Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Close Call of the Week: Butt-Goal - Should it Have Counted?

Monday's Coyotes-Sabres game ended in bizarre fashion 3:47 into the overtime period when Sabres defenseman Mark Pysyk's wrist shot, assists to Matt Moulson and Christian Ehrhoff, appeared to come to rest in the back of Coyotes goalie Mike Smith's uniform jersey, just above the pads of the pants, as Smith's rear end drifted into the net, the puck physically crossing the plane of the goal line. The game-ending buttgoal was ultimately confirmed after a (1) conference between referees Greg Kimmerly and Chris Rooney and linesmen Greg Devorski and Brad Kovachik and (2) instant replay review from Toronto's video "war room," allowing Buffalo the 2-1 final. But should the goal have counted?

Puck stays in Referee's sight as butt-goal ends game.
NHL Rule 31.4 grants Referees the authority to "give the final decision in matters of disputed goals" while Rule 38.2 unequivocally states that "every goal is to be reviewed by the Video Goal Judge," who, working in concert with the off-ice official at ice level, will relay the result of the replay review to the referee for final decision. As is generally the case, this review process was correctly executed.

At issue is game flow and the question of when shall the officials rule the puck out of bounds. Rule 85.2 states that a puck is considered unplayable if it becomes lodged in the netting outside of either goal, is frozen between opposing players or if it enters a goal from behind or the side. Rule 85.3 states that "should scramble take place or a player accidentally fall on the puck and the puck be out of sight of the Referee, he shall immediately blow his whistle and stop the play." As the attached image demonstrates, the puck did not fully enter goalie Smith's shirt/pants cradle prior to crossing the goal line; accordingly, play was properly kept alive. Good goal.

Video: Buffalo defeats Phoenix on walk-off #buttgoal win as referee Kimmerly announces the good goal

Monday, December 23, 2013

Top 20 Ejections of 2013: An MLB Network Retrospective

Happy Holidays! The UEFL reviews the Top 20 Ejections of 2013, as selected by MLB Network and aired during their offseason "MLB Network Countdown" series, a countdown of baseball history. Included in MLB Network's list are several bench clearing brawls and throwing at ejections, the walk to break up Yu Darvish's perfect game, Big Papi's dugout phone meltdown in Baltimore and the final two ejections of the late Wally Bell's career. Enjoy and have a joyous Christmas/(Much belated) Chanukah/Kwanzaa and to all a Happy New Year!

*Note: Qualities of Correctness are provided in the following format: Y=Correct, N=Incorrect, U=Irrecusable.

MLB Network Countdown: Top 20 Most Unforgettable Ejections of 2013
Note: Click each umpire's name & ejection # to be taken to the associated ejection report from the season.
20: E 172: Andy Fletcher (5); Dodgers 1B Adrian Gonzalez (Safe Call [Crewmate], QOC = N).
19: E 067: Gary Darling (2); Blue Jays RF Jose Bautista (Strike One Call [Eventual K], QOC = Y).
18: E 068, 069: Wally Bell (1, 2); Giants P George Kontos & Mgr Bruce Bochy (Throwing At, QOC = U).
17: E 146: Paul Nauert (2); Braves LF Justin Upton (Strike One Call [Eventual GO], QOC = Y).
16: E 129: Ron Kulpa (1); Rangers C AJ Pierzynski (Ball Two Call [Eventual BB], QOC = Y).
15: E 091, 092: Chad Fairchild (3, 4); Tigers P Luke Putkonen & Mgr Jim Leyland (Throwing At, QOC = U).
14: E 134/5: Marvin Hudson (2, 3); Nationals P Stephen Strasburg/M Davey Johnson (Throwing At, QOC = U).
13: E 062: Tony Randazzo (1); Indians SS Mike Aviles (Strike One [Foul] Call [Eventual AO], QOC = U).
12: E 051: Hunter Wendelstedt (2); Orioles P Jason Hammel (Throwing At, QOC = U).
11: E 057/8: Clint Fagan (1, 2); Cardinals C Yadier Molina & Manager Mike Matheny (Out Call, QOC = Y).
10: E 139: Brian O'Nora (1); Yankees Manager Joe Girardi (Warnings/Intent HBP Non-Ejection, QOC = U).
#9: E 059/60: Dan Iassogna (2, 3); Pirates C Russell Martin & Mgr Clint Hurdle (Ball Two Call, QOC = Y).
#8: E 081: Angel Hernandez (2); Orioles Manager Buck Showalter (Reversed Foul-to-Out Call, QOC = Y).
#7: E 020/21: Tim Timmons (1, 2); Pirates P Jonathan Sanchez & Mgr Clint Hurdle (Throwing At, QOC = U).
#6: E 170/71: CB Bucknor (3, 4); Braves Mgr Fredi Gonzalez & P Alex Wood (Ball Four Call, QOC = Y).
#5: E 071-76: Clint Fagan (3-8); Diamondbacks-Dodgers Brawl (Throwing At & Fighting, QOC = U).
#4: E 003-6: Sam Holbrook (1-4); Dodgers-Padres Brawl (Fighting, QOC = U).
#3: E 105: Tim Timmons (5); Red Sox DH David Ortiz (Strike One Call [Eventual K], QOC = Y).
#2: E 177-79: Doug Eddings/Paul Nauert (3, 4; 3); Brewers [Carlos Gomez]-Braves Brawl (Fighting, QOC = U).
#1: E 030: Angel Hernandez (1); A's Manager Bob Melvin (Replay Reviewed and Upheld 2B Call, QOC = N).

Not Mentioned: UEFL Ejection of the Year, Ejection 110: Jerry Layne (1; Mike Scioscia), QOC = Y.
Not Mentioned: UEFL Ejection of the Year #2, Ejection 055: Joe West (1; Dale Sveum), QOC = N [Crewmate].

Total Correct: 8 / Total Incorrect: 2 / Total Irrecusable: 10 = 80.0% Accuracy (Compare to 72.2% in 2012)
Click here for the 2012 edition, featuring the Top 25 Most Unforgettable Ejections of 2012.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Close Call of the Week: Illegal Bat on Blocked FG

In the 3rd quarter of Sunday's Steelers-Packers game, Green Bay attempted a field goal to tie on 4th and goal. After Packers kicker Mason Crosby's attempt was blocked by Steelers nose tackle Steve McLendon, the football bounced towards Steelers safety Ryan Clark who attempted to lateral the ball to William Gay before Steelers defensive end Ziggy Hood ultimately contacted the loose ball by batting it out of bounds—and in a forward direction.

Citing Hood's action as illegal batting, referee Carl Cheffers' crew awarded Green Bay a first down, allowing them to retain possession at the Steelers' two-yard line. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin's challenge was denied on the grounds that possession is ineligible for review.

Relevant to this play is NFL Rule 12, Section 4, Article 1, which states an illegal bat has occurred when "a player of either team bats or punches a loose ball in the field of play toward his opponent's goal line," or forward, the prescribed penalty for which is a loss of 10 yards and automatic first down (since the foul was committed by the defense and prior to any deemed change of possession).

As for that issue of possession which Tomlin challenged, Rule 15-5 states that "recovery of a loose ball that does not involve a boundary line or the end zone" is specifically non-reviewable. Accordingly, officials properly denied Tomlin's request for instant replay review.

Rule 3-2-3 states that "a loose ball (either during or after flight) is considered in possession of team (offense) whose player kicked, passed or fumbled. [Prior possession] ends when a player secures possession or when the down ends if that is before such possession." Article 7 of Rule 3 states that a player is in possession of a ball when "he is inbounds and has a firm grip and control of the ball with his hands or arms."

As for gaining possession of a loose ball, a player must not only have (1) complete control of the ball, he must additionally (2) "have both feet or any other part of his body, other than his hands, completely on the ground inbounds, and maintain control of the ball long enough to perform any act common to the game. If the player loses the ball while simultaneously touching both feet or any other part of his body to the ground, there is no possession. This rule applies in the field of play and in the end zone." Note 1 states that "a player who goes to the ground in the process of attempting to secure possession of a loose ball (with or without contact by an opponent) must maintain control of the ball throughout the process of contacting the ground." Note 1, however, generally is applied during a pass situation.

Replays are inconclusive as to whether Pittsburgh's Clark had possession of the loose ball, although it is clear he attempted to perform an action common to the game in the form of a lateral—again, though, it is unclear whether he gained a firm grip and control of the ball prior to the pitch. The penalty for illegal batting was properly enforced—half the distance (recall the original line of scrimmage) and first down to the offense as the defense was ruled not to have gained possession.

Video: Steelers block Green Bay's game-tying FG attempt, lose the ball out of bounds as penalty flags fly