Saturday, August 9, 2014

MLB Instant Replay Reviews 910-917: August 9, 2014

August 9, 2014 featured the following MLB Umpire Instant Replay Review decisions:

R9102BFairchild, Chad5DET29Brad Ausmus9SafeStands
r911HPDiaz, Laz10STL26Mike Matheny1OutConfirmed
R9122BPorter, Alan10CHC45Rick Renteria5OutStands
R9132BBaker, Jordan9PIT40Clint Hurdle8SafeOverturned
R9142BDrake, Rob9LAD33Don Mattingly7SafeStands
R9151BDeMuth, Dana10TEX31Ron Washington2OutOverturned
R916HPGibson, Greg12ATL23Fredi Gonzalez11SafeOverturned
r9172BWolcott, Quinn15BOS29John Farrell19HRConfirmed

Instant Replay Review Decision Video Clips (
Video 910: DET@TOR: Tigers challenge, call stands in 9th
Video 911: STL@BAL: Play at plate confirmed after review in 1st
Video 912: TB@CHC: Out call at second stands in the 5th
Video 913: SD@PIT: Safe call at second overturned in the 8th
Video 914: LAD@MIL: Safe call at second stands in the 7th
Video 915: TEX@HOU: Out call at first overturned
Video 916: WSH@ATL: Safe call at the plate overturned in 11th
Video 917: BOS@LAA: Walk-off HR is confirmed in the 19th (Soon)

Friday, August 8, 2014

Gil's Call: The Blame Game (Umpire Scapegoating)

Gil's Call is the monthly column or publisher's memo featured in The Left Field Corner newsletter. The August 2014 edition of TLFC is on its way—we're just waiting for one Appeals Board case [Ejection 144: Quinn Wolcott (4; Joe Maddon)] to wrap up—so while we wait, I present August's edition of Gil's Call in which I tackle the issue of scapegoating and blaming umpires, which has become somewhat prevalent, especially in this era of Replay Review and a troubling recent tendency some broadcasters have displayed of making AAA call-ups targets for their venting.

Gil's Call: The Blame Game
Thinking about the Psychology of Scapegoating and Ejections

The 2014 season has brought significant changes into our game at the MLB level, with Replay Review, Rule 7.13 and the influx of MiLB Call-Up assignments most notable among them.
Each of these changes has produced certain thoughts allowing fans and analysts to jump to conclusions about their perceptions of the true state of umpiring in baseball.

My work in the realm of psychology and cognitive distortions has taken me from the standard early fare of Freud and Jung through the more recent (and unconventional) works of names like Winch, Tennov and (Katie) Mitchell and past the phenomenon known as scapegoat theory.

For instance, it doesn’t take much insight to understand that people—much less umpire—blaming or scapegoating is a common strategy employed by a subject—in our sport, by players, coaches, managers and some broadcasters—to shirk personal (or team) responsibility for an undesirable outcome for the person (or team).

The medical definition of this term is similar: “Scapegoating is a process in which the mechanisms of projection or displacement are utilized in focusing feelings of aggression, hostility, frustration, etc., upon another individual or group; the amount of blame being unwarranted.”

We project our negative emotions onto others who in turn become a scapegoat in order to avoid the psychological stress of dealing with our own problems. This is a Level 2, or immature, Freudian defense mechanism. Similar is the defense mechanism of displacement, wherein we refocus ire or other negative emotion onto a subject who is not the actual cause of this emotion, often because it is easier to victimize an innocent bystander than to confront a person to whom we bear responsibility.

2013-EJ-67: Bautista argues pitch #1, a strike.
They key difference is that projection deals with the outward focus of issues of the self while displacement is the transference of issues pertaining to or feelings towards a third party wherein such transference is more acceptable than directly confronting the responsible party.

For instance, “I don’t trust umpires [or any other class of people]” is a belief in which the subject has projected feelings of conviction and lack of self-confidence onto an entire group, which includes people the subject has never before met or even someone the subject is presently holding as a confidant for said venting. As officials, we are right to want to say, "Coach, you must forget who you're talking to. I'm one of those very umpires whose judgment and/or rules knowledge you don't trust...yet you're talking to me about it. When you put down a group of people of which I am a member, why do you think I'll sympathize with your irrational complaint?"

Comic: A Freudian Slide
In reality, this is rarely a bona fide admonishment of such class or individual; instead, it is the psychological projection of the self's unpleasant thoughts and feelings onto “others,” who then become scapegoat(s) for the subject’s own problems.

When the subject says, “I don’t trust umpires' judgment,” the subject really means, “I don’t trust my own judgment.” Accordingly, "I don't trust [class of people]" becomes "I don't trust myself." We mask with projection because of a conditioned response to preserve our sense of self and internalized paradigm, even when our paradigm is inherently inaccurate, outdated or harmful.

The trust here usually refers to knowledge of a particular rule. For instance, a call regarding the aforementioned home plate collision rule might lead to a scapegoating situation simply because the player, coach, or fan simply doesn't know the intricacies of the rule, and, combining this with an unacceptable result (e.g., "I don't know the totality of this rule AND as a result of a play concerning this rule, the other team scored to force extra innings and/or win the game"), the natural inclination is to blame the umpire.

Umpires are expected to maintain rule mastery.
Yet umpires have a full-time job studying the rules, applying the rules, analyzing plays, and doing whatever it takes to get the call right. Combine this with the Instant Replay procedure - which slows play down and grants umpires (or referees in NBA, NFL, and NHL) the opportunity to use the depth of their rules expertise to methodically dissect a complex, close, and controversial play, and take their time to fairly adjudicate it.

Yet sometimes, players or fans may be blinded by their team loyalty and thirst for winning to such a degree that they might decry a "this umpire hates us," or even more extreme, "the league is conspiring against us" mentality, such that every perceived slight from the point this thought first enters the subject's mind serves only as confirmation that, yeah, there must be a conspiracy against one's chosen team.

It is not surprising, therefore, that those with narcissistic traits (such as many "star" athletes and the like) are masters of projection. Of course they are skilled at projecting onto others—they use this defense mechanism all the time! In sports psychology, this isn't necessarily a bad thing for the players, as this line of thinking has the propensity to provide that edge or extra grit to overcome adversity and bolster performance.

Surely it can't always be someone else's fault.
Call scapegoating a "necessary evil," as it just might produce this psychological boost for a team under the right circumstances. The problem, naturally, is that fans, who have absolutely no control over the team's performance, also employ the technique for no other reason than to shield themselves from an undesirable result.

If this conclusion sounds far-fetched, just think about the last fan you encountered talk about a "conspiracy" the league or a certain official has against their team. See: modern conspiracy theorists.

Thus, when “class of people” becomes “umpires,” playing field scapegoating produces frustration, venting and, sometimes, a crossing of the Rule 9.01(d) line, leading to disciplinary action such as ejection.

A pitcher expelled for intentionally throwing at the batter who steps to the plate directly following a teammate who hit a home run, as in Rule 8.02(d), is displaying the displacement defense mechanism.

In the broadcast booth, scapegoating becomes much more evident, for the viewing audience can hear the broadcasters’ frustration. As broadcasters attempt to justify their “umpires are bad” argument, their cases often begin to break down. The longer the on-field argument, the less cogent the broadcast transcript.

Is sports culture normalizing umpire abuse?
Take this Ron Darling transcript and identify the defense mechanism: “It’s a joke…Who cares if you take any kind of jawing…There’s no reason that, as a young umpire, you can’t take a little bit from the bench. That’s how it goes, man up.”

On the field, the young umpire Ben May had warned Mets Manager Terry Collins and, in response, Collins’ argument grew louder and more unsportsmanlike. Rules 9.01(d) and 9.02(a) all but mandated the subsequent ejection: “No player, manager, coach or substitute shall object to any such judgment decisions.” Especially balls and strikes. Especially when the argument is prolonged.

Answer: Displacement. Darling's ire is at "the bench," not at the umpire for enforcing a rule.

Or nearly every ejection for arguing a Replay Review decision. At a young age when we all adopt an ego-centric view of the world with great fear of abandonment, children will often act out and act up just to draw attention, for with limited experience, the child’s paradigm holds that any attention is good attention for it means, “I am not being abandoned.”

2014-EJ-111: Gibbons argues a replay decision.
So too does a manager regress (another defense mechanism), throwing a tantrum after a call that doesn’t go his team’s way. Furthermore, it shows his team that he isn’t abandoning them (though by being exiled to the locker room, he is technically doing just that…it’s just the scapegoated umpire’s fault that he can’t be on the bench, not his).

So when Yunel Escobar made a spectacle of himself after being ejected arguing Bill Welke’s strike one call, he spiked his helmet and threw his bat, yelling repeatedly to draw attention to himself and the perceived transgressions of the umpire, lest anyone question why Escobar didn’t (a) swing at the first pitch or (b) stick around for strikes two and three. (Regression)

For after all, it is never our own fault; it’s always some other person or class of people. Blame the umpire!


MLB Instant Replay Reviews 903-909: August 8, 2014

August 8, 2014 featured the following MLB Umpire Instant Replay Review decisions:

R9032BGibson, Tripp13TB42Joe Maddon1OutOverturned
R904HPCooper, Eric8CHC44Rick Renteria7SafeConfirmed
R9051BJohnson, Adrian12DET28Brad Ausmus2SafeStands
r9063BCederstrom, Gary12SF36Bruce Bochy2Not HRConfirmed
R9073BCederstrom, Gary13KC30Ned Yost3SafeOverturned
R908HPRackley, Dave6TEX30Ron Washington2HBPStands
R9092BDeMuth, Dana9HOU24Bo Porter7SafeOverturned

Instant Replay Review Decision Video Clips (
Video 903: TB@CHC: Rays challenge out, overturned in 1st
Video 904: TB@CHC: Cubs challenge safe call, confirmed in 7th
Video 905: DET@TOR: Safe call stands in the 2nd inning
Video 906: SF@KC: Foul ball confirmed in the 2nd inning
Video 907: SF@KC: Safe call at third overturned in the 3rd
Video 908: TEX@HOU: Hit-by-pitch reviewed in the 2nd inning
Video 909: TEX@HOU: Safe call overturned in the 7th inning

Thursday, August 7, 2014

MLB Ejection 147: Toby Basner (6; Lloyd McClendon)

HP Umpire Toby Basner ejected Mariners Manager Lloyd McClendon for arguing warnings (Unsportsmanlike-NEC) in the bottom of the 8th inning of the White Sox-Mariners game. With none out and none on, Mariners batter Kendrys Morales took a 0-0 fastball from White Sox pitcher Maikel Cleto for a hit-by-pitch. Replays indicate the pitch was located off the inner half of home plate and knee-high, the call was irrecusable. At the time of the ejection, the Mariners were leading, 11-3. the Mariners ultimately won the contest, 13-3.

This is Toby Basner (99)'s sixth ejection of the 2014 MLB Regular Season.
Toby Basner now has 21 points in the UEFL Standings (18 Prev + 3 AAA + 0 Irrecusable Call = 21).
Crew Chief Hunter Wendelstedt now has 3 points in Crew Division (2 Previous + 1 Irrecusable = 3).

This is the 147th ejection of the 2014 MLB Regular Season.
This is the 68th Manager ejection of 2014.
This is the Mariners' 6th ejection of 2014, 2nd in the AL West (TEX 7; SEA 6; OAK 5; HOU 2; LAA 1).
This is Lloyd McClendon's first ejection since May 14, 2014 (Lance Barksdale; QOC = Y [Check Swing]).
This is Toby Basner's first ejection since July 22, 2014 (Justin Wilson; QOC = U [Throwing At]).

Wrap: Chicago White Sox vs. Seattle Mariners, 8/7/14
Video: McClendon's continued dispute over Basner's warnings earns him the early hook (SEA)

MLB Ejection 146: Brian Knight (2; Matt Kemp)

HP Umpire Brian Knight ejected Dodgers CF Matt Kemp for arguing a check swing (strike three) call in the top of the 8th inning of the Dodgers-Angels game. With two out and three on, Kemp attempted to check his swing on a 1-2 slider from Angels pitcher Cam Bedrosian. Replays indicate Kemp attempted to strike the pitch, the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Dodgers were leading, 6-0. The Dodgers ultimately won the contest, 7-0.

This is Brian Knight (91)'s second ejection of the 2014 MLB Regular Season.
Brian Knight now has 7 points in the UEFL Standings (3 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 7).
Crew Chief Jim Reynolds now has -1 points in Crew Division (-2 Previous + 1 Correct Call = -1).

This is the 146th ejection of the 2014 MLB Regular Season.
This is the 62nd player ejection of 2014. Prior to ejection, Kemp was 1-2 in the contest.
This is the Dodgers' 7th ejection of 2014, T-1st in the NL West (COL, LAD 7; ARI 5; SF 4; SD 2).
This is Matt Kemp's first ejection since June 11, 2014 (Seth Buckminster; QOC = U [USC/NEC]).
This is Brian Knight's first ejection since June 25, 2014 (Mike Moustakas; QOC = Y [Replay Review]).

Wrap: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 8/7/14
Video: Kemp is called for swinging at a pitch in the dirt to end the Dodgers' bases loaded threat (LAD)

MLB Instant Replay Reviews 898-902: August 7, 2014

August 7, 2014 featured the following MLB Umpire Instant Replay Review decisions:

R8981BEveritt, Mike8PIT39Clint Hurdle8OutOverturned
R8992BKellogg, Jeff9BAL25Buck Showalter3SafeStands
R9003BDeMuth, Dana8ARI34Kirk Gibson9SafeStands
R9011BGonzalez, Manny17LAD32Don Mattingly6SafeOverturned
R9021BGonzalez, Manny18LAA32Mike Scioscia8OutConfirmed

Instant Replay Review Decision Video Clips (
Video 898: MIA@PIT: Out call overturned in the 8th inning
Video 899: BAL@TOR: Safe call at second stands in the 3rd inning
Video 900: KC@ARI: Safe call stands at third base in the 9th
Video 901: LAD@LAA: Safe call overturned in the 6th inning
Video 902: LAD@LAA: Out call confirmed in the 8th inning

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

MLB Instant Replay Reviews 888-897: August 6, 2014

August 6, 2014 featured the following MLB Umpire Instant Replay Review decisions:

R888HPHudson, Marvin12MIN28Ron Gardenhire2BallOverturned
R889HPWoodring, Tom5NYY25Joe Girardi8OutOverturned
R8902BNelson, Jeff9PHI29Ryne Sandberg1OutStands
R8911BReyburn, DJ17BAL23Buck Showalter7SafeOverturned
R8921BReyburn, DJ18BAL24Buck Showalter8SafeStands
R8931BReyburn, DJ19TOR39John Gibbons8OutStands
R8941BCederstrom, Gary11BOS28John Farrell3OutOverturned
R8951BGuccione, Chris10CHC43Rick Renteria9OutStands
R8961BRandazzo, Tony11KC29Ned Yost9OutOverturned
R8972BGonzalez, Manny16LAA31Mike Scioscia4SafeOverturned

Instant Replay Review Decision Video Clips (
Video 888: SD@MIN: Challenge overturns called ball in the 2nd
Video 889: DET@NYY: Play at plate overturned in the 8th
Video 890: HOU@PHI: Out call stands after challenge in the 1st
Video 891: BAL@TOR: Safe call at first overturned in 7th inning
Video 892: BAL@TOR: Safe call at first stands in 8th inning
Video 893: BAL@TOR: Out call at first stands after review in 8th
Video 894: BOS@STL: Kelly's ruled out, overturned in 3rd
Video 895: CHC@COL: Out call at first stands after review in 9th
Video 896: KC@ARI: Out call on Moustakas overturned in 9th
Video 897: LAD@LAA: Safe call at second overturned in 4th inning