated his first Division Series in 1998, first Championship Series in 2000 and World Series in 2006. Having worked the 2013 World Baseball Classic final round in San Francisco, All-Star Game and NL Division Series between the Cardinals and Pirates, Bell was on track for a potential return to the Fall Classic.

After Monday's Cardinals-Dodgers game in Los Angeles, NLCS crew chief Gerry Davis spoke on behalf of his crew: "It was a devastating loss for us. Wally was a true umpire's umpire. I think if you'll check with the players and teams they felt the same way because Wally always gave 110 percent on the field."
Video: Cardinals-Dodgers hold a moment of silence at Dodger Stadium prior to Game 4 (TBS)

"We had to regroup rather quickly and put our concentration where it needed to be. We kept telling each other that that's the way Wally would have wanted it, and we know that that's really true. One of the things that we shared in the locker room afterwards is that I'm sure he's very proud right now."

Video: Davis & MLB EVP of Baseball Operations Joe Torre's press conference regarding Bell's passing

After LA's 3-0 victory over St. Louis, Dodgers catcher AJ Ellis stepped back from the celebration to offer perspective and reflect: "Fun team win 2nite but thoughts and prayers are with family and other umpires grieving loss of Wally Bell...Wally kept game fun and loose and I always looked forward to catching with him behind plate. I will miss his personality and professionalism."

Meanwhile, in the Boston-Detroit ALCS, crew chief Joe West, president of the World Umpires Association said, "Wally was a great umpire, a great partner and a great friend. The umpiring community is deeply saddened by this tragic loss. He will be sorely missed by many."

Boston pitcher Jake Peavy wrote: "Just heard the news & devastated about the passing of Wally Bell. A great umpire, a great man" while Shane Victorino added, "My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Wally Bell. So sad to hear (and) will remember him tomorrow as I take the field."

Jose Bautista remembered Bell's ebullient personality: "He always had great spirits on the field, i will always remember how he teased me about my beard."'s Cut4 captured additional thoughts in "The 140 Club": "Players mourn the loss of Wally Bell."

Added fellow umpire John Hirschbeck: "He was like to a son to me, my wife Denise, very dear friend. It’s devastating. Wally was one of the first to call me and congratulate me on working the World Series."

Bell is the first MLB umpire to die while on the active roster since John McSherry, who passed away of a heart attack during Opening Day 1996 in Cincinnati and first active pro official to die since Greg Willard of the NBA.

Bell, who volunteered for the American Heart Association and officiated high school basketball during the winter offseason, returned to baseball after undergoing open heart surgery in 1999. Bell is survived by his children Jason Patrick (8/10/99) and Lindsey Jane (9/27/00), two brothers and a sister.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

ALCS Game 2 (DET-BOS): The Non-Fan Interference Foul

Prince Fielder tangled with fans on a pop fly, while interference was waived off by 1B Umpire Ron Kulpa in the bottom of the 9th inning of Boston's walk-off victory over Detroit during Game 2 of the American League Championship Series. The terminology "non-fan interference foul" is used because this play does not qualify under the rules book definition of spectator interference. Batter Jarrod Saltalamacchia would eventually hit a walk-off RBI single to win the game for the Red Sox.

Replays suggest no fan interference occurred.
For spectator interference to exist on this type of a play (fair or foul fly ball near the stands), pursuant to Rule 2.00 (Interference)(d), a spectator must (i) reach out of the stands and over the playing field and (ii) touch either (1) a live ball or (2) a player and hinder an attempt to make a play on said live ball. Video replay of the Fielder play suggests the fans did satisfy criterion (ii) by touching a player and hindering an attempt to make a play on a live ball, but did not satisfy criterion (i) because the spectators did not reach over the playing field, though they may have reached out of the stands. Accordingly, the ruling and result of this play was both technically and functionally proper and correct.

Related: Rule 3.16: Spectator Interference on Batted Ball
Related: ALDS Game 4 (OAK-DET): The Fan Interference Home Run

Long-Form Explanation