Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Samurai Japan Wins on Key Obstruction No-Call

A critical obstruction no-call by 1B Umpire Jeff Kellogg capped Samurai Japan's 6-5 win over the MLB All-Stars in Game 5 of the international series as contact between first baseman Hotaka Yamakawa and batter-runner Mitch Haniger during an overthrow preceded Haniger's game-ending retirement at second base.

BR Haniger pushes F3 Yamakawa away.
The Play: With one out and one on (R1), Haniger hit a ground ball to Samurai Japan shortstop Sosuke Genda, who threw to second baseman Tetsuto Yamada, forcing out baserunner R1 Kevin Pillar, whose throw to first base was wide. As first baseman Yamakawa attempted to pursue the thrown ball, he and batter-runner Haniger made contact as Haniger attempted to advance to second base on the overthrow. Shortly thereafter, catcher Takuya Kai retrieved the loose ball and threw to second baseman Yamada, who tagged Haniger as he slid into second base for the game's final out, courtesy of 2B Umpire Hideto Fuke's call.

The Call: 1B Umpire Kellogg indicated that no obstruction or other illegal act had occurred by displaying a "safe" mechanic, explaining to MLB All-Stars Manager Don Mattingly that no rules infraction occurred up the right field line.

Kellogg explains his ruling to Don Mattingly.
Rule & Analysis: Obstruction is a rather straightforward concept ("the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball and not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner"), but it can get complicated during translation from the rulebook to application on the playing field. By now, we know that contact is not a requirement for obstruction, and that, under the auspices of Type 2/B obstruction (no play actively being made on an obstructed runner [BR had passed first base]), a fielder who has "made an attempt to field a ball and missed...can no longer be in the 'act of fielding' the ball" (Rule 6.01(h) Comment).

Thus the only consideration is whether the first baseman's actions—beginning the instant that he "missed" his attempt to field the ball—impeded the progress of the runner. There is no such incidental "Ambrister tangle/untangle" exception for a first baseman...once he has missed the ball, any hindrance is illegal. And, because it must be said, the batter-runner is perfectly legal running where he is (no tag attempt = no out of base path consideration, but even so, the batter-runner may run through first base and decide to try for second at any point up the right field line...obviously, this would put him at liability of being tagged out and void the overrun protection, but as far as his position is concerned, he's 100% legal).
Related PostINT or OBS - Hammering the Catcher Contact Home (8/6/18).

I believe this is an instance of obstruction.
Gil's Call: In my estimation, the fielder impeded the batter-runner's progress and, accordingly, I have obstruction (type 2/B). On the accompanying video at the end of this article, watch the broadcast angle from the press box camera. At about the six-second mark, Haniger runs into the back of Yamakawa, after the overthrown ball has already exited the frame. As the piggybacking continues up the line, Haniger trips over Yamakawa's legs and stumbles as he attempts to advance toward second base. From the left-center field camera angle, it even appears Haniger briefly slows up as he braces for impact with Yamakawa. It is my opinion that this slow & stumble hindered the runner enough to cause him to be put out at second; had the impeding act not occurred, I believe the runner would have achieved second base safely and, for that reason, my award would have been to place Haniger at second base so as to nullify the act of obstruction (type 2/B).
Bonus: Add a nickel to the "broadcaster confused obstruction and interference" jar.

Jim Joyce's call is the gold standard for OBS.
Precedent: During the 2013 World Series, 3B Umpire Jim Joyce and HP Umpire Dana DeMuth combined for a properly officiated game-ending obstruction call after Red Sox 3B Will Middlebrooks accidentally tripped up (e.g., "impeded") Cardinals baserunner Allen Craig, who in turn was thrown out at home plate, until the umpires imposed the obstruction type B penalty to "nullify the act" and award Craig home plate for the game-winning run.

Middlebrooks at the time stated his dissatisfaction with the call, explaining he had nowhere to go after diving to field the poor throw (e.g., after having "made an attempt to field a ball and missed"). By rule, no matter what Middlebrooks did at that point, if he impeded the runner's progress, he was guilty of obstruction. For better or worse, the rulebook expects the fielder disappear after he has failed in his attempt to field the ball; the defense is not to be rewarded for a miscue. There is zero leeway given to the fielder in this "made an attempt to field a ball and missed" situation (other than, obviously, not rewarding a runner who goes out of his way to manufacture an obstruction call).
Related PostReviewing Jim Joyce's Game-Ending Obstruction Call (10/26/13).

Tying it Together: Like Middlebrooks, Yamakawa did not vacate the runner's path quickly enough after failing to field the ball, and, as a result, he inadvertently impeded the progress of the runner. Even though the impedance was inadvertent and accidental, it was not incidental, which means that, pursuant to OBR 6.01(h)(2), it was an illegal act.

This play was no-called during the 2017 WBC.
Related Play and Teachable Moment: We saw a similar—yet much more blatant—play during the 2017 World Baseball Classic at Gocheok Sky Dome when Team Netherlands first baseman Yurdell Decaster similarly failed to field an overthrown ball from second base. After the ball got by Decaster, Team Israel batter-runner Scott Burcham attempted to advance to second base and, according to replays, was physically wrapped up and momentarily restrained from advancing. 1B Umpire Chikara Tsugawa (who is presently in the States for the Arizona Fall League as part of an apparent MLB-NPB exchange program) no-called the Decaster-Burcham interaction, and Burcham was thrown out at second base on a close play.

1B Umpire did not see the obstruction play.
In his Teachable, tmac quickly explained that 1B Umpire Tsugawa simply did not see the play because he was following the ball toward the wall along the first base dugout. Tmac also explained that in this situation, with only one runner to worry about (the batter-runner), the HP Umpire has the responsibility for adjudicating boundary issues involving the overthrown ball; the first base umpire's focus should be on the potential obstruction/interference/nothing issue between the batter-runner and the first baseman.

Back to Tokyo Dome: Unlike the 2017 WBC play, where our umpire made no signal, making it clear that the umpire did not see the play, on Wednesday in Tokyo, 1B Umpire Kellogg demonstrated the safe mechanic, which is the universal "that's nothing" sign.

Video as follows:

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

2018 UEFL Rules Summit Discussion

Following our Awards and Final Standings, the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League announces its 2018 UEFL Rules Summit, our annual forum for discussion of controversial issues which may have surfaced during the past season, setting forth a framework for rectifying these issues by amending the existing UEFL Rules Book ahead of the 2019 UEFL season.
Related Link: UEFL Rules Book (UEFL Portal).

This discussion thread is an open colloquium for proposal, discussion and debate of potential rules changes. This thread will remain open through Friday, November 16 and voting will begin Saturday, November 17—voting will not occur prior to that date. This will provide ample time for proposal and subsequent discussion of possible rules changes for next year's UEFL. If necessitated by certain below decisions, a Summit runoff ballot may be presented after the initial voting closes.

You may propose a rules change by replying in a comment to this post and the following list, accordingly, will be routinely updated to reflect such proposals. Nonmaterial proposed modifications and cascading editorial changes are underlined, deletions are printed in strikethrough and material additions are bold faced. Comments/rationale not part of the actual book are indicated by italics. Individual propositions are preceded by the ">>" bullet point symbol.

Rule 1 (Selection of Umpires).
Rule 2 (The Season).
Rule 3 (Crew Division).
Rule 4 (League Scoring).
Rule 5 (Statistics).
Rule 6 (Challenges and Appeals).
Rule 7 (Unresolved Classifications and References).
Rule 8 (Umpire Odds & Ends and Community Issues).
Rule 9 (Unaddressed and Authorized Provisions).

The final portion of the Rules Summit ballot will feature 2017 UEFL Appeals Board members seeking re-election for 2018, as afforded by the process delineated by UEFL Rule 6-4-a-4. Click here to view the Board's 21 decisions in 2018.

Following the 2018 Rules Summit's discussion phase, voting will occur. No voting shall take place prior to 11/17, until the discussion phase has ended and all proposals become part of the finalized ballot.

Jim McKean Inducted into FSL Hall of Fame

The Florida State League inducted alumnus and 28-year AL and MLB umpire Jim McKean into its Hall of Fame. McKean umpired in the FSL from 1970 to 1971 and eventually joined the American League staff in 1973.

A member of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, the Quebec native also worked as a junior hockey referee and played in the Canadian Football League as a quarterback and punter (Montreal Alouettes, 1965-65; Saskatchewan Roughriders, 1966 [won the CFL's Grey Cup {championship}]) before his MiLB career, and joined the MLB league office in 2002 as an umpire supervisor. After leaving that post, McKean took a job with ESPN as an umpire consultant.

Jim McKean adds FSL to his awards repertoire.
As a Major Leaguer, McKean officiated three American League Division Series (1981, 95, 99), five American League Championship Series (1977, 83, 87, 91, 98), and three World Series (1979, 85, 95), in addition to three All-Star Games (1980, 82, 93).

NDG Baseball (Little League affiliate in Montreal) previously honoured McKean with its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015.

McKean was the last full-time umpire from Canada until Stu Scheurwater (Saskatchewan) joined the staff prior to the 2018 season.

McKean joins fellow FSL Hall of Famer umpires Phil Cuzzi (inducted 2009), Harry Wendelstedt (2009), Ed Hickox (2010), Jeff Nelson (2011), Brian Gorman (2012), Jerry Layne (2013), Randy Marsh (2014), Richie Garcia (2015), John Hirschbeck (2016), and Jerry Crawford (2017); FSL has selected an umpire every year since the Hall of Fame was founded in 2009.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Soto's Ground Rule Out as Fly Ball Hits Tokyo Dome Roof

MLB All-Star Juan Soto lost a potential three run home run when his fly hit the Tokyo Dome roof, turning into a routine "ground rule out" when Samurai Japan caught the ball, cuing Don Mattingly and 1B Umpire Eric Cooper to have a brief conversation about the perils of playing in a domed stadium. Spoiler: Coop & Crew got the call right.

Kobayashi explains the catch call to Don.
The Play: With one out and two on (R1, R2), in the top of the 4th inning of Game 3 of the best-of-five MLB-Japan All-Star Series, Soto hit a fly ball into deep right field that caromed off one of the white panels that comprise the stadium's high ceiling and into RF Shogo Akiyama's waiting glove, on the warning track just shy of the wall.

The Call: Cooper ruled Soto out, the second out of the inning as opposed to a three-run home run. After convening HP Umpire Kyohei Makita, 2B Umpire Kazuhiro Kobayashi, and 3B Umpire Quinn Wolcott, Cooper affirmed his original ruling and maintained the out call.

For an illustration of the Tokyo Dome ground rules, we visit the former Major League stadium in Minnesota, the Hubert Humphrey Metrodome (the Met and Tokyo Dome share iconic design elements, including the iconic paneled dome cover). Let's just say the rules are a lot easier to comprehend in these domes than Tropicana Field's catwalk system in Tampa Bay.

Ball Strikes Metro/Tokyo Dome in Flight and Falls Back into Play: Live Ball.
Eddie Guardado catches a deflected fly ball.
When Minnesota's Randy Bush hit a fly ball off one such panel at the Metrodome in 1983, Toronto's Buck Martinez was able to adjust and catch the batted ball in foul territory for an out. The same thing happened to Detroit's Rob Deer in 1992—twice!—with Minnesota shortstop Greg Gagne catching both for outs. And then there's the infamous Chili Davis fly ball that hit a hanging speaker and was caught by Baltimore's Mark McLemore, or Eddie Guardado's even more notable diving catch on a fly ball that deflected off another such speaker.
Related Video: Pitcher Guardado races off mound and dives to make the catch in foul territory.
Related Video: Greg Gagne hits two inside-the-park home runs thanks to the Metrodome roof.

Ball Strikes, and Remains, in the Space Between Two Panels: Double (if Fair), Foul (if Foul).
Shohei Ohtani's perfect hit turned into two.
This scenario doesn't happen all that often, but because of the unique system of panels that comprise the pressurized domed roof, a baseball can get lost between the tiles and come to rest in the roof itself. If this happens, as it did to Shohei Ohtani playing for Team Japan against Team Netherlands in the World Baseball Softball Confederation's Global Series 2016, the official ruling is a ground rule double for the batter. Oakland's Dave Kingman did the same thing at the Metrodome on May 4, 1984, and was similarly awarded two bases.
Related Video: Shohei Ohtani hits ball through the roof at Tokyo Dome!!

SIDEBAR: These are real "ground rule doubles," opposed to those commonplace batted balls that land on the field before bouncing over the wall and into the stands that lay-folk like to call "ground rule doubles" (they're "rulebook doubles" or "two-base awards").

In conclusion, no, there is no Replay Review in the MLB-Japan All-Star Series, but even if there was, Cooper's call would have been confirmed: that's a live ball and a catch—a ground rule out if there ever was one.

Video as follows:

2018 UEFL Final Standings and the Perfect Crew

With the championship and UEFL awards season now complete, we can now reveal the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League's final standings for 2018 as well as this year's Perfect Crew. The Perfect Score this season was 117 while the lowest possible score was -39, a spread of 156 points. (compare to 2017's Perfect Score of 112 and lowest score of -39).
Related Post2017 UEFL Final Standings and the Perfect Crew (11/10/17).

2018 UEFL Perfect Crew (Highest Score): 117 points.
Crew Chief: Bill Welke (19 pts).
Primary Umpires: Joe West (31 pts) & Brian Gorman (25 pts).
Secondary Umpires: John Tumpane (21 pts) & Ted Barrett (21 pts).

2018 UEFL Imperfect Crew (Lowest Possible Score): -39 points.
Crew Chief: Tom Hallion (-6 pts).
Primary Umpires: Brian O'Nora (-8 pts) & CB Bucknor (-6 pts).
Secondary Umpires: Phil Cuzzi (-10 pts) & Sam Holbrook (-9 pts).

Final Standings for the 2018 UEFL Season.
2018 Replay Review Ranking by Umpire (RAP)
1) Chad Fairchild (.722, 13-for-18).
2) Fieldin Culbreth (.714, 15-for-21).
3) Tim Timmons (.714, 10-for-14).
4) John Tumpane (.684, 13-for-19).
5) Brian Gorman (.667, 16-for-24).
6-T) Mike Estabrook (.667, 8-for-12).
6-T) Brian Knight (.667, 8-for-12).
8-T) Lance Barrett (.647, 11-for-17).
8-T) Ed Hickox (.647, 11-for-17).
8-T) Jeff Nelson (.647, 11-for-17).
12) Pat Hoberg (.643, 9-for-14).
13-T) Mike Muchlinski (.636, 7-for-11).
13-T) Stu Scheurwater (.636, 7-for-11).
15) Jim Wolf (.625, 5-for-8).
16-T) Ted Barrett (.619, 13-for-21).
16-T) Ryan Blakney (.619, 13-for-21).
18-T) Tripp Gibson (.611, 11-for-18).
18-T) DJ Reyburn (11-for-18).
20) Joe West (.600, 12-for-20).
Full Results: UEFL's MLB Umpire Replay Review Statistics and Sabermetrics.

