Saturday, September 23, 2017

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum Adds Bob Motley Statue

The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum of Kansas City announced a new umpire exhibit to feature the late Bob Motley, according to a statement put out by NLBM president Bob Kendrick.

Motley, who passed away on September 15, helped create the museum following a 12-year Negro Leagues umpiring career, as well as stops in college baseball (including the College World Series) and Minor League Baseball's Pacific Coast League.

Kendrick made the following announcement regarding Motley's impending honor at the NLBM:
Bob Motley is truly an American hero. From the baseball field to the battlefield, he served with tremendous pride, dedication and passion. While his passing leaves a void in our hearts; he leaves us a lasting legacy that will play on forever at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. 
In November, Motley will once again call balls and strikes when his life-size statue is added to the Field of Legends at the NLBM. It will proudly be the centerpiece of a new display dedicated to African-American umpires in his honor.
The Field of Legends features a mock baseball diamond with 12 life-sized bronze sculptures of Negro League players Buck O'Neil, Satchel Paige, Rube Foster, Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, Pop Lloyd, Judy Johnson, Ray Dandridge, Cool Papa Bell, Oscar Charleston, Leon Day, Martin Dihigo, and, soon, Bob Motley.

Friday, September 22, 2017

MLB Ejections 181-182 - Dan Iassogna (HOU x2)

HP Umpire Dan Iassogna ejected Astros LF Marwin Gonzalez and Manager AJ Hinch (strike three call; QOCN) in the bottom of the 7th inning of the Angels-Astros game. With none out and one on (R1), Gonzalez took a 1-2 fastball from Angels pitcher Yusmeiro Petit for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located off the outer edge of home plate and thigh high (px -1.070, pz 2.177; the pitch was located 1.872 horizontal inches from the nearest Kulpa Rule bound), the call was incorrect.* At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 0-0. The Astros ultimately won the contest, 3-0.

This is Dan Iassogna (58)'s second ejection of the 2017 MLB regular season.
Dan Iassogna now has -5 points in the UEFL Standings (-1 Prev + 2*[2 MLB - 4 Incorrect Call] = -5).
Crew Chief Brian Gorman 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 181st, 182nd ejection report of 2017.
This is the 82nd player ejection of 2017. Prior to ejection, Gonzalez was 0-2 (2 SO) in the contest.
This is the 85th Manager ejection of 2017.
This is Houston's 7/8th ejection of 2017, 2nd in the AL West (TEX 10; HOU 8; OAK, SEA 6; LAA 4).
This is Marwin Gonzalez's 2nd ejection of 2017, 1st since July 6 (John Libka; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is AJ Hinch's 2nd ejection of 2017, 1st since August 31 (Joe West; QOC = Y-C [Interference]).
This is Dan Iassogna's 2/3rd ejection of 2017, 1st since June 8 (Danny Valencia; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim vs. Houston Astros, 9/22/17 | Video as follows:

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Injury Scout - Manny Gonzalez Hit in Throat by Wild Pitch

Manny Gonzalez took a baseball to the throat in Tampa Bay when a wild pitch bounced behind home plate and briefly wedged between Gonzalez's mask and neck before falling to the ground.

Gonzalez is evaluated following the hit.
With one out and one on (R1) in the top of the 8th inning of Wednesday's Cubs-Rays game, Rays pitcher Ryne Stanek threw a first-pitch breaking ball low and inside that bounced off the dirt and just below the bottom portion of Gonzalez's hockey-style mask.

Gonzalez remained in Wednesday's game after the wild pitch.

Relevant Injury History: On August 6, 2013, Gonzalez similarly suffered a lodged ball to the throat when a fouled-off bunt during the evening's Rockies-Mets game bounced off the ground behind home plate and into the throat area underneath Gonzalez's mask. That ball, however, stuck to Gonzalez and only became displaced after he reached in and removed it. Gonzalez left that game as a result of the injury.

Last Game: Sept 20 | Return to Play: 2018 | Time Absent: Rest of Season | Video as follows:

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Phillips' DP Attempt Reversed by Intentional Drop Rule

Angels 2B Brandon Phillips tried a sneaky double play in Anaheim before umpires invoked the intentional drop rule to prevent the would-be inning ending maneuver, albeit only after a brief consultation between 2B Umpire Mark Ripperger and 1B Umpire and Crew Chief Tom Hallion.

Well, that's one way to try and stop a red-hot Cleveland Indians ball club.

