Friday, April 14, 2017

MLB Ejection 005 - Mike Everitt (1; Bud Black)

HP Umpire Mike Everitt ejected Rockies Manager Bud Black (balk no-call) in the top of the 5th inning of the Rockies-Giants game. With none out and one on, Rockies batter Trevor Story took a series of fastballs from Giants pitcher Jonny Cueto (all officiated properly). Replays indicate Cueto's delivery was legal from Set Position; he came to a complete stop prior to delivering to Story, the call was correct; Rockies pitcher Tyler Anderson had been called for two balks earlier in the game.* At the time of the ejection, the Giants were leading, 4-0. The Giants ultimately won the contest, 8-2.

This is Mike Everitt (57)'s first ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Mike Everitt now has 4 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Previous + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 4).
Crew Chief Mike Everitt now has 2 points in Crew Division (1 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 2).
*Rule 6.02(a)(13) states, "If there is a runner, or runners, it is a balk when...The pitcher delivers the pitch from Set Position without coming to a stop."

This is the fifth ejection report of 2017.
This is the 3rd Manager ejection of 2017.
This is Colorado's 1st ejection of 2017, T-1st in the NL West (COL, LAD 1; ARI, SF, SD 0).
This is Bud Black's first ejection since June 11, 2015 (Jordan Baker; QOC = N [Fair/Foul]).
This is Mike Everitt's first ejection since August 27, 2016 (JD Martinez; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Colorado Rockies vs. San Francisco Giants, 4/14/17 | Video via "Read More"

Injury Scout - Dale Scott Removed on Stretcher After Foul

Dale Scott was carted off on a stretcher after a foul ball head injury sustained during Friday's Orioles-Blue Jays game in Toronto.

With none out and none on in the top of the 8th inning, Orioles batter Mark Trumbo fouled a 95.4 miles-per-hour cutter from Blue Jays pitcher Ryan Tepera into the middle portion of Scott's traditional-style facemask.

Scott was replaced behind home plate by 2B Umpire Brian Knight, while base umpires Jim Reynolds (1B) and Lance Barrett (3B) shared the field for the rest of the contest.

Relevant Injury History: Prior to Friday, Dale Scott's most recent game-ending head injury was a similar foul ball to the facemask event, sustained on July 16, 2016 on a foul ball from a 91-mph fastball during the first inning of that day's Dodgers-Diamondbacks game. Scott also experienced a foul ball injury during a Mariners-Jays game on August 7, 2013.

The minimum amount of time a player or umpire may be placed on the concussion list is seven days; Scott was absent for a total of 16 days following his July 16, 2016 head injury; he has not officiated over 108 games in the regular season (a full-time MLB umpire generally officiates about 120 games during the regular season) since 2014.

*UPDATE*: Scott to MLBN's Harold Reynolds:
Just got back to my room from the hospital, CT scan was negative, everything looks okay except for the nasty headache and another concussion. I'll be fine, but off the field for a couple of weeks.

Last Game: April 14, 2017 | Return to Play: TBD | Total Time Absent: TBD

Forgoing "Time" to Power Through Light Failure

A bank of lights failed just prior to a pitch during Wednesday's Braves-Marlins game, bringing baseball's rules concerning power outages and other emergency procedures to the forefront.

Umpires wait out the light outage delay.
With one out and none on in the top of the 4th inning, Marlins pitcher Tom Koehler began his delivery to Braves batter Brandon Phillips as a series of field lights in Miami shut off, noticeably dimming lighting conditions throughout the ballpark and field of play. Koehler completed his delivery and Phillips hit the ensuing knuckle-curve on the ground to third baseman Miguel Rojas, who threw to first baseman Tyler Moore for the inning's second out.

After the conclusion of that play, HP Umpire and Crew Chief Ted Barrett called "Time" to consult with his crew and the game experienced a delay as Marlins Park facilities staff restored power to the affected light bulbs.

Umpires made the proper call in allowing play to continue until the out was recorded.

Official Baseball Rule 5.12(b) delineates when an umpire may call "Time," and specifically names light failure (partial or complete) as one of these instances, albeit with an important qualification:
(2) The ball becomes dead when an umpire calls 'Time.' The umpire-in-chief shall call 'Time'...When light failure makes it difficult or impossible for the umpires to follow the play.
>> For the additional six reasons "Time" may be called, refer to our review from 2012, "Are Umpires Calling 'Time' to Argue?" <<

A number of lights failed during play in MIA.
The consideration for calling "Time" in a partial or complete light failure situation is not simply whether or not a requisite number or percentage of field lights have shut off, it is whether the light failure has made it "difficult or impossible" for the umpires—not the players, coaches, or managers—to follow the play.