2018 Ejection Leaders
1) Will Little (9).
2-T) Andy Fletcher, Tripp Gibson, Brian Gorman, Adam Hamari, Hunter Wendelstedt (6).
7-T) Eric Cooper, Joe West (5).
9-T) L Barrett, Blaser, Eddings, Foster, G Gibson, Porter, Rehak, Ripperger, Tumpane (4).

2018 UEFL Final Standings (Ties resolved per Rule 5-3)
1) UEFLwatcher (79 pts).
2) GDK Team Blue (78 pts).
3) toss 'em (72 pts).
4) LaRikardo (71 pts).
5) Bjweig01 (70 pts).
6) ADUB (68 pts).
7) jbenedek (65 pts, 21 PRM-A [T Barrett]).
8) DNS67665 (65 pts, 16 PRM-A [Wendelstedt]).
9) Yuri.macchiavelli (65 pts, 15 PRM-A [Carapazza]).
10) stk004 (64 pts).
11) oki96 (63 pts, 31 PRM-A [West]).
12) southsidehitman (63 pts, 25 PRM-A [Tumpane]).
13) Michael (63 pts, 15 PRM-A [Carapazza]).
14) RadioPearl (63 pts, 0 PRM-A [Bellino]).
15) kruss8888 (61 pts).
Complete Final Standings, points, and results available via the UEFL Portal's 2018 Standings page.
Umpire Leaders available at UEFL's MLB Umpire Replay Review Statistics and Sabermetrics page.

The Rules Summit will begin tomorrow.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

2018 MLB Japan All-Star Series Umpire Roster

Major League umpires Eric Cooper, Jeff Kellogg, and Quinn Wolcott are in Tokyo for the 2018 MLB Japan All-Star Series, joining several NPB umpires for the exhibition series. Meanwhile, the umpire mask camera that we saw in use during the 2014 series is back. For instance, here is a Juan Soto home run from said ump cam.

In 2014, Chris Conroy, Jerry Layne, and Mike Winters traveled to Japan for the best-of-five series between the MLB All-Stars and Samurai Japan (Japan's national team), plus one exhibition game between the MLB squad and a combination squad comprised of teams from Hanshin and Yomiuri. This year, the pre-series exhibition game featured MLB's team against the Yomiuri Giants.
Related PostRoster: 2014 MLB Japan All-Star Series (11/11/14).

MLB Umpires
> Eric Cooper.
> Jeff Kellogg.
> Quinn Wolcott.

Nippon Professional Baseball Umpires
> Atsushi Fukaya.
> Shinichiro Hara.
> Takayuki Ichikawa.
> Kenjiro Mori.
> Kazuaki Nakoh.
> Naoto Shikita.

While MLB sent Cooper, Kellogg, and Wolcott to Japan, NPB sent umpires Shinji Hashimoto and Chikara Tsugawa to the Arizona Fall League, where they have been working with AFL umpires for the past few weeks.
Related PostArizona Fall League Welcomes NPB (Japan) Umpires (11/2/18).

Friday, November 9, 2018

2018 UEFL Award for Umpire of the Year - Ted Barrett

Ted Barrett is the UEFL's (Best) Umpire of the Year for 2018 [2017: Mark Wegner].
Voting (Top 5): Barrett (43.6%), Jeff Nelson (10.1%), Joe West/Jim Wolf (6%), Chad Fairchild (4.7%).

Award Winner: Ted Barrett (65).
Ted Barrett wins the UEFL Umpire of the Year Award for 2018. In his 22nd season in the majors, Barrett was ejection-less and finished 16th in Replay Review (.619 RAP, eight overturns). A three-Award winner for the second time (also: 2014), Barrett chiefed the World Series and called 18 innings (seven hours, 20 minutes) behind home plate in Game 3, seeing 561 pitches (286 callable) and, on average, missing just one pitch per hour of game time.
Related PostTwofer - Plate Umpire Ted Barrett's 18-Inning Night (10/30/18).

A postseason regular (that's now 14 consecutive seasons with a playoff assignment [2005-18], the highest active streak amongst the staff), Barrett officiated his fourth World Series in October just 11 years after he worked his first Fall Classic (2007, 11, 14, 18), and just four years after his third, which in turn was three years after his second, which was four after his first. So we can expect to see him in the 2022 World Series as well.

UEFL Awards History, Ted Barrett
Umpire of the Year: 2014, 2018.
Honorable Umpire of the Year: 201220132014, 2018.
Crew Chief of the Year: 2014201620172018.

Ted Barrett now has 21 points in the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League (16 Previous + 5 Award = 21).
Final Standings will be released this weekend.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Umpire Cody Coffman Killed in California Mass Shooting

Camarillo Pony Baseball lost its umpire-in-chief, 22-year-old Cody Coffman, in Wednesday's Thousand Oaks, California mass shooting at the Borderline Bar and Grill.

"He loved working with the kids."

Cody's father, Jason, spoke with local media Thursday, recalling the last conversation with his son before Cody left for "College Country Night" at the bar.

According to a friend, Coffman died trying to save others: "He was protecting everyone."

Conejo Valley Little League remembered Camarillo's UIC Cody in a tribute on its Twitter page: "Hug your players close tonight, as Camarillo Pony Baseball mourns the loss of former player, current umpire and dad, Cody Coffman. We at CVLL extend our sincerest condolences to the league and the family of this fine man."

At least 12 people lost their lives during Wednesday's mass shooting.

News: ‘I’m Speechless, Heartbroken’: Father of 22-Year-Old Killed in Thousand Oaks Shooting Tells of His Pain (KTLA) | Video as Follows:

MLBUA Joins Officiating Unions in Support of NFLRA

After the NFL fired down judge and former baseball umpire Hugo Cruz in the middle of football season, the MLB Umpires Association (MLBUA) joined the National Basketball Referees Association (NBRA) and Professional Soccer Referee Association (PSRA) in defense of the NFLRA and the league's "knee-jerk reaction" in dismissing an official during the season.

In a statement from former NFL referee and NFLRA executive director Scott Green, the union said it will fight the league's move: "The NFLRA will protect the collectively bargained rights of all officials and will challenge this reckless decision through the Grievance process."

Our football officiating counterparts at FootballZebras.com were the first to report on the NFL's termination of down judge Hugo Cruz (94) on October 25.

The joint statement, released by the NBA refs, is as follows:
The recent actions by the National Football League (NFL) in suddenly dismissing an official in the middle of the season is an affront to all professional officiating. As the standard-bearers of the integrity in our respective sports, the National Basketball Referees Association (NBRA), the Major League Baseball Umpires Association (MLBUA) and the Professional Soccer Referee Association (PSRA) support the National Football League Referees Association (NFLRA) in their challenge of the reckless decision made by the NFL.
When a league takes the extraordinary and unprecedented step of dismissing an official in the way the NFL did, it undermines the credibility of the game itself. The NFL sought to garner a hollow public relations victory at a time when trust is essential, if the ultimate goal is to work together to improve officiating. The disregard for the due process rights of the person involved is hurtful to him and his family.
This knee-jerk reaction by the NFL resulted in the unfair dismissal of an official who met the requirements to work in the playoffs in two out of his first three full seasons in the league. It is an example of mismanagement that results in a loss of trust among other professional officials.
We stand in solidarity with the NFLRA today, and every day, and for the rights of the expert officials in all sports, who protect the integrity of the game.

2018 UEFL Award for Ejections of the Year - West & Lentz

Joe West and Nic Lentz had the Best Ejections of the Year for 2018 [2017: Gerry Davis].
Voting Results (Top 3): 062 West (11%), 153 Lentz (10%), 010 Timmons (5%).

Award Winners: Joe West (22) & Nic Lentz (59).
In MLB Ejection 062, HP Umpire Joe West ejected Padres Manager Andy Green for arguing a foul ball call in Atlanta. Although West initially appeared to signal the play a swinging strikeout, the call was properly changed (as affirmed by the UEFL Appeals Board) to a foul ball, due to the ball bouncing before entering the catcher's mitt. Simply put, "It was fun seeing Andy Green and West going at each other along with the mics picking up Green’s audio in the end."

In MLB Ejection 135, HP Umpire Nic Lentz ejected Yankees Manager Aaron Boone over a strike two call in New York. Said one voter, "Whenever I vote this award I always vote for the funniest ejection and to me nothing beats Aaron Boone pretending to be a catcher to show where the pitch was. Was it over the top? absolutely. But it was also hilarious." This was the rare game in which both managers were ejected, as Paul Nauert tossed Ron Gardenhire later in the contest.

Joe West now has 31 points in the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League (30 Previous + 1 Award = 31).
Nic Lentz now has 11 points in the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League (10 Previous + 1 Award = 11).
The final postseason award, (Best) Umpire of the Year, will be released tomorrow.

Videos as follows:

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

2018 Promising Umpires - Hamari & Blaser

Adam Hamari & Cory Blaser are 2018's Promising Umpires of the Year [2017: Blaser & Fairchild].
Voting (Top 5): Hamari (10.2%), Blaser (10%), Stu Scheurwater (8%), John Tumpane (7%),  Will Little (6%).

Winners: Adam Hamari (78), Cory Blaser (89).
Adam Hamari & Cory Blaser are the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League's 2018 Promising Umpires of the Year.

In his second season on the big league staff, Hamari earned an assignment to the NL Central tiebreaker game, concluding his season with six ejections, and earning praise for ejecting Rick Renteria in July after a check swing ball two call by 1B Umpire Chad Whitson. Hamari, central in the leaked video of Noah Syndergaard's ejection for throwing at Chase Utley, received credit in the comments: "I knew Hamari was going to be a good umpire a couple years ago when he handled the Mets throwing at Chase Utley. He did this as a AAA call up umpire. He runs his game the way it should be run. Now I don't if they got the check swing right or wrong- very close, but he handled Renteria absolutely perfect."
Related PostMLB Ejection 095 - Adam Hamari (1; Rick Renteria) (7/14/18).

Hamari placed 80th in Replay Review with a .333 RAP (five-for-15).

Transitioning to Blaser, here's what one voter had to say: "Blaser is more established than Hamari at this point, but both look like future stars. Blaser is an outstanding ball/strike guy despite a slightly disappointing postseason plate and should be a CC in the future in addition to regular postseasons. Hamari appears to be the best of the recently hired crop and he had an excellent season including behind the plate."

Blaser's fourth postseason in four seasons of eligibility (2015 Wild Card, 2016-18 Division Series) led to a consecutive nod for Promising Umpire. He finished with four ejections and 25th in Replay Review with a .583 RAP (seven-for-12).

UEFL Awards History, Adam Hamari
Fill-In of the Year: 2016.

UEFL Awards History, Cory Blaser
Promising Umpire of the Year: 2017.

Adam Hamari now has 11 points in the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League (8 Prev + 3 Award = 11).
Cory Blaser now has 18 points in the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League (15 Previous + 3 Award = 18).
The next postseason award, Ejection of the Year, will be released tomorrow.

2018 UEFL Award for Honorable - T Barrett & P Cuzzi

Ted Barrett & Phil Cuzzi are 2018's Honorable Umpires of the Year [2017 Winner: John Tumpane].
Voting Results (Top 5): Barrett (13.7%), Cuzzi (10%), Kerwin Danley/Doug Eddings (5.8%), Tumpane (3%).

Award Winners: Ted Barrett (65) & Phil Cuzzi (10).
Ted Barrett & Phil Cuzzi are the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League's 2018 Honorable Umpires of the Year.

Barrett received praise after working 18 innings of baseball for over seven hours during Game 3 of World Series, as well as the crew's UMPS CARE Charities visit to Boston Children's Hospital on the morning of Game 2.
Related PostTwofer - Plate Umpire Ted Barrett's 18-Inning Night (10/30/18).
Related PostWorld Series Crew Embarks on Boston UMPS Care Visit (10/25/18).

Cuzzi, who finished the year with three ejections, including the Ben Zobrist "that's why we want an electronic strike zone" ejection in August, continued his ALS work this season. Cuzzi's charity, the Robert Luongo ALS fund, was established in 2003 in honor of Luongo, who died in 2004 from the disease, and its annual winter dinner draws baseball celebrities from Bob Costas to Tony LaRussa, Goose Gossage, Willie Randolph, and more.
Related PostMLB Ejections 119-120 - Phil Cuzzi (1-2; Maddon, Zobrist) (8/14/18).
Related PostPhil Cuzzi Fulfills Promise to Late Friend Luongo (2/20/17).

UEFL Awards History, Ted Barrett
Umpire of the Year: 2014.
Honorable Umpire of the Year: 201220132014.
Crew Chief of the Year: 201420162017, 2018.

UEFL Awards History, Phil Cuzzi
None.

Ted Barrett now has 16 points in the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League (14 Previous + 2 Award = 16).
Phil Cuzzi now has 19 points in the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League (17 Prev + 2 Award = 19).
The next postseason award, Promising Umpire of the Year, will be released tonight.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

2018 UEFL Award for Top Crew Chief - Ted Barrett

Ted Barrett wins the UEFL's 2018 Crew Chief of the Year Award [2017 Winner: Ted Barrett].
Voting Results (Top 3): Ted Barrett (48.3%), Jeff Nelson (14.0%), Tom Hallion (12.6%).

Award Winner: Ted Barrett (65).
Ted Barrett is the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League's 2018 Crew Chief of the Year, which marks his fourth time Barrett has won the Crew Chief of the Year Award, and third consecutive season receiving an award (second consecutive Crew Chief of the Year selection). In his 22nd MLB season, Barrett experienced zero ejections.

Earlier this summer, Barrett and runner-up Nelson were inducted into the Arizona Fall League Hall of Fame, the first two umpires ever selected to enter the AFL's Hall. Barrett officiated the AFL from 1993 through 1995 prior to his American League debut in 1994. Barrett joined the MLB staff in 1999 and became a full-time crew chief prior to the 2013 season.
Related PostTed Barrett, Jeff Nelson Named to AFL Hall of Fame (7/8/18).

As was the case in 2017, all four members of Barrett's regular season crew—Barrett, Kerwin Danley, Lance Barksdale, and Will Little—officiated during the postseason, including Danley's second selection to the World Series, and Barrett's first time chiefing the Fall Classic.

With his own Division and World Series selections this fall, Barrett has officiated the postseason for 14 consecutive years (2005-18). He finished 16th amongst 88 tracked umpires with a .619 Replay Affirmation Percentage, having been overturned eight times in 21 reviews, including the postseason.

UEFL Awards History, Ted Barrett
Umpire of the Year: 2014.
Honorable Umpire of the Year: 2012, 2013, 2014.
Crew Chief of the Year: 2014, 2016, 2017.

Ted Barrett now has 14 points in the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League (13 Previous + 1 Award = 14).
The next postseason award, Honorable Umpire of the Year, will be released tomorrow.

2018 UEFL Award for Fill-In Umpire - Jeremie Rehak

Jeremie Rehak wins UEFL's 2018 Fill-In Umpire of the Year Award [2017 Winner: Stu Scheurwater].
Voting Results (Top 3): Rehak (26.2%), Nic Lentz (24.1%), Ryan Blakney/Chris Segal (12.1%).

Award Winner: Jeremie Rehak (35).
Jeremie Rehak is the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League's 2018 Fill-In Umpire of the Year. In his first season as a Major League fill-in, Rehak ejected four people over 98 MLB games officiated (fellow rookie Jansen Visconti worked 109).

Rehak's first career ejection of John Gibbons in May concerned a no step balk and drew praise similar to that Fletcher received for calling the crucial balk in Seattle referred to in the Most Improved Award: "This was absolutely textbook situation handling by Rehak. First, he had the stones to call the balk. Then he puts up the stop sign for Gibbons and then runs him with a signal that particular ejection called for. Then he walked away right after the crew chief showed up. A real pro."
Related PostMLB Ejection 033 - Jeremie Rehak (1; John Gibbons) (5/6/18).

Rehak finished 72nd in Replay Review, with five upheld calls over 13 chances (.385 RAP); Rehak's eight overturned calls mirrored the league average.

Rehak served in the International League in 2018, his third overall season in Triple-A. Jeremie is presently officiating the 2018 Arizona Fall League alongside fellow first-year call-up Visconti.
Related Posts2018 International League Umpire Roster | 2018 Arizona Fall League Roster.

UEFL Awards History, Jeremie Rehak
None.

Jeremie Rehak now has 18 points in the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League (16 Previous + 2 Award = 18).
The next postseason award, Crew Chief of the Year, will be released later today.

Monday, November 5, 2018

2018 UEFL Award for Most Improved - Andy Fletcher

Andy Fletcher wins the Most Improved Umpire Award for 2018. [2017 Winner: Marty Foster.]
Voting Results (Top 3): Andy Fletcher (28.9%), Kerwin Danley (14.8%), Vic Carapazza (5.5%).

Award Winner: Andy Fletcher (49).
Andy Fletcher is the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League's 2018 most improved umpire of the year. In his 19th Major League Baseball umpiring season, Fletcher ejected six people.

After Fletcher's ejection of Carlos Gomez in September, Gomez took to Twitter and Periscope to blast Fletcher, prompting the MLBUA to appeal to the Commissioner's Office to take action after the latest case of postgame umpire admonition. As MLB did after Ian Kinsler personally attacked Angel Hernandez in 2017, the Commissioner's Office fined, but did not suspend, Gomez. The Gomez and Kinsler fines represented less than one tenth of one percent of each player's salary.
Related PostMLB Ejection 171 - Andy Fletcher (6; Carlos Gomez) (9/20/18).
Related PostFined - Carlos Gomez to Appeal Financial Penalty (9/25/18).

Fletcher was the only umpire to call a game-ending balk in August in Seattle that replays indicated was certainly a balk and was a much more difficult get for 1B Umpire Fletcher than for his crewmates around the diamond...yet Fletcher was the only umpire with the gumption to see and call it.
Related PostWalk-Off Balk - Dodgers' Floro Does Too Much at Once (8/19/18).

For the second time in his career, Fletcher officiated the postseason, and worked his first-ever Division Series with Jerry Layne's crew in Houston. He also officiated his second All-Star Game in July.
Related Post2018 Wild Card & Division Series Umpires Roster (10/2/18).

Fletcher finished in the middle of the pack for Replay Review, with eight upheld and nine overturned calls (.471 RAP, T-52nd).

One commenter characterized Fletcher's season thusly: "Absolutely TREMENDOUS year by Andy. He has struggled mightily for many years, but he reinvented himself this year. I saw confidence in his calls, belief in himself behind the plate, and MLB assigned him as a rover for playoff caliber series in August and September...what a tremendous job Andy did and highlights the fact that you should never give up trying to improve and get better. This was a break-through year for Fletcher."

UEFL Awards History, Andy Fletcher
None.

Andy Fletcher now has 3 points in the UEFL Standings (8 Previous + 1 Award = 9).
The next postseason award, Fill-In Umpire of the Year, will be released tomorrow.

Case Play 2018-9 - Walk-off Appeal Madness

As the 2018 Arizona Fall League All-Star Game ended on a walk-off base hit, 1B Umpire Nestor Ceja lingered for a few extra seconds as first baseman Peter Alonso tried calling for an appeal, claiming that batter-runner Meibrys Viloria failed to touch first base.