Tom Hallion motions to halt Terry Francona.
The Play: With one out and one on (R1) in the top of the 2nd inning Tuesday night, Indians batter Yandy Diaz hit a 1-2 fastball from Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs on a weak line drive to second baseman Phillips, who knocked the ball down to the ground with his glove—ruled "safe" or "no catch" by 2B Umpire Ripperger—and proceeded to execute the twin killing.

Aftermath: Nearly immediately after 1B Umpire Hallion signaled Diaz out at first base, he called "Time" to consult with Ripperger, who ultimately changed his initial call to that of an air out on Diaz, baserunner R1 Jay Bruce remaining at first base with batter Diaz declared out.

The Ruling: Ripperger's final ruling invoked Official Baseball Rule 5.09(a)(12)—otherwise known as the intentional drop rule—which states that the batter is out when, "An infielder intentionally drops a fair fly ball or line drive, with first, first and second, first and third, or first, second and third base occupied before two are out. The ball is dead and runner or runners shall return to their original base or bases."

Phillips, who in 2013 demonstrated his exceptional rules knowledge by allowing an infield fly to drop to the ground untouched in Cincinnati and subsequently doubled off a less informed Giants baserunner, smiled as Hallion's crew reversed course and ruled Diaz out for Phillips' intentional drop.
Related PostInfield Fly Rule Knowledge Costs Giants as Reds Turn Two (7/4/2013).

Phillips grins as the umpires enforce the rule.
Phillips had likely attempted a similar version of the untouched fallen ball trick Tuesday in Anaheim, but Diaz's soft line drive simply was hit too hard to allow it to fall untouched.

Legality: The intentional drop is a completely legal play insofar as there is no penalty or base award for an intentional drop because it is not a violation of any rule (recall that the definition of "Illegal" is "contrary to these rules"); if the intentional drop was illegal, it would be listed under Rule 6.00, which is entitled, "Improper Play, Illegal Action, and Misconduct. Instead, an intentional drop, pursuant to Rule 5.09(a)(12) [Rule 5.00 is called "Playing the Game"], is simply one of a dozen circumstances under which a batter may be declared out, just as a standard air out or tag can retire the batter-runner. An intentional drop is a legal way of retiring the batter-runner, which also causes the ball to become dead. When the ball is dead, no bases may be run and no runners may be put out, so an intentional drop can never logically retire a non-batter. It is up to the umpire to enforce this rule correctly.

To be clear, the fielder is always allowed to keep play alive by permitting the ball to fall untouched, but deliberately causing a fair fly ball (or line drive in flight) to drop to the ground after making contact with it makes the play liable for an intentional drop call and resulting dead ball. Finally, the infield fly rule (runners on first and second or bases loaded with less than two out; fair fly ball that is not a line drive nor bunt; can be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort) supersedes the intentional drop rule, meaning that the intentional drop rule is not invoked and the ball remains live when the batter has already been declared out under the auspices of the infield fly rule.
Related PostInfield Fly and a Double Play - Back to Basics for Phillies (4/11/16)

For more about the intentional drop rule, see the following textbook application of 5.09(a)(12) by Triple-A All-Star Game umpire Billy Cunha of the Pacific Coast League from earlier this summer:
Related PostIntentional Drop Rule Stars in Triple-A Midsummer Classic (7/12/17).
Related PostBernier Burned by Baserunning on Pseudo Infield Fly (7/24/13).

Video as follows:

Caught By Uniform - Jersey-Assisted Catch or Single?

A batted ball lined into a pitcher's jersey during Monday night's Dodgers-Phillies game, ruled a catch and out by HP Umpire Brian O'Nora proved most impressive, yet left one key question: what is the difference between a ball in the uniform and a legal catch?

Pivetta's shirt catches Barnes' line drive.
The Play: With two out and none on in the top of the 6th inning, Dodgers batter Austin Barnes hit a first-pitch fastball from Phillies pitcher Nick Pivetta on a line drive toward Pivetta's midsection, the Phillies pitcher spinning around in reaction to the careening comebacker. Replays indicate that as Pivetta spun, the batted ball found a hole in the placket of Pivetta's uniform shirt, and snuck inside as Pivetta reached for the ball with his right hand. Pivetta then reached inside his shirt to retrieve the baseball, ruled an out on the catch.

Was this a Legal Catch? Rules & Analysis: Official Baseball Rule 5.09 (Making An Out) states "a batter is out when: (1) His fair or foul fly ball (other than a foul tip) is legally caught by a fielder." What exactly constitutes a legal catch? Fortunately, 5.09(a)(1) continues, as does the Definition of Terms:
A catch is the act of a fielder in getting secure possession in his hand or glove of a ball in flight and firmly holding it; providing he does not use his cap, protector, pocket or any other part of his uniform in getting possession.
In short, if the ball bounces off a fielder's person (think of a ball bouncing off Bartolo Colon's stomach), and he subsequently gloves it, that is a legal catch, even though the ball technically "touched" the uniform. If the player, however, actively uses his uniform to help gain possession, that is not a legal catch. The difference to consider is whether the ball touched the uniform/cap/pocket or whether the player used the uniform/cap/pocket to get possession.

Is there a penalty or remedy if a fielder does "use his cap, protector, pocket or any other part of his uniform in getting possession?"

Rule 5.06(b)(4) has limited applicability: "Each runner including the batter-runner may, without liability to be put out, advance...(B) Three bases, if a fielder deliberately touches a fair ball with his cap, mask or any part of his uniform detached from its proper place on his person. The ball is in play and the batter may advance to home base at his peril; (C) Three bases, if a fielder deliberately throws his glove at and touches a fair ball. The ball is in play and the batter may advance to home base at his peril; (D) Two bases, if a fielder deliberately touches a thrown ball with his cap, mask or any part of his uniform detached from its proper place on his person. The ball is in play."

Though 5.06(b)(4)(A)-(D) imposes penalties and awards for detached equipment, this is not such a case: the shirt was not deliberately placed so as to touch a ball in play, and it certainly wasn't thrown.

Brian O'Nora can only watch from behind.
Answer: Fortunately, the MLB Umpire Manual interprets Rule 5.01(b) (which pertains to an umpire calling "Time" and the ball becoming dead) in the following fashion: "If a batted or thrown ball inadvertently goes inside a player or coach's uniform (or lodges in the catcher's face mask or paraphernalia), the umpire shall call 'Time.' He will, using common sense and fair play, place all runners in such a manner that, in the umpire's judgment, will nullify the action of the ball going out of play. In no case may any outs be recorded on such a play."

Thus, because batter Barnes' line drive appeared to inadvertently go inside pitcher Pivetta's uniform prior to Pivetta getting secure possession of the baseball in his hand or glove, the MLBUM interpretation shall apply: the ball is dead and no out may be recorded. By rule, the batter—because he has become a runner by virtue of hitting a fair ball—must be placed at one of the bases: most likely at first base, and credited with an infield single. The discretion afforded to the umpire by a "nullify the act" clause is expressly qualified by the statement, "In no case may any outs be recorded on such a play."

This is not a situation in which the player may retrieve the ball before "Time" is called so as to nullify its effect and keep the ball alive: the ball is dead immediately upon its entry into a player's uniform.

Why This Call Was Missed: As diagramed on the above graphic taken from the mid-home camera angle in the press box, plate umpire O'Nora was, obviously, at home plate as the line drive reached Pivetta. As captured on the image at the beginning of this article (and the thumbnail featured in the video, below), Pivetta spun around so that he faced center field as the ball entered his jersey: O'Nora from his position at home plate could not see how the ball came to rest in Pivetta's possession, since Pivetta's back was to home plate.

Pivetta retrieves the ball from his abdomen.
The two umpires with potential knowledge of the ball-into-uniform property of this play are the first and second base umpires. Due to Pivetta's speed in spinning toward center, and his right hand obstructing a view of the jersey, 1B Umpire Paul Emmel may not have had a clear look at the middle portion of the play (after the ball entered the jersey), though he may have been able to see the aftermath as Pivetta spun back toward first base while simultaneously retrieving the ball from inside his uniform shirt. Then again, Pivetta's sleight of hand may have similarly obstructed the view.

2B Umpire Chad Whitson, however, would have had a glance at a ball-sized bulge underneath Pivetta's jersey, though he would likely not have seen the ball actually enter the uniform top. Recall, however, that the second base umpire, with no runners, is stationed in shallow center field. It thus stands to reason that he similarly would not have had an entirely convincing look at the ball underneath Pivetta's jersey due to the time and distance associated with this play.

Finally, a white ball with red stitches underneath a white uniform with red pinstripes may have certainly played the role of chameleon to Philadelphia's advantage. In all, with no umpire having seen the ball enter Pivetta's jersey, there was no conference and no detection—by anyone on the playing field, including Barnes—of the ball in the player's uniform.

Video as follows: