Saturday, July 1, 2017

Past or Prior - Deciding When a Runner Has Passed a Base

Runner Brandon Belt was ruled out for failing to retouch a base based on the interpretation for passing a base, and specifically, the question of, "when is a runner said to have passed a base?"

Belt runs past second base on his way to first.
With one out and one on (R1) in the top of the 7th inning of Saturday's Giants-Pirates game, Giants batter Brandon Crawford hit a 0-1 slider from Pirates pitcher Tony Watson in the air to center fielder Andrew McCutchen, who caught the fly ball as Giants baserunner R1 Belt arrived at second base as part of a hit-and-run or stolen base attempt. As McCutchen completed his catch, Belt raced back to first base ahead of the throw, while Pirates shortstop Max Moroff called for the ball, claiming that in retreating to first base, Belt failed to retouch second base in violation of Official Baseball Rule 5.06(b)(1), which states, "In advancing, a runner shall touch first, second, third and home base in order. If forced to return, he shall retouch all bases in reverse order, unless the ball is dead."

After 2B Umpire Dan Iassogna ruled Belt safe on appeal, Pittsburgh filed a challenge and Iassogna's call was overturned via Replay Review, Belt ruled out at second base for having failed to fulfill his OBR 5.06(b)(1) responsibility.
Related (More about 5.06)Rare Real-Time Appeal Retires Runner over Retouch Rule (6/15/17).

With replays indicating Belt kept a foot on the second base bag before beginning his sprint back toward first base, the question, naturally, is when is a runner considered to have passed a base, and when is a runner considered to have legally retouched it?

Fortunately, the MLB Umpire Manual specifies an interpretation for this part of "passing a base":
A runner is considered to have passed a base if he has both feet on the ground beyond the back edge of the base or beyond the edge of the base in the direction to which he is advancing.
Interpretations Diagram: Past vs Prior.
Insofar as a play at second base is concerned, a runner has passed the base when both feet are on the left field side of the imaginary line that extends from home plate, through second base, and into center field (with the second base bag itself considered as part of the "not past" side of the field).

The accompanying "past or prior" diagram is the accepted interpretation for all situations where a determination is to be made as to whether a runner has passed a base, such as base award plays (e.g., Type B Obstruction or a forced-to-advance play [e.g., a walk]) or scoring decisions.
*Grammatical note: "Past" is used as a preposition, part of the phrasal "run past" verb, as in, "he ran past the base." The past tense verb is "passed," as in, "he passed the base."

Gibson observes the race to first base.
EXCEPTIONS: On June 29, umpires ruled Diamondbacks batter Eric Fryer out at first base after he overran the bag without touching it and Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt was able to tag first base with his glove before Fryer returned to touch the base. Fryer had initially missed his touch of first base in trying to avoid Goldschmidt, who himself had missed his tag—1B Umpire Greg Gibson thus ruled Fryer "safe" (the mechanically correct thing to do).

The relevant MLBUM interpretation states that, "A runner does not acquire the right to an unoccupied base on an attempt to retire the runner until he touches it before he is put out."

In 2016, first baseman Hanley Ramirez tagged batter-runner Nelson Cruz, who similarly missed first base during a tag avoidance maneuver, affirmed as a real-time appeal out by 1B Umpire Hunter Wendelstedt.

Another exception is home plate, as there is no base past home plate which the runner may advance: a runner never truly "passes" home plate—he just forfeits the right to retouch it upon entry into the dugout. If both the fielder and runner miss their touches (the fielder misses his tag of the runner, and the runner misses home plate), no signal shall be given and no appeal permitted (for the aforementioned "a runner never truly 'passes' home plate" reason); the fielder must tag the runner to retire him (unless the runner begins to exit the field, in which case, an appeal is authorized in order to eliminate a "catcher chasing the runner" situation). This doesn't apply, naturally, to a force play, where simply tagging home plate will retire the runner.

Video via "

Friday, June 30, 2017

Assault - Joe West Hit in Head by Ball Thrown From Stands

Umpire Joe West was assaulted by a ball thrown from the Miller Park stands and into the back of West's head during Friday's Marlins-Brewers game, resulting in a multi-minute delay as Miller Park security attempted to locate the suspect and the umpires attempted to keep both teams safe.

Joe West grabs his head after a ball hits him.
With one out and none on in the bottom of the 4th inning, West was struck by a ball thrown from the stands along the right field line as Brewers batter Travis Shaw received a pitch from Marlins pitcher Edinson Volquez. As the crew chief, he quickly halted play and ordered the Marlins off the field until security could resolve the incident.

Love him or hate him, you cannot hit him.

Because he is currently on the disabled list with a back injury, Marlins pitcher Brad Ziegler was in the rare position to live tweet the incident as it transpired as a member of one of the participating teams, sending out the following message:
I hope they file assault charges for whoever just hit Joe West with the baseball. Absolutely ridiculous.
West, who remained standing after being hit by the ball, and completed the game, is in his 41st season as a Major League umpire, and recently officiated his 5,000th regular season game.

By game's end, no less than three balls had been thrown onto the playing field from the spectator area, though only one of those hit an umpire. Meanwhile, the Marlins broadcast implied a more sinister scenario, positing that at least some other fan had witnessed the act, and was refusing to cooperate with Miller Park security.

Joe West halts play after an assault from a fan.
West was most recently hit by a foul ball at first base during a 2014 game, but remained in the contest and even flexed his muscles after the direct shot; however, at least that one came from a batter's bat and on the playing field, in full view of the Cowboy.

Pursuant to league and ballpark policies, fan interference—which includes rulebook interference as well as throwing an object onto the playing field—is grounds for ejection from the game. Throwing a projectile at a person on the playing field is quite likely criminal assault that may have the additional penalty of a lifetime ban from baseball, in addition to an arrest.

The most recent instance of assault by virtue of throwing a ball at an umpire occurred in late May, when then-EvoShield Canes Texas coach Jeremy Knox was caught on camera allegedly instructing a 14-year-old pitcher to intentionally pitch the ball at an umpire's head.

Meanwhile, the assault suspect remained at large Friday night in Milwaukee. Video via "Read More"

MLB Ejections 087-88 - Greg Gibson (2-3; LAD-SD)

HP Umpire Greg Gibson ejects Padres Manager Andy Green and Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts (Fighting; QOCU) at the end of the 1st inning of the Dodgers-Padres game. With none out and one on (R2) in the bottom of the 1st inning, after Padres batter Manuel Margot attempted to check his swing on a breaking ball from Dodgers pitcher Alex Wood, Wood confronted Padres baserunner R2 Jose Pirela alleging that he was stealing signs and relaying them to the batter, resulting in the issuance of warnings after the competition of Margot's at-bat (groundout). After the inning's conclusion, HP Umpire Gibson and 3B Umpire/Crew Chief Sam Holbrook met with both managers, during which a bench clearing incident occurred and Gibson ejected both Roberts and Green, the call was irrecusable.* At the time of the ejections, the Dodgers were leading, 4-0. The Dodgers ultimately won the contest, 10-4.

This is Greg Gibson (53)'s second ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Greg Gibson now has 5 points in the UEFL Standings (1 Prev + 2*[2 MLB + 0 Irrecusable] = 5).
Crew Chief Sam Holbrook now has 4 points in Crew Division (2 Previous + 2 Irrecusable Call = 4).
*This is Los Angeles-NL's second consecutive game with a bench-clearing incident (6/29 @ LAA).

This is the 87th, 88th ejection report of 2017.
This is the 47th, 48th Manager ejection of 2017.
This is Los Angeles-NL's 6th ejection of 2017, 1st in the NL West (LAD 6; ARI, COL, SD, SF 2).
This is San Diego's 2nd ejection of 2017, T-2nd in the NL West (LAD 6; ARI, COL, SD, SF 2).
This is Dave Roberts' first ejection since July 6, 2016 (Pat Hoberg; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Andy Green's 2nd ejection of 2017, 1st since April 23 (Paul Emmel; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Greg Gibson's 2/3rd ejection of 2017, 1st since June 18 (Yuli Gurriel; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Diego Padres, 6/30/17 | Video via "Read More"

Umpire Chuck Meriwether Inducted into TN Hall of Fame

Happy Birthday to new Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame umpire Chuck Meriwether, inducted this month.

Nashville native Meriwether is a TN Hall of Famer. MiLB
Julius "Chuck" Edward Meriwether, born June 30, 1956, officiated his first Minor League game in the Midwest League in 1979 after attending the Wendelstedt Umpire School, and worked his way through the Eastern League, Pacific Coast League, and American Association, before his promotion to Major League Baseball. A former collegiate first baseman, Meriwether has a Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Physical Education from Athens State College and became an umpire after seeing an ad in the paper for umpire school.

Meriwether calls a runner out at second base.
He called his first Major League game on May 23, 1987, working his final game 23 years and 2,594 games later in 2009 when, according to Meriwether, his knees forced a decision to retire. He recorded 28 ejections during the course of his career, and was selected to two All-Star Games (1996, 2002), eight Division Series (1998-2002, 04, 07, 09), two League Championship Series (2003, 06), and two World Series (2004, 07).

Since his retirement following the 2009 season, Meriwether has served as a Major League Umpire Supervisor.

In 2016, the Nashville Sounds renamed the umpire room at First Tennessee Park the Chuck Meriwether Umpire Room, in his honor.

Link: Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame biography and inductee page for Chuck Meriwether
Meriwether video (Bobby Cox ejected by Eric Cooper, Narrated by Vin Scully) via "Read More"

Freeway Series Squads Clear Benches After Yunel's HBP

Los Angeles' Dodgers and Angels (of Anaheim) cleared the benches after a HBP to Yunel Escobar, with the Dodgers' broadcast wondering why Escobar would possibly be upset while the Angels' crew dug up a brief history between Escobar and Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw.

LA's Dodgers and Angels clear the benches.
With one out and runners at the corners in the bottom of the 8th inning of a 6-2 Dodgers ballgame, Blue Crew pitcher Brandon Morrow hit Halo batter Escobar up-and-in with a first-pitch 96-mph fastball, upon which Escobar pointed into his own dugout before yelling at Morrow as the benches and bullpens cleared and Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal spoke with Escobar, with HP Umpire Tom Woodring, 1B Umpire Jerry Layne, 2B Umpire Mike Estabrook, and 3B Umpire Marvin Hudson helping to separate the teams.

The game proceeded without incident and concluded with no ejections. Videos via "Read More"

Thursday, June 29, 2017

MLB Ejection 086 - David Rackley (2; Dusty Baker)

1B Umpire David Rackley ejected Nationals Manager Dusty Baker (foul ball no-call by HP Umpire Chad Fairchild; QOCN) in the bottom of the 6th inning of the Cubs-Nationals game. With none out and none on, Nationals batter Ryan Raburn attempted to strike a 2-2 changeup from Cubs pitcher Jon Lester, ruled a swinging third strike by HP Umpire Fairchild. Replays indicate the pitched ball made contact with Raburn's bat before touching the ground, the call was incorrect. At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 1-1. The Cubs ultimately won the contest, 5-4.

This is David Rackley (86)'s second ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
David Rackley now has 6 points in the UEFL Standings (6 Prev + 2 MLB - 2 Incorrect-Crewmate = 6).
Crew Chief Larry Vanover now has 10 points in Crew Division (10 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = 10).

This is the 86th ejection report of 2017.
This is the 46th Manager ejection of 2017.
This is Washington's 3rd ejection of 2017, T-2nd in the NL East (MIA 6; ATL, WAS 3; NYM 2; PHI 1).
This is Dusty Baker's first ejection since August 28, 2011 (Chad Fairchild; QOC = N [Out/Safe]).
This is David Rackley's first ejection since April 6, 2017 (Joc Peterson; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Chicago Cubs vs. Washington Nationals, 6/29/17 | Video via "Read More"

MLB Ejection 085 - Fieldin Culbreth (3; Bryan Price)

HP Umpire Fieldin Culbreth ejected Reds Manager Bryan Price (Replay Review, confirmed stadium boundary call; QOCY) in the top of the 3rd inning of the Brewers-Reds game. With two out and one on (R1), Brewers batter Jesus Aguilar hit a 0-0 fastball from Reds pitcher Homer Bailey on a fly ball to the base of the right field wall, where it was fielded by right fielder Arismendy Alcantara, ruled in play by 1B Umpire Mark Carlson, baserunner R1 Domingo Santana scoring. Upon Replay Review as the result of a Manager's Challenge by Price, Carlson's ruling was affirmed, replays indicate the ball first made contact with the outfield wall's padding before dropping to the ground; it did not stick nor pass through or under the fence and the outfield wall did not cause the ball to come to rest (see Related Post), the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Brewers were leading, 4-0.

This is Fieldin Culbreth (25)'s first, second ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Fieldin Culbreth now has 14 points in the UEFL Standings (10 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 14).
Crew Chief Fieldin Culbreth now has 6 points in Crew Division (5 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 6).
*OBR 5.05(a)(7) states the batter becomes a runner when—"Any fair ball which, either before or after touching the ground, passes through or under a fence, or through or under a scoreboard, or through any opening in the fence or scoreboard, or through or under shrubbery, or vines on the fence, or which sticks in a fence or scoreboard, in which case the batter and the runners shall be entitled to two bases."
*OBR 5.06(b)(4)(F): "Each runner including the batter-runner may, without liability to be put out [the ball is dead], advance—Two bases, if a fair ball bounces or is deflected into the stands outside the first or third base foul lines; or if it goes through or under a field fence, or through or under a scoreboard, or through or under shrubbery or vines on the fence; or if it sticks in such fence, scoreboard, shrubbery or vines."
The MLB Umpire Manual uses the phrase "goes behind...wall padding" in regards to a lodged ball.
Related Post: Cause You're Stuck in a Wall - Batted Ball Out of Play (9/20/16).

This is the 85th ejection report of 2017.
This is the 45th Manager ejection of 2017.
This is Cincinnati's 2nd ejection of 2017, 4th in the NL Central (MIL, PIT, STL 3; CIN 2; CHC 1).
This is Bryan Price's 2nd ejection of 2017, 1st since June 17 (Stu Scheurwater; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Fieldin Culbreth's 3rd ejection of 2017, 1st since June 3 (Brad Ausmus; QOC = Y [Replay Review]).

Wrap: Milwaukee Brewers vs. Cincinnati Reds, 6/29/17 | Video via "Read More"

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

MLB Ejections 083-84 - DJ Reyburn (1-2; Mathis, Lovullo)

HP Umpire DJ Reyburn ejected Diamondbacks C Jeff Mathis and Manager Torey Lovullo (strike three call; QOCN) in the bottom of the 4th inning of the Cardinals-Diamondbacks game. With two out and one on (R3), Mathis took a 1-2 sinker from Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located off the inner edge of home plate and thigh-high (px 1.06, pz 1.802 [sz_bot 1.535]), the call was incorrect. At the time of the ejections, the Cardinals were leading, 3-1. The Cardinals ultimately won the contest, 4-3.

This is DJ Reyburn (70)'s first, second ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
DJ Reyburn now has -6 points in the UEFL Standings (-2 Prev + 2*[2 MLB - 4 Incorrect Call]) = -6.
Crew Chief Sam Holbrook now has 10 points in Crew Division (10 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = 10).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.

This is the 83rd, 84th ejection report of 2017.
This is the 35th player ejection of 2017. Prior to ejection, Mathis was 1-2 (SO) in the contest.
This is the 44th Manager ejection of 2017.
This is Arizona's 1st/2nd ejection of 2017, T-2nd in the NL West (LAD 5; ARI, COL, SF 2; SD 1).
This is Jeff Mathis' first career MLB ejection.
This is Torey Lovullo's first ejection since May 30, 2014 (Jeff Kellogg; QOC = U [USC-NEC]).
This is DJ Reyburn's first ejection since August 16, 2016 (Frank Menechino; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: St. Louis Cardinals vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, 6/28/17 | Video via "Read More"

MLB Ejections 081-82 - Wendelstedt (2-3; Renteria, Petricka)

HP Umpire Hunter Wendelstedt ejected White Sox Manager Rick Renteria (ball one call; QOCN) and pitcher Jake Petricka (balls/strikes; QOCY) in the top of the 6th inning of the Yankees-White Sox game. With two out and one on (R2), Yankees batter Ronald Torreyes took a 0-1 fastball from Petricka for a called first ball before doubling on the ensuing pitch. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the heart of home plate and knee-high (px .104, pz 1.642 [sz_bot 1.481 / MOE 1.564]), the call was incorrect. Petricka's ejection occurred following the conclusion of the half-inning. Replays indicate that of the 13 callable pitches ruled ball, 12 were properly officiated (12/13 = 92.3% accuracy), the call was correct. At the time of Renteria's ejection, the Yankees were leading, 5-2. At the time of Petricka's ejection, the Yankees were leading, 8-2. The Yankees ultimately won the contest, 12-3.

This is Hunter Wendelstedt (21)'s second, third ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Hunter Wendelstedt now has 0 points in the UEFL Standings (-2 Prev + 4 MLB - 4 QOCN + 2 QOCY = 0).
Crew Chief Joe West now has 10 points in Crew Division (9 Previous + 0 Incorrect + 1 Correct Call = 10).

This is the 81st, 82nd ejection report of 2017.
This is the 43rd Manager ejection of 2017.
This is the 34th player ejection of 2017. Prior to ejection, Petricka's line was 1.0 IP, 5 ER.
This is Chicago-AL's 9/10th ejection of 2017, 1st in the AL Central (CWS 10; DET, KC 3; MIN 2; CLE 0).
This is Rick Renteria's 5th ejection of 2017, 1st since June 24 (Sam Holbrook; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Jake Petricka's first career MLB ejection.
This is Hunter Wendelstedt's 2/3rd ejection of 2017, 1st since May 8 (Don Mattingly; QOC = N [B/S]).

Wrap: New York Yankees vs. Chicago White Sox, 6/28/17 | Video via "Read More"

MLB Umpire John Tumpane Saves Suicidal Woman's Life

MLB Umpire John Tumpane quite possibly saved a suicidal woman's life outside of PNC Park on Wednesday, hours before a scheduled plate assignment for the evening's Pirates game.

Umpire John Tumpane. MLB.
As Tumpane finished up his midday run and lunch, his route back to the umpires' hotel fortuitously took him across the Roberto Clemente Bridge and over the Allegheny River, which ordinarily provides the picturesque backdrop well known as one of the league's best stadium views.

Upon approaching the PNC Park side of the bridge, Tumpane noticed a woman climb over a railing and look down toward the river below, the antithesis of a picturesque sight. He jumped into action and moved quickly toward the woman, asking her about the situation.

Claiming that she "just wanted to get a better look at the city from this side [of the railing]," Tumpane recalls hooking his arms around her and saying, "Oh no. You don't want to do that. It's just as good over here. Let's go grab some lunch and talk."

The woman replied, "No. I'm better off on this side. Just let me go."

Tumpane said, "I'm not going to let you go. Let's talk this out. We'll get you back over here."

"No one wants to help me," said the woman: "Just let me go."

Tumpane may have saved a life in Pittsburgh.
As the conversation continued, the woman became more emotional and squirmed in Tumpane's arms, and the more she moved around, the tighter he clasped on.

Tumpane and a passerby eventually grabbed the woman's arms and ankles, pinning her to the rail as a police boat, helicopter, ambulance, fire truck, and police officer all arrived on scene.

Tumpane told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "I was just trying to tell her it was going to be all right. There’s help. We’re going to be better if she can get back on this side. I said, ‘All these people are here. Look at all these people who want to help you. We’re all here for the right reasons. We want to get you better.’"

“I told her, ‘I didn’t forget her, and we’d be here, and she’s better off on this side than the other side.’ ” he recalled. “I just want her to know that.”

Tumpane worked his scheduled plate job Thursday night as the Pirates defeated the Rays.

We will be featuring mental health and the officiating profession in an upcoming article later this year.

If you or someone you know is in crisis or having thoughts of suicide or hopelessness, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also chat online with a trained operator.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

NCAA CWS - Force Play Slide Rule Negates LSU Run

2B Umpire Steve Mattingly's interference double play call negated an LSU run during the NCAA College World Series' decisive game Tuesday night, as Mattingly ruled LSU baserunner Jake Slaughter—and his teammate, batter Michael Papierski—out on a violation of college's force play slide rule (FPSR).

Umpire Mattingly explains his ruling.
With none out and runners at the corners in the top of the 7th inning of a 2-1 ballgame, LSU batter Papierski attempted to tie the ballgame with a ground ball to Florida second baseman Deacon Liput, who threw to shortstop Dalton Guthrie at second base as Tigers baserunner R1 Slaughter slid in an attempt to break up the double play, Guthrie throwing onto Gators first baseman JJ Schwarz ahead of Papierski's arrival as baserunner R3 Josh Smith crossed home plate with the Tigers' apparent second run.

However, 2B Umpire Mattingly had called Slaughter out for interference, ruling that his sliding attempt to break up a double play violated NCAA Rule 8-4, also known as the "Force-Play-Slide Rule," as former MLB-er and HP Umpire Troy Fullwood returned Smith to third base. NCAA's FPSR 8-4 states:
On any force play, the runner must slide on the ground before the base and in a direct line between the two bases...“Directly into a base” means the runner’s entire body (feet, legs, trunk and arms) must stay in a straight line between the bases....Exception—A runner need not slide directly into a base as long as the runner slides or runs in a direction away from the fielder to avoid making contact or altering the play of the fielder.
Slaughter's slide is illegal in multiple ways.
Additionally, amongst other restrictions, the runner's slide is illegal if, "The runner slashes or kicks the fielder with either leg."

Note: High school rule NFHS 32-2-d uses this same language, but expands the scope to all slides, regardless of game situation: "A slide is illegal if—the runner slashes or kicks the fielder with either leg." NCAA Section 8-4 only pertains to force plays at any base.

High school also calls runners out when, "on a force play, [the runner] does not slide in a direct line between the bases." (NFHS 8-4-2-b). In high school, "runners are never required to slide" (8-4-2-b-2), which is a rules difference from NCAA's "on any force play, the runner must slide..." rule 8-4.

If the runner violates NCAA Rule 8-4, interference shall be called and the batter is out for the interference of his teammate. The ball is dead at the moment of interference, and all runners shall return to their previous bases (Penalty: "the batter-runner, as well as the interfering runner, shall be declared out and no other runner(s) shall advance").

Slaughter slid into FPSR's gray area.
As demonstrated by the attached still image, taken from the third base grandstand, Slaughter appeared to kick Guthrie, and failed to slide directly into second base. If there is any lingering doubt as to whether Slaughter slid directly to the base, let the accompanying FPSR diagram put this debate to rest: the slide was illegal.

Professional baseball's version of the FPSR is bona fide slide interference rule 6.01(j), which states, "If a runner does not engage in a bona fide slide, and initiates (or attempts to make) contact with the fielder for the purpose of breaking up a double play, he should be called for interference under this Rule 6.01."

Unlike college, the pro rule allows for a slide that isn't directly into a base—there are no gray area diagrams in OBR—but does restrict the runner with four "bona fide slide" criteria:
1) Begins his slide and makes contact with the ground before reaching the base;
2) Is able and attempts to reach the base with his hand or foot;
3) Is able and attempts to remain on the base (except home) after completing the slide; and
4) Slides within reach without changing his path for the purpose of initiating contact with a fielder.

The runner does not attempt to reach the base.
Conclusion: Slaughter's slide is clearly illegal in both high school and college, which makes 2B Umpire Mattingly's call of interference the correct one. Unfortunately for LSU, due to the illegal actions of their baserunner, the runner from third base is prohibited from scoring on this play.

Had this play occurred in Major League Baseball (or MiLB), Slaughter's slide would be deemed a violation of the bona fide slide interference rule because he failed to remain on the base after completing his slide (criterion #3). There is also a significant chance he failed to actually reach the base with his hand or foot (criterion #2).

For more on OBR's Rule 6.01(j), visit our previous Bona Fide Slide posts. Video via "Read More"

Tmac's Teachable Moments - Staying with the Catch

We're staying with the catch for today's umpire edition of Tmac's Teachable Moments.

Umpires like to use the phrase that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. We also have two eyes, and those come in very handy when it comes to adjudicating the completion of a catch. Today's Teachable Moment looks at a play where 1B Umpire Alfonso Marquez uses his eyes and is so relaxed and seamless in his mechanics, thanks to some excellent timing.
Related Post: Greg Gibson Reminds All Umpires: Patience is a Virtue (7/15/12)

U1 Marquez follows the ball, not the foot.
Fonzie's play begins as a routine ground ball to third and, even after a slight misplay, the end result should still be an out. Marquez is focused on the 1st baseman's right foot which he correctly judges to have left the bag before secure possession is garnered by the 1st baseman. Here is where the play becomes complex. Fonzie IMMEDIATELY goes to the glove and looks for a tag (with a pulled foot, a tag is the only logical way the fielder will be able to put out the runner).

Think this is easy? It's a skill acquired over 1000s of repetitions whether you have a play at first base with a pulled foot or not. Marquez sees the tag attempt and is so focused, he follows the ball as it caroms out of the 1st baseman's glove and rolls toward second.

Fielder's glove collides with runner's leg.
Sidebar: Quick Rules Review regarding interference. OBR 6.01(a)(10) puts the runner out for interference if he "intentionally interferes with a thrown ball." The MLB Umpire Manual interpretation extends the out call to a tag attempt: "While contact may occur between a fielder and runner during a tag attempt, a runner is not allowed to use his hands or arms to commit an obviously malicious or unsportsmanlike act—such as grabbing, tackling, intentionally slapping at the baseball, punching, kicking, flagrantly using his arms or forearms, etc.—to commit an intentional act of interference unrelated to running the bases." Batter-runner Abreu's interaction with F3 Myers is not intentional interference, and, regardless, the question of interference is not subject to Replay Review.

Watch the catching action to its conclusion.
As far as the definition of a catch, "In establishing the validity of the catch, the fielder shall hold the ball long enough to prove that he has complete control of the ball and that his release of the ball is voluntary and intentional." Although the parameters of Replay Review allow for a batter/runner to be ruled out via video review at the moment the ball first touches the fielder's glove (provided the fielder maintains simple possession and at some point gains secure possession), the fielder must nonetheless hold onto the ball "long enough" to demonstrate complete control. In other words, real-time calls should never really be made at the moment the ball first touches the fielder's glove: good timing generally means waiting until that specific phase of the play is complete before making a call. As for Wil Myers, he never really had complete control nor secure possession.

Here's the finale. There's no need for a theatrical safe call here. Marquez gives a relaxed obvious safe so as to not draw unneeded attention to himself on this complicated play. Notice how he watches the ball as it leaves the mitt. This is a thing of beauty.

This strategy applies to any catch play.
Let's change the play to any routine catch—a fly ball to the outfield, line drive in a trouble spot, or thrown ball to first base, it doesn't particularly make a difference. Follow the ball until it's released from the glove. Make sure you follow the ball or the voluntary release. This stops from the potential disasters of turning away and having the fielder drop the ball and you're watching a tag up.

Speaking of tagging up, yes, the runner can leave the base at first touch, but, again, what benefit is there for calling an out right away other than a potential missed call, and how can a fielder demonstrate that he has "complete control" and that "his release is voluntary and intentional" if the out call is made before the fielder has a chance to release the ball? A faster calling cadence may be appropriate for some calls due to the smaller time window which they are defined by (e.g., fair/foul, interference, obstruction, or an out of the base path call, to name a few), but catches are not one of them.
Related PostClearing Up a Myth - Timely Retouch of a Bobbled Fly (4/27/17)

A fair/foul call will precede the catch/drop call.
That runner's tagging either way, and, if you're wrong and the ball is dropped, the runner's probably making it to the next base regardless of the premature (and erroneous) out call...unless of course there's a rule against that...

We saw this during the 2017 NCAA Baseball Super Regional on a fly ball to right-center, initially fielded by the outfielder, who dropped the ball during the transfer action, but ruled "no catch" by the first base umpire. Bearing in mind that college has slightly different mechanics for fly balls in the four-person system, there should still be an eye on this play through voluntary release. By the time the ball is out of the glove, much less on the ground, it's too late to travel back and try to reconstruct how it got there.
Related Post: NCAA Rule - Reversing a Catch Call's Runner Placement (6/13/17)

Quicker timing is appropriate for some calls.
So, what did we learn here? That Alfonso Marquez is a great umpire in the prime of his career. We also must realize this play isn't easy if you are looking at the wrong thing. Once you no longer have a foot on the base (on a thrown ball to first situation), go to the glove, which may require an adjustment in head or even body positioning. Next, have good timing. Don't sell a pulled foot or a tag until the play is complete. This is the dictionary definition of good umpiring and it's no surprise who the umpire is. Lastly, have fun.

Video via "Read More"

Monday, June 26, 2017

Carter Capps Throws Illegal Pitch, Ejected After Hitting Ump

Carter Capps, called for an illegal pitch by 1B Umpire Brett Terry, who ejected Capps' Manager Rod Barajas in an application of professional baseball's new pitchers' rubber restriction rule, himself was ejected by HP Umpire JJ January after hitting January with a bouncing pitch during Sunday's El Paso Chihuahuas vs Albuquerque Isotopes game in the Pacific Coast League.

Prior to the 2017, the Official Baseball Rules Committee added new provisions to illegal pitch and balk rules 5.07(a) Comment, 6.02(a), and 6.02(b) outlawing crow-hop (aka pivot foot reset) maneuvers, such as that historically employed by Capps:
The pitcher may not take a second step toward home plate with either foot or otherwise reset his pivot foot in his delivery of the pitch. If there is a runner, or runners, on base it is a balk under Rule 6.02(a); if the bases are unoccupied it is an illegal pitch under Rule 6.02(b).
1B Umpire Brett Terry ejects Rod Barajas.
With none out and none on in the top of the 8th inning of the Chihuahuas-Isotopes game, Capps threw a 0-0 pitch to Isotopes batter Dustin Garneau, ruled an illegal pitch by 1B Umpire Terry. 3B Umpire Lee Meyers then called Capps for a second illegal pitch due to a similar pivot foot reset motion on the 1-2 delivery. As a result of an ensuing argument, 1B Umpire Terry ejected Chihuahuas Manager Rod Barajas. Replays indicate that in both instances, Capps' illegally reset his pivot foot in his delivery of the pitch, the calls were correct. After an ensuing foul ball, Capps' final pitch in the dirt bounced and hit January. Replays indicate that as January paused to recover at home plate, Capps appeared to make a comment toward January, resulting in a confrontation and ejection; Capps and catcher Rocky Gale had a conference at the mound immediately preceding the fateful pitch. At the time of the ejections, the Isotopes were leading, 9-5. The 'Topes ultimately won the contest, 12-5.

Wrap: El Paso Chihuahuas vs. Albuquerque Isotopes (PCL), 6/25/17 | Video via "Read More"

Review Blooper - Getting it Right to Get it Wrong

Replay Review, Crew Chief Angel Hernandez, an umpire-style blooper, incorrect TV commercial timing, and seemingly incorrect call (post-replay): a perfect storm of curiosities that came together to deliver an odd sequence in Seattle on Sunday.

Servais appears amused by Hernandez's flub.
With two out and the bases loaded during the June 25 Astros-Mariners game, Mariners batter Robinson Cano hit a 1-1 fastball from Astros pitcher Francis Martes on a line drive to center fielder Jake Marisnik, who threw to shortstop Carlos Correa to catcher Evan Gattis as Mariners baserunner R1 Mitch Haniger attempted to score, ruled out by HP Umpire Lance Barksdale.

As replays seem to indicate Haniger touched home plate before Gattis tagged him, Mariners Manager Scott Servais filed a Manager's Challenge and sent the play to review.

Blooper One: The broadcast had already commenced the inning break and gone to commercial as Hernandez and Barksdale donned the replay headsets. Regulations state the inning break should not begin until the Replay Review process is complete.

Blooper Two: With the Replay Review procedure beginning at the start of the inning break, and concluding over 30 seconds after returning from commercial, the Replay Official exceeded MLB's two-minute review time limit regulation, which is a new-for-2017 feature.

Caught in the Act: Angel signals Haniger safe.
Blooper Three: After the decision has been made, Hernandez signals the runner safe, eliciting cheers from the Safeco Field crowd. Barksdale quickly alerts his crew chief to something, and Hernandez changes the call to "out." Due to the initial "safe" call however, Astros Manager AJ Hinch walks to the mound and makes a pitching change. 3B Umpire Mark Ripperger had held Hinch at the foul line during the review, but, given its initial "safe" outcome, released him to the mound.

Odd Game Management? Seattle skipper Servais leaves the dugout to meet Hernandez, and appears fairly amused by Angel deploying an arms-extended "safe" mechanic before changing to a fist. What could have been a contentious argument—due to runner Haniger appearing to have been safe at home plate—turned into an Angel Hernandez mea (Ron) culpa due to the wrong hand signal. Lost in the shuffle was the actual decision of whether the runner was out or safe: the humor of Hernandez's mistake appeared to trump the correctness of the actual call.

The runner appeared to have been safe.
The Seattle broadcast summed it up best: "Are they ruling Robbie out? ... Why?" before having a laugh.

History: In 2014, Larry Vanover's crew—including Angel Hernandez—reversed an on-field "safe" ruling by Vanover to declare baserunner R3 Salvador Perez out for failing to timely tag up on a caught fly ball. Because the play was not reviewable at the time of its occurrence, some speculated that Vanover's crew consulted scoreboard video screens at Kauffman Stadium to help with the decision. This, naturally, is not allowed, but if Hernandez in Seattle had seen replays on Safeco Field's video board, he may have signaled safe to correspond with what he personally saw on replay. Video via "Read More"

Sunday, June 25, 2017

MLB Ejection 080 - John Tumpane (3; Peter Moylan)

HP Umpire John Tumpane ejected Royals pitcher Peter Moylan (balls/strikes) in the top of the 6th inning of the Blue Jays-Royals game. With none out and the bases loaded, Blue Jays batter Josh Donaldson hit a 1-0 sinker from Moylan into right field for a two-RBI double, resulting in Moylan's substitution out of the game. Replays indicate that of the six callable pitches ruled "ball" from Moylan's entrance into the game through his removal (batters Jose Bautista [walk], Russell Martin [fielding error], and Donaldson [double]), one was incorrectly officiated that realistically resulted in a different outcome of the at-bat pursuant to UEFL Rule 6-5-c-5 (ball three to Bautista [walk]), the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Blue Jays were leading, 6-2. The Blue Jays ultimately won the contest, 8-2.

This is John Tumpane (74)'s third ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
John Tumpane now has 4 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Previous + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 4).
Crew Chief Joe West now has 7 points in Crew Division (6 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 7).
*A Pitching Change Exemption, pursuant to UEFL Rule 6-5-c-2-a, has been applied.
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.

This is the 80th ejection report of 2017.
This is the 33rd player ejection of 2017. Prior to ejection, Moylan's line was 0.0 IP, 2 R, ER, BB.
This is Kansas City's 3rd ejection of 2017, T-2nd in the AL Central (CWS 8; DET, KC 3; MIN 2; CLE 0).
This is Peter Moylan's first career MLB ejection.
This is John Tumpane's 3rd ejection of 2017, 1st since April 23 (Mike Matheny; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Toronto Blue Jays vs. Kansas City Royals, 6/25/17 | Video via "Read More"