Saturday, October 26, 2013

Reviewing Jim Joyce's Game-Ending Obstruction Call

3B Umpire Jim Joyce ruled obstruction on Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks as Cardinals baserunner Allen Craig stumbled home, thus cementing one of the wildest finishes in World Series officiating history. This is the first World Series in history to end on an obstruction or interference error.

Joyce identifies, signals obstruction at third base.
With one out and two on in the bottom of the 9th inning of the Red Sox-Cardinals game, tied 4-4, Cardinals batter Jon Jay hit a 0-1 splitter from Red Sox pitcher Koji Uehara on the ground to second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who threw home to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia to retire Cardinals baserunner R3 Yadier Molina, running on contact. After the put out of Molina, Saltalamacchia threw towards third base in an attempt to retire R2 Craig, the ball sailing into left field as Middlebrooks dove towards the throw in vain and Craig slid headfirst into third.

Replays indicate that as the ball rolled into left field, Craig stood and attempted to run home, appearing to trip over Middlebrooks, who lay on the ground in fair territory near third base. Craig proceeded home as left fielder Daniel Nava fielded the errant throw and fired to catcher Saltalamacchia, who tagged Craig prior to his attempted touch of home plate.

Ruled obstruction by Joyce and mirrored by HP Umpire Dana DeMuth, the rule book confirms the game-ending call was correct.

Relevant to this play is Rule 2.00 (Obstruction), which states:
"Obstruction is the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball and not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner."

Rule 2.00 (Obstruction) Comment further specifies, in part: "After a fielder has made an attempt to field a ball and missed, he can no longer be in the 'act of fielding' the ball. For example: an infielder dives at a ground ball and the ball passes him and he continues to lie on the ground and delay the progress of the runner, he very likely has obstructed the runner."

Pursuant to the terms of Rule 2.00 (Obstruction), and as referenced by Rule 7.06(b) [obstruction if no play is being made on the obstructed runner], the umpires properly identified the obstruction as it occurred and allowed play to continue until no further action was possible, at which point, DeMuth imposed his penalty to nullify the act of obstruction, awarding R2 Craig home plate.

Video: After Craig trips over Middlebrooks, Joyce calls obstruction while DeMuth gives Craig the plate

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Roster: 2013 World Series Umpires

MLB has announced umpires for the World Series, the final round of the 2013 postseason.

World Series (WS Game One Alignment Below)
HP: John Hirschbeck -cc (12 Previous + 3 World Series + 1 Crew Chief Assignment Bonus = 16).
1B: Mark Wegner (6 Previous + 3 World Series = 9).*
2B: Dana DeMuth (8 Previous + 3 World Series = 11).
3B: Paul Emmel (3 Previous + 3 World Series = 6).*
LF: Bill Miller (6 Previous + 3 World Series = 9).
RF: Jim Joyce (0 Previous + 3 World Series = 3).

UEFL Honorary World Series Assignment: Wally Bell (7 Previous + 3 World Series = 10).
(Honorary WS Assignment approved by UEFL Appeals Board, 7-0).

-cc denotes Crew Chief, * denotes first WS assignment, ^ denotes first 2013 Postseason assignment. Per UEFL Rule 4-3-c, all umpires selected to appear in the World Series shall receive three bonus points for this appearance, four if the umpire has not appeared during an earlier postseason game (e.g., Wild Card or Division Series). The crew chief shall receive one additional bonus point for this role (four points total).

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Getting an Edge: Breaking down the unbiased LCS numbers

Amid accusations of umpire bias during the League Championship Series, both National and American, the discerning fan turned to objective analysis: If the Cardinals truly were gifted umpire calls over the Dodgers, the numbers would show it, the same principle conceivably holding true for the Red Sox and Tigers.

For better or worse, the numbers show that the Cardinals experienced a net advantage of +20 pitches during the 2013 NLCS vs. Los Angeles; the Red Sox +12 during their ALCS vs. Detroit.

In the grand scheme of this type of analysis, league average theoretically and logically should be a net neutral (plus zero) result, that's what average is all about—yet St. Louis, for instance, came away with 20 calls that a simply complex piece of technology says should have gone the Dodgers' way based on the rules book definition of the strike zone. For the purpose of this discussion, we concentrate on the NLCS, ultimately concluding that bias did not factor into the series, despite St. Louis' clear pitch calling advantage.