Rule 5.12(b)(8) states, "Except in the cases stated in paragraphs (2) and (3)(A) of this rule, no umpire shall call 'Time' while a play is in progress."

Accordingly, as Miami's partial light failure did not make it difficult or impossible for umpire Ted Barrett or his crew to follow the play, he properly kept the ball alive until such time as the play's completion allowed the ball to become dead in a natural fashion, after which he wisely held the game until such time as the lighting situation could be resolved.

Hypothetical: Had Marlins staff been unable to remedy the problem, and this forced the game to be called, Rule 7.02(a) (formerly 4.12) holds that the game would become suspended—regardless of innings completed or the score: "A game shall become a suspended game that must be completed at a future date if the game is terminated for any of the following reasons...Light failure, malfunction of, or unintentional operator error in employing, a mechanical or field device or equipment under the control of the home club (e.g., a retractable roof, a tarpaulin, or other water removal equipment)."

Wendelstedt observes Chicago's rain chaos.
Rule 7.02(a)(3) (formerly 4.12(a)) was the rule involved in Major League Baseball's most recently upheld protest in August 2014, when the San Francisco Giants protested HP Umpire and Acting Crew Chief Hunter Wendelstedt's decision to call and make final the result of a 2-0 Cubs win in five innings, caused by Chicago grounds crew's inability to properly place Wrigley Field's tarp during a rain delay, which in turn resulted in flooding to the infield when umpires attempted to resume play.

At the time, then-Rule 4.12(a) simply stated, "Light failure or malfunction of a mechanical field device under control of the home club. (Mechanical field device shall include automatic tarpaulin or water removal equipment)." In terminating the game and making it final, Wendelstedt explained, "by the baseball rulebook, there was nothing to put our hat on to suspend the game."

MLB VP Joe Torre's office ruled the play a field device malfunction, but also agreed with Wendelstedt about the rule's deficiency, and the following season, the MLB Rules Committee voted to add "unintentional operator error in employing [the device]" to the rulebook.

Miami light outage video via "Read More"

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Case Play 2017-2 - Stealing an Extended Walk [Solved]

A walk generally results in a one-base award to the batter and any forced runners, but what happens when a runner entitled to advance is tagged on the way into the next base while attempting to steal it? Even with the base? Past it?

2B Umpire Laz Diaz observes the action.
Such a scenario occurred in Houston, when Astros second baseman Jose Altuve attempted to tag Mariners baserunner Jean Segura during a stolen base attempt on a walk.

The Play: With none out and one on (R1), Mariners batter Mitch Haniger faced a 3-2 count as baserunner Segura extended his lead off of first base in anticipation of a run-with-the-pitch situation. As Astros pitcher Joe Musgrove released the payoff pitch, Segura took off towards second while Haniger attempted to check his swing on a chest-high fastball, ruled a ball by HP Umpire Cory Blaser and affirmed as "no swing" by 1B Umpire Jeff Nelson. As Blaser and Nelson made their respective calls, Astros catcher Brian McCann threw to second baseman Jose Altuve in an attempt to retire baserunner Segura, in the event that the pitch were to be ruled a third strike. Although the outcome of the at-bat was indeed a walk, forcing Segura's protected advance to second base (which explains why Segura's sprint turned into a jog as he approached second base), Altuve nonetheless tagged and chased the startled Segura, who in turn veered to the left field side of second base in an attempt to avoid the tag. After confirming from Blaser that the pitch was indeed ball four, 2B Umpire Laz Diaz made no call and allowed Segura to return safely to second base.

Case Play Question: At what point, if any, might Segura be declared out, and if he is liable to be declared out, under what rule would that fall (e.g., out on the tag, out of the base path, abandonment, etc.)? Does Altuve's actions in attempting to tag the forced-to-advance without liability to be put out Segura have any bearing on this ruling; what would have happened, all else equal, had Altuve kept the tag on Segura the entire time? What if Altuve hadn't kept the tag on, but continued to chase Segura as he ran past the base?

Answer: Segura may be declared out if he is tagged after passing the physical location of second base, whether or not he actually touched the base (5.05(b)(1)). Altuve's actions have no bearing on this play: deception is not obstruction in professional baseball, it is a legal play (had Altuve prevented Segura from seeing the play, THAT would qualify as obstruction, but evidence suggests no such illegal action occurred). Had Altuve kept the tag on Segura the entire time, Segura would be declared out if, in the umpire's judgment, Segura's overrun of second base was of his own volition (e.g., Altuve did not physically push Segura past the base). Had, all else equal, Altuve not kept the tag, but continued to chase Segura past the base, the umpire's use of discretion would dictate whether or not Segura illegally exited his base path for the purpose of avoiding a tag (5.09(b)(1)).

Official Baseball Rules Library
OBR 5.05(b)(1) Comment: "If, in advancing, the base runner thinks there is a play and he slides past the base before or after touching it he may be put out by the fielder tagging him. If he fails to touch the base to which he is entitled and attempts to advance beyond that base he may be put out by tagging him or the base he missed."
OBR 5.06(b)(3)(B): "Each runner, other than the batter, may without liability to be put out, advance one base when—The batter’s advance without liability to be put out forces the runner to vacate his base, or when the batter hits a fair ball that touches another runner or the umpire before such ball has been touched by, or has passed a fielder, if the runner is forced to advance."
OBR 5.06(b)(3)(B) Comment: "A runner forced to advance without liability to be put out may advance past the base to which he is entitled only at his peril."
OBR 5.06(b)(4)(I) Comment: "The fact a runner is awarded a base or bases without liability to be put out does not relieve him of the responsibility to touch the base he is awarded and all intervening bases."
OBR 5.09(b)(1): "Any runner is out when—He runs more than three feet away from his base path to avoid being tagged unless his action is to avoid interference with a fielder fielding a batted ball. A runner’s base path is established when the tag attempt occurs and is a straight line from the runner to the base he is attempting to reach safely."
OBR 5.09(b)(1) and (2) Comment: "PLAY—Runner believing he is called out on a tag at first or third base starts for the dugout and progresses a reasonable distance still indicating by his actions that he is out, shall be declared out for abandoning the bases."

Video available via "Read more"

Monday, April 10, 2017

MLB Ejection 004 - Alan Porter (1; Pete Mackanin)

HP Umpire Alan Porter ejected Phillies Manager Pete Mackanin (arguing warnings; Unsportsmanlike-NEC) in the top of the 8th inning of the Mets-Phillies game. With one out and none on, Mets batter Asdrubal Cabrera took a 0-0 fastball from Phillies pitcher Edubray Ramos for a called first ball, resulting in warnings. Replays indicate the pitch was located nearly three feet off the inner edge of home plate and above Cabrera's head, the call was irrecusable. At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 2-2. The Mets ultimately won the contest, 4-3.

This is Alan Porter (64)'s first ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Alan Porter now has 3 points in the UEFL Standings (1 Previous + 2 MLB + 0 Irrecusable Call = 3).
Crew Chief Joe West now has 3 points in Crew Division (2 Previous + 1 Irrecusable Call = 3).

This is the fourth ejection report of 2017.
This is the 2nd Manager ejection of 2017.
This is Philadelphia 1st ejection of 2017, T-1st in the NL East (MIA, PHI 1; ATL, NYM, WAS 0).
This is Pete Mackanin's first ejection since September 30, 2016 (Will Little; QOC = Y [Check Swing]).
This is Alan Porter's first ejection since September 13, 2016 (Clint Hurdle; QOC = Y [Interference]).

Wrap: New York Mets vs. Philadelphia Phillies, 4/10/17 | Video via "Read More"

Case Play 2017-1 - A Baseball Made of Velcro [Solved]

Baseballs rarely stick to chest protectors, but for Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, that oddity became reality Thursday afternoon in St. Louis on a dropped third strike play, allowing Cubs batter Matt Szczur to reach first base after swinging and missing at a 0-2 curveball from Cardinals pitcher Brett Cecil.

Replays indicate nothing extraordinary: the ball didn't wedge itself underneath the chest protector and Molina's uniform shirt, it never hit Szczur nor his bat, and didn't come near HP Umpire Quinn Wolcott: it simply bounced in the dirt and stuck to the front facing of Molina's equipment, leaving Molina—who was unaware of the ball's whereabouts—to feverishly look for the ball before finally finding it affixed to his person.

Case Play Question: Notwithstanding the physics anomaly (let's assume the ball's legal rosin and pine tar levels allowed for the glue-like effect), what is the proper ruling for such a play? With runner(s) on (let's assume a runner on first base, running on the pitch, made it to third base before Molina found the ball), what is the proper ruling?

Answer: The stuck ball remains live. This is not a "lodge," pursuant to Rule 5.06(c)(7): the ball is readily accessible to Molina, who does not attempt to retrieve it. Thus, the ball is live and in play.

Official Baseball Rules Library
OBR 5.06(b)(4)(I): "If the batter becomes a runner on a wild pitch which entitles the runners to advance one base, the batter-runner shall be entitled to first base only."
OBR 5.06(c)(7): "The ball becomes dead and runners advance one base, or return to
their bases, without liability to be put out, when—A pitched ball lodges in the umpire’s or catcher’s mask or paraphernalia, and remains out of play, runners advance one base."

Video available via "Read more"

An Unconventional Foul Tip in the Big Apple

A foul tip usually constitutes a batted ball fouled directly from bat into catcher's glove, but did you know that a foul tip doesn't actually have to be held in the glove in order for it to be a foul tip? Every blue moon or two, an anything-but-routine foul tip comes across on a ball caught by the catcher using a part of his body other than his glove to hold onto the baseball.

Wait, WHAT?

Pursuant to Official Baseball Rule's Definition of Terms, "A FOUL TIP is a batted ball that goes sharp and direct from the bat to the catcher’s hands and is legally caught. It is not a foul tip unless caught and any foul tip that is caught is a strike, and the ball is in play. It is not a catch if it is a rebound, unless the ball has first touched the catcher’s glove or hand."

Rule 5.09(a)(2) Comment clarifies this even further: "If a foul tip first strikes the catcher's glove and then goes on through and is caught by both hands against his body or protector, before the ball touches the ground, it is a strike, and if third strike, batter is out. If smothered against his body or protector, it is a catch provided the ball struck the catcher's glove or hand first."

A foul tip bobbled and held onto by the catcher: Strike 3, out.
All this brings us to Sunday Night Baseball and Mets catcher Rene Rivera's unconventional foul tip in the top of the 9th inning on Marlins batter JT Realmuto's 2-2 swing that connected with the baseball, sending it sharply and directly to Rivera, who bobbled the baseball before pinning it to his body (see photograph above with ball resting in crook of Rivera's arm, smothered against the side of his chest protector) and retrieving it with his bare hand. Replays indicate the ball never touched the ground and never became lodged in Rivera's clothing or paraphernalia.

For home plate umpire Tony Randazzo, the fun had just begun, as Marlins Manager Don Mattingly attempted to file a Manager's Challenge with Crew Chief Gerry Davis before being informed that foul tip calls were not subject to Replay Review.

Had the batted ball not first struck Rivera's hand (or glove), it would not have been a foul tip, and, with two strikes, would be subject to standard catch rules granted to ordinary foul balls ("A CATCH is the act of a fielder in getting secure possession in his hand or glove of a ball in flight and firmly holding it; providing he does not use his cap, protector, pocket or any other part of his uniform in getting possession").

This is not to say that a fielder must solely use his hand or glove to catch a ball and that any other possibility is illegal. Many a pitcher, for instance, has legally caught a batted ball through the use of the legs and feet: baseball's CATCH rule is simply referring to the intentional use of a non-natural textile (such as a ball cap's bill or pants pocket) in order to modify the ball's trajectory to create an unfair advantage. If a ball is struck into a fielder's midsection, for instance, he can still capture the ricochet for a legal catch, provided the ball has not struck the ground, and he does not subsequently use a part of his uniform in getting possession. In the catcher's case, using his chest protector would render the play a foul ball.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

MLB Ejection 003 - Mike Muchlinski (1; Kiermaier)

HP Umpire Mike Muchlinski ejected Rays CF Kevin Kiermaier (strike three call) in the bottom of the 7th inning of the Blue Jays-Rays game. With one out and one on (R1), Kiermaier took a 3-2 fastball from Blue Jays pitcher Aaron Loup for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the heart of home plate and below the hollow of the knee (px -.076, pz 1.239 [sz_bot 1.565]), the call was incorrect. At the time of the ejection, the Rays were leading, 5-2. The Rays ultimately won the contest, 7-2.

This is Mike Muchlinski (76)'s first ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Mike Muchlinski now has -4 points in the UEFL Standings (-2 Previous + 2 MLB - 4 Incorrect Call = -4).
Crew Chief Mike Winters now has 4 points in Crew Division (4 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = 4).

This is the third ejection report of 2017.
This is the 2nd player ejection of 2017. Prior to ejection, Kiermaier was 3-4 (SO) in the contest.
This is Tampa Bay's 1st ejection of 2017, 1st in the AL East (TB 1; BAL, BOS, NYY, TOR 0).
This is Kevin Kiermaier's first career MLB ejection.
This is Mike Muchlinski's first ejection since June 12, 2016 (Justin Turner; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Toronto Blue Jays vs. Tampa Bay Rays, 4/9/17 | Video via "Read More"

Non-Ejection - Edwin Throws Bat Near Angel Hernandez

Edwin Encarnacion threw his bat and nearly hit HP Umpire Angel Hernandez after striking out care of a check swing call during Saturday's Indians-Diamondbacks game, which resulted not in ejection, but in Hernandez issuing an equipment violation. Encarnacion's had tried checking his swing on a Zach Greinke 3-2 slider, only to be rung up on appeal by 1B Umpire Lance Barksdale.

Recall that on Thursday, plate umpire David Rackley ejected Dodgers CF Joc Pederson for throwing his equipment at home plate after a swinging strikeout.

With both the Pederson and Encarnacion plays involving thrown lumber in seeming protest of an umpire's call, the question becomes why the former received an ejection while the latter did not.

Replays of Encarnacion's reaction to Barksdale's call indicate clear frustration and disagreement with the ruling, as Encarnacion jumped and threw his arms up in protest, before hurling his bat in a reckless manner, where it nearly struck plate umpire Hernandez. There is little doubt that Encarnacion's actions were in response to Barksdale's call, though the tempered immediacy of Encarnacion's response prevented it from entering "histrionic gesture" territory.

Pederson throws two items.
In the Pederson case, Joc slammed his bat and spiked his helmet on top of home plate in one seeming motion, but nonetheless threw two pieces of equipment to Encarnacion's one. While both players appeared to look directly at their respective umpires of ire while throwing the items, Pederson's ejection also owned the distinction of having only one umpire's call involved—Rackley—whom Pederson appeared to verbally address while committing the unsporting throwing act, and the calls Pederson disagreed with were strikes one and two, and not strike three.

Encarnacion's actions were immediate and in response to the call directly preceding them. Heat-of-the-moment considerations were not applied to Pederson, since a full pitch transpired between the call-under-dispute and the unsporting act.

Throwing Equipment: Equipment Violation Fine vs. Ejection and Removal from the Game
Violation or Ejection? Depends on severity.
Under the Standards for Removal guidelines we recently discussed, both players appeared to have thrown equipment in disgust over an umpire's call. The major difference is that Pederson's reaction made reference to a pitch that did not directly precede the protest whereas Encarnacion's did: Pederson argued strike two to Encarnacion's strike three. Thus, Pederson's actions violated the "Prolonged" element of the mythical three Ps (Personal, Profane, Prolonged), while Encarnacion's did not.

MLBUM/PBUC text for Standards for Removal, Throwing Equipment:
Throwing equipment in disgust over an umpire’s call may be grounds for ejection. If the umpire deems the action severe, the umpire may eject the offender. If league regulations permit, the umpire may instead warn the offender by issuing an equipment violation. If issued, the offender is to be notified immediately.
Pederson had already enjoyed a longer leash and protest window after called strikes one and two—the actual calls he disagreed with: continuing the argument by throwing his equipment after strike three was overkill.

Reyes' bat toss was OK; his helmet wasn't.
As the replay indicates, Encarnacion appears to calm down shortly after leaving the dirt circle and he tosses his batting helmet gently towards his dugout, as opposed to spiking it on home plate with force, or throwing it in the direction of an umpire (see Ted Barrett's ejection of Jose Reyes, which occurred only after Reyes left the dirt circle surrounding home plate and threw his helmet in Barrett's direction: immediately prior, Reyes had thrown his bat for an equipment violation). By contrast, Encarnacion's unsportsmanlike reaction was immediate, but not prolonged. Had he thrown his helmet with greater force or directed it in any other direction but his team's dugout, he likely would have been ejected.

Accordingly, Pederson's more severe throwing-two-pieces-of-equipment-in-disgust action merited the more severe penalty of ejection, while Encarnacion's strong-yet-confined "heat of the moment" response was significant enough for an equipment violation (warning), but not severe enough for outright ejection.

Video via "Read More":