Saturday, June 3, 2017

2017 No-Hitter 1, Bill Miller (1; Edinson Volquez)

HP Umpire Bill Miller called Marlins pitcher Edinson Volquez's no-hitter against the Diamondbacks, the first of 2017. Miller was joined for Saturday's Diamondbacks-Marlins game by 1B Umpire Kerwin Danley, 2B Umpire Todd Tichenor, and 3B Adam Hamari. This is Miller's first career MLB no-hitter.

Miller received 63 callable pitches from Volquez, a total of 36 balls and 27 called strikes. The look:

Balls: 35 called balls outside of strike zone / 1 called ball within strike zone = 35/36 = 97.2% Accuracy.
Strikes: 23 called strikes inside strike zone / 4 called strikes outside strike zone = 23/27 = >90.0% Accuracy.
Total Raw Accuracy Score for Volquez = 58/63 = 92.1% Accuracy (+3 in favor of Volquez).
Overall Game Score: 82/85 Balls + 38/45 Strikes = 120/130 = 92.3% +2 MIA. Plots via "Read More"

MLB Ejection 060 - Fieldin Culbreth (2; Brad Ausmus)

1B Umpire Fieldin Culbreth ejected Tigers Manager Brad Ausmus (denied Replay Review - exceeded 30-second time limit) in the bottom of the 1st inning of the White Sox-Tigers game. With one out and two on (R1, R2), Tigers batter Victor Martinez hit 2-2 slider from White Sox pitcher Miguel Gonzalez on the ground to second baseman Yolmer Sanchez, who threw to first baseman Matt Davidson as Martinez arrived at first base. Replays indicate Davidson caught the ball and tagged first base prior to Martinez's arrival and that Ausmus took longer than 30 seconds in determining whether to challenge the play (replays indicate he took approximately 39 seconds to decide), the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 0-0. The Tigers ultimately won the contest, 10-1.

This is Fieldin Culbreth (25)'s second ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Fieldin Culbreth now has 9 points in the UEFL Standings (5 Previous + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 9).
Crew Chief Fieldin Culbreth now has -3 points in Crew Division (-4 Previous + 1 Correct Call = -3).
*MLB introduced a 30-second time limit for Replay Review challenge decisions prior to the season.

This is the 60th ejection report of 2017.
This is the 32nd Manager ejection of 2017.
This is Detroit's 2nd ejection of 2017, T-1st in the AL Central (CWS, DET, KC, MIN 2; CLE 0).
This is Brad Ausmus' first ejection since August 27, 2016 (Mike Everitt; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Fieldin Culbreth's 2nd ejection of 2017, 1st since June 1 (Terry Collins; QOC = Y-C [Interference]).

Wrap: Chicago White Sox vs. Detroit Tigers, 6/3/17 | Video via "Read More"

WCWS - UCLA Coach Ejected, Bumps Plate Umpire

Already ejected, UCLA's Lisa Fernandez bumped HP Umpire Erin Peterson after a wild double play at the Women's College World Series on Saturday. Fernandez will now face possible suspension.

Fernandez appears to shove Umpire Peterson.
With one out and two on (R1, R3) in the top of the 6th inning of the Bruins-Aggies game, Bruins baserunner R1 Bubba Nichols attempted to steal second base in a delayed-steal tactic wherein baserunner R3 Gabrielle Maurice broke for the plate as Nichols became involved in a rundown situation between first and second base. Seeing Maurice's sprint toward home, Aggies shortstop Kristen Cuyos threw to catcher Ashley Walters, who applied a tag to Maurice's helmet, resulting in a collision, while Nichols continued running the bases. Walters then threw the ball to third baseman Riley Sartain, who threw to second baseman Kaitlyn Alderink with the tag of Nichols for the final out of the inning.

NCAA Softball Rule 12.13.1 (Collisions) states, "A defensive player shall not block the base, plate or baseline without possession of the ball or not in the immediate act of catching the ball if it impedes the runner." Replays indicate Walters did not block the plate without being in the immediate act of catching the ball and that both runners were tagged while off base, the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Bruins were leading, 3-1. UCLA ultimately won the contest, 8-2.

Following the play, HP Umpire Peterson ejected UCLA Assistant 1B Coach Fernandez (out call), and Fernandez responded by appearing to push Peterson after being ejected. NCAA Softball Misconduct Rule 13.3 states, in part, "Any threat of physical intimidation or harm, including pushing, shoving, spitting, kicking, throwing at or attempting to make aggressive physical contact, or use of equipment in a combative manner, shall not be tolerated and is grounds for a behavioral ejection combined with suspension...The perpetrator shall be ejected and then suspended from the institution’s next two previously scheduled and played contests in a traditional season (spring)."

Wrap: UCLA Bruins vs. Texas A&M Aggies (WCWS), 6/3/17 | Video via "Read More"

MiLB - Raul Moreno's Brawl of Timber Rattlers and Chiefs

The Class-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and Peoria Chiefs' bench-clearing brawl drew ejections from umpire Raul Moreno, as he and partner Matt Cowan became the second umpiring crew in the Midwest League to break up a 50-player fight in less than a week, following umpires Jason Johnson and James Folske's Whitecaps-Dragons brawl on May 28.

HP Umpire Raul Moreno restrains Harrison.
With two out and none on in the top of the 5th inning, Timber Rattlers batter Monte Harrison took an inside fastball from Chiefs pitcher Jordan Hicks for a hit-by-pitch. After being hit in the upper back by the pitch, Harrison spiked his bat, drawing an adversarial response from Chiefs catcher Andrew Knizner as the benches began to clear, resulting in a physical altercation near home plate.

Following the fight, Harrison and Knizner were ejected; it was the first hit batsman of the game. A subsequent HBP in the bottom of the 5th inning came and went without incident.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Injury Scout - CB Bucknor Exits Due to Leg Injury, Returns

CB Bucknor left Friday's White Sox-Tigers game in the 2nd inning due to a lower body injury before returning in the 3rd.

CB Bucknor motions toward his right leg.
With one out and none in the bottom of the 2nd inning, Tigers batter Jose Iglesias hit a single to right field.

After the play, Bucknor called together his crewmates and the Tigers training staff while appearing to favor his right leg, ultimately exiting the field due to what MLB initially described as an apparent hamstring injury.

Bucknor was replaced at first base by 2B Umpire Manny Gonzalez, while HP Umpire Mark Carlson remained behind home plate, and Crew Chief Fieldin Culbreth remained at third base.

In the 3rd inning, Bucknor returned to the field and the crew resumed standard operation.

Relevant Injury History: There is no recent relevant (e.g., lower body) injury history. Bucknor experienced a 13-day absence earlier this season due to a foul ball head injury, and slipped and fell while making a call at second base in 2014, but did not leave the game afterward.

Last Game: June 2, 2017 | Return to Play: June 2, 2017 | Total Time Absent: One Half Inning.
Video available via "Read More"

UEFL's MLB Umpire Sabermetrics - May 2017

The May edition of UEFL's MLB Umpire Sabermetrics for the 2017 regular season is now available and features 56 ejections and 443 Replay Reviews through 790 games played.

Ejections and replays are both projected to decrease year-over-year, based on current rates.

New to the Sabermetrics update are two sections. First, Most & Least Accurate Umpires, Replay Review contains the top and bottom of the Replay Review table ordinarily found in the "Read More" detailed section of the monthly report. Second, Summary, Vince's Plate Performers contains the year-to-date leaderboard for the Vince's Plate Performers page.

Summary, Ejections.
>> 56 Total Regular Season Ejections through May 31, 2017 (on pace for 172 ejections this season).
>> Umpires were 61.4% accurate on calls associated with ejection.
>> The Blue Jays, Rays, A's, Yankees & Red Sox led the AL in ejections. The Marlins led the NL.
>> Managers Don Mattingly (Marlins) and John Gibbons (Blue Jays) led all managers in ejections.
>> Umpires Bill Welke led all umpires in ejections.
>> Chief Tom Hallion's crew led all umpire crews in ejections.
>> Most ejections occurred in the 7th inning; Ejections from 7th and on comprised 52% of all tosses.
>> Most ejections occurred on Saturdays. Weekend series (Fri-Sun) featured 52% of all heave-ho's.
>> The most common reason for ejection was Balls/Strikes, followed by Throwing At.
>> All else equal, a team tied at the time of ejection ended up winning the game 62.5% of the time.

Summary, Replay Reviews.
>> 443 Total Replay Reviews, of which calls were affirmed 53.1% of the time (46.9% overturned).
>> The Tampa Bay Rays used replay more than any other team, but were fairly unsuccessful.
>> The Kansas City Royals were the League's most successful team in review (10-for-13).
>> The Oakland A's experienced fewer reviews than any other team, and were not too successful.
>> The Athletics were the worst MLB team in terms of Replay success (2-of-9).
>> Umpire Tim Timmons had a league-leading 12 calls reviewed, and was average in outcome.
>> Mike Winters' crew led all of baseball in replay activity, and performed at league average.
>> Umpire Alfonso Marquez led in accuracy with all of his calls affirmed by replay (9/9).
>> Umpire Gerry Davis experienced the highest rate of his calls being overturned by replay (0/3).
>> The 7th inning had more reviews than any other inning. 46% of all reviews occurred from 7th-on.
>> Most reviews occurred on Sundays; Weekend series (Fri-Sun) featured 49% of all replays.
>> The most common reason for review was Out/Safe (Force - 1st) followed by Out/Safe (Tag - In).

Most & Least Accurate Umpires, Replay Review (sorted by Review Affirmation Percentage [RAP]).
1. Alfonso Marquez, Vic Carapazza, Bill Welke, Dale Scott - 100% RAP.
5. Joe West - 87.5% RAP.
6. Chris Guccione - 83.3% RAP.
7. Marty Foster, Mike Everitt - 80.0% RAP.
9. Alan Porter - 77.8% RAP.
10. Hoye, Hamari, T Gibson, Baker - 75.0% RAP.
69. Iassogna, Hallion, Drake, Bellino - 20.0% RAP.
73. Sam Holbrook - 16.7% RAP.
74. Gerry Davis, Nic Lentz, Ben May - 0% RAP.

Summary, Vince's Plate Performers.
Throughout the season, contributor Vince will track the best and worst daily plate performances. Year-to-Date, here is the Vince's Plate Performers leaderboard:
>> Best: Will Little has appeared on the "Best" list 3 times, more often than any other umpire.
>> Worst: Ron Kulpa has appeared on the "Worst" list 3 times, more often than any other umpire.

For detailed sabermetric analysis of MLB umpire ejections and instant replay review outcomes, including a Replay Review umpire leaderboard, follow the "read more" link below.

Coach Filmed Allegedly Plotting Umpire Assault

Youth coach Jeremy Knox, accused of instructing a minor pitcher to intentionally pitch at an umpire, has been fired from his team, and the team has been banned from the sports complex where the incident occurred.

Screenshot from the incriminating video.
According to KHOU, former EvoShield Canes Texas coach Jeremy Knox allegedly told a player during a Memorial Day weekend tournament, "You hit the [f*ing] umpire right here in the [f*ing] mask. Right here. Hit him right here. Just throw it right here. If he gets outta the way, fine. If he doesn't, [f*] him."

Knox's alleged instruction was captured on video posted to an unidentified Snapchat account and anonymously forwarded to the opposing coach, who posted it on Facebook. KHOU identified the person on video issuing the command as Knox.

The report states that Knox, who was a first-year coach with EvoShield Canes Texas—and who, according to an administrator at the sports complex where the incident took place, had previously been banned from the property and shouldn't have even been on the field or in the dugout during the game—was dismissed following discovery of his conduct.

The EvoShield Canes TX organization released a statement addressing the incident:
EvoShield Canes TX terminated Coach Jeremy Knox Tuesday, May 30, 2017 immediately upon notification of the improper behavior displayed this past weekend during a tournament game.
Our organization's core values are to teach our players how to succeed on and off the field, develop their knowledge and understanding of the game, demonstrate respect towards others by practicing good sportsmanship, and most importantly establish the highest level of integrity at all times. Unfortunately, Coach Knox's actions did not represent or align with how we teach our players to play or act; this is absolutely unacceptable and will not be tolerated at any level of our organization. Accordingly, Coach Knox was terminated immediately.
On behalf of our organization (EvoShield Canes TX), we apologize to the tournament officials (Perfect Game), the tournament host (Premier Baseball of Texas Complex), the umpire involved, all players, parents, and spectators that witnessed this event. It is our responsibility to teach our players to uphold our core values. 
Perfect Game CEO Brad Clement stated, "There is no place in the game, at any level, for this type of accused behavior."

Two EvoShield Canes Texas assistant coaches and two players were ejected following the violative pitch. It wasn't apparent whether the pitch, like Knox allegedly instructed, was thrown at the umpire's head.

Nor has it been proven whether Knox actually engaged in the misconduct that allegedly appeared on the video posted to social media, though EvoShield Canes TX did terminate Knox for "inappropriate" and "absolutely unacceptable" behavior. KHOU reported that attempts to contact Knox were unsuccessful.

According to the report, Premier Baseball of Texas Sports Complex has since banned the EvoShield Canes TX team, while Knox "wasn't even supposed to be on the property, let alone in a dugout." The circumstances under which the Premier Baseball of Texas Complex originally banned Knox were unclear, as were the circumstances that led to a previously-banned coach being on the property in the first place.

Texas State photo of "Jeremy Knox."
Photo from TSU staff directory
A Houston, Texas LinkedIn profile with the name "Jeremy Knox" indicates its owner served as a coach at The Kinkaid School, and also listed experience as a scout for the San Diego Padres.

The Texas State University's baseball program lists Knox as a former volunteer assistant coach, and at one point, Knox was affiliated with Houston Heat Baseball, serving as a travel ball coach in Texas.

An archived page from The Fort Bend Texans Sports Association indicates that Knox is a former college baseball player, who played at Galveston College (2001-03) and Southern University (2003-05). The 2015 Texas State media guide listed Knox's alma mater as Southern '05.

Section 22.01(c) of the Texas Penal Code is called "Assaultive Offenses," and introduces enhanced penalties of a Class B misdemeanor for a non-sports participant who knowingly threatens—amongst others—umpires or referees "while the participant is performing duties or responsibilities in the participant's capacity as a sports participant [or] in retaliation for or on account of the participant's performance of a duty or responsibility within the participant's capacity as a sports participant." Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to another is a Class A misdemeanor.

As we have seen time and again, home plate umpires can suffer devastating head injuries, including concussions, after being hit in the facemask. Of note, MLB umpires Dale Scott, hit in the head on April 14, and Tony Randazzo, hit in the head on May 12, have not returned to the field since their respective injuries.

The KHOU report did not indicate whether any injuries occurred during the Memorial Day weekend tournament, nor whether any criminal charges were being considered, and indicated the allegations against Knox purportedly captured on camera were yet to be proven one way or another.

Video via "Read More"

Thursday, June 1, 2017

MLB Ejections 058-059 - Marty Foster (1-2; LAD x2)

HP Umpire Marty Foster ejected Dodgers 1B Adrian Gonzalez (strike three call) and C Yasmani Grandal (strike one call) in the top of the 9th inning of the Dodgers-Cardinals game. With none out and none on, Gonzalez took a 3-2 fastball from Cardinals pitcher Seung Hwan Oh for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located off the outer edge of home plate and thigh high (px -1.013, pz 2.935), the call was incorrect. With one out and one on, Grandal took a 1-0 fastball from Cardinals pitcher Seung Hwan Oh for a called first strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located off the outer edge of home plate and waist-high (px -1.056, pz 3.118), the call was incorrect. At the time of both ejections, the Cardinals were leading, 2-0. The Cardinals ultimately won the contest, 2-0.

This is Marty Foster (60)'s first, second ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Marty Foster now has -1 points in the UEFL Standings (3 Previous + 2*[2 MLB - 4 QOCN] = -1
Crew Chief Mike Winters now has 1 point in Crew Division (1 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = 1).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.

This is the 58th, 59th ejection report of 2017.
This is the 22nd player ejection of 2017. Prior to ejection, Gonzalez was 0-4 (2 SO) in the contest.
This is the 23rd player ejection of 2017. Prior to ejection, Grandal was 0-1 (SO) in the contest.
This is LA's 4th/5th ejection of 2017, 1st in the NL West (LAD 5; COL, SD, SF 1; ARI 0).
This is Adrian Gonzalez's first ejection since June 29, 2016 (Dan Bellino; QOC = Y [Check Swing]).
This is Yasmani Grandal's first career MLB ejection.
This is Marty Foster's first ejection since September 20, 2016 (Danny Valencia; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. St. Louis Cardinals, 6/1/17 | Video via "Read More"

MLB Ejection 057 - Fieldin Culbreth (1; Terry Collins)

3B Umpire Fieldin Culbreth ejected Mets Manager Terry Collins (unintentional interference foul ball call by Roberto Ortiz) in the top of the 4th inning of of the Brewers-Mets game. With one out and the bases loaded, Brewers batter Eric Sogard hit a 0-1 curveball from Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler on a fly ball into foul territory near the third base dugout. Replays indicate that as Mets third baseman Wilmer Flores attempted to catch the batted ball, he collided with a batboy, who was attempting to get out of the way. Initially ruled an out by HP Umpire Roberto Ortiz, the call was reversed to that of unintentional interference after consultation amongst the umpires and a determination that the batboy did not intend to interfere with the play, the call was correct.* Play was reviewed and affirmed by the UEFL Appeals Board (8-0-1), the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Brewers were leading, 2-0. The Brewers ultimately won the contest, 2-1.

This is Fieldin Culbreth (25)'s first ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Fieldin Culbreth now has 5 points in the UEFL Standings (2 Previous + 2 MLB + 1 QOCY-Crewmate = 5).^
Crew Chief Fieldin Culbreth now has -4 points in Crew Division (-5 Previous + 1 Correct Call = -4).
*Rule 6.01(d), titled Unintentional Interference states, "In case of unintentional interference with play by any person herein authorized to be on the playing field (except members of the team at bat who are participating in the game, or a base coach, any of whom interfere with a fielder attempting to field a batted or thrown ball; or an umpire) the ball is alive and in play. If the interference is intentional, the ball shall be dead at the moment of the interference and the umpire shall impose such penalties as in his opinion will nullify the act of interference."
*Rule 6.01(d) Comment states, "The question of intentional or unintentional interference shall be decided on the basis of the person’s action. For example: a bat boy, ball attendant, policeman, etc., who tries to avoid being touched by a thrown or batted ball but still is touched by the ball would be involved in unintentional interference. If, however, he kicks the ball or picks it up or pushes it, that is considered intentional interference, regardless of what his thought may have been."
^Roberto Ortiz is Calling and Fieldin Culbreth is the Secondary umpire pursuant to UEFL Rule 6-2-c.

This is the 57th ejection report of 2017.
This is the 31st Manager ejection of 2017.
This is NY-NL's 2nd ejection of 2017, T-2nd in the NL East (MIA 5; NYM, WAS 2; ATL, PHI 1).
This is Terry Collins' first ejection since July 30, 2016 (Jeff Kellogg; QOC = Y [Replay Review]).
This is Fieldin Culbreth's first ejection since August 3, 2016 (Terry Francona; QOC = N-C [Replay]).

Wrap: Milwaukee Brewers vs. New York Mets, 6/1/17 | Video via "Read More"

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

MLB Ejection 056 - Ted Barrett (1; Brian Snitker)

1B Umpire Ted Barrett ejected Braves Manager Brian Snitker (balk call) in the bottom of the 5th inning of the Braves-Angels game. With two out and one on (R1), Braves pitcher Jaime Garcia was called for a balk while attempting to pick off Angels baserunner R1 Shane Robinson. Replays indicate Garcia failed to step directly toward first base before throwing to the base; he stepped toward home plate, the call was correct.* Play was reviewed and affirmed by the UEFL Appeals Board (8-0-1), the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Braves were leading, 1-0. The Angels ultimately won the contest, 2-1.

This is Ted Barrett (65)'s first ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Ted Barrett now has 5 points in the UEFL Standings (1 Previous + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 5).
Crew Chief Ted Barrett now has 4 points in Crew Division (3 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 4).
*Official Baseball Rule 6.02(a)(3) states, "It is a balk when: fails to step directly toward a base before throwing to that base. [COMMENT]: Requires the pitcher, while touching his plate, to step directly toward a base before throwing to that base."

This is the 56th ejection report of 2017.
This is the 30th Manager ejection of 2017.
This is Atlanta's 1st ejection of 2017, T-3rd in the NL East (MIA 5; WAS 2; ATL, NYM, PHI 1).
This is Brian Snitker's first ejection since September 23, 2016 (Adam Hamari; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Ted Barrett's first ejection since June 24, 2016 (John Gibbons; QOC = Y-C [Foul/HBP]).

Wrap: Atlanta Braves vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 5/31/17 | Video via "Read More"

Worst/Best Ever? Introducing Vince's Plate Performers

Ever wonder if you team's home plate umpire was indeed the worst ever? With Vince's Plate Performers, discover the best and worst pitch-calling performances of the day.*

Oddly enough, Will Little
leads the league in # of
times with a "Best" plate.
UEFL contributor Vince uses Brooks Baseball and the strike zone plots' compiled pitch f/x data to select a best and worst performance of the night. Vince's selections are presented in a table that includes day-by-day entries, with a leaderboard to capture the season's most-often "best" and "worst" entries.

With "worst _ ever" appearing so often in the modern fan's vernacular, we once again turn to analytics in an attempt to apply a measure of accuracy to such impassioned claims.

Though umpire scapegoating isn't going anywhere, the first step toward combating these distortions is to produce evidence that the "worst ever" statement isn't so much as correct for the day, much less "ever."

Furthermore, every so often, that "worst ever" umpire actually will show up as the best of the day instead, giving credence to Walt Whitman's quip, "I am as bad as the worst, but thank God, I am as good as the best."

Click here for Vince's Plate Performers, or visit the Analysis menu to access the tables.

*For entertainment purposes only. The purpose of Vince's Plate Performers is to track daily umpire performance to show that, no, your team's plate umpire for any given day is not the worst in baseball.

Monday, May 29, 2017

MLB Ejections 054-055 - Brian Gorman (1-2; WAS-SF Fight)

HP Umpire Brian Gorman ejected Giants P Hunter Strickland and Nationals RF Bryce Harper (Throwing At and Fighting) in the top of the 8th inning of the Nationals-Giants game. With two out and none on, Harper took a first-pitch fastball from Strickland for a hit-by-pitch, resulting in a bench-clearing incident. Warnings had not previously been issued; there had been one hit batsman earlier in the contest (SF's Christian Arroyo, by WAS's Tanner Roark), the call was irrecusable. At the time of the ejection, the Nationals were leading, 2-0. The Nationals ultimately won the contest, 3-0.

This is Brian Gorman (9)'s first, second ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Brian Gorman now has 5 points in the UEFL Standings (1 Previous + 2*[2 MLB + 0 Irrecusable] = 5).
Crew Chief Brian Gorman now has 3 points in Crew Division (1 Previous + 2 Irrecusable Call = 3).

This is the 54th, 55th ejection report of 2017.
This is the 20th player ejection of 2017. Prior to ejection, Strickland's line was 0.2 IP, ER, HBP.
This is the 21st player ejection of 2017. Prior to ejection, Harper was 0-3 (SO, HBP) in the contest.
This is San Francisco's 1st ejection of 2017, T-2nd in the NL West (LAD 3; COL, SD, SF 1; ARI 0).
This is Washington's 2nd ejection of 2017, 2nd in the NL East (MIA 5; WAS 2; NYM, PHI 1; ATL 0).
This is Hunter Strickland's first career MLB ejection.
This is Bryce Harper's first ejection since August 27, 2016 (Mike Winters; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Brian Gorman's first ejection since September 4, 2016 (Craig Counsell; QOC = Y-C [Obstruction]).

Wrap: Washington Nationals vs. San Francisco Giants, 5/29/17 | Video via "Read More"

MiLB Ejections - Johnson & Folske's Brawl in Dayton

A Class-A bench clearing brawl between the West Michigan Whitecaps and Dayton Dragons drew ejections from umpires Jason Johnson and James Folske as the two-man crew worked to restore order following a 50-player fight over a fielder's tag on a sliding runner at second base.

The MiLB fight migrates into shallow left field.
With one out and one on (R1) in the bottom of the 6th inning, Dragons baserunner R1 Jose Siri attempted to steal second base as Whitecaps shortstop Daniel Pinero applied a tag, Siri ruled safe by Field Umpire Folske. Following Folske's call of "Time," as Pinero walked away from the base having appeared to step on Siri, Siri ran towards, jumped on, and punched Pinero from behind, sparking a bench-clearing incident during which 1B Umpire ejected Siri and HP Umpire Johnson ejected Pinero, both for fighting. At the time of the ejections, the game was tied, 1-1. The Whitecaps ultimately won the contest, 2-1, in 10 innings.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

MiLB Strikeout - Definition of Swing vs Strike at the Ball

A Minor League Baseball batter strikes out after half-heartedly swinging at a pitch slowly rolling toward the foul line that he cannot reach from his position in the batter's box—is this the correct call?

Umpire Sharshel rules Fuentes has struck out.
The Play: With two out and none on in the top of the 8th inning of the Double-A Hartford-Binghamton game, Hartford batter Josh Fuentes stepped to the plate against Binghamton pitcher Cory Burns. With a 1-2 count, Burns lost his grip during his delivery and released his pitch, which slowly rolled to the first-base side of home plate. As the ball crossed the foul line—thus becoming a legal pitch—batter Fuentes pretended to swing at Burns' poor offering, ruled a swinging strike by HP Umpire Patrick Sharshel. After catcher Colton Plaia applied a tag on Fuentes (uncaught third strike), Sharshel declared the batter out and the inning over.

Analysis: Let us begin by establishing the pitch's legality. Rule 6.02(b) Comment states, "A ball which slips out of a pitcher’s hand and crosses the foul line shall be called a ball; otherwise it will be called no pitch. This would be a balk with men on base."

If we stop there, the proper call is "ball." But the batter swung...or did he?

As we know from the many check swing ejections and incidents over the years, the Official Baseball Rules vaguely define a swinging strike in the following fashion:
A STRIKE is a legal pitch when so called by the umpire, which—is struck at by the batter and is missed.
Is this an attempt to strike the pitch?
Thanks to Rule 6.02(b) Comment, we know that Burns' pitch is legal, and thanks to video replay, we know Fuentes missed connecting with it (by several feet). The only question is whether Fuentes' simulated swing satisfies the "is struck at" criterion. (Conversely, "A BALL is a pitch which does not enter the strike zone in flight and is not struck at by the batter").

Taking it a step further, the prevailing interpretation is whether or not "the batter struck at the ball." To further illustrate the principle that a swing is not the same as a strike, consider this: There is no doubt that Fuentes swung the bat—although it was lazy and half-hearted, Fuentes' action was absolutely a swing—but there is very much doubt as to whether Fuentes struck at the ball.

Similarly, a bunt is not a swing, but a missed bunt attempt still results in a strike call...

In this context, to "strike" is to "to aim and usually deliver a blow, stroke, or thrust." Or "hit forcibly and deliberately with one's hand or a weapon or other implement." Or "to hit or attack someone or something forcefully or violently."

This is not an ordinary half swing situation.
The common theme between these three dictionary definitions of "to strike" is that it requires (1) A deliberate attempt to (2) Hit something with force.

Fuentes' bat movement is deliberate: it's not an accident that the bat traveled the way it did—and in the direction of the awry pitch—but was this a strike "at the ball" and a bona fide attempt to apply force to it?

If your answer is "yes," then that's a swinging strike. If "no," then that's not a swinging strike.

NFHS Rule: Like OBR, High School Rule 7-2-1b charges a strike when the "pitch is struck at and missed." As for determining what a swing actually is, though NFHS 10-1-4a is a little clearer than OBR, the final consideration is still the same as professional baseball: "As an aid in
deciding, the umpire may note whether the swing carried the barrel of the bat past the body of
the batter, but final decision is based on whether the batter actually struck at the ball."

NCAA Rule: Though college actually defines the term "half swing" as "an attempt by the batter to stop the forward motion of the bat while swinging...[it is] a strike if the barrel head of the bat passes the batter's front hip" (2-39), that term does not apply here (there was no attempt to stop the forward motion of the bat). Thus, we consider the NCAA definition of strike: "A legal pitch struck at by the batter without the ball touching the bat" (7-4-a). Again, we have the subject (legal pitch) which is acted upon (struck at) by the batter. Thus, if the umpire rules there was no meaningful interaction between batter and pitched ball, there logically should be no swinging strike.

What is notable about the NCAA book is Rule 7-4-h, which states, "A strike is awarded if the batter deliberately steps back in the box or swings in such a manner to attempt to create catcher’s interference." This is a tacit implication from NCAA that, yes, there exists a circumstance wherein a swing might not satisfy the 7-4-a "struck at" definition of Strike, and, thus, not be subject to being ruled a strike pursuant to the "struck at" standard.

It appears the MiLB play might be one of those situations (albeit, without any attempt at CI).

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