Saturday, July 8, 2017

MLB Ejections 093-94 - Sam Holbrook (5-6; COL x2)

HP Umpire Sam Holbrook ejected Rockies CF Charlie Blackmon and Manager Bud Black (strike three call; QOCY) in the bottom of the 9th inning of the White Sox-Rockies game. With one out and none on, Blackmon took a 3-2 cutter from White Sox pitcher David Robertson for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the inner half of home plate and at the hollow of the knee (px -.401, pz 1.554 [sz_bot 1.601 / MOE 1.518]), the call was correct. At the time of the ejections, the White Sox were leading, 5-4. The White Sox ultimately won the contest, 5-4.

This is Sam Holbrook (34)'s fifth, sixth ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Sam Holbrook now has 12 points in the UEFL Standings (4 Prev + 2*[2 MLB + 2 QOCY] = 12).
Crew Chief Sam Holbrook now has 9 points in Crew Division (7 Previous + 2 Correct Call = 9).

This is the 93rd, 94th ejection report of 2017.
This is the 39th player ejection of 2017. Prior to ejection, Blackmon was 2-5 (3 SO) in the contest.
This is the 50th Manager ejection of 2017.
This is Colorado's 3rd/4th ejection of 2017, 2nd in the NL West (LAD 6; COL 4; ARI, SD, SF 2).
This is Charlie Blackmon's first ejection since May 17, 2015 (Marty Foster; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Bud Black's 2nd ejection of 2017, 1st since April 14 (Mike Everitt; QOC = Y [Balk]).
This is Sam Holbrook's 5/6th ejection of 2017, 1st since June 24 (Rick Renteria; QOC = Y [Replay Review]).

Wrap: Chicago White Sox vs. Colorado Rockies, 7/8/17 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejection 092 - Bill Miller (2; Lorenzo Cain)

HP Umpire Bill Miller ejected Royals CF Lorenzo Cain (strike three call) in the top of the 7th inning of the Royals-Dodgers game. With one out and the bases loaded, Cain took a 2-2 fastball from Dodgers pitcher Pedro Baez for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located off the outer edge of home plate and thigh-high (px 1.108, pz 2.903), the call was incorrect. At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 3-3. The Dodgers ultimately won the contest, 5-4, in 10 innings.

This is Bill Miller (26)'s second ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Bill Miller now has -2 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Prev + 2 MLB - 4 Incorrect Call = -2).
Crew Chief Bill Miller now has 2 points in Crew Division (2 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = 2).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.

This is the 92nd ejection report of 2017.
This is the 38th player ejection of 2017. Prior to ejection, Cain was 1-3 (SO) in the contest.
This is Kansas City's 4th ejection of 2017, 2nd in the AL Central (CWS 10; KC 4; DET 3; MIN 2; CLE 0).
This is Lorenzo Cain's first ejection since July 9, 2015 (Chris Segal; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Bill Miller's 2nd ejection of 2017, 1st since June 24 (John Farrell; QOC = N [Balk]).

Wrap: Kansas City Royals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers of LA, 7/8/17 | Video as follows:

Dead Ball - Stroman's Start-Stop and Contested Time Call

Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman's odd delivery and HP Umpire Paul Nauert's "Time" call produced an argument from Stroman when he felt the umpire improperly called "Time" after Stroman had come set.

Stroman questions Nauert's call.
The Play: With one out and none on in the top of the 4th inning of Saturday's Astros-Blue Jays game, Astros batter Brian McCann prepared to face Stroman's 0-1 pitch. As Stroman prepared to deliver the ball toward home plate, McCann requested "Time" from plate umpire Nauert, which was granted, resulting in Stroman's passionate objection as he walked off the mound to address Nauert, who took up the discussion with Manager John Gibbons.

Was this the correct call?

The Rules: Official Baseball Rule 5.04(b)(2) Comment states, "Umpires will not call 'Time' at the request of the batter or any member of his team once the pitcher has started his windup or has come to a set position even though the batter claims 'dust in his eyes,' 'steamed glasses,' 'didn’t get the sign' or for any other cause."
For an example of an umpire properly refusing to grant "Time" after a pitcher has started his windup, see Todd Tichenor - Jonny Gomes (time out request refusal), 7/14/13.
For one of the reasons this rule exists, see "Cueto Injury and Why Ump Did Not Grant Time."

"Time" is denied after the pitcher winds up.
OBR 5.07(a) specifies two legal pitching positions, the Windup Position and Set Position. As Stroman selected the Set Position, we shall cite Set Position Rule 5.07(a)(2): "Set Position shall be indicated by the pitcher when he stands facing the batter with his pivot foot in contact with, and his other foot in front of, the pitcher’s plate, holding the ball in both hands in front of his body and coming to a complete stop...After assuming Set Position, any natural motion associated with his delivery of the ball to the batter commits him to the pitch without alteration or interruption."

Analysis: Replays indicate that after assuming Set Position, with both hands in front of his body while in contact with the pitcher's plate, the following sequence of events occurred:

(1) Stroman raises his left leg (lead leg), which is a natural motion associated with his delivery.
(2) Stroman returns his left leg to the ground, but fails to pitch the ball.
(3) Batter McCann requests, and is granted, "Time."
(4) Stroman again raises his left leg, but this time, attempts to deliver a pitch as Nauert signals "Time."

Stroman tried to double-dip before "Time."
Had there been baserunners, Stroman's actions would have constituted a balk, specifically a Rule 6.02(a)(1) violation, also known as a Start-Stop balk: "If there is a runner, or runners, it is a balk when—The pitcher, while touching his plate, makes any motion naturally associated with his pitch and fails to make such delivery."

As it were, Stroman's start-stop action (numbers (1) and (2)), on its own, carries a "no harm, no foul" connotation with the bases empty: the pitcher can simply step off, reset, and re-engage with no additional penalty.

However, and depending on your evaluation of Stroman's first step (as specified by sequential numbers (1) and (2), above), Stroman might have even been guilty of an illegal pitch when he attempted to fast-track his interrupted delivery via phase (4), and pursuant to Rule 5.07(a) Comment, which states, "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)."

Graphic of Rule 5.04(b)(2) Comment.
Although a batter may not request "Time" after a pitcher begins his windup or enters Set Position, the pitcher in this play violated Set Position Rule 5.07(a)(2) by failing to pitch to the batter when committed: he improperly started his delivery, only to stop it prematurely.

To take a spirit-of-the-rule glance at this play, consider another portion of Rule 5.04(b)(2) Comment: "If after the pitcher starts his windup or comes to a 'set position' with a runner on, he does not go through with his pitch because the batter has inadvertently caused the pitcher to interrupt his delivery, it shall not be called a balk. Both the pitcher and batter have violated a rule and the umpire shall call time and both the batter and pitcher start over from 'scratch.'"
Related PostStarting From Scratch - Batter Disrupts Pitcher's Delivery (6/29/17)

Although this is a bases-empty situation, the sentence that translates is, "Both the pitcher and batter have violated a rule and the umpire shall call time and both the batter and pitcher start over from 'scratch.'" Thus, if Stroman violated by failing to pitch without alteration or interruption and McCann violated by requesting "Time" after Stroman came set, we have a reset/start over from scratch situation. Even though failing to pitch when committed is not a balk with the bases empty, it nonetheless is a violation of the Set Position rule.

The fact that Stroman attempted to save his delivery faux pas—as specified by number (4) in the sequence—does not rectify the fact that he attempted to make an illegal pitch, and the batter was well within his right to request, and receive, "Time" due to the pitcher's illegal action based on the aforementioned rules.

Video as follows:

Friday, July 7, 2017

MLB Ejection 091 - Mike Everitt (2; Brian Snitker)

3B Umpire Mike Everitt ejected Braves Manager Brian Snitker (check swing ball two call) in the bottom of the 9th inning of the Braves-Nationals game. With one out and two on (R1, R3), Nationals batter Matt Wieters attempted to check his swing on a 1-1 curveball in the dirt from Braves pitcher Jim Johnson for a called second ball. Play was reviewed and adjudicated by the UEFL Appeals Board, the call was incorrect. At the time of the ejection, the Braves were leading, 4-3. The Nationals ultimately won the contest, 5-4, in 10 innings.

This is Mike Everitt (57)'s second ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Mike Everitt now has 4 points in the UEFL Standings (6 Prev + 2 MLB - 4 Incorrect Call = 4).
Crew Chief Mike Everitt now has 11 points in Crew Division (11 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = 11).
Ejection HistoryMLB Ejection 079 - Mike Everitt (1; Brian Snitker) (6/23/16).

This is the 91st ejection report of 2017.
This is the 49th Manager ejection of 2017.
This is Atlanta's 4th ejection of 2017, 2nd in the NL East (MIA 6; ATL 4; WAS 3; NYM 2; PHI 1).
This is Brian Snitker's 3rd ejection of 2017, 1st since June 18 (Chris Segal; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Mike Everitt's 2nd ejection of 2017, 1st since April 14 (Bud Black; QOC = Y [Balk]).

Wrap: Atlanta Braves vs. Washington Nationals, 7/7/17 | Video as follows:

Dispelling the Fan Interference Ground Rule Double Myth

Let's clear up a myth: fan interference does not result in an automatic ground rule double call. By rule, the term "ground rule double" is reserved for a batted ball that goes out of play under one of the field-specific or Universal Ground Rules (e.g., a batted ball that lodges in the rotating signage along the first or third base stands is out of play due to a Universal Ground Rule. Thus, if a double is awarded due to this lodgment, it is a ground rule double). By contrast, a batted ball that travels over the outfield wall and out of play after bouncing once on the playing field is not actually a "ground rule double" but a "rulebook double" or "two-base award," as in Rule 5.05(a)(6) ("A fair ball, after touching the ground, bounds into the stands"); it's a double, but not because of the ground rules.

Crew Chief Culbreth signals fan interference.
The Play: With none out and none on in the top of the 4th inning of Thursday's Athletics-Mariners game, A's batter Bruce Maxwell hit a line drive down the left field line and toward the short wall separating the spectator area from the playing field. As the ball kicked along the wall, a fan reached out from the stands and onto field, whereupon his glove touched the live ball. With none of the umpires ruling the play dead for the interference, and batter-runner Maxwell winding up at first base, A's Manager Bob Melvin challenged the play, resulting in the rare overturned call where nothing of physical significance actually changes: Replay Officials overturned 3B Umpire Fieldin Culbreth's interference no-call, but opted to place Maxwell at first base.
Related PostMLB Instant Replay Review 454: Fieldin Culbreth (06) (6/6/14).

The Broadcast: The A's broadcasters led off with this doozie: "The A's are saying that somebody touched it, which means it would be a double." Followed by, "That's a ground rule double, if he makes any contact." After the replay decision to keep Maxwell at first base on the interference, the broadcast debated whether the A's had actually won or lost the challenge.

Fan interference's "nullify the act" penalty.
The Rule: The definition of terms states that fan interference (aka spectator interference) occurs when, "a spectator reaches out of the stands, or goes on the playing field, and (1) touches a live ball or (2) touches a player and hinders and attempt to make a play on a live ball."

Rule 6.01(e) specifies the penalty for fan interference as: "the ball shall be dead at the moment of interference and the umpire shall impose such penalties as in his opinion will nullify the act of interference. APPROVED RULING: If spectator interference clearly prevents a fielder from catching a fly ball, the umpire shall declare the batter out."

Fan INT from the UEFL Video Rulebook.
Analysis: As evidenced by the aforementioned rules, spectator interference is not an automatic double, and if a fielder is clearly prevented from making a play on a batted fly ball, the batter can even be called out. People have gotten thrown out because of this, even with Replay Review (MLB Ejection 101: Mike DiMuro (1; AJ Hinch)).

To reiterate, under the "nullify the act" clause of Rule 6.01(e), umpires can place runners anywhere they feel is appropriate in order to rectify the non-natural occurrence of fan interference. Especially in ballparks with foul outfield walls that jut out at near-perpendicular angles relative to the foul lines, this can result in a fan interference single if the umpire rules that, absent interference, the defense would have fielded the ball and held the batter at first base.
Related PostBoundary Call - Spectator Interference vs Out of Play (5/17/17).

Spectator interference can even result in a HR.
Under the "nullify the act" procedure, for instance, fan interference in the outfield can even result in a home run.
Related PostALDS Game 4 (OAK-DET): The Fan Interference Home Run (10/9/13).

MLB Network's World Baseball Classic commentators were no better in March, when Japan's Tetsuto Yamada hit a fly ball that was caught by a fan reaching out of the left-center field stands. In that situation, though, 3B Umpire Cory Blaser ruled that had the interference not occurred, Yamada would have achieved second base, and, thus, placed him at second. The broadcasters quipped that the call "cost Japan at least a base," claiming that Yamada would have had a triple if not for the interference. On the contrary, Had the umpires believed that Yamada would have reached third base safely if not for the interference, they would have placed him at third base.
Related PostWBC Replay Review - Blaser's Fan Interference (3/7/17).

The final element here is the broadcast wondering whether Oakland won or lost its challenge, since nothing on the field physically changed (e.g., the runner remained at first base). Answer: The replay decision is considered an overturned call and a successful challenge. Replay Review Regulation I.B.1 states, "If the Replay Official overturns any call challenged by a Club (even if he upholds other challenged calls), the Club retains its Manager Challenge." Accordingly, the Replay Official upheld the runner placement call, but overturned the fan interference no-call.

Video as follows:

Thursday, July 6, 2017

MLB Ejection 090 - John Libka (1; Marwin Gonzalez)

HP Umpire John Libka ejected Astros 1B Marwin Gonzalez (strike two call) in the top of the 6th inning of the Astros-Blue Jays game. With none out and none on, Gonzalez took consecutive 1-0 and 1-1 pitches from Blue Jays pitcher Francisco Liriano for called first and second strikes. Replays indicate the called first strike was located over the outer edge of home plate and waist-high (px .741, pz 3.193 [sz_top 3.411]) and the called second strike was located over the heart of home plate and thigh high (px -.101, pz 1.715), the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Blue Jays were leading, 6-2. The Blue Jays ultimately won the contest, 7-4.

This is John Libka (84)'s first ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
John Libka now has 3 points in the UEFL Standings (-2 Prev + 3 AAA + 2 Correct Call = 3).
Crew Chief Dana DeMuth now has 3 points in Crew Division (2 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 3).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.

This is the 90th ejection report of 2017.
This is the 37th player ejection of 2017. Prior to ejection, Gonzalez was 1-3 (HR, SO) in the contest.
This is Houston's 2nd ejection of 2017, 4th in the AL West (OAK 4; SEA, TEX 3; HOU 2; LAA 1).
This is Marwin Gonzalez's first ejection since August 13, 2016 (Doug Eddings; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is John Libka's first career MLB ejection.

Wrap: Houston Astros vs. Toronto Blue Jays, 7/6/17 | Video as follows:

Case Play 2017-7 - When Base Awards Overlap [Solved]

A live ball thrown out of play during a base-on-balls resulting in an award allowing two runners to score key extra inning runs is our latest Case Play 2017-7: When Base Awards Overlap.

Still image of runners' spots at time of throw.
The Play: With two out and two on (R1, R2) in the top of the 10th inning of a tied Saltdogs-AirHogs game (American Association Independent Baseball), Saltdogs batter Curt Smith took a fourth ball for a walk to load the bases. After AirHogs catcher Ryan Wagner returned the ball to pitcher Luis De La Cruz, and as the runners were jogging toward their awarded bases, De La Cruz decided he wanted a new ball and tried to exchange baseballs by throwing the one in his possession into the dugout without first requesting "Time" from the umpires.

Because the ball was live when it was thrown out of play, the umpires enforced the penalty for a live ball thrown into the dugout by a position player, which is a two-base award for all runners, ultimately ruling that R1 and R2 both scored, while B1 was entitled to third base. AirHogs Manager Billy Martin, Jr. argued the ruling, and was ejected from the game by HP Umpire Kurt Branin.

Case Play Question: Replays indicate that at the time of F1 De La Cruz's throw, R2 Nathaniel Maggio had reached third base, R1 Ivan Marin had not yet reached second base, and batter-runner Curt Smith had reached first base. In light of the runners' positions at the time of the throw, what are the proper base awards; was the play correctly officiated? Contingency: (a) Had Smith not yet reached first base, all else equal, or (b) had all runners reached their respective bases at the time of the throw, what would the proper awards have been?
Related Post (MLB CP)Case Play 2016-8 - Time Goes Out During Play [Solved] (8/20/16).

Answer: Because the ball remained live when F1 De La Cruz released the ball on his throw into dead ball territory after the batter-runner had already reached first base, the proper award is two-bases from the time of the throw (time of release of the throw). R2 is awarded home plate and R1 is awarded third base (last legally touched base was first base at the time of throw). Because no base award can be made for a trail runner that would cause such a runner to overtake a preceding runner, as in Rule 5.06(b)(4)(G) Comment, B1's award is second base even though he was standing on first base at the time of the throw.

Contingency (a): If B1 had not yet reached first base at the time of the throw, the base awards would be made at the time of the pitch (last base occupied at the time the pitcher began his delivery [if windup] or came set). Effectively, the result would be the same as R2 still gets home plate, R1 gets third, and the batter-runner gets second base.

Contingency (b): If, all else equal, all three runners had reached their next bases at the time of the throw, R2 would still be awarded home plate, R1 would be awarded home plate as well, and B1 would get third base.

As the above answer implies, base awards do not overlap: they are awarded concurrently, not consecutively.

Official Baseball Rules Library
OBR 5.05(b)(1): "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—four 'balls' have been called by the umpire."
OBR 5.05(b)(1) Comment: "A batter who is entitled to first base because of a base on balls, including an award of first base to a batter by an umpire following a signal from a manager, must go to first base and touch the base before other base runners are forced to advance."
OBR 5.06(a)(1): "A runner acquires the right to an unoccupied base when he touches it before he is out. He is then entitled to it until he is put out, or forced to vacate it for another runner legally entitled to that base."
OBR 5.06(b)(4)(G): "Each runner including the batter-runner may, without liability to be put out, advance—Two bases when, with no spectators on the playing field, a thrown ball goes into the stands, or into a bench (whether or not the ball rebounds into the field), or over or under or through a field fence, or on a slanting part of the screen above the backstop, or remains in the meshes of a wire screen protecting spectators. The ball is dead. When such wild throw is the first play by an infielder, the umpire, in awarding such bases, shall be governed by the position of the runners at the time the ball was pitched; in all other cases the umpire shall be governed by the position of the runners at the time the wild throw was made. APPROVED RULING: If all runners, including the batter-runner, have advanced at least one base when an infielder makes a wild throw on the first play after the pitch, the award shall be governed by the position of the runners when the wild throw was made."
OBR 5.06(b)(4)(G) Comment: "In certain circumstances it is impossible to award a runner two bases. Example: Runner on first. Batter hits fly to short right. Runner holds up between first and second and batter comes around first and pulls up behind him. Ball falls safely. Outfielder, in throwing to first, throws ball into stands. APPROVED RULING: Since no runner, when the ball is dead, may advance beyond the base to which he is entitled, the runner originally on first base goes to third base and the batter is held at second base."

Video via "Read More"

2017 MLB All-Star Game Umpires

The following umpires were selected to the 2017 MLB All-Star Game at Miami's Marlins Park:

Joe West will call his 3rd All-Star Game.
HP Umpire Joe West (crew chief): 3rd All-Star Game.
1B Umpire Angel Hernandez: 3rd All-Star Game.
2B Umpire Mark Carlson: 2nd All-Star Game.
3B Umpire Chris Conroy: 1st All-Star Game.
LF Umpire Manny Gonzalez: 1st All-Star Game.
RF Umpire Mike Estabrook: 1st All-Star Game.
Replay Official Doug Eddings: 1st ASG Replay.
Related Post: Angel Hernandez Sues MLB for Discrimination

League Rank, Replay Review Affirmation Percentage (RAP):
Joe West: 11th (.750), 9/12.
Angel Hernandez: 60th (.400), 4/10.
Mark Carlson: 34th (.583), 7/12.
Chris Conroy: 65th (.333), 4/12.
Manny Gonzalez: 73rd (.300), 3/10.
Mike Estabrook: 35th (.571), 4/7.
Doug Eddings: 35th (.571), 8/14.

Pursuant to UEFL Rule 2-2-a, all All-Star Game umpires will receive one League point for appearing in the contest (two for the crew chief). No points are awarded to the Replay Official (must "appear in that game").

MiLB Triple-A All-Star Game Umpires:
HP Umpire: Nick Mahrley (Pacific Coast League).
1B Umpire: Nic Lentz (International League).
2B Umpire: Billy Cunha (Pacific Coast League).
3B Umpire: Jeremy Riggs (International League).

MiLB All-Star Futures Game Umpires (Double-A Showcase at MLB All-Star Weekend):
HP Umpire: Nate Tomlinson (Texas League).
1B Umpire: Eric Bacchus (Eastern League).
2B Umpire: Jason Starkovich (Pacific Coast League [began season in the Southern League]).
3B Umpire: Skyler Shown (Southern League).

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

MLB Ejection 089 - Doug Eddings (1; Yunel Escobar)

HP Umpire Doug Eddings ejected Angels 3B Yunel Escobar (strike two call) in the top of the 6th inning of the Angels-Twins game. With two out and none on, Escobar took a 2-2 fastball from Twins pitcher Erwin Santana for a called second strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the inner edge of home plate and above the hollow of the knee (px -.816, pz 1.508 [sz_bot 1.399]), the call was correct. Play was reviewed by the UEFL Appeals Board [Reason for Ejection], ball/strikes. At the time of the ejection, the Angels were leading, 2-1. The Angels ultimately won the contest, 2-1.

This is Doug Eddings (88)'s first ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Doug Eddings now has 5 points in the UEFL Standings (1 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 5).
Crew Chief Jeff Nelson now has -1 points in Crew Division (-2 Previous + 1 Correct Call = -1).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.

This is the 89th ejection report of 2017.
This is the 36th player ejection of 2017. Prior to ejection, Escobar was 0-3 (SO) in the contest.
This is Los Angeles-AL's 1st ejection of 2017, T-4th in the AL West (OAK 4; SEA, TEX 3; HOU, LAA 1).
This is Yunel Escobar's first ejection since July 10, 2016 (Tim Timmons; QOC = N-C [Check Swing]).
This is Doug Eddings' first ejection since August 13, 2016 (Martin Gonzalez; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim vs. Minnesota Twins, 7/5/17 | Video via "Read More"

Gil's Call - Best Practices and Avoiding Faulty Journalism

Today's Gil's Call is a discussion of accurate news reporting, in the wake of Deadspin's allegedly false Mitch Williams news reports that ultimately resulted in a $1.5 million award against MLB Network after the since-deleted pieces led to his job loss.
Related PostWilliams Awarded $1.5M after MLBN Firing Based on False Media Report (7/4/17).

The Williams v MLB Network saga really underlies the importance of accuracy in journalism.

It's Gil's Call.
To summarize, Deadspin in 2014 published multiple stories pertaining to Williams' alleged conduct during a youth baseball event: specifically, Deadspin alleged that Williams cursed at an umpire, had to be "physically separated" by other coaches, and ordered one of his youth pitchers to intentionally throw at another batter, calling the child a vulgar name.

In response, Williams' employer, MLB Network, immediately suspended the on-air analyst pending further investigation and attempted to get Williams to sign a contract amendment (he refused, claiming the amendment was illegal), before firing him for breach of contract (the faulty legal logic here is another discussion to be had).

Williams alleged Deadspin's story was fake, false, and/or materially misleading, and sued Deadspin's then-parent company, Gawker Media, for defamation of character, along with MLB Network for wrongful termination. Long story short, Williams won $1.5 million from MLB Network and Gawker filed for bankruptcy prior to the final resolution of Williams' case against it.

Had Deadspin done its due diligence, alleged Williams, it would have discovered its story was false.
Related: Is Mitch Williams Getting Screwed? (Philadelphia Magazine, 4/5/15).

Williams decried Deadspin's report as false.
Say what you will about Gawker, say what you will about Deadspin, or even MLB Network (don't suspend an employee based on allegations alone!), but at Close Call Sports, we strive to stick to a standard of journalism relative to our news-reporting function that prevents any potentially fake news or inaccurate material from making it into one of our articles. Truth is the ultimate defense to defamation while falsehood is a fast track toward litigation: just ask the Associated Press, which paid NBA referee Bill Spooner $20,000 to settle charges that AP reporter Jon Krawczynski tweeted a libelous falsehood that allegedly tarnished the veteran NBA crew chief's reputation.

Yes, even Brooks is misleading.
It's a similar reason for our intricate strike zone analysis procedure: it might seem slow, relative to the "automatic" services that rule in real-time, but it's accurate while theirs aren't (For instance, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred told Dan Patrick on his radio show that "unfortunately," the broadcasts display strike zone graphics that are not truly representative of what the real strike zone is: the broadcast strike zone is different than what MLB uses to evaluate its umpires). Whereas mass data sites can be misleading at best, if not extremely inaccurate to the tune of tens-of-thousands of pitches per year, we relish the opportunity to play tortoise to their hare—and to offer a transparent explanation of our process.
Related PostAnalyzing Strike Zone Analysis - Not So Easy or Simple (10/27/16).

As such, our Best Practices may appear archaic or inhibitory to the break-neck pace of news reporting in this new digital Twitter age, but the CCS process exists to prevent precisely the potentially false news fiasco as occurred between Williams, Deadspin, and MLB Network.
Related Post: Close Call Sports & Umpire Ejection Fantasy League Privacy Police & Terms of Use

First, I'll discuss the flagship function of the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League (or its namesake's perception), which is ejection reporting and analysis. Quality of Correctness is well covered in the extensive UEFL Rules Book section on the UEFL Portal, with the Kulpa and Miller Rules 6-2-b-1 and 6-2-b-2 pertaining to the horizontal and vertical components, respectively, of strike zone analysis.

The UEFL Appeals Board.
To further ensure accuracy through the use of a quasi-checks and balances system, Rule 6-4 established the UEFL Appeals Board, which has ruled on matters of disputed or controversial information since its inception in 2012. The general workflow is that I post an ejection report with a certain QOC value (the "Original Ruling"). A user objects to the Original Ruling, and files a challenge or appeal. The case goes to the UEFL Appeals Board, whose members rule on the matter while I sit out and await the Board's decision, which is final and binding. Many times the decision is affirmed, but reversals also occur. The purpose of the Appeals Board is, ultimately, to ensure that we get our calls right.
Related: About Us (includes Kulpa/Miller/Appeals Board info).

The UEFL Rules Summit.
In a similar vein, UEFL Rule 8-3 establishes the year-end Rules Summit during which users are invited to submit, discuss, and vote on proposals for rules changes and other matters, such as Appeals Board re-election. The Rules Summit exists to ensure that the UEFL remains accessible to its fans, and also ensures a check on the Commissioner or Board's powers. UEFL Rules pertaining to the DISQUS commenting system allow for a wide variety of viewpoints to thrive on the website while ensuring a safe environment for its participants.

Finally, these are CCS/UEFL's Best Practices as they relate to unconfirmed news, and we'll use a real-world example of an umpire's rumored retirement from Major League Baseball to see how these procedures come into play.

> > (Type of post) Rumor - Indicates information/news provided by an unconventional third-party source that has not been verified by an unrelated party. The "Rumor" tag is reserved for operational information.
Like rules analysis, the news isn't that simple.
We receive information about rumors, and we encourage users to submit such intel so that we may better be in a position to serve you. That said, a rumor is a rumor until corroborated by an independent source, source with knowledge, inside source, or, ultimately, is confirmed by an official (public) source. Rumor-reserved-for-operational-information simply means that personal information will never be posted as a rumor (e.g., this person is rumored to ____), but non-personal information may (e.g., the strike zone rule is rumored to ____).
Example: The rumor about one umpire's impending retirement is personal in nature and, accordingly, cannot be published in an article, as personal rumors are precluded from reporting.

> Source verification: All items submitted to us by an unconventional third-party source (e.g., a private person not affiliated with a media organization) shall be subject to additional verification from an unrelated party.
We routinely receive tips and scoops about officiating news, and encourage our users to continue sending in that information so that we may continue to provide quality content. Bear in mind, naturally, that in order to diminish the chance of a false or misleading story making into the final copy, the Source Verification practice has been established in order to independently confirm a story before it is published.
Example: We receive user-submitted information stating that this umpire has planned to retire due to injury. Although multiple users submit corroborating information, we opt to wait for additional verification and decline to publish a personal story without this further information.

> Public information: Items reported to the public via reputable news outlet may be disseminated as such information is freely available.
Finally, information that is reported to the public via public announcement, reputable (aka "traditional") journalism, or otherwise, is subject to reporting. Similarly, information made public by a primary source is also subject to dissemination, and multiple public sources may be combined to form aggregate content unique in its composition.
Example: Several weeks after we began receiving information about the umpire's plans to retire, the umpire himself confirms his retirement through a public announcement. Thanks to the user-submitted information preceding this announcement, we are able to pre-stage an article celebrating the umpire's career in announcing his retirement, and publish this article in short order after the public announcement is made.
Related Post: [I-Source/Public] Source - Jim Joyce Retires, Holbrook & Emmel Promoted (1/16/17).
Related Post: [Primary Source] Veteran Crew Chief Tim Welke (3) Announces Retirement (3/17/16).
Related Post: [Primary Source] John Hirschbeck Retires After 34 Year MLB Career (10/12/16).
Related Post: [Public Ann'] MLB Umpire Bob Davidson Retires After 28 Year Career (10/2/16).
Related Post: [Official Source] Retirement of MLB Umpire Tim McClelland (2/17/15).

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Mitch Williams Awarded $1.5M after MLB Network Firing Based on False Media Report

Mitch Williams, fired by MLB Network after Deadspin published an allegedly false report about an umpire ejection and argument during his son's Little League game, won a $1.5 million verdict against MLB Network Inc. in New Jersey state court last month, based on the acceptance of Williams' allegation that he was wrongfully terminated in the wake of Deadspin's false report concerning the aforementioned umpire incident.

Mitch Williams won his suit against MLBN.
Photo: CSN - Philly.
The findings state that in 2014, MLB Network fired former Philadelphia Phillies pitcher-turned-TV analyst Williams for purportedly violating the "morals clause" in his contract after a May 11, 2014 article published on Deadspin claimed that, during a dispute with an umpire at his son's Little League game, Williams called the umpire a "motherf*er" in front of the children and had to be "physically separated from the umpire by other coaches."

Williams, meanwhile, claimed he had not violated the "morals clause" of his contract and instead was fired for refusing to sign an illegal amendment to the contract, concocted by MLBN after the purported fake news reports were published.

On May 16, 2014, Deadspin published another story with the headline "Witnesses: Mitch Williams Called Child 'A Pussy,' Ordered a Beanball."

As a result, Williams sued MLB Network, and he also sued then-Deadspin owner, Gawker Media.

The two aforementioned articles were since removed from Deadspin's website, along with five others from the former Gawker Media network, which is now owned by Univision. Upon acquiring Gawker's properties, Univision decided that these posts—all seven of which were the subject of active litigation against Gawker—posed a liability for Univision. Not surprisingly, Deadspin opposed the deletions.

The suit held that MLB Network suspended Williams in response to the Deadspin articles, which were factually inaccurate and/or defamatory,. Deadspin later published a third article about the suspension, at which time Williams obtained statements from parents and players on the opposing Little League team attesting to Williams' assertion that he hadn't said anything offensive during the game.

Circulated photo of Williams' LL ejection.
According to Williams' complaint, "the umpire initiated the confrontation and ejected plaintiff from the game; ultimately, tournament officials permitted plaintiff to coach the remaining games and banned the umpire." Williams claimed the umpire "harangued" him for arguing balls and strikes.

According to a series of tweets from Williams after the incident, "I was thrown out for laughing at a call.then the [sic] threatened to fight me.said pick a time and place."

Nonetheless, the findings state, MLB Network allegedly thereafter presented Williams with an amendment to his contract in which MLBN requested Williams agree to refrain from attending "any amateur sports events for one year," including his children's games, attend therapy, and get approval before posting photos to Facebook. According to the claim, when Williams refused to sign the contract's amendment, MLB Network purportedly terminated his employment, claiming breach of contract.

Williams maintained he was fired for refusing to sign an illegal amendment to his contract, and not for violating a pre-existing "morals clause."

A state judge in June 2016 dismissed Williams' claims against Gawker that had been filed based on the alleged fake news posted to Deadspin, prompting Gawker founder Nick Denton to issue a memo: "Today’s news in the Mitch Williams case shows that, even if the wheels of justice turn slowly and expensively, they do turn...Legal protection for true stories remains strong. We just have to persevere."

Yet, although Gawker/Deadspin celebrated, their victory was short-lived.

Nary a month before Williams sought a review on the state judge's ruling to dismiss in July 2016, Gawker Media LLC filed for bankruptcy protection due to an unrelated legal matter involving a lawsuit filed by wrestler Hulk Hogan that resulted in a jury-imposed $115 million-worth of compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages awarded to Hogan for Gawker's alleged invasion of his privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

By filing for bankruptcy, Gawker enjoyed a Chapter 11-guaranteed protection of an automatic stay from litigation; thus, Williams' case against Gawker and Deadspin remained unresolved and, essentially, frozen in time.

After the verdict in Mitchel Williams v. The MLB Network Inc. et al (Case number L-3675-14 in the Superior Court of New Jersey, County of Camden) was issued, Williams wrote on Twitter, "To all of the people that have wondered where I have been for 3 that answer was provided by a court of law #justice."

NOTE: Expect an upcoming "Gil's Call" article to address both the Hernandez and Williams cases.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Angel Hernandez Sues MLB for Racial Discrimination

Umpire Angel Hernandez filed a lawsuit against Major League Baseball alleging racial discrimination, seeking back pay and unspecified compensatory damages, according to a Complaint filed by Hernandez in United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Western Division, and obtained by Close Call Sports.

Hernandez specifically is alleging that MLB's discrimination—which began as soon as Joe Torre joined the Office of the Commissioner—has resulted in a refusal to select him to officiate the World Series, as well as a refusal to promote him to Crew Chief.

The suit against the Office of the Commissioner ("BOC") as well as Major League Baseball Blue, Inc. (Hernandez's technical employer) alleges that Hernandez, due to MLB's racial discrimination, suffered adverse employment actions through MLB's refusal to select him to work various World Series, and its refusal to promote him to the position of Crew Chief. Hernandez seeks a jury trial for his case.

First page of Hernandez's Complaint.
The suit alleges that despite Hernandez's qualifications and experience, Hernandez has not been chosen for a World Series assignment or the position of Crew Chief and, instead, less qualified individuals—"the vast majority of which have been white"—have been chosen for the Fall Classic or for promotion to Crew Chief.

Hernandez's suit alleges that the selection of "these less qualified, white individuals" was motivated by racial, national origin, and/or ethnic considerations, and that MLB's actions were "intentional, with reckless disregard for Hernandez's rights."

For instance, Hernandez claimed that in 2011, his accuracy percentage was 96.21%, compared to a staff average of 95.67%.

The suit makes reference to a potential personal feud between Hernandez and MLB Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre.

Ump Angel Hernandez in New York.
The complaint introduces a May 4, 2001 quote from then-Yankees Manager Joe Torre, who, unhappy with a call he perceived to be incorrect, told the media that "[Hernandez] seems to see something nobody else'd like to have him sit down and watch the video, something I'm sure he doesn't do."

Torre went on to say, that had Hernandez reviewed the video, "he would look like a fool...I think he just wanted to be noticed over there."

The suit references Hernandez's yearly umpiring evaluations, which Hernandez alleges, took a sinister turn in 2011, the year Torre joined BOC as the Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations.

Hernandez exhibits his situation handling skill.
Specifically, Hernandez alleged that prior to 2011, Hernandez was never rebuked by BOC for allegedly attempting to "put himself in the spotlight," yet the 2011 evaluation contained the following comment:
"You need to work on your communication skills with on-field personnel, particularly because your approach has fostered a Club perception that you try to put yourself in the spotlight by seeing things that other umpires do not."
Hernandez alleges that these and similar comments echo the May 4, 2001 quote from Torre, despite the fact that, prior to 2011, Hernandez was purportedly praised on a routine basis for situation-handling, including situations involving warnings and ejections. The suit claims that as recently as 2010, Hernandez received an "exceeds standard" rating for his in-game situation handling management.

The suit also grieves Hernandez's 2011 evaluation of "meets standard" for his base judgment, which Hernandez claimed was inconsistent with comments on the report that stated he worked "with a tremendous amount of instinct," and hustled with a "positive 'feel' for the game." The report, issued in the middle of the 2011 season, had also purportedly stated that Hernandez "had not missed a single call for the first half of the 2011 season."
Related PostYankee Stadium Boundary Catch Part II: Hernandez Hustle (10/11/12).

The suit claims that MLB, "for no valid reason, decided to break up Hernandez and his long-time crew chief Joe West."

In 2011, we reported the split, as a rumored "result of actions taken by none other than MLB's current Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations, Joe Torre."
Related PostUmpire Odds & Ends: West & Hernandez; Say it Ain't So, Joe (7/14/11).

Hernandez claims the 2011 Year-End evaluation similarly echoed Torre's 2001 comments by stating that "battling the perception of the Clubs and the media that [he was] routinely attempting to put [himself] in the spotlight."

In sum, Hernandez claims that both 2011 evaluations are at odds with individual observers' reports that consistently praised Hernandez as "calm," "professional," "businesslike," and/or "composed." The suit cites several observer comments to suggest BOC's remarks were off-base, including "Amgel [sic] is a hard worker and great example for other umpires," and "[Hernandez] is a very good umpire."

Hernandez gets in position on a pickoff play.
In 2012, BOC on its evaluation of Hernandez again purportedly stated the "perception of the Clubs and media that [Hernandez was] routinely attempting to put [himself] in the spotlight," while allegedly contradicting itself with a note that Hernandez "should be proud of a lot of" his work as an interim crew chief.

Hernandez also took issue with a 2013 evaluation which one again allegedly made reference to a "perception" of Hernandez as an umpire ("...will likely battle the perception of the Clubs and media that you are routinely attempting to put yourself in the spotlight for some time..."), while purportedly writing that his "mechanics were picture perfect and emulated by less-experienced umpires."

Insofar as the Crew Chief role is concerned, Hernandez cited statistics purporting that of the 77,760 regular season games played from 2000 through 2016, zero have featured a permanent minority crew chief, noting that, despite Hernandez's interim crew chief roles in portions of the 2005 and 2012 season, only one of the ten umpires promoted to Crew Chief since 2011 had more experience or was more qualified than Hernandez.

Prior to the 2017 season, Hernandez and the umpires' union, the World Umpires Association, requested a written explanation from BOC as to why Hernandez was not promoted to Crew Chief for the 2017 season.

The suit references a March 27, 2017 letter from Joe Torre, which allegedly stated that Hernandez needed to "gain greater mastery of the Official Playing Rules and Replay regulations, continue to improve [his] situation management, and display an ability to refocus and move forward after missing calls or receiving constructive feedback from the Office."

The suit states that BOC's issues with Hernandez's performance only became an "issue" in 2011, after Torre assumed his Executive VP role with the Commissioner's Office.

Hernandez concluded by reiterating the "noticeable tonal shift in Hernandez’s evaluations" since Torre arrived in the Commissioner's Office prior to the 2011 season.

Hernandez and Laz Diaz umped in Cuba.
Born in Havana, Cuba, in 1961, Angel Hernandez has been an MLB umpire since 1991, and has worked 8 Division Series (1997-98, 2002, 05, 09, 11-12, 15), 7 League Championship Series (2000-01, 03-04, 07, 10, 16), and 2 World Series, his latest in 2005 (also 2002).

Though not named as a party nor witness in the lawsuit, American-born Laz Diaz is a fellow MLB umpire with ties to Cuba. Both he and Hernandez went to Cuba in 2016 to officiate the Rays-Cuba series in March of that year. Like Hernandez, Diaz has worked several Division Series, League Championship Series, and one World Series (2007), but has not been back to the Fall Classic since then, despite working the DS in 2013-14 and LCS in 2015-16.

Hernandez filed two Charges of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in June 2017, prior to the initiation of the legal complaint. After the EEOC issued to Hernandez a Notice to Right to Sue, Hernandez proceeded to bring the suit.

He seeks full back pay (including legal fees and expenses), compensatory and punitive damages, all employment benefits he would have enjoyed had he not been discriminated against, an injunction against MLB, and a jury trial.

Technical aspects of the lawsuit available via "Read More" >>

UEFL's MLB Umpire Sabermetrics - June 2017

June 2017's edition of UEFL's MLB Umpire Sabermetrics is now available and features 88 ejections and 669 Replay Reviews through 1,198 games played.

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

The attached 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.

Summary, Ejections.
>> 88 Total Regular Season Ejections through June 30, 2017 (on pace for 178 ejections this season).
>> Umpires were 63.0% accurate on calls associated with ejection.
>> The Chicago White Sox led MLB in ejections. The Dodgers and Marlins tied for the NL lead.
>> Manager Rick Renteria led MLB in ejections. Don Mattingly led the NL in managerial ejections.
>> Umpire Bill Welke led all umpires in ejections.
>> Chief Sam Holbrook's crew led all umpire crews in ejections.
>> Most ejections occurred in the 7th inning; Ejections from 7th and on comprised 44% of all tosses.
>> Most ejections occurred on Saturdays. Weekend series (Fri-Sun) featured 55% of all heave-ho's.
>> The most common reason for ejection was Balls/Strikes, followed by Replay Review & Check Swing.
>> All else equal, a team tied at the time of ejection ended up winning the game 80.0% of the time.

Summary, Replay Reviews.
>> 669 Total Replay Reviews, of which calls were affirmed 51.0% of the time (49.0% 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 (14-for-19).
>> The WAS Nationals experienced fewer reviews than any other team, and were not too successful.
>> The Blue Jays were the worst MLB team in terms of Replay success (8-of-27).
>> Umpire Clint Fagan had a league-leading 15 calls reviewed, and was below average in outcome.
>> Ted Barrett's crew led all of baseball in replay activity, and performed at league average.
>> Umpire Chad Fairchild led in accuracy with all of his calls affirmed by replay (4/4).
>> Umpire Dana DeMuth experienced the highest rate of his calls being overturned by replay (0/4).
>> The 7th inning had more reviews than any other inning. 44% of all reviews occurred from 7th-on.
>> Most reviews occurred on Sundays; Weekend series (Fri-Sun) featured 51% 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. Chad Fairchild, Dale Scott, Ryan Blakney, Pat Hoberg, Sean Barber - 100% RAP.
6. Alfonso Marquez - 91.7% RAP.
7. Vic Carapazza, Marty Foster - 83.3% RAP.
9. Bill Miller, Chris Guccione - 77.8% RAP.
11. Shane Livensparger, Ramon De Jesus - 75.0% RAP.
13. Quinn Wolcott, Joe West, Phil Cuzzi - 72.7% RAP.
83. Brian O'Nora, Andy Fletcher, Kerwin Danley - 16.7% RAP.
86. Lance Barrett - 14.3% RAP.
87. Dana DeMuth, Nic Lentz, Ron Kulpa, Gerry Davis - 0.0% RAP.

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.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Replay Overturns Slide Rule Violation Call for 1st Time

Replay Review overturned an on-field bona fide slide rule interference call for the first time in MLB history Sunday, when Rangers Manager Jeff Banister successfully challenged 2B Umpire Gabe Morales' original call that baserunner Shin-Soo Choo interfered with the middle infielder at second base, which originally resulted in a double play and all runners returned to their original bases, but instead, was overturned to a force out and runners being allowed to advance.

Choo's slide into second base, diagrammed.
With one out and the bases loaded in the top of the 3rd inning of Sunday's Rangers-White Sox game, Rangers batter Elvis Andrus hit a ground ball to White Sox third baseman Matt Davidson, who threw to second baseman Yolmer Sanchez as Rangers baserunner R1 Choo slid into second base, the resulting contact between Choo and Sanchez contributing to Sanchez's inability to throw to first base. 2B Umpire Morales called Choo for a slide in contravention of Rule 6.01(j), which governs bona fide slide rule interference, resulting in Banister's challenge and overturned call following a nearly four-minute Replay Review.
Related PostVideo Analysis of New Bona Fide Slide FPSR Rule 6.01(j) (3/1/16).

As a quick refresher, the four criteria toward establishing the offensive player's slide as bona fide are:
1) Begins his slide (i.e.,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.
Choo was called for tripping Sanchez.
Morales ruled Choo violated provision #4 of the rule, noting that in kicking his left leg in a direction parallel to the front edge of second base (or, alternately, perpendicular to the baseline), Choo changed his path for the purpose of initiating contact with fielder Sanchez. By rule, if such a slide is not bona fide, any contact that impedes or hinders a fielder's following play is interference, and the trail runner is also out.

The first time the force play bona fide slide interference rule made an appearance in the 2017 season was on April 7, when Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts filed a challenge to successfully overturn 2B Umpire Gary Cederstrom's ruling of "no interference." Cederstrom was also Morales' Crew Chief on Sunday.
Related PostForce Play Slide Rule Makes First Appearance of 2017 (4/7/17).

NCAA's FPSR diagram.
BRD: Had Choo's slide occurred at any level governed by NCAA or NFHS rules (college or high school, e.g.), Choo's slide would have been illegal and resulted in a double play for violation of the NCAA or NFHS force-play-slide rule. Both codes have identical language in this regard: "A slide is illegal if—the runner slashes or kicks the fielder with either leg."

Choo would also have been declared out for interference via an illegal slide under the NCAA/NFHS rules because he failed to "slide in a direct line between the bases." As indicated in the first diagram, Choo's leg veered to the left of the edge of second base, which fails to satisfy the "direct line" criterion. In reference to the NCAA's FPSR diagram, Choo's slide took him into the gray area; if there is contact between the fielder and runner in the gray area, the fielder is protected and the runner may be called for a violation of college baseball's force-play-slide-rule. Dead ball, double play, return all runners to their original bases.
Related PostNCAA CWS - Force Play Slide Rule Negates LSU Run (6/27/17).

Unreviewable - Pushed Runner Play Again Sent to NY

First baseman Miguel Cabrera pushed baserunner Guillermo Heredia off of the first base bag on a challenged play ruled not reviewable by the New York Replay Operations Center.

The Play: With one out and one on (R1) in the 9th inning of a tied ballgame, Tigers pitcher Warwick Saupold attempted to pick off Mariners baserunner R1 Heredia. Replays indicate that after Heredia dove back into first base, his right hand making contact with and holding the base as Cabrera received the throw,  Cabrera's tag lifted up Heredia's arm and caused him to momentarily break contact with the base, during which Cabrera tagged Heredia while he was off of his base.

Cabrera's glove lifts Heredia's arm off first.
The Call: 1B Umpire Mark Carlson ruled Heredia safe at first base based on an interpretation of Official Baseball Rule 5.06(a)(1) ["A runner acquires the right to an unoccupied base when he touches it before he is out. He is then entitled to it until he is put out, or forced to vacate it for another runner legally entitled to that base"] that supersedes 5.09(b)(4), which states that a runner is out when "He is tagged, when the ball is alive, while off his base."

The Interpretation of OBR 5.06(a)(1) holds that, "if in the judgment of an umpire, a runner is pushed or forced off a base by a fielder, intentionally or unintentionally, at which the runner would have otherwise been called safe, the umpire has the authority and discretion under the circumstances to return the runner to the base he was forced off following the conclusion of the play."

The History (Pre-Replay): In Game 2 of the 1991 World Series, Twins first baseman Kent Hrbek tagged out Braves batter-runner Ron Gant on a disputed pushed-off no-call, 1B Umpire Drew Coble ruling that Gant overslid the base and was not forcibly pushed off of his legally occupied base.

Fletcher's out call prevailed after a non-review.
The History (Replay Era): On May 1, 2015, 2B Umpire Andy Fletcher ruled A's baserunner Mark Canha out on an attempted steal of second base. After A's Manager Bob Melvin argued that Rangers shortstop had pushed Canha off of the base, Fletcher and Crew Chief Jerry Meals consulted with New York's Replay Operations Center and deemed the play unreviewable; like Coble in '91, Fletcher's out call prevailed, as did his judgment that the fielder did not force the runner off base.

The Final Disposition: As it did in 2015, MLB's Replay Operations Center ruled the Cabrera/Heredia play unreviewable, and Carlson's judgment call that Cabrera pushed Heredia off of his legally held base triumphed; the runner was safe.

Said Tigers Manager Brad Ausmus, who had attempted to challenge the play: "I knew I couldn’t challenge whether the runner was knocked off the base or not. I was challenging the call. They never indicated that Miggy had knocked him off."

As for why Carlson and Crew Chief Fieldin Culbreth consulted with the Replay Operations Center: "Maybe they were unaware it was not challengeable. Maybe they just wanted to double-check it with New York."