East All-Star Alonso calls out to deaf ears.
The Play: With one on (R3) and two out in the bottom of the 9th inning of a tied ballgame, West All-Stars batter Viloria hit a line drive to the gap in right-center field, easily scoring baserunner R3 Buddy Reed from third base. As Viloria approached and rounded first base, an onslaught of celebrating teammates pushed and shoved him away from the bag such that Viloria was unable to touch first base as he ran by.

Both U1 Ceja and F3 Alonso noticed Viloria's struggle and non-touch, as Ceja remained in the vicinity and Alonso tried calling for the ball to retire Viloria for the inning's third out and send the AFL's Fall Stars game into extras.

Ceja, waiting for appeal, is trapped in the mob.
The theatre turned out to be all for naught, as Viloria, after rounding first base without actually touching it, fought through a mob of celebrating teammates to return to and touch first base, all while the baseball remained in right-center field, the East All-Stars having given up on the play.

Question: Assume Alonso's teammates in the outfield were actually paying attention and threw the ball to Alonso as Viloria fought through his teammates to return to first base. What would be the proper ruling if... A) Alonso tagged Viloria while off his base (or tagged first base before Viloria returned to touch it)? B) Alonso was unable to get to Viloria (or the base) before Viloria returned due to the human traffic jam caused by the West All-Star celebration?

And, if you're really daring, C) A security guard picked up the baseball and threw it back to Alonso, who then tagged Viloria while off his base (go ahead and assume the bases were loaded, too)?

This Q resembles a 2015 play in AZ.
Yes, this is meant as a reference to the walk-off non-appeal play in Arizona from 2015, when Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips tried to appeal R2 and R3's failures to touch their respective bases on a bases loaded, one-out, walk-off single. A security officer retrieved and threw the ball to Phillips, who tagged several bases in an attempt to appeal the baserunning infractions. Crew Chief Larry Vanover said that because R3 touched home and BR touched first, the game was over, thus leaving the security guard issue unanswered.

MLB added an interpretation to Rule 5.08(b) since then [formerly known as 4.09(b)] to state that a base hit does not qualify as a 5.08(b) game-ending play since 5.08(b) now requires an event that "forces the batter and all other runners to advance without liability of being put out." The rule used to say "...which forces the runner on third to advance" only. MLB since made it clear that 5.08(b) (f/k/a 4.09(b)) only applies to bases-loaded without liability of being put out situations. This time, the batter-runner hasn't yet touched first, so we ask the question again.
Related PostCase Play 2015-07, Merkle Revisited [Solved] (8/10/15).

Official Baseball Rules Library
OBR 5.09(c)(2): "Any runner shall be called out, on appeal, when—With the ball in play, while advancing or returning to a base, he fails to touch each base in order before he, or a missed base, is tagged."
OBR 5.09(c): "Any appeal under this rule must be made before the next pitch, or any play or attempted play. If the violation occurs during a play which ends a half-inning, the appeal must be made before the defensive team leaves the field...For the purpose of this rule, the defensive team has 'left the field' when the pitcher and all infielders have left fair territory on their way to the bench or clubhouse."
OBR 6.01(a)(4): "It is interference by a batter or a runner when—Any member or members of the offensive team stand or gather around any base to which a runner is advancing, to confuse, hinder or add to the difficulty of the fielders. Such runner shall be declared out for the interference of his teammate or teammates."
OBR 6.01(a)(8): "It is interference by a batter or runner when—In the judgment of the umpire, the base coach at third base, or first base, by touching or holding the runner, physically assists him in returning to or leaving third base or first base."
OBR 6.01(b) [Fielder Right of Way]: "The players, coaches or any member of a team at bat shall vacate any space (including both dugouts or bullpens) needed by a fielder who is attempting to field a batted or thrown ball...If a member of the team at bat (other than a runner) hinders a fielder’s attempt to field a thrown ball, the ball is dead, the runner on whom the play is being made shall be declared out and all runners return to the last legally occupied base at the time of the interference."
OBR 6.01(d) [Unintentional Interference]: "In case of unintentional interference with play by any person herein authorized to be on the playing field (except members of the team at bat who are participating in the game, or a base coach, any of whom interfere with a fielder attempting to field a batted or thrown ball; or an umpire) the ball is alive and in play. If the interference is intentional, the ball shall be dead at the moment of the interference and the umpire shall impose such penalties as in his opinion will nullify the act of interference."

Video as follows:

2018 UEFL Award for Disappointing Season - Eric Cooper

The Umpire Ejection Fantasy League announces its postseason awards schedule, beginning with the Most Disappointing Season, below, and continuing with Most Improved, Fill-In, Crew Chief, Honorable, Promising, Ejection(s) of the Year and concluding with Umpire of the Year. 156 total ballots were cast during this year's nominations process.

UEFL Rule 4-4 governs postseason awards distribution, which begins with Most Disappointing Season.

2018 UEFL Award, Most Disappointing Season: Eric Cooper (56) [2017 Winner: Bucknor/Emmel].
Voting Results (Top 3): Eric Cooper (21.5%), Angel Hernