Saturday, November 9, 2013

2013 UEFL Awards: Umpire of the Year: Jim Joyce

2013 UEFL Awards: Umpire of the Year: Jim Joyce (66)
Voting Results (min. 10%): Joyce 32%, Wally Bell 20%, John Hirschbeck 13%, Mark Wegner 10%.

Jim Joyce is the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League's 2013 Umpire of the Year.

In his 26th MLB season, Jim Joyce concluded 2013 with one ejection following one ejection in 2012. Promoted to the position of crew chief prior to the regular season alongside Ted Barrett and Fieldin Culbreth, Joyce drew praise during his sole ejection of the season, Ejection 126 (8/10), with one UEFL'er commenting, "I want to say, Joyce is one of the best umpires out there. He handles situations so professionally and his calls are usually spot on." Another pointed out Joyce's patience, which was on display during the September 9 bench clearing and odd managers' dispute between New York and Baltimore. Upon being named to his second consecutive Division Series and third overall World Series, Joyce fell into the national spotlight during the Fall Classic's Game 3 thanks to a 9th inning tie-up between baserunner and fielder at third base. Joyce's immediate obstruction call was textbook and proper. At the time, some noted "redemption for Jim Joyce." Joyce umpired the final game of the 2013 World Series behind Fenway Park's home plate.

Joyce previously received the UEFL's Umpire of the Year (2009) and Honorable Umpire (2010, 2012) Awards.

Jim Joyce now has 8 points in the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League (3 Previous + 5 Award = 8).

With the final award in the books, the UEFL announces the final standings for the 2013 UEFL season.
"Perfect Score", formula based on highest points possible per category: (14 [DeMuth or Gorman -cc] + 30 [Fagan] + 23 [Fairchild] + 14 [Iassogna] + 15 [Hirschbeck] +16 CP/Props = 112 Total Points)
UEFL Final Standings
1) Turducken (70 pts)
2) NorthStarUmpire#2 (61)
3) Niicker (59)
4) bjweig01, cyclone14, falangarner, rgoldar2 (58)
8) RadioPearl (55)
9) alexsimon99, toss 'em (53)
11) BrooklynUmp, krishudspeth (52)
13) sarge3097 (51)
14) BRUMP, DanNJ316 (50)
16) Kevin Nichols (49)
17) BC_UMP, CrickenChapman, IWU_Titan, TXWrangler (48)

The Rules Summit will begin tomorrow.

2013 Ejections of the Year: Jerry Layne & Joe West

2013 UEFL Awards: Ejections of the Year: Jerry Layne, Joe West ([Ejection 110], [Ejection 055])
Voting Results (min. 10%): Layne-110 15%, West-055 12%, Fagan-057|058 11%, DeMuth 101 10%.

Ejection 110 (Layne) and Ejection 055 (West) are the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League's ejections of the year.

Ejection 110: Jerry Layne (1; Mike Scioscia); On July 30, 1B Umpire Jerry Layne ejected Mike Scioscia over a safe call at first base. Replays conclusively indicated Layne's call was correct and Scioscia was ejected in short order after running out to argue the play, presumably after uttering the "magic words." UEFL'ers enjoyed Layne's post-ejection "silent treatment" of Scioscia, allowing the Angels manager to continue venting while stoically listening to his concerns without saying a word reminiscent of Layne's actions last season in San Francisco (Ejection 118: Jerry Layne [1; Bruce Bochy]): "Best ejection of the year so far. That was hilarious" and the philosophical observation, "silence can't be misquoted."

Ejection 055: Joe West (2; Dale Sveum); On June 1, HP Umpire Joe West ejected Dale Sveum over a safe call by 1B Umpire Toby Basner. Replays conclusively indicated Basner's call was incorrect, but as Sveum prolonged his argument with the AAA call-up umpire, West arrived to escort Sveum back to the dugout and away from the young umpire. As Sveum's ire turned to the crew chief West, Joe ejected the Cubs skipper. Though the call preceding ejection was erroneous, UEFL'ers praised West's handling of the situation, noting, "That's the cowboy taking care of business. Great crew chief," and "The respect I already had for Joe has just increased ten-fold. If I'm a rookie out there, he is the crew chief I would want to have my back."

Jerry Layne now has 14 points in the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League (13 Previous + 1 Award = 14).
Joe West now has 11 points in the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League (10 Previous + 1 Award = 11).

The final postseason award, Umpire of the Year, will be released late tonight.

Friday, November 8, 2013

2013 Noteworthy Umpires: Mark Wegner, Dan Iassogna

2013 UEFL Awards: Noteworthy Umpires: Mark Wegner, Dan Iassogna (14, 58)
Voting Results (min. 10%): Wegner 14%, Iassogna 12%, Jim Joyce 11%, Wally Bell 10%, Joe West 10%.

Mark Wegner and Dan Iassogna are the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League's 2013 noteworthy umpires.

In his 15th MLB season, Mark Wegner concluded 2013 with one ejections following a two ejection season in 2012. Wegner's Ejection 082 (6/22) in San Francisco concerned fan interference and its associated runner placement and base award after a spectator reached over the top of a high wall and restraining rail to interfere with a live ball in play. Wegner called his first no-hitter in San Diego (7/13) to a tune of 97.9% accuracy, missing just two pitches thrown by Tim Lincecum; he was 100% percent on called balls. After working the 2013 World Baseball Classic and his second consecutive Division Series, Wegner was named to the 2013 World Series crew, his first Fall Classic.

In his 12th MLB season, Dan Iassogna concluded 2013 with three ejections following a four ejection season in 2012. In Ejection 017 (4/25), Iassogna dismissed Charlie Manuel for arguing an interference no-call by HP Umpire Mark Carlson pursuant to Rule 7.09(j) Comment concerning batter-catcher contact at home plate following a batted ball. The play ran in stark contrast to a 2011 Matt Kemp-Hank Conger collision, Iassogna ruling Kemp out for interference as 7.09(j) Comment did not apply. Iassogna's out call of David Murphy was featured in UEFL Case Play 2013-05, a ball four call during a stolen base attempt. Iassogna was also featured in a REFEREE Magazine profile. During the postseason, Iassogna worked his first Wild Card Game and his second Championship Series.

Mark Wegner now has 12 points in the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League (9 Previous + 3 Award = 12).
Dan Iassogna now has 17 points in the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League (14 Previous + 3 Award = 17).

The next postseason award, Ejections of the Year, will be released tomorrow.

2013 Honorable Umpires: Wally Bell & Ted Barrett

2013 UEFL Awards: Honorable Umpires of Year: Wally Bell & Ted Barrett (35, 65)
Voting Results (min. 10%): Bell 35%, Barrett 12%, Jim Joyce 10%.

Wally Bell and Ted Barrett are the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League's 2013 honorable umpires of the year.

In his 21st MLB season, Bell concluded 2013 with two ejections. In 2012, Bell had two ejections. Bell worked the final round of the 2013 World Baseball Classic, 2013 All-Star Game and the NLDS. Just days after completing his NLDS assignment and after attending the Austintown Fitch Hall of Fame Dinner, Bell suffered a heart attack and passed away at the age of 48. To honor Bell's memory, Championship Series and World Series umpires wore a "WB" patch atop their sleeve numbers while moments of silence were held in both Los Angeles and Detroit; Detroit's crew lined up in a "missing man" formation during the moment of silence while in Los Angeles, a "WB" sign hung in an office window facing the playing field while another "WB" sign was placed outside the umpires' room with NLCS crew chief Gerry Davis' quote, "A true umpire's umpire." After undergoing open heart surgery in 1999, Bell began volunteering for the American Heart Association; he was also a high school basketball referee during the offseason. The UEFL Appeals Board voted unanimously to give Bell an honorary 2013 World Series assignment.

In his 17th MLB season, Barrett concluded 2013 with two ejections after a zero ejection season in 2012. Barrett worked the final round of the 2013 World Baseball Classic, 2013 American League Wild Card Game and the NLCS. Prior to the season, Barrett & Mexico native Alfonso Marquez travelled to Mexico, as they do every year prior to spring training, to develop Mexican League umpires and for children who are lacking clothing and other necessities ("Fonzie's Kids"). Marquez was the UEFL's Honorable Umpire of the Year in 2011. A founder of the baseball-themed ministry Calling for Christ, a ministry for professional baseball umpires, Associate Pastor Barrett earned his Pastoral Ministry PhD in theology from Trinity Theological Seminary this year. Barrett was promoted to the position of crew chief prior to the 2013 season.

Wally Bell now has 8 points in the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League (6 Previous + 2 Award = 8).
Ted Barrett now has 9 points in the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League (7 Previous + 2 Award = 9).

The next postseason award, Noteworthy Umpires of the Year, will be released later today.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

2013 UEFL Awards: Crew Chief of the Year: John Hirschbeck

2013 UEFL Awards: Crew Chief of the Year: John Hirschbeck (17)
Voting Results (min. 10%): Hirschbeck (20%), Joe West (17%), Jim Joyce (11%).

John Hirschbeck is the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League's 2013 crew chief of the year. In his 30th MLB season, Hirschbeck finished 2013 with two ejections. After missing the 2012 season and being cleared of cancer, Hirschbeck worked his first Spring Training game in late February, setting plans for the 2013 in motion. After a difficult Ejection 027 (5/5), Hirschbeck bounced back from injury in the balk-filled Ejection 077 (6/13), with UEFL'ers praising the crew's dedication to enforcing the balk rule.

After serving as crew chief during his third All-Star Game, Hirschbeck earned high praise during the postseason and especially during the 2013 World Series, in which Hirschbeck's designation of crew chief over fellow veteran Dana DeMuth came into question: "I'm glad all the umpires got together and got the call right [Game 1 safe call at second base]. That's what you like to see. I love the sound byte from Hirschbeck, taking charge of the situation ["our job is to get it right"]. That's why he's the crew chief."

John Hirschbeck now has 17 points in the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League (16 Previous + 1 Award = 17).
The next postseason award, Honorable Umpire(s) of the Year, will be released later tomorrow.

2013 UEFL Awards: Fill-In Umpire of the Year: Clint Fagan

2013 UEFL Awards: Fill-In Umpire of the Year: Clint Fagan (82)
Voting Results (min. 10%): Fagan (15%), Quinn Wolcott 10%.

Clint Fagan is the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League's 2013 fill-in (AAA) umpire of the year. In his third Major League Baseball fill-in umpiring season, Fagan finished 2013 with eight ejections, including a six-ejection Diamondbacks-Dodgers brawl. After Fagan's first two dismissals of the year in Ejections 057, 058 (6/2), one UEFL'er surmised, "Great call, great poise, great assistance by rest of the crew. Wonderful example of how to handle situations."

Another critiqued of Fagan, "this umpire was a bit dismissive too. He ejects Molina and then walks away. He can't even take an argument." Zac pointed out the dichotomy between yielding and confrontation: "Wait a minute. People say umpires are confrontational and should just 'walk away' after an ejection. Then they do just that, like in this situation, and you tell them they need to 'take it like a man.' Make up your damn minds."

In August, Fagan called 712 pitches over the course of an 18-inning D'Backs-Phillies game, umpiring the equivalent of nearly two-and-a-half regulation baseball games. Furthermore, Fagan set an MLB umpiring record by calling the 18th inning at 100% accuracy with 32 correct ball/strike calls. As one UEFL'er commented, "Who needs robot technology? Just clone Clint Fagan!"

Clint Fagan now has 30 points in the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League (28 Previous + 2 Award = 30).
The next postseason award, Crew Chief of the Year, will be released later today.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

AFL Instant Replay Update: Video Reverses Call In Game 2

Instant replay reversed the first safe/out call in professional baseball history during the first inning of Wednesday's Rafters-Scorpions game as baserunner Ryan Brett was awarded second after a stolen base attempt, Brett initially ruled out by 2B Umpire Pat Hoberg. Dan Bellino and Mike Winters served as MLB Replay Umpires for Game 2.

Barber checks with the booth in the 1st.
In total, managers Mike Shildt (Salt River) and Russ Morman (Scottsdale) took a more liberal approach with instant replay on Day 2 of the unlimited challenge AFL experiment, challenging a total of seven plays, three of which were reversed upon video review.

The reversed calls included the aforementioned stolen base attempt (out-to-safe) and another top of the first inning call, a James Ramsey groundout which was initially scored a base hit (safe-to-out). The Ramsey decision effectively ended the frame and negated a Salt River Rafters run, which had scored on the bang-bang play at first base.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, baserunner Kyle Kubitza was doubled off at second base after batter Alen Hanson flew out to center field, replay ruling that Kubitza missed retagging third base on his return to second (safe-to-out). Replays indicate that as 3B Umpire Tripp Gibson ran into left field to call the fly out, 1B Umpire Jeff Gosney and U2 Hoberg converged at second base while HP Umpire Sean Barber remained at home plate, leaving the touch at third fairly uncovered.

The game also saw a rare "double challenge" on Kubitza's triple, as Kubitza's touch of second base and the tag attempt third base were both called into question (both portions of the play were confirmed: Kubitza was found to have touched second, via appeal and replay review, and was safely under the tag at third, via replay review).

After the inning's end, MLB Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Joe Torre clarified that managers are required to state which part of the play they would like to challenge and that appeals would be unaffected by the reviews process. Though only one aspect of the play would be challenged at once, two parts of the same play were challenged (and affirmed).

Video: Brett tries to steal second, resulting in an out call which was overturned to "safe" after replay
Video: Ramsey loses RBI single after instant replay overturns safe call at first base
Video: Kubitza called safe at third, and then at second upon appeal; two challenges used to affirm the calls
Video: Burns initially ruled safe at first on infield error; call upheld upon consultation of instant replay
Video: Diving catch in center leads to double play after Kubitza misses third on his way back to second
Video: Replay upholds Jarrett Parker's groundout in the bottom of the sixth inning
Video: MLB EVP Joe Torre discusses implementing instant replay, stating "it's not that easy"

2013 UEFL Awards: Most Improved Umpire: CB Bucknor

2013 UEFL Awards: Most Improved Umpire of the Year: CB Bucknor (54)
Voting Results (min. 10%): Bucknor (15%), Bob Davidson (14%), Brian Knight (10%).

CB Bucknor is the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League's 2013 most improved umpire of the year. In his 15th Major League Baseball umpiring season, Bucknor finished 2013 with four ejections; Bucknor ejected two times in 2012. For CB, the road to a strong season started early in Cincinnati when he employed proper mechanics and patience to properly rule Angels runner Albert Pujols at home plate. Bucknor also had the first ejection of 2013: Irrecusable Ejection 001 for a repeat visit argument (4/6). After his Ejection 035 (5/19), UEFL'ers commented on CB's trend of consistent and calm patience in seeing the play and executing the ejection, BT_Blue stating, "CB Bucknor... cool as the other side of the pillow!" In June, Hall of Fame Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully praised Bucknor after a tough appeal call at second base, noting: "A very, very good call by CB Bucknor, the umpire at second base. They always get boo'd at, but boy that was a great call by the umpire to spot [a failure to retouch second base]." For his efforts, Bucknor was awarded the 2013 American League Division Series, his first playoff assignment since 2009.

CB Bucknor now has 15 points in the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League (14 Previous + 1 Award = 15).
The next postseason award, Fill-In of the Year, will be released tomorrow.

AFL Instant Replay Update: Umpires Perfect in Game 1

AFL instant replay was used to confirm umpire calls four times during Tuesday's testing debut, including three safe/out calls at first base and one trap in shallow left field. Presiding over the system on the field was veteran minor league umpire and AAA call-up Hal "Tripp" Gibson of the Pacific Coast League, who served as home plate umpire and communicated with MLB umpires supervised by Ed Montague and located off the field.
Gibson dons the headset for a review.

Managers of both Arizona Fall League clubs involved in Tuesday's contest were encouraged to invoke instant replay challenges in an effort to facilitate the technology's testing phase.

Replay #1: Out (Upheld) / With none out and none on in the top of the 2nd inning of the Solar Sox-Rafters game, Angels prospect CJ Cron hit a ground ball to Cardinals minor leaguer Jacob Wilson, who threw to first base as Cron arrived. Initially ruled an out by 1B Umpire Sean Barber and challenged by Solar Sox manager Bill Richardson, the call was upheld after instant replay review, relayed via headset to Gibson. QOC = Correct / Video: Out call stands after first expanded replay review

Replay #2: Out (Upheld) / With none out and none on in the top of the 4th inning, Tyler Collins ran past first base as pitcher Sam Gaviglio attempted to field a throw while tagging the bag with his foot. Initially ruled an out by U1 Barber, the call was upheld. QOC = Correct / Video: Out call upheld as Gaviglio able to find first with foot

Replay #3: Safe [Trap] (Upheld) / With none on and none out in the top of the 5th inning, Matt Skole's leadoff single to left fielder Tim Wheeler, initially ruled a trap (no catch) by 3B Umpire Pat Hoberg was upheld upon instant replay review. QOC = Correct / Video: No catch call stands after first non-bases replay review

Replay #4: Out (Upheld) / With one out and one on in the bottom of the 8th inning, Gaurneau hit a ground ball to third, arriving at first base as Cron picked the throw out of the dirt. Initially ruled an out by U1 Barber, the call was upheld. QOC = Correct / Video: Final review of the game upholds out at first

Final tally, expanded instant replay Game 1: 4 Challenged Plays / 4 Upheld Calls = 100% Upheld Rate.

2013 UEFL Awards: Worst Umpire of Year: Marty Foster

The Umpire Ejection Fantasy League announces its postseason awards schedule, beginning with the Worst Umpire of the Year, below, and continuing with Most Improved Umpire, Fill-In, Crew Chief, Honorable, Noteworthy, Ejection(s) of the Year and concluding with Umpire of the Year. 168 total ballots were cast during this year's nominations process, representing a 93% increase over 2012's nomination process (87).

Pursuant to UEFL Rule 4-4, the postseason Awards distribution now begins with Worst Umpire of the Year.

2013 UEFL Awards: Worst Umpire of the Year: Marty Foster (60) [2012 Winner: Marty Foster]
Voting Results (min. 10%): Foster (20%), Angel Hernandez (13%), CB Bucknor (11%), Bill Welke (10%).

Marty Foster is the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League's 2013 Worst Umpire of the Year. In his 15th Major League Baseball umpiring season, Foster finished 2013 with five ejections, matching five other umpires in that category; Foster ejected five times in 2012 and six times in 2011. UEFL'ers described Foster as "consistently awful" and "an embarrassment to professional baseball" after Ejection 041 (May 25); it should be noted that renowned White Sox homer broadcaster Ken "Hawk" Harrelson made similar statements of Umpire Joe West, stating, "he's becoming a joke to the umpiring profession...he needs a rest" (May 26, 2010). After Foster's 041 (May 25), one UEFL'er similarly stated, "he needs a break." In response to Foster's Ejections 028 and 029 (May 7), Roy bluntly quipped, "Foster....Australian for beer, American for poor umpire." Foster began the season on a difficult note, ending the April 8 Rays-Rangers game with a called third strike located 5.5 inches off the outside corner. After Ejections 045 and 046 (May 26), both detractors and supports of Foster stipulated, "Marty has had a ROUGH year."

Marty Foster now has 1 point in the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League (4 Previous + -3 Award = 1).
The next postseason award, Most Improved Umpire of the Year, will be released later today.