Saturday, December 14, 2013

Close Call of the Week: NBA Flagrant & Technical Ejections

Referees Scott Foster (crew chief), David Jones (R) & Marat Kogut (R2/Umpire) ejected Portland Trail Blazers center Meyers Leonard for a flagrant foul penalty two and Philadelphia 76ers center Daniel Orton for a technical foul in the 4th quarter of the Trail Blazers-76ers game. With 7:19 remaining in the 4th period, Leonard and Orton became entangled at the lower defensive block, away from the ball. Replays indicate Leonard committed a takedown upon Orton, both players falling to the ground as Leonard was whistled for the flagrant foul (type two). During the dead ball skirmish on the ground, Orton appeared to punch/throw an elbow at Leonard's jaw, resulting in a technical foul and ejection. At the time of the ejections, the Trail Blazers were leading, 126-92. The Trail Blazers ultimately won the contest, 139-105.

Wrap: Portland Trail Blazers vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 12/14/13
Video: Physical altercation during play in blowout game leads to throw down, elbow to the mouth

Discussion Point: How is play resumed? What is the proper ruling in college (NCAA), high school (NFHS)?

NBA: Instant Replay is used to determine Leonard (herein "A1")'s foul constituted a flagrant foul penalty two—the takedown was both excessive and unnecessary. Orton (herein "B1") was assessed a technical foul for unsportsmanlike acts during the dead ball period immediately after A1's FF2 foul. The technical is shot first. Because both players were ejected, play is resumed with one technical foul free throw, taken by any of the four remaining players on the floor for Portland (herein "Team A"). Immediately thereafter, the opposing ("Team A") coach shall select the shooter from Philadelphia (herein "Team B")'s bench to shoot the two free throws for the flagrant foul. Team B basketball at the free throw extended. (Rules 12A-V-j, 12B-IV-b, 13-I-a(3), Case Play 123).
- tldr, A1=FF2, B1=Tech, A1 & B1 = Ejected; 1 Tech FT to Team A; 2 FF2 FTs to Team B (HC A choice); B ball.

NCAA: Using Instant Replay, officials rule A1's foul constitutes a flagrant 2 personal foul, resulting in automatic ejection, as in the NBA ruling. B1 is issued a Class A Unsporting Technical for flagrantly (severe/extreme) contacting an opponent while the ball is dead; he too is automatically ejected by rule. Because this is a false double foul (second foul occurred while the clock was stopped for the first foul) and includes a contact dead ball technical foul, the fouls are penalized in the order they occurred. After awarding two free throws for the flagrant foul to B1's substitute, any player from Team A shoots two free throws for the technical foul. Team A basketball at the division line. (Rules 8-3-2, 8-3-4, 10-1-17, 10-1-PENALTY-d-2, 10-3-1-d/e, 10-3-PENALTY, 11-2-1-d-1, A.R. 235).
- tldr, A1=FF2, B1=Cl A Tech, A1 & B1 = Ejected; 2 FF2 FTs to B1's sub; 2 Tech FTs to Team A; A ball.

NFHS: Officials rule A1's foul constitutes a flagrant personal foul, resulting in automatic disqualification to the team bench. B1 is assessed a flagrant technical foul for his dead ball actions, resulting in automatic disqualification to the team bench. As in the NCAA scenario, this is a false double foul; each foul carries its own penalties and are penalized in the order they occurred. After awarding two free throws for the flagrant foul to B1's substitute, any player from Team A shoots two free throws for the technical foul. Team A basketball at the division line. (Rules 8-2, 8-3, 8-6-3, 10-3-7, 10-PENALTY-7).
- tldr, A1=FF, B1=Flag Tech, A1 & B1 = Disqualified; 2 FF FTs to B1's sub; 2 Tech FTs to Team A; A ball.

NBA Ejections: Monty McCutchen, Brian Forte, Sean Wright

Referees Monty McCutchen, Brian Forte & Sean Wright ejected Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Mike Brown for arguing a no-call (blocked shot) during the 2nd quarter of the Cavaliers-Heat game. With 3:14 remaining in the 2nd period, Cavaliers forward Alonzo Gee attempted to score a fast break layup, but was blocked by Heat forward Shane Battier, the carom rebounded by Heat center Chris Bosh. Replays indicate Battier's hand pressed atop the basketball in Gee's hand, the foul non-call was correct (NCC). Brown was issued a first technical for running onto the playing area to argue the play and a second disqualifying technical for continuing to violate the NBA's Respect for the Game guidelines. At the time of the ejection, the Heat were leading, 55-45. The Heat ultimately won the contest, 114-107.

Wrap: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Miami Heat, 12/14/13
Video: Mike Brown passionately campaigns for foul call on Battier's all-ball stuff of forward Gee

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

MLB Rules Committee Approves HP Collision Ban

MLB will ban home plate collisions in 2014, requiring catchers provide a path to home plate and runners to slide or otherwise look to avoid contact, if a proposal by baseball's Official Playing Rules Committee is approved by the MLB Players' Association. If the Association, which is expected to approve the rules change, vetoes the proposal, MLB may still be able to institute the rule for the 2015 regular season.

As announced by MLB Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Joe Torre and Rules Committee Chairman Sandy Alderson, the collision prevention rule will prohibit base runners from initiating contact with the catcher. In turn, catchers will be prohibited from blocking access to home plate. The precise language of the rule change—including procedures, case plays and prescribed penalties—have not yet been determined. Brian Gorman is the only active umpire to serve on MLB's Playing Rules Committee.

Rule 7.06(b) NOTE, which pertains to Obstruction Type B, presently states, "The catcher, without the ball in his possession, has no right to block the pathway of the runner attempting to score. The base line belongs to the runner and the catcher should be there only when he is fielding a ball or when he already has the ball in his hand." Though unclear if this definition will be expanded if the rule is approved, the expectation is that the catcher will lose the right to block access to home plate even when in the process of fielding or in possession of the baseball.

With MLB's proposed change to OBR on the table, let's review malicious contact ("MC") and flagrant collision as the terms appears in high school (NFHS) and college (NCAA) rule codes, respectively.

NFHS: Rule 3-3-1 pertains to malicious contact, providing penalties for initiating MC from either the offensive or defensive position. Upon MC, (1) the ball is dead, (2) if on offense and not already removed from the base paths ["out" or "scored"], the offending batter/runner is declared out, and (3) the offending player is ejected from the game. If the defense commits the MC, the umpire shall award penalties that in his/her judgment will nullify the act of MC (similar to obstruction B or fan interference). MC can be used to augment other calls (e.g., MC added to interference, as in NFHS 2009 Rule Interpretation 17 [With R1, B1 interferes with fielder taking throw at first base maliciously so that R1 may advance to 3B; Ruling: Eject B1, return R1 to base occupied at time of interference].

Malicious Contact has been a point of emphasis ("POE") in high school for several years, most recently for the upcoming 2014 season (it claims the #1 spot for 2014 POEs).

NCAA: High school's "malicious contact" compares to college's "Flagrant Collision," as in NCAA Rule 2-30. Additionally, Rule 8-7 is the "Collision Rule" and states "the rules committee is concerned about unnecessary and violent collisions with the catcher at home plate, and with infielder at all bases. The intent of this rule is to encourage base runners and defensive players to avoid such collisions whenever possible." However, NCAA does not presently prohibit its fielders (catchers) from blocking the base/plate, as long as there is "clear possession of the ball." When a collision between runner and fielder occurs, the umpire shall judge whether the defense has provided access to the base/plate and the offense's legitimate attempt to advance/reach in a legal fashion and without the use of flagrant or malicious contact. The specifically states that "contact above the waist that was initiated by the base runner shall not be judged as an attempt to reach the base or plate...The runner must make an actual attempt to reach the base (plate)."  The penalties for flagrant collisions are similar to that of NFHS MC.

NCAA recognizes that if a runner's path to the base is blocked, "unavoidable contact" may occur and may qualify as obstruction pursuant to Rule 2-54 (but not if the fielder is in possession of or in the act of fielding the ball).

Therefore, it is clear the present order (e.g., circa 2013 season) of HP collision tolerance is, from least restrictive to most restrictive, OBR => NCAA => NFHS.

It remains to be seen, however, whether OBR will surpass NCAA restrictions in actively requiring, as opposed to simply encouraging its catchers not to block the plate.