Friday, September 1, 2017

MLB Ejection 157 - Mark Ripperger (1; Ryan Braun)

HP Umpire Mark Ripperger ejected Brewers LF Ryan Braun (strike two call; QOCY) in the bottom of the 4th inning of the Nationals-Brewers game. With one out and none on, Braun took a 3-1 fastball from Nationals pitcher Tanner Roark for a called second strike, before striking out swinging on the ensuing pitch. Replays indicate the 3-1 pitch was located over the outer edge of home plate and thigh-high (px .698, pz 1.846 [sz_bot 1.589]), the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Brewers were leading, 1-0. The Brewers ultimately won the contest, 1-0.

This is Mark Ripperger (90)'s first ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Mark Ripperger now has 2 points in the UEFL Standings (-2 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 4).
Crew Chief Tom Hallion now has 16 points in Crew Division (15 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 16).

This is the 157th ejection report of 2017.
This is the 68th player ejection of 2017. Prior to ejection, Braun was 0-2 (2 SO) in the contest.
This is Milwaukee's 6th ejection of 2017, 1st in the NL Central (MIL 6; CIN, PIT 5; STL 4; CHC 3).
This is Ryan Braun's 2nd ejection of 2017, 1st since April 29 (Quinn Wolcott; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Mark Ripperger's first ejection since September 2, 2016 (Perry Hill; QOC = U [Check Swing]).

Wrap: Washington Nationals vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 9/1/17 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejection 156 - Pat Hoberg (2; Adam Jones)

HP Umpire Pat Hoberg ejected Orioles CF Adam Jones (strike two call; QOCY) in the bottom of the 1st inning of the Blue Jays-Orioles game. With one out and two on (R1, R3), Jones took a 0-1 fastball from Blue Jays pitcher Joe Biagini for a called second strike, before striking out swinging on the ensuing pitch. Replays indicate the 0-1 pitch was located over the inner half of home plate and above the knees (px -.366, pz 1.690 [sz_bot 1.565]), the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 0-0. The Orioles ultimately won the contest, 1-0, in 13 innings.

This is Pat Hoberg (31)'s second ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Pat Hoberg now has 13 points in the UEFL Standings (9 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 13).
Crew Chief Gerry Davis now has 0 points in Crew Division (-1 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 0).

This is the 156th ejection report of 2017.
This is the 67th player ejection of 2017. Prior to ejection, Jones was 0-1 (SO) in the contest.
This is Baltimore's 4th ejection of 2017, T-4th in the AL East (NYY 11; TOR 9; TB 6; BAL, BOS 4).
This is Adam Jones' 2nd ejection of 2017, 1st since May 3 (Sam Holbrook; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Pat Hoberg's 2nd ejection of 2017, 1st since August 12 (Nolan Arenado; QOC = Y [Check Swing]).

Wrap: Toronto Blue Jays vs. Baltimore Orioles, 9/1/17 | Video as follows:

MLB Admits HR Replay Error in Giants Game

Major League Baseball admitted a Replay Official erred in overturning a home run via review in San Francisco on Thursday night. According to MLB's statement, Replay Review got the play wrong. In light of MLB's mea culpa, the UEFL Appeals Board is reviewing this play pursuant to UEFL Rule 4-7-c, which authorizes the Board to review any decision rendered by the Replay Official.

MLB agreed Replay's call was incorrect.
Last night, I discussed why Replay Review's outcome of "no home run" was incorrect and, today, MLB let the Giants know that it agrees: 1B Umpire Tom Woodring made the correct call when he ruled the play a home run on the field, and Replay Review improperly overturned that call to a double due to spectator interference.

For several reasons, not the least of which were AT&T Park's ground rules regarding the right field wall, the home run call should have been confirmed.

To briefly recap, AT&T Park Ground Rules state, "batted ball landing on green metal on top of right field wall: Home Run."

Had the fan not reached out to grab the ball, the ball would have landed on the green metal roof. The only question that should have been considered by the Replay Official, thus, was whether the hit was fair or foul. Because the Replay Official ruled the play dead on fan interference and awarded batter Brandon Crawford second base for a double, we know that NY saw the play as a fair ball.

Thus, the initial call was correct, and the reversal incorrect. Here is MLB's acknowledgement of the error:
Major League Baseball acknowledges Friday that the instant replay ruling in the bottom of the ninth inning of Thursday night's game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the host San Francisco Giants regarding a potential home run was incorrect. 
The call on a ball hit by Brandon Crawford of the Giants was overturned via Replay from a home run on the field to fan interference, with the batter-runner placed at second base. The call should have been confirmed as a home run for Crawford. MLB regrets this error. 
 Video as follows:

UEFL's MLB Umpire Sabermetrics - August 2017

UEFL's MLB Umpire Sabermetrics report for July 2017 features 155 ejections and 1,125 Replay Reviews through 1,999 regular season games played.

Though replays are projected to decrease year-over-year, based on current rates, ejections are now projected to enjoy a modest increase.

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.

Related: Visit our Replay Review Statistics and Sabermetrics page for daily-updated umpire stats. New for 2017, this page includes Replay Review Rankings sorted by umpire, by team, and by call type. Daily ejections information is available at our Ejection List.

Summary, Ejections.
>> 155 Total Regular Season Ejections through August 31, 2017 (on pace for 188 ejections this season).
>> Umpires were 65.9% accurate on calls associated with ejection.
>> The Chicago White Sox led MLB in ejections. The Dodgers led the National League.
>> Manager Rick Renteria led MLB in ejections. Don Mattingly led the NL in managerial ejections.
>> Umpire Carlos Torres led all umpires in ejections.
>> Chief Dana DeMuth's crew led all umpire crews in ejections.
>> Most ejections occurred in the 5th inning; Ejections from 7th and on comprised 46% of all tosses.
>> Most ejections occurred on Saturdays. Weekend series (Fri-Sun) featured 47% of all heave-ho's.
>> The most common reason for ejection was Balls/Strikes, followed by Check Swing.
>> All else equal, a team tied at the time of ejection ended up winning the game 93.1% of the time.

Summary, Replay Reviews.
>> 1125 Total Replay Reviews, of which calls were affirmed 50.9% of the time (49.1% 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 (22-for-30).
>> The BAL Orioles experienced fewer reviews than any other team, and were 2nd best in MLB.
>> The Blue Jays were the worst MLB team in terms of Replay success (14-of-46).
>> Umpire Jim Reynolds had a league-leading 23 calls reviewed, and was above average in outcome.
>> Jerry Layne's crew led all of baseball in replay activity, and performed at league average.
>> Umpire Sean Barber led in accuracy with all of his calls affirmed by replay (3/3).
>> Umpire John Libka experienced the highest rate of his calls being overturned by replay (0/5).
>> The 7th inning had more reviews than any other inning. 42% of all reviews occurred from 7th-on.
>> Most reviews occurred on Sundays; Weekend series (Fri-Sun) featured 50% 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. Sean Barber, Dale Scott - 100% RAP.
3. Chad Fairchild - 90.0% RAP.
4. Ryan Blakney, Pat Hoberg - 85.7% RAP.
6. Marty Foster - 77.8% RAP.
7. Vic Carapazza - 76.9% RAP.
8. Chris Segal, Alfonso Marquez - 75.0% RAP.
10. Joe West - 70.6% RAP.
82. Gerry Davis, Ron Kulpa - 30.0% RAP.
84. Manny Gonzalez - 28.6% RAP.
85. Tony Randazzo, Toby Basner, Mike DiMuro - 25.0% RAP.
88. Dan Iassogna - 22.2% RAP.
89. Lance Barrett - 16.7% RAP.
90. Kerwin Danley - 14.3% RAP.
91. Brian O'Nora - 12.5% RAP.
92. John Libka - 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.

Replay Review, Ground Rules, and Levi's Landing

A batted ball poised to land atop the green metal roof on AT&T Park's right field wall went to Replay Review a home run and came out the other end a fan interference-aided double.

Replay Review spent 5 minutes on this play.
*UPDATE*MLB Admits HR Replay Error in Giants Game (9/1/17).

This play is an exercise in ground rule particulars for AT&T Park, a quick revisit to baseball's fan interference rules, and a discussion of the definition of a rather common dictionary term. It's also a rudimentary review of sound structural engineering in the earthquake country known as California, and how a simple case of construction best practices led to a confusing situation.

The Play: With none out and one on (R2) in the bottom of the 9th inning of a 5-1 Cardinals-Giants game, Giants batter Brandon Crawford hit a 2-2 pitch from Cardinals reliever John Brebbia to deep right field near the foul pole. As the ball descended toward the wall, a fan reached across and in front of the foul pole to catch the live ball before it struck the outfield wall, roof, or pole.

The Call: 1B Umpire Tom Woodring signaled "home run," a call that contained several significant elements. First, Woodring ruled the ball fair. Second, Woodring ruled the ball left the playing field in flight. Third, Woodring ruled the ball had not been subject to spectator interference before leaving the playing field (or if it had, that the ball would have been a home run regardless of the fan's actions).

Conflict: Local Ground Rules vs Universal Ground Rules - Which Rule Supersedes the Other?
A fan reaches to grab a batted ball in flight.
Unfortunately, local ground rules in San Francisco appear somewhat in conflict with the Universal Ground Rules issued by the Office of the Commissioner. According to the AT&T Park Ground Rule Particulars, "batted ball landing on green metal on top of right field wall: Home Run." By contrast, the Commissioner's Universal Ground Rules issued for use at all MLB stadiums state, "all yellow lines are in play." As evidenced by the attached photograph, there is a yellow line painted onto the green metal on top of the right field wall at AT&T Park: the foul pole is clearly recessed and does not begin at the front edge of the green metal, yet no rule specifically states that a foul pole must be positioned at the front edge of dead ball territory (and, for structural engineering reasons we'll discuss later, it would be irresponsible to place the foul pole here). Again, however, a Universal Ground Rule does say that "all yellow lines" are in play.

Meanwhile, Official Baseball Rule 4.05, entitled "Special Ground Rules," states:
The manager of the home team shall present to the umpire-in-chief and the opposing manager any ground rules he thinks necessary covering the overflow of spectators upon the playing field, batted or thrown balls into such overflow, or any other contingencies. If these rules are acceptable to the opposing manager they shall be legal. If these rules are unacceptable to the opposing manager, the umpire-in-chief shall make and enforce any special ground rules he thinks are made necessary by ground conditions, which shall not conflict with the official playing rules.
The MLB Umpire Manual, regarding a fly ball striking the top of a wall, posits several contingencies:
A) "Unless provided otherwise by local ground rule, a fair fly ball striking the top of the outfield wall and bounding back onto the playing field shall be treated the same as a fair fly ball that strikes the outfield wall and rebounds back onto the playing field";
B) "Unless provided otherwise by local ground rule, a fair fly ball striking the top of the outfield wall and bounding over the wall shall be ruled a home run";
C) "Unless provided otherwise by a local ground rule, a fair fly ball striking the top of the outfield wall and remaining on the op of the wall shall be deemed a ground-rule double";
D) "Unless provided otherwise by local ground rule, a fair fly ball striking the top of the outfield wall that in the umpire's judgment would have bounded over the wall if not for the permissible action of a spectator shall be ruled a home run. A fair fly ball that strikes the top of the outfield wall and is picked up by a spectator while still in motion shall also be ruled a home run. A fair fly ball that lands on top of the outfield wall and is picked up by a spectator after coming to a stop shall be deemed a ground-rule double."

Thus, in conclusion, based on the MLB Umpire Manual's verbiage, the local ground rule supersedes the Universal Ground Rules insofar as a fair fly ball at the outfield wall is concerned. Thus, we're back to the AT&T Park ground rule about a batted ball "landing" on the green metal. Conflict solved.

Dictionary Definition, Landing: "an act of returning to the ground or another surface after a flight." As any pilot or aviation enthusiast will surely tell you, a full-stop "landing" encompasses everything from descending through the air until the airplane finally comes to rest.

Two types of outfield wall at AT&T Park.
Here's an ejection over an argument about
the concrete slant portion of the wall.
So can the ball still be moving/is the initial "strike" on the metal enough for a "landing"?
Back to the airplane example, I'm sure most of us have been on flights with a "bounce" landing: the plan bounces on the runway before finally completing its touchdown. Would you consider the first "bounce" part of the overarching "landing"? A glimpse at the MLBUM's "D)" provision might be a clue: if a spectator picks up a ball while it is still in motion, it is a home run. If a spectator picks it up after coming to rest, it is a ground rule double.

Wait, a spectator can cause a fair batted ball hit on top of a wall to be a home run or a ground rule double based on when (s)he touches it? Yes, per the MLBUM, it's a HR if touched while the ball is on top of the wall and still in motion, and a ground-rule double if touched while on top of the wall after the ball has come to rest, unless provided otherwise by a local ground rule. Still, a nice little loophole to consider if you're a fan of the home team.

In this case, AT&T Park's ground rule states a batted ball landing on the green metal is a home run.

Fieldin Culbreth displays a fan INT signal.
Spectator Interference Rule: Fan 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." Meanwhile, the ball becomes dead when it leaves the playing field or is touched by a fan. If the fan in San Francisco never reached out beyond the green metal roof atop the wall, then he never satisfied the "reaches out of the stands" provision of the spectator interference rule; thus, this play is not subject to a call of fan interference.

Let's see what the final call ended up being.

Woodring (L) and Everitt await NY's ruling.
The Review and Call: Upon Crew Chief Review initiated by 3B Umpire Mike Everitt (having just returned from Tuesday's injury in Colorado), the Replay Official in New York elected to overturn 1B Umpire Woodring's call and ruled the play a double, concluding that the fan had reached out of the stands and touched a live ball, and that, absent the fan's actions, the ball would not have landed on the green metal atop the right field wall.

As a result, the baserunner was awarded two bases (2B => HP) and the batter was similarly awarded two bases, for a double.

Actual location vs spot required for fan INT.
Conclusion: Based on the aforementioned discussion, side angle replays, and AT&T Park Ground Rule Particulars, there should have only been two potential outcomes for this play:
1) Woodring's HR call stands as called, or;
2) Woodring's HR call is overturned to that of foul ball.

The attached image demonstrates the fan's proximity toward the playing-edge of the right field wall, which would have been a necessary achievement in order to draw a call of spectator interference.

Thus, the Replay Official either employed particularly unique judgment in approximating the fan's reach past the leading edge of the green metal roof or failed to properly apply the local ground rule for AT&T Park's green metal-capped wall in right field.

Could the Giants Protest? Assume the ground rule was wholly misapplied. Replay Review Regulation II.L.4 dictates what happens when a team protests a Replay Review decision: "Official Baseball Rule 7.04 (formerly Rule 4.19 [concerning protests]) shall have no applicability to these Replay Regulations. No protest shall ever be permitted on judgment decisions by the Replay Official. Moreover, a violation of any rule or procedure set forth herein shall not constitute a basis for protesting a game."

Logically, this would be a HR without the fan.
History of the Right Field Wall at San Francisco's AT&T Park (and Why the Foul Pole is Recessed): In 2012, we discussed Rule 1.04 regarding field dimensions, and specifically cited the Giants' departure from Candlestick Park to AT&T Park. Due to the new stadium's proximity to San Francisco Bay and McCovey Cove, the Giants were granted an exemption to OBR 1.04's standard 325-foot minimum length for a foul line; in San Francisco, the right field foul line spans 309 feet. In exchange for the exemption, San Francisco built a higher-than-usual wall along the fair territory right field boundary: the wall is 24 feet high (in honor of Willie Mays, who wore #24). The spectator area along the top of the wall is presently known as "Levi's Landing" and the green metal roof atop the wall, which juts out above the right field warning track, was designed to minimize questions of spectator interference; hence the ground rule calling for an automatic home run for a ball landing on the green metal. Meanwhile, the foul pole is recessed because it would be structurally unsound for a foul pole to be placed on top of what amounts to a balcony: because the foul pole is of considerable height, it requires a foundation; no earthquake-conscious engineer, architect, or contractor in good faith would allow such a tall structure in California to be placed on the edge of a balcony without adequate support underneath.
Related PostRule 1.04 [2.01] Note (a): Minimum Field Dimensions (6/19/12).

Video as follows:

Thursday, August 31, 2017

NPB Game Suspended After Flock-of-Birds Delay

8/30's NPB (Japan) Eagles-Lions game at Kobo Park Miyagi in Sendai was suspended due to rain and a flock of birds that refused to leave the stadium, ultimately leading to a call of animal abandonment.

Birds encircle players at Kobo Park Miyagi.
With the Saitama Seibu Lions leading 8-4 heading into the bottom of the 8th inning, the Tohuku Rakuten Golden Eagles, who call Kobo Park Miyagi home and play alongside Saitama Seibu in the NBP's Pacific League, scored four times before rain put a halt to play.

As the delay concluded and umpires Kimihiro Akimura,  Masuda Shohei, Tetsuo Yamaji, and Argana Shoji prepared to resume play, a flock of birds descended on the stadium—perhaps under the impression, during the rain delay, that the game had ended—flying in circles and disrupting the defensive players. After pulling players off the field, stadium personnel attempted to chase the birds into the outfield before shutting off the lights in an attempt to get the flock to leave.

Kobo shut off its lights to coax the birds away.
By that time, however, the attempted bird removal delay—which at one point involved a drone dispatched to patrol the outfield sky—had spanned past the 40-minute mark and hadn't yet proven successful, resulting in an ultimate decision to call off the game, leading to its suspension or, what in OBR, would be Rule 7.02(a):
A game shall become a suspended game that must be completed at a future date if the game is terminated for any of the following reasons:
Kobo's scoreboard says: The Game is Over.
Before we leave this one to the birds, which is a situation not explicitly addressed in the rulebook, note that OBR 7.02(a)(6) mandates the game shall become suspended if play is terminated with the score tied: "It is a regulation game that is called with the score tied."

Finally, let's review what happens if a ball were to strike a bird during play. In sum, a batted or thrown ball remains live and in play, while a pitched ball becomes dead ("no pitch"):
If a batted or thrown ball strikes a bird in flight or other animal on the playing field, the ball is considered alive and in play, the same as if had not touched the bird or animal.
If a pitched ball strikes a bird in flight or other animal on the playing field, the pitch is nullified and play shall be resumed with the previous count. 
Seagulls show up late in San Francisco.
Examples: In 2009, a group of Cleveland-area gulls helped give the home team a walk-off victory by distracting Royals outfielder Coco Crisp on a line drive to center field. One seagull was struck by the batted ball as it attempted to fly away; the batted ball was kept alive and in play. Meanwhile, Randy Johnson in 2001 threw a pitch that struck a bird flying by. Both the ball and bird were declared dead, and the circumstance of a pitched ball striking a bird was added to the MLB Umpire Manual shortly thereafter.

The Japanese phalarope (link is to the North American Audubon Field Guide, although red and red-necked phalaropes are two phalarope species that inhabit the Japanese Empire's coastal region; Sendai is a coastal city in Japan's Miyagi Prefecture) is known to engage in circling behavior as displayed in Sendai on Wendesday: "In courtship, female flies in wide circle, calling."

Gulls eat popcorn at Oakland's Coliseum.
In Major League Baseball, perhaps the bird with greatest invasion potential is the San Francisco Bay Area seagull, which has been feasting on the discarded peanuts and Cracker Jack of AT&T Park ever since the formal dedication of McCovey Cove. The gulls' usual MO is make an appearance late in a Giants game, usually the 9th inning when fans are filing out, leaving behind food and other treats for the eastern Pacific Coast's scavenging fowl. Seagulls have also been spotted in other ballparks near the water, including in Oakland, San Diego, Seattle, and at Chicago's Wrigley Field.

Wrap: Tohoku Raketten Golden Eagles vs. Saitama Seibu Lions, 8/30/17 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejection 155 - Joe West (2; AJ Hinch)

2B Umpire Joe West ejected Astros Manager AJ Hinch (batter's interference call by HP Umpire Chris Segal) in the bottom of the 1st inning of the Rangers-Astros game. With none out and one on (R1), Astros batter Alex Bregman attempted to strike a 3-2 changeup from Rangers pitcher Nick Martinez as Astros baserunner R1 George Springer attempted to steal second base. Replays indicate that after striking out swinging at the 3-2 pitch, batter Bregman stepped out of his batter's box and behind home plate into the area in which Rangers catcher Brett Nicholas was making his throw to second base and in doing so committed interference pursuant to Official Baseball Rule 6.01(a)(5), the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Rangers were leading, 1-0. The Astros ultimately won the contest, 5-1.

This is Joe West (22)'s second ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Joe West now has 12 points in the UEFL Standings (9 Prev + 2 MLB + 1 Correct Call-Crewmate = 12).
Crew Chief Joe West now has 10 points in Crew Division (9 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 10).
*OBR 6.01(a)(5): "It is interference by a batter or a runner when—Any batter or runner who has just been put out, or any runner who has just scored, hinders or impedes any following play being made on a runner. Such runner shall be declared out for the interference of his teammate."
*Had there been less than two strikes on Bregman, he would have been out pursuant to Rule 6.03(a)(3): "A batter is out for illegal action when—He interferes with the catcher’s fielding or throwing by stepping out of the batter’s box or making any other movement that hinders the catcher’s play at home base."

This is the 155th ejection report of 2017.
This is the 76th Manager ejection of 2017.
This is Houston's 5th ejection of 2017, T-2nd in the AL West (TEX 8; HOU, SEA 5; OAK 4; LAA 1).
This is AJ Hinch's first ejection since September 8, 2016 (Jim Joyce; QOC = N [Ball/Foul]).
This is Joe West's 2nd ejection of 2017, 1st since June 18 (Jeff Banister; QOC = Y-C [HBP/Foul]).

Wrap: Texas Rangers vs. Houston Astros (at Tropicana Field), 8/31/17 | Video as follows:

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Player Illegally Re-Enters Game for 1st Time in MLB History

For the first time in MLB history, a substituted-for player illegally re-entered a Major League game, as umpires and competitors alike failed to notice the rules infraction late during a well-decided game.

This sequence involved an American League team's election to terminate its use of the Designated Hitter function, and the removed DH's undetected and illegal re-entry into the game as a pinch hitter for the very player who had replaced him.

The Play: Prior to Friday evening's Orioles-Red Sox game, Boston Manager John Farrell submitted a lineup card to HP Umpire and Umpire-in-Chief Scott Barry that listed the following positions and batting order (players of significance in bold):
John Farrell's club illegally re-entered a player.

> Batting 1st, 2B: Eduardo Nuñez;
> Batting 2nd, LF: Andrew Benintendi;
> Batting 3rd, RF: Mookie Betts;
> Batting 4th, 1B: Mitch Moreland;
> Batting 5th, SS: Xander Bogaerts;
> Batting 6th, 3B: Rafael Devers;
> Batting 7th, DH: Chris Young;
> Batting 8th, CF: Rajai Davis;
> Batting 9th, C: Sandy Leon;
> Pitcher (non-hitting due to the DH): Rick Porcello.

Boston's late-game substitutions.
Simple enough, right? Throughout the game, as Baltimore kept hammering away at Red Sox pitching, Boston responded by bringing in reliever after reliever, before bullpen reinforcement Robby Scott entered and pitched a scoreless top of the 8th with Baltimore leading, 16-3.

As teams on the wrong side of a blowout often do, Boston elected to go with a position player to pitch the inconsequential top of the ninth inning, and Manager Farrell selected one of his players already in the game, first baseman Moreland, for the job. Because Moreland—who had batted 4th the entire game—replaced a pitcher—who does not bat—the Red Sox forfeited the Designated Hitter pursuant to Rule 5.11(a), meaning that Moreland would continue hitting for himself in the four-spot, and Boston's new first baseman, Hanley Ramirez, would also hit for himself and replace DH Young as seventh in the batting order.

Taking it line-by-line, Boston's top-of-the-9th substitutions looked like this:
* Defensive change: Moreland moves from 1B to P *
* Defensive substitution: 1B Ramirez replaces DH Young *
* Defensive substitution: P Scott leaves the game (DH is terminated; new P Moreland will bat) *

Yet, when the bottom of the 9th inning came around, this is what happened:
> 6th, 3B: Rafael Devers lines out to center fielder Craig Gentry. One Out, ---.
> 7th, PH: Chris Young singles on a pop up to shortstop Tim Beckham. One Out, R1--.
> 8th, CF: Rajai Davis hit by pitch. One Out, R1-R2-.
> 9th, C: Sandy Leon pops out to third baseman Caleb Joseph. Two Outs, R1-R2-.
> 1st, 2B: Brock Holt (substitute for Nunez) called out on strikes. Three Outs, Game Over.

Did you notice it?

Here's the recap of just the important moves: Ramirez enters the game and replaces Young in the top of the 9th, playing first base and batting seventh. Yet in the bottom half, Young suddenly reappeared as the #7 hitter, and got a single out of it. Here's the missing piece of the puzzle that went unnoticed by not only HP Umpire Barry and Crew Chief/3B Umpire Paul Emmel, but by Orioles skipper Buck Showalter, as well:

*Offensive Substitution: Pinch-Hitter Chris Young replaces Hanley Ramirez, batting seventh*

The Rule: This back-and-forth swap over the game's final frames is an illegal re-entry in professional baseball. Official Baseball Rule 5.10(d) has it covered:
A player once removed from a game shall not re-enter that game. If a player who has been substituted for attempts to re-enter, or re-enters, the game in any capacity, the umpire-in-chief shall direct the player’s manager to remove such player from the game immediately upon noticing the player’s presence or upon being informed of the player’s improper presence by another umpire or by either manager.
And if no one notices? Here's OBR 5.10(d) Comment: "Any play that occurs while a player appears in a game after having been substituted for shall count."

Lineup card chaos at Dodger Stadium in July.
Baseball came close to experiencing such an illegal transaction on July 25, 2017 at Dodger Stadium, when plate umpire Lance Barrett misheard Paul Molitor's "Pressly for Polanco" double-switch request as "Belisle for Rosario," causing Barrett to beckon shortstop Polanco, who had taken a seat in the Twins dugout thinking he was out of the game, back onto the field; the entire mess was sorted out after a pitch had been thrown, but it was determined that Polanco—even though he had been sitting in the dugout—was still in the game; thus, the "no re-entry rule" did not apply.

Still, there is one rule the Twins and Dodgers, playing in Los Angeles, did not contend with. Rule 5.11(a) concerns the Designated Hitter, which the National League does not use: (4) "A replaced Designated Hitter shall not re-enter the game in any capacity...(14) If a player on defense goes to the mound (i.e., replaces the pitcher), this move shall terminate the Designated Hitter’s role for that club for the remainder of the game."

In other words, Young shouldn't have hit in the bottom of the 9th, but even so, everything that happened after Young re-entered shall count (i.e.: the Orioles wouldn't be able to protest the game over this).

MLB History is Made: How rare is this play? According to Retrosheet, this is the first time an illegal lineup re-entry has occurred in Major League history, an ominous place in the record books for UIC Barry and Crew Chief Emmel.

For what it's worth, one umpire on Emmel's crew has a public disciplinary action on record for misapplying a rule in the past. In 2013, Brian O'Nora (the 2B Umpire in Boston) received a fine for his role as a member of chief Fieldin Culbreth's crew in failing to properly enforce substitution rules that mandate a substitute pitcher shall pitch to the batter then at bat until that batter is put out, reaches base, or the inning ends. Angels Manager Mike Scioscia had filed a protest in that particular contest.

Due to a rather lopsided and fortuitous (for his team) score, as well as an obliviousness that may have been caused by such a score, Orioles Manager Showalter did not attempt to file a protest in Boston.

Wrap: Baltimore Orioles vs. Boston Red Sox, 8/25/17

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Injury Scout - Vanover Exits on 8th Inning Foul-to-Mask

A foul ball to the facemask pushed plate umpire Larry Vanover to an early exit in San Diego on Tuesday.

Vanover is hit in the jaw by a foul ball.
With one out and none on in the top of the 8th inning of Tuesday's Giants-Padres game, Giants batter Brandon Crawford fouled a 93-mph fastball from Padres pitcher Kirby Yates into the center chin portion of Vanover's traditional face mask.

Vanover immediately exited the game and was replaced behind the plate by 2B Umpire David Rackley with 1B Umpire Alfonso Marquez and 3B Umpire Chad Fairchild handling field duties. Marquez additionally served as acting crew chief for the remainder of the contest.

Relevant Injury History: Vanover suffered a head injury due to a similarly batted foul ball of the facemask on May 5, 2013.

Last Game: August 29 | Return to Play: September 1 | Time Absent: 2 Days | Video as Follows

Injury Scout - Warmup Pitch to Groin Knocks Everitt

After taking an errant warmup pitch to the groin in Colorado, HP Umpire Mike Everitt became the second plate ump to leave a game in as many weeks. The first, Hunter Wendelstedt, is still reportedly sidelined with concussion-like symptoms after a Joe Kelly warmup pitch hit him in the mask on August 21.

Mike Everitt exits Tuesday's game at Coors.
In the middle of the first inning during Everitt's Tuesday night plate job, Everitt set up behind a member of the Tigers bench who was catching pitcher Michael Fulmer's warmup tosses in place of catcher James McCann, while McCann was in the Tigers dugout putting on the catcher's gear. One of those pitches had significant lateral movement and evaded the temporary catcher's glove, striking Everitt's exposed groin.

Everitt subsequently departed the game and was replaced behind the plate by 2B Umpire Tom Woodring as 1B Umpire Bruce Dreckman and 3B Umpire Jordan Baker remained on the lines, with Dreckman additionally assuming the role of acting crew chief.

Relevant Injury History: There is no relevant injury history.

Last Game: August 29 | Return to Play: August 31 | Time Absent: One Day | Video as follows:

Monday, August 28, 2017

Ump Supervisor Larry Young, Cancer-Free, Aims to Inspire

Former American League umpire and MLB Supervisor Larry Young is cancer-free, and wants his journey to inspire others. Young gave an interview to the local Rockford Register Star ( in the apropos town of Loves Park, Illinois, and discussed how his mindset has changed since that dreadful diagnosis.
Larry Young hopes his story can inspire others.
"My first statement was, ‘How long do I have?’...He (the doctor) actually got mad at me," Young said. "He didn’t want me thinking like that."
And now, he isn't.
After Dr. Jonathan Myers performed surgery Jan. 20 at Chicago’s Rush Hospital – along with 16 chemo sessions and 25 radiations – Young is cancer free. 
The 63-year-old umpiring alum noted that the next four years will be crucial, describing how an early suspicion of jaundice led to the discovery of cancer in a portion of the pancreas and ensuing surgery. He has lost 70 pounds during the process, including 50 on purpose: "I was pretty heavy...[now,] I'm in better shape than I've been in a long time."

He credits a strong support group, family and friends, and has a message for others:
"Your health is the most important thing. It doesn’t matter how many houses you have, how much money you have, if you don’t have your health ... that’s the big thing. That changed my whole outlook.
"After having something like this, the other cliché is also true – take one day at a time." 
Young worked on the AL and MLB staffs.
Young spent 25 years in the American and Major Leagues, from 1983 through 2007, and officiated 2,848 regular season games, two Midsummer Classics (1991, 2003), six Division Series (1996, 99, 2000-01, 2003-04), three American League Championship Series (1992, 98, 2002), and two World Series (1996, 2003).

He completed his career with 68 ejections, spanning from Carlton Fisk, Earl Weaver, and Bobby Cox to Jim Edmonds, Mike Scioscia, and AJ Hinch. Said Young, of Cox, "[he] got thrown out more than anybody, but it was business. I ran into him one time after I threw him out. We were walking down the hall like nothing happened. We were talking about our families and said we'd see each other tomorrow."

Biggest Complainer: Although active umpire Joe West recently received a three-game suspension for responding to a USA Today interview question by stating that baseball's biggest whiner has "got to be Adrian Beltre," Young told the Star that "[Jose] Canseco was bad; Rickey Henderson was bad. And some of the pitchers complained a lot," adding, "I can say this now because I'm retired."

Born in 1954 in Dixon, Illinois, Young presently resides in Roscoe, IL, while his work as an MLB Umpire Supervisor takes him from Wrigley Field and US Cellular Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago to Miller Park in Milwaukee. He also serves as coordinator of umpires for the World Baseball Classic and looks forward to the next tournament in 2021. His on-field sleeve number #28 is presently worn by staff umpire Jim Wolf.

Ask the UEFL - Fletcher, Phantom Foul & Plate Blocking

New York defeated Washington on a contested foul ball no-call and dramatic game-ending play at the plate, confirmed after a Nationals-prompted Replay Review regarding baseball's home plate collision rule. After the game, Nats Manager Dusty Baker—along with fans of the team, most likely—wasn't exactly thrilled with the 9th inning's outcome. As suggested by a viewer via our Ask the UEFL feature, let's take a look at the plays.

Degree of descent on two phases of swing.
Strike Three Swinging (2nd Out): With one out and none on, Nationals batter Alejandro De Aza attempted to strike a 0-2 slider from Mets pitcher AJ Ramos for an uncaught third strike.
The Rule: OBR 5.09(a)(2) and (10) specify when the batter is out, relative to this play: "(2) A third strike is legally caught by the catcher" and "(10) After a third strike or after he hits a fair ball, he or first base is tagged before he touches first base."
Definition of Terms [Strike] tells us what is and what is not a strike: a) struck at and missed, b) passes through strike zone, c) fouled with less than two strikes, d) bunted foul (with any count), e) touches batter as he strikes it, f) touches batter in the strike zone (in flight), g) a foul tip.
A FOUL TIP is a batted ball that goes sharp and direct from the bat to the catcher’s hands and is legally caught. It is not a foul tip unless caught and any foul tip that is caught is a strike, and the ball is in play. It is not a catch if it is a rebound, unless the ball has first touched the catcher’s glove or hand.

Analysis, Uncaught Third Strike: The quality of correctness here is inconclusive. First and foremost, let's (yet again) address the "foul tip" terminology so often employed by players, coaches, fans, and broadcasters. Simply put, the De Aza play does not describe a foul tip: by rule, a foul tip is always caught by the catcher. Assuming the ball touched the bat, it cannot possibly be a foul tip if it is not caught by the catcher. For more information on the difference between foul balls and foul tips, refer to the following 2015 Case Play involving plate umpire Ryan Blakney, or Tony Randazzo's bobbled foul tip at Citi Field from April:
Related PostCase Play 2015-04, The Flying Foul Tip [Solved] (6/8/15).
Related PostAn Unconventional Foul Tip in the Big Apple (4/10/17).

That said, Washington was adamant two different sounds were heard, which ordinarily can help an umpire determine if the ball hit something before reaching the catcher. Unfortunately, for this play, the something could have been De Aza's bat, or it could have been the dirt behind home plate. Visual analysis of the play indicates the ball's downslope angle was approximately -12 degrees prior to reaching the location where De Aza's bat could have potentially contacted the baseball, and was approximately -13 degrees after this location. Because the pitch was a slider, some deviation in glideslope may be expected (due to spin-rate, for instance), which makes this rather statistically insignificant difference in angles somewhat unreliable in determining whether or not the ball hit the bat. As such, even if this play was reviewable, I'd surmise the call would "stand," similar to how many hit-by-pitch vs no-HBP reviews end up with a "call stands" outcome | Video via "Read More" (below).

HP Collision Violation No-Call (3rd Out): With two out and one on (R1), Nationals batter Daniel Murphy hit a ground ball to Mets center fielder Juan Lagares, who threw to second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera to catcher Travis d'Arnaud as Nationals baserunner Edwin Jackson arrived at home plate. Initially ruled out by HP Umpire Fletcher, the call was confirmed as an out (no HP collision/plate blocking violation) following a Manager's Challenge.
Diagram of legal catcher positioning.
The Rule: OBR 6.01(i)(2) states, in part, "Unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is attempting to score...Not withstanding the above, it shall not be considered a violation of this Rule 6.01(i)(2) (Rule 7.13(2)) if the catcher blocks the pathway of the runner in a legitimate attempt to field the throw (e.g., in reaction to the direction, trajectory or the hop of the incoming throw, or in reaction to a throw that originates from a pitcher or drawn-in infielder)."
Related PostAnatomy of a Rule 7.13 HP Collision Review, SEA-OAK (4/11/15).

C d'Arnaud exhibits legal positioning in DC.
Analysis, HP Collision: This call is correct on all accounts—the runner is tagged prior to his arrival at home plate, and the catcher's positioning is legal; there is no illegal block of home plate. The tag is self-explanatory, and as for Rule 6.01(i)(2), refer to the attached diagram. As indicated by the white circle, catcher d'Arnaud is positioned entirely in fair territory (on or to the inside/right of the foul line) in the final moment before he will receive Cabrera's throw. This is a legal position as baserunner Jackson has the entire foul-facing edge of home plate at his disposal, similar to our "gold standard" of catcher legality as indicated in the above image featuring Mariners catcher Jesus Sucre and A's runner Josh Phegley in Oakland (click here for more detail about that play).

F2 is in possession prior to runner's arrival.
Finally, based on EVP Joe Torre's September 2014 clarification of the home plate collision rule, "If the runner would have been called out notwithstanding the catcher's improper positioning in front of the plate, the out call will stand." We know that d'Arnaud was legal (e.g., the call was confirmed), but assume he wasn't. According to Torre's statement, an illegally positioned catcher will not be called for illegal positioning if—to put it bluntly—the ball beats the runner. As indicated by the attached image, F2 d'Arnaud received the throw prior to R1 Jackson's arrival; thus, even if d'Arnaud was improperly positioned in front of home plate (which really means blocking off the runner's access to the shortest edge of home plate that is parallel to the inner batter box line), the out call would stand based on the rationale that F2's illegal position did not by itself prevent the runner from scoring (the fact that F2 caught the ball before R1 arrived at home plate is primarily what prevented the runner from scoring).

Catcher is legal well before the runner arrives.
To really drive the point home, a catcher will only be called for the Rule 6.01(i)(2) violation if his illegal positioning "holds up" or clearly prevents a runner from scoring. If the catcher gains possession of the ball at any point prior to the runner reaching the catcher's position in front of home plate, there is no violation of Rule 6.01(i)(2). Once the catcher catches the ball, he no longer can be considered as illegally blocking the plate.
Related PostMLB Issues Rule 7.13 Plate Blocking Clarification (9/10/14).

Wrap: New York Mets vs. Washington Nationals (Game 1 of DH), 8/27/17 | Video as follows:

Sunday, August 27, 2017

MLB Ejection 154 - Ron Kulpa (2; David Peralta)

HP Umpire Ron Kulpa ejected Diamondbacks RF David Peralta (strike two call; QOCN) in the bottom of the 5th inning of the Giants-Diamondbacks game. With none out and two on (R1, R2), Peralta took a 0-1 fastball from Giants pitcher Chris Stratton before striking out swinging on a 0-2 curveball. Replays indicate the 0-1 pitch was located off the inner edge of home plate and above the hollow of the knee (px 1.051, pz 1.688 [sz_bot 1.565]), the call was incorrect.* At the time of the ejection, the Diamondbacks were leading, 1-0. The Diamondbacks ultimately won the contest, 11-0.

This is Ron Kulpa (46)'s second ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Ron Kulpa now has -2 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Prev + 2 MLB - 4 Incorrect Call = -2).
Crew Chief Jerry Meals now has -1 points in Crew Division (-1 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = -1).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
*This pitch was 1.6-inches, horizontally, from being deemed a correct call pursuant to 6-2-b-1.

This is the 154th ejection report of 2017.
This is the 66th player ejection of 2017. Prior to ejection, Peralta was 0-3 (SO) in the contest.
This Arizona's 5th ejection of 2017, T-2nd in the NL West (LAD 7; ARI, COL 5; SF 4; SD 3).
This is David Peralta's first career MLB ejection.
This is Ron Kulpa's 2nd ejection of 2017, 1st since April 5 (Don Mattingly; QOC = U [USC-NEC]).

Wrap: San Francisco Giants vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, 8/27/17 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejection 153 - Mike Everitt (3; Joe Girardi)

2B Umpire Mike Everitt ejected Yankees Manager Joe Girardi (retired runner's interference no-call; upheld Replay Review bona fide slide call; QOCN) in the top of the 3rd inning of the Mariners-Yankees game. With one out and one on (R1), Mariners batter Robinson Cano hit a ground ball to Yankees first baseman Chase Headley, who threw to shortstop Didi Gregorius as Mariners baserunner R1 Jean Segura slid toward second base. Upon Replay Review as the result of a Manager's Challenge by Yankees Manager Girardi, Everitt's slide rule interference no-call was affirmed as replays indicate Segura did not meet the eligibility criteria for Rule 6.01(j), as he never made it to second base nor to F6 Gregorius; however, replays indicate Segura willfully hindered Gregorius' following play on the batter-runner (for instance, due to Segura's raised arm) in contravention of another provision of interference Rule 6.01, the call was incorrect.*^ Segura's slide, though not a violation of the bona fide slide rule, did hinder and/or impede Gregorius' ensuing throw to first base. Play reviewed and affirmed by the UEFL Appeals Board (6-3), the call was incorrect. At the time of the ejection, the Yankees were leading, 6-1. The Yankees ultimately won the contest, 10-1.

This is Mike Everitt (57)'s third ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Mike Everitt now has 3 points in the UEFL Standings (5 Prev + 2 MLB - 4 Incorrect Call = 3).
Crew Chief Mike Everitt now has 9 points in Crew Division (9 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = 9).
*Rule 6.01(j)'s criteria for a force play bona fide slide applies only if the runner "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." Because R1 Segura, due to his early slide, did not initiate nor attempt to make contact with F6 Gregorius, Rule 6.01(j) cannot apply.
*However, although Segura was not guilty of violating the slide interference rule, as a runner just put out, he improperly hindered or impeded Gregorius' following play, as in Rule 6.01(a)(5): "Any batter or runner who has just been put out, or any runner who has just scored, hinders or impedes any following play being made on a runner. Such runner shall be declared out for the interference of his teammate."
^QOC is Incorrect pursuant to UEFL Rule 6-2-b-6-a, which states, "Quality of Correctness is governed by the (in)correctness of the call made, not by the quality of reasoning given for such a call."

This is the 153rd ejection report of 2017.
This is the 75th Manager ejection of 2017.
This is New York-AL's 11th ejection of 2017, 1st in the AL East (NYY 11; TOR 9; TB 6; BOS 4; BAL 3).
This is Joe Girardi's 5th ejection of 2017, 1st since August 24 (Carlos Torres; QOC = U [USC-NEC]).
This is Mike Everitt's 3rd ejection of 2017, 1st since July 7 (Brian Snitker; QOC = N [Check Swing]).

Wrap: Seattle Mariners vs. New York Yankees, 8/27/17 | Video as follows: