Saturday, June 10, 2017

MLB Ejection 062 - Phil Cuzzi (4; Matt Kemp)

HP Umpire Phil Cuzzi ejected Braves LF Matt Kemp (strike two call) in the bottom of the 8th inning of the Mets-Braves game. With two out and one on (R1), Kemp took consecutive 3-0 and 3-1 pitches from Mets pitcher Neil Ramirez for called strikes before grounding out on the ensuing 3-2 curveball. Replays indicate that both the debated pitches were located off the outer edge of home plate and thigh high (STRIKE 1 CALL: px 1.084, pz 1.684 [sz_bot 1.565]); (STRIKE 2 CALL: px 1.439, pz 1.711), the call was incorrect.* At the time of the ejection, the Mets were leading, 6-1. The Mets ultimately won the contest, 8-1.

This is Phil Cuzzi (10)'s fourth ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Phil Cuzzi now has 2 points in the UEFL Standings (4 Previous + 2 MLB - 4 Incorrect Call = 2).
Crew Chief Phil Cuzzi now has 0 points in Crew Division (0 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = 0).
*This is Matt Kemp's 7th consecutive season with at least one ejection, the longest such active streak.

This is the 62nd ejection report of 2017.
This is the 25th player ejection of 2017. Prior to ejection, Kemp was 0-4 in the contest.
This is Atlanta's 2nd ejection of 2017, T-2nd in the NL East (MIA 5; ATL, NYM, WAS 2; PHI 1).
This is Matt Kemp's first ejection since September 23, 2016 (Adam Hamari; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Phil Cuzzi's 4th ejection of 2017, 1st since May 22 (Clint Hurdle; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: New York Mets vs. Atlanta Braves, 6/10/17 | Video via "Read More"

Regional Roundup - Runner, Declined Catcher Interference

Friday's college baseball action featured a runner's and declined catcher's interference call as the NCAA Super Regional round saw its fair share of illegal hinderance in College Station and Louisville. The two plays illustrate that not all interference is committed by the offense (at least, not at the pro level).

Runner's interference is called at third base.
Runner's Interference: We begin with a crucial runner's interference play in the bottom of the 12th inning of Friday's Davidson-Texas A&M game. With one out and one on (R2), the batter hits a ground ball near third base. As the third baseman attempts to field the ball, he collides with the advancing baserunner in the baseline. Although the baserunner did not appear to have intended to interfere, his collision with the third baseman prevented the fielder from fielding the batted ball, and is a violation of the interference rule at all levels of play.

NCAA Rule 2-51 defines this brand of interference as "The act of an offensive player, umpire or nongame person who interferes with; physically or verbally hinders; confuses; or impedes any fielder attempting to make a play."

By contrast, the Official Baseball Rules used at the professional level states, "Offensive interference is an act by the team at bat which interferes with, obstructs, impedes, hinders or confuses any fielder attempting to make a play."

And high school's NFHS Rule 2-21-1 states, "Offensive interference is an act (physical or verbal) by the team at bat—a) which interferes with, obstructs, impedes, hinders or confuses any fielder attempting to make a play; or b) when a runner creates malicious contact with any fielder, with or without the ball, in or out of the baseline; or c) a coach physically assists a runner during playing action."

The only significant takeaway from this comparison is that offensive interference may be physical or verbal in high school and college, but must be physical in the pros. NFHS also includes malicious contact in its definition of offensive interference. Other than that, the same basic terminology (interferes with, obstructs, impedes, hinders, or confuses) is essentially identical for all levels.

NCAA Rule 8-5-d: "A runner is out when—[the runner] interferes with a fielder who is attempting to field a batted ball."

OBR 6.01(a)(10): "A runner is out when—he fails to avoid a fielder who is attempting to field a batted ball."

NFHS 8-4-2-g: "Any runner is out when—he hinders a fielder on his initial attempt to field a batted ball."

Again, the three rulesets are fairly identical. One fielder is protected per batted ball (umpire shall decide which one is entitled to field the ball), and only until he either successfully fields it or errs, wherein the ball bounds away and is no longer in the fielder's immediate reach (NCAA/OBR) or he must vacate his original position (NFHS) to field it.

In College Station, the runner interfered with the fielder as the ball was arriving. Textbook interference.

Catcher's interference is called at home plate.
Catcher's Interference: With one out and two on (R2, R3) in the bottom of the 1st inning of the Kentucky-Louisville game, the Kentucky catcher's glove made contact with the Louisville batter's bat as the batter swung at the pitch, hitting a ground ball to the shortstop, who threw to first base for an out as the batter campaigned for interference at the plate.

NCAA Rule 8-2-e states, "the batter becomes a base runner—if any defensive player interferes with the batter’s swing or prevents the individual from striking at a pitched ball. If a play follows the interference, the offensive team may elect to ignore the interference and accept the play. However, if the batter reaches first base and all other runners advance at least one base, the interference is ignored."

OBR: "Defensive interference is an act by a fielder that hinders or prevents a batter from hitting a pitch"..."The batter becomes a runner and is entitled to first base without liability to be put out (provided he advances to and touches first base) when—The catcher or any fielder interferes with him. If a play follows the interference, the manager of the offense may advise the plate umpire that he elects to decline the interference penalty and accept the play. Such election shall be made immediately at the end of the play. However, if the batter reaches first base on a hit, an error, a base on balls, a hit batsman, or otherwise, and all other runners advance at least one base, the play proceeds without reference to the interference." (5.05(b)(3)).

NFHS 5-1-2-b: "It is a delayed dead ball when—a catcher or any fielder obstructs a batter or runner; or obstructs the ball through use of detached player equipment." 8-1-1-e: "A batter becomes a runner [when]...the catcher or any other defensive player obstructs him. The coach or captain of the team at bat, after being informed by the umpire-in-chief of the obstruction, shall indicate whether or not he elects to decline the obstruction penalty and accept the resulting play. Such election shall be made before the next pitch (legal or illegal), before the award of an intentional base on balls, or before the infielders leave the diamond. Obstruction of the batter is ignored if the batter-runner reaches first and all other runners advance at least one base. (1) Any runner attempting to advance (i.e., steal or squeeze) on a catcher’s obstruction of the batter shall be awarded the base he is attempting."

Though OBR is the only code to specifically define "defensive interference," while NFHS insists on the term "catcher's obstruction," and NCAA calls the play "obstruction" in Rule 2-55, but "catcher's interference" in 8-2-e (in other words, the NCAA book contradicts itself in verbiage, but not in administration of the penalty), the plays and penalties are similar at all levels: in addition to giving the offense a choice of outcomes and disregarding the interference (OBR, half of NCAA)/obstruction (NFHS, the other half of NCAA) if the batter and all runners advance at least one base safely, all codes additionally award runners bases on this interference/obstruction if they are otherwise attempting to advance, and charge the pitcher a balk only if a runner is attempting to steal home at the time of the illegal catcher-batter/bat contact.

Hypothetical: Combine both plays and assume the interfered-with batter grounds to third base, where the baserunner collides with the fielder. The proper call would be to enforce the catcher's interference/obstruction penalty, since this occurred first and supersedes the later runner's interference (for instance, because the catcher's conduct contributed to the ball being hit to third base in the first place). If there is malicious contact between runner and fielder (NFHS), any applicable ejection penalties would stand (if the runner were to be ejected for MC, that player would be disqualified and a substitute runner placed at second base).

Videos available via johnnyg08 & "Read More"

Major League Debut of Umpire Shane Livensparger (43)

Umpire Shane Livensparger makes his MLB debut during Saturday's Athletics-Rays game in Tampa Bay, joining Jeff Nelson's crew for two games of the OAK-TB doubleheader, serving as first base umpire alongside HP Umpire Laz Diaz, 2B Umpire Cory Blaser, and 3B Umpire Jeff Nelson for Game 1, and as third base umpire alongside HP Umpire Doug Eddings, 1B Umpire Blaser, and 2B Umpire Nelson for Game 2.

Umpire Shane Livensparger
Photo -
Livensparger is on the International League roster for the 2017 season, which is his third season in the IL and third overall in Triple-A. He has also worked the Arizona, New York-Penn, Florida Instructional, South Atlantic, Florida State, Arizona Instructional, Southern, and Arizona Fall Leagues, in addition to MLB Spring Training.

Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring alum Livensparger wears the uniform number 43 at the Major League level, which was last worn by Paul Schrieber, and makes his MLB debut at the age of 33. He resides in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, is President of Officials Helping Warriors, and is the third new fill-in umpire to make his debut during the 2017 regular season (Ryan Additon, 5/21/17 and John Libka, 5/27/17).

Additon, Libka, and Livensparger all worked the 2016 AFL Fall Stars Game. The last remaining umpire to work that game yet to make his MLB debut is Nick Mahrley.

Livensparger most recently worked the plate for Thursday's IL matchup between the Charlotte Knights and Gwinnett Braves in Lawrenceville, Georgia.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Tmac's Teachable Moments - Picking Up a Crew Mate

Friday's Tmac's Teachable Moment concerns filling in for a crew mate to avoid an uncovered play.

Sometimes when you take a baseball field at any level, a partner makes a positioning mistake. Now here's the question: Are you the kind of person who can recognize this mistake and pick him up or do you let him burn? Today's teachable moment is about crewmanship and how to pick up your brothers on the field.

We have an unattended play at third base.
Take a look at this play from Wednesday's Cleveland-Colorado game at Coors Field. Watch the first 11 seconds of the attached video. Notice anything unusual?

You may notice there is no umpire at third base to make this call. While I don't expect most of you to know the intricacies of 4-man mechanics, the play begins with one out and a runner at 2nd base. The batter hits a fly ball to left field, and a tag-up situation will ensue. The 3B Umpire is Greg Gibson, 2B has Sam Holbrook, 1B is DJ Reyburn, and Jim Wolf has the plate.

In this situation when U3 (Greg Gibson) goes out, U2 (Holbrook) has responsibility for the play at 3rd, while the out umpire (U3) is to stay in the outfield for the remainder of the play; the plate umpire (Wolf) will remain at the dish for a potential overthrow/scoring play. Wait a minute; where did heck did Reyburn come from at :14 seconds of the video? Was he in the stands in uniform waiting for a play just like this? Did he drop out of the sky?

Reyburn recognizes the lack of coverage.
Or did he recognize a potential disaster at third base and pick up his crew mate? In the modern era of expanded instant replay, the missed call doesn't matter, but it's the instincts to realize potential disaster is looming that separates the wheat from the chaff.

You'll notice that, like Reyburn, Gibson also picked up the mistake on the video at :51 seconds and attempts to sprint back get a decent look at the tag into 3rd (the best look is at 1:17 when you see DJ sprinting across the infield).

U3 Gibson also saw the vacancy at third base.
There's another takeaway here. It's always good to keep your head on a swivel and know when a partner goes out. Picking up your partner can save you potential disasters. In four-man, someone goes out on nearly every play to the outfield, but there are advanced mechanics to keep an umpire ahead of the play, so it would have been permissible for the 1st base umpire to go out on this play for some CCs (this is a crew-dependent policy and deviates from the "standard" MLBUM mechanic).

In summary, be a good teammate. Nobody wants to work with a guy who hangs others out to dry.  Stay focused. If this play happens to you, there's no replay to save you. Also, if you make a mistake out on the field and someone picks you up, be grateful. Say thank you. And above all else, HAVE FUN out there!!!!  Until Next time, Happy Umpiring!

Video via "Read More"

Thursday, June 8, 2017

2017 Instant Replay - Status Report at Review No. 500

500 Replay Reviews into the 2017 regular season, here is a status report of how baseball's video review system has fared this year, including a list of Replay Reviews which Assistant Commissioner tmac has identified as erroneous in outcome (e.g., upheld or reversed in contravention of video evidence):

Replay Review Decisions: 500 (6/7/17).
Total Upheld: 250 (50.0%).
Total Overturned: 250 (50.0%).

Leaderboard - Top 10 Umpires*
100.0%Carapazza, Vic (4/4) 1
90.9%Marquez, Alfonso (10/11)2
87.5%West, Joe (7/8)3
85.7%Guccione, Chris (6/7)4
83.3%Foster, Marty (5/6)5
80.0%Everitt, Mike (4/5)6
77.8%Porter, Alan (7/9)7
75.0%Cuzzi, Phil (6/8)8
75.0%Hoye, James (3/4)8
75.0%Baker, Jordan (3/4)8

By Reason of Review / Type of Play
.833Slide Interference2
.681HR/In Play3
.667Runner Placement4
.598Out/Safe (Tag - into Base)5
.553Out/Safe (Pulled Foot)6
.529Out/Safe (Force - Second)7
.500HBP/No HBP8
.500Out/Safe (Appeal)8
.500Foul Ball/Fan INT8
.500Appeal Play (Missed Base)8

Leaderboard - Team
Tmac's Replays-in-Error (Upheld or Overturned despite conflicting video evidence)
#On-Field Umpire   Dispo
001Hudson Upheld
All except #216 and #396 were Out/Safe replays. #216 was a Foul Tip/HBP play. #396 was a HBP/No HBP play.

*Minimum number of Replay Reviews to qualify for the leaderboard was n=3. Other "Perfect Replay" Umpires under the minimum included Dale Scott, Chad Fairchild, and Ryan Blakney (all n=2), and Ramon De Jesus (n=1).

MLB Ejection 061 - Dan Iassogna (1; Danny Valencia)

HP Umpire Dan Iassogna ejected Mariners 1B Danny Valencia (strike two call) in the bottom of the 8th inning of the Twins-Mariners game.* With two out and none on, Valencia took a 1-1 curveball from Twins pitcher Taylor Rogers for a called second strike before grounding out on the following pitch. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the heart of home plate and below the midpoint (px -.168, pz 3.349 [sz_top 3.467]), the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Twins were leading, 5-4. The Mariners ultimately won the contest, 6-5.

This is Dan Iassogna (58)'s first ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Dan Iassogna now has 1 point in the UEFL Standings (-3 Previous + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 1).
Crew Chief Brian Gorman now has 0 points in Crew Division (-1 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 0).
*This ejection was gleaned from UEFL Rule 7-2, which holds that if the official box score is erroneous, "clear and convincing" evidence may override this. In this situation, video evidence of an ejection was used to override a box score that failed to list the ejection.

This is the 61st ejection report of 2017.
This is the 24th player ejection of 2017. Prior to ejection, Valencia was 0-4 (2 SO) in the contest.
This is Seattle's 3rd ejection of 2017, 2nd in the AL West (OAK 4; SEA 3; TEX 2; HOU, LAA 0).
This is Danny Valencia's first ejection since Sept 20, 2016 (Marty Foster; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Dan Iassogna's first ejection since Sept 25, 2016 (Cameron Maybin; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Minnesota Twins vs. Seattle Mariners, 6/7/17 | Video via "Read More"

Time Limit Trouble - Replay Review from 0-to-30 Seconds

Umpires are getting better at enforcing Replay Review's new 30-second Manager's Challenge time limit, which has resulted in a minor managerial rebellion as evidenced by Joe Girardi's press conference remarks asking for a meeting with MLB Replay shot-callers after Tom Hallion denied Girardi's late replay request, and Fieldin Culbreth's recent ejection of Brad Ausmus after Culbreth denied Ausmus' untimely review request.

The 30-second process seems simple enough: Field Timing Coordinators start 30-second clocks after each close play that might go to review. If the Manager challenges (or requests a Crew Chief Review) in that time, the play goes to Replay. If not, it doesn't.

Video: Clock counts down Jays' challenge window in Oakland as Gibbons files in the nick of time

Complicating matters, however, the clocks default to a blank setting after reaching zero seconds on the countdown, not all Field Timing Coordinators are consistent about starting the clocks after every close play (for instance, a seemingly benign no-call that might turn into a boundary issue that isn't apparent in real-time), and some situations (e.g., end of innings, pitching changes) call for the clocks to be set to times greater than 30-seconds in length.

Pre-season table of Replay Review timelines and limits.
To recap, there are several time limits pertaining to Replay Review (see attached table). The big change for 2017 concerned the introduction of a 30-second time limit for all manager review requests, regardless of game situation, while emphasizing enforcement pertaining to the various time limits already in existence for End of Inning (10 seconds to notify umpires of intent-to-consider a review, and 30 seconds to actually file the challenge or request) and End of Game (immediately) scenarios.

The following examples portray how untimely replay requests were addressed by various crews. Most recently, on Wednesday (June 7), Tom Hallion's crew refused to honor Joe Girardi's request for a review on a home run/out/fan interference play because the crew said Girardi failed to satisfy the Replay Review regulations pertaining to time limits, namely the 10-second hold time limit that follows a third out play.

End-of-Inning 10+ Second Notification Denied Case Study: Crew Hallion: With two out in the 6th inning of the Reds Sox-Yankees game, Yankees batter Chris Carter flied out to Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts, who leapt at the wall and came down with the baseball in his glove. Replays indicate the batted ball first contacted a fan reaching over the wall before settling into Betts' glove, inspiring Girardi to request the umpires invoke a Crew Chief Review to consider the boundary fan interference question.

Hallion denies Girardi's untimely request.
Tom Hallion's crew ruled that Girardi failed to inform any of the umpires of his intent to review the play within 10 seconds of the inning's third out pursuant to Replay Review Regulation II.D.3, and thus denied Girardi's request.

Hallion's crew had the right idea, but the language of II.D.3 is slightly different for boundary calls, which are exempted from the Manager's Challenge and must be initiated by the Crew Chief: "In the case of a play that results in a third-out call and is subject to review at the discretion of the Crew Chief, the Crew Chief must either immediately initiate a Replay Review or signal for an Umpire conference to discuss the play while holding the defensive players on the field."

Because Hallion did not immediately initiate a Replay Review or umpire conference while holding the defensive players on the field (primarily because nobody knew of the potential of fan interference until well after the teams had already changed sides), Hallion's crew properly denied Girardi's request for an untimely Crew Chief review.

Video: Girardi requests a meeting with MLB corporate about baseball's Replay time limit rules

Andy Green is upset over late Nats challenge.
End-of-Inning 10+ Second Notification Allowed Case Study: Crew Layne: On May 26, Jerry Layne's crew entertained a Nationals challenge after the third out of an inning in which Manager Dusty Baker failed to inform the umpires of his intent to internally review the play within the 10 seconds as prescribed by rule. Like Hallion/Girardi, the closeness of the play—a neighborhood play out call at second base—was not readily apparent and, thus, evaded immediate detection by Washington's coaching staff. Opposing Manager Andy Green, not happy by the untimely turn of events, was seen silently fuming on camera during the ensuing Replay Review. Video: Nats get umpires to review play after the inning break has commenced.

30+ Second Denied Case Study: Crew Culbreth: On May 31, Culbreth denied Mets Manager Terry Collins an attempted challenge filed after the 30-second time limit had expired (37 seconds to be exact), but we wanted to wait for something a little more juicy to analyze.

Culbreth ejected Ausmus for arguing a denial.
On June 3, Culbreth in his role as Crew Chief ejected Tigers Manager Brad Ausmus after the Detroit skipper objected to the Cubby Crew's policy (or, more accurately, the "MLB policy") of requiring a manager to file his challenge within 30 seconds of the end of the play-to-be-reviewed. Culbreth ejected Ausmus after plate umpire Manny Gonzalez, as umpire-in-chief, ruled that Ausmus waited too long to file a challenge concerning a play at first base. Timed replays indicated that Ausmus failed to request a challenge of the play until 39 seconds had elapsed since the conclusion of the play.

Pursuant to the new-for-2017 challenge decision time limit, Culbreth's crew properly denied Ausmus and Collins' requests for untimely Manager's Challenges.

Price and Girardi's late requests were rejected.
End-of-Game Denied Case Study: Crew Miller: Last season—prior to the 30-second rule—Bill Miller's crew refused to honor Reds Manager Bryan Price's attempted Manager's Challenge of a game-ending play. Similar to the Hallion/Girardi play, neither Miller nor Price knew the boundary-related play contained a potential dead ball situation until well after the play had concluded and the time limit to notify and/or file had expired. Price actually followed the umpires toward their room in an attempt to bring them back onto the field to review the play, but Miller properly denied Price's request for an untimely Manager's Challenge.

Pitching Change Allowed Case Study: Crew T Barrett: Also on Wednesday afternoon, Ted Barrett's crew honored a Manager's Challenge from Nationals Manager Dusty Baker 41 seconds after the play-to-be-reviewed had concluded, and complicated by a pitching change.

Barrett allows Baker's untimely challenge.
With one out in the top of the 8th inning of the Nationals-Dodgers game, Bryce Harper reached on a fielder's choice out, as the Dodgers tagged out baserunner R3 Trea Turner. Although Baker timely notified the umpires of his intent to internally review the play (although, because it wasn't a third out, Baker didn't need to adhere to the 10-second notification time limit), he failed to actually file his Manager's Challenge until 41 seconds after the play had ended, and only as Dodgers relief pitcher Kenley Jansen had already began jogging in from the home bullpen.

In the event of a pitching change, the Field Timing Coordinator starts a routine commercial break clock in significant excess of 30 seconds. Video: Baker's late challenge of play at the plate is honored, and the call is ultimately confirmed.

30+ Second Allowed Case Study: Crew Marquez: Also on Wednesday, acting crew chief Alfonso Marquez agreed to review a Manager's Challenge from Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny 36 seconds after the play-to-be-reviewed had concluded. Video: Matheny's late challenge of play at the plate is honored, and the call is confirmed.

30+ Second Allowed Case Study: Crew Holbrook: On June 3, Sam Holbrook honored Craig Counsell's Manager's Challenge submitted 38 seconds after the conclusion of the out/safe (tag - stolen base) play to be reviewed. Video: Counsell requests a review after time expires following the play, call confirmed. Here's an honored 33-second deliberation from June 2's game.

30+ Second Allowed Case Study: Crew Reynolds: On May 25, Jim Reynolds honored Arizona's request for a Crew Chief Review submitted 43 seconds after the conclusion of a bang-bang play at first base. Video: D-Backs request a review well after the 30-second time limit, which is granted; call stands.

Outlier Thrown Out: Crew Reynolds: As described on Monday, Clint Hurdle's skirting of the 30-second rule due to the stand-still tradition of "God Bless America" is an outlier and a seemingly acceptable exception to the 30-second time limit. Therefore, this play was thrown out of the analysis.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Benches Clear in LA After Puig's Game-Ending Strikeout

After Yasiel Puig struck out to end Tuesday's game, benches cleared in Los Angeles as Puig appeared to take exception to the manner in which winning Washington celebrated the club's victory.

Benches clear in "Loss Angeles."
With two out and one on (R2) in the bottom of the 9th inning of the Nationals-Dodgers game, Dodgers batter Puig swung at and missed a 3-2 slider from Nationals pitcher Koda Glover, resulting in a game-ending strikeout and Nationals win, 2-1. After the strikeout, Puig expressed dissatisfaction at Glover's apparent celebration, resulting in a bench-clearing incident as Ted Barrett's crew of HP Umpire Angel Hernandez, 1B Umpire Chad Whitson, and 2B Umpire Lance Barksdale joined Barrett in separating the teams; no ejections resulted as the Dodgers and umpires left the field without further incident as the Nationals resumed their infield celebration.

From past experience, we know that in Major League Baseball (unlike, for instance, the NBA), post-game ejections may result from misconduct that occurs after the final out, but while the umpires are still on the playing field.

Dan Bellino delivers a post-game ejection.
For instance, Dan Bellino ejected Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny on July 12, 2013 after the final out of that evening's Cards-Cubs game.

Earlier that month, Tony Randazzo ejected Indians SS Mike Aviles for arguing a foul ball after his at-bat (and the game) had ended, but before Randazzo and Aviles had left the field.

In September 2012, Mike Estabrook ejected Rays 1B Carlos Pena for arguing a strike three call that ended the Rangers-Rays game.

The same is true for pre-game festivities: Jerry Layne ejected Chicago's Mark Parent, for instance, during the traditional umpires-coaches pre-game plate conference and lineup card exchange.

Video via "Read More"

Charity - Joe West Crew's Nomination of Honorary Umpire Knepper Just One of Many Charitable MLBU Endeavors

Joe West's crew naming Kyle Knepper an honorary umpire in St. Louis is one of many instances of charity amongst the Major League men in black and blue.

West's crew poses with honorary ump Kyle.
Knepper, an aspiring umpire since a young age, lost his right leg in a car crash and underwent a series of surgeries and rehabilitation, regaining the ability to stand thanks to a prothetic. As Cardinals Insider tells it, "Veteran umpire Joe West heard about Kyle's journey. He had Kyle become the honorary umpire for a game against the Reds. This was a dream made real for Kyle."

Explained Kyle, "I'm working as hard as I can to get back [to umpiring] as soon as possible. Getting on the field: All I care about is getting on the field this summer."

It's all part of umpires in the community, and most recently saw Tom Hallion's crew host a selection of young Phillies fans in conjunction with Casey Cares, a Mid-Atlantic organization that provides uplifting programs for families with critically ill children.

Hallion demonstrates the plate umpire's job.
Hallion's hosting duties were supported by UMPS CARE Charities, founded by Major League umpires and whose staff still features retired umpire Gary Darling as President, Marvin Hudson as Vice President, Jim Reynolds as Secretary, and Chris Guccione, Adrian Johnson, Tim Timmons, Jim Wolf, Umpire Supervisor Larry Young, and even Ump-Attire/Score 451 Sports' Jim Kirk as At-Large members of the Board of Directors.

UMPS CARE's activities range from in-Stadium tours to hospital visits, ticket donations, charity golf tournaments, auctions, and scholarship programs.

Find out more about UMPS CARE Charities at | Videos via "Read More"

Monday, June 5, 2017

God Bless America Extends Replay Challenge Time Limit

The singing of God Bless America allowed Clint Hurdle to bypass MLB's 30-second Replay Review time limit during Sunday's Pirates-Mets game in New York, thanks to the patriotic tradition of standing at attention during the song's playing.

God Bless America Loophole Allows Pirates Extra Time to Decide to Challenge Play
Reynolds explains the sequence to Collins.
With one out and one on (R1) in the top of the 7th inning, Pirates batter John Jaso hit a ground ball to Mets third baseman Wilmer Flores, who threw to second baseman Neil Walker to retire Pirates baserunner R1 Josh Harrison, onto first baseman Lucas Duda to retire batter Jaso for an apparent double play to end the frame.

Immediately after the third out, as stadiums tend to do, the Mets gameday entertainment team began the Citi Field mid-inning entertainment program, which, because the inning break happened to be the middle of the 7th inning on a Sunday, featured the traditional singing of God Bless America ahead of the ordinary seventh-inning stretch staple, Take Me Out to the Ballgame.

Due to the unique patriotic nature of "God Bless America," fans, players, and other stadium personnel were asked to stand and remove hats for the duration of the song, as is tradition, while the TV feeds went to break.

Pursuant to Replay Review Regulation II.E.1 ("Inning-Break Mechanics"), broadcasters ordinarily will not go to commercial until the Field Timing Coordinator starts the ballpark timer to commence the inning break. However, Regulation II.E.1 contains an exception: "the case of a special inning-break activity or event approved by the Commissioner's Office (e.g., 'God Bless America') in which case the inning-break will commence at the conclusion of the activity or event." Thus, with God Bless America on the mid-7th docket, the Field Timing Coordinator wasn't planning on starting the ballpark timer until the conclusion of the song, which kept the TV trucks in the dark as to whether the inning was really over: the standing around "dead time" that accompanied the patriotic tune only complicated matters. By the letter of the (outdated) law, the broadcasts should not have gone to break until after the conclusion of God Bless America...but they did.

Hurdle waits until after the song to challenge.
The Pirates—who were considering filing a Manger's Challenge of the play at second base and legally communicated their intent-to-review the play within 10 seconds of the final out (after a third out, teams have 10 seconds to communicate their intent-to-review, and 30 seconds to decide whether to challenge)—were unable to actually complete this second phase and file the Manager's Challenge during the stand-still-and-observe song, which spanned approximately one-and-a-half minutes in duration and served as a de facto suspension of the 30-second time limit.

Yet, thanks to the location of the team's video coordinator in the clubhouse video room, removed from the pageantry of "God Bless America" and its idle observation, Pittsburgh benefitted from over a minute of extra review time before Clint Hurdle could finalize with HP Umpire Jim Reynolds his decision to challenge 2B Umpire Lance Barrett's out call at second base.

Reynolds and Barrett are joined by Mr. Met.
The review itself—from the moment Reynolds and Lance Barrett applied the headsets until their removal—was fairly short (Barrett's headset was on for about 15 seconds), as the Replay Official, like Pittsburgh, had also been reviewing the play during the lengthy God Bless America, resulting in an overturned ruling and placement of Harrison back at second base—and of New York back on defense—as Replay determined that Walker had failed to properly tag second base: An out in the days of the Neighborhood Play, the rules-correct call in the era of modern Replay Review is "safe."

This is not the first time God Bless America has disrupted a Manager-Umpire interaction, though it is the first time GBA has interacted with expanded Replay Review. In May 2013, a dispute between Umpire Tom Hallion, Indians center fielder Michael Bourn, and Manager Terry Francona carried into a Sunday 7th inning stretch at Fenway Park, wherein the three men halted their disagreement during the song. Said Francona, "I told Tom Hallion, "I came out here to yell at you and now I've got to honor America with you.'"

Over the past week, the Mets came face-to-face with MLB's 30-second Replay Review time limit, as Fieldin Culbreth denied Terry Collins' attempt to challenge a play after the expiration of the 30-second window.

On Saturday, Culbreth ejected Tigers Manager Brad Ausmus after a similar untimely Replay Review request was denied. Replays indicate Ausmus took 39-seconds to decide to file a challenge, in excess of the time limit.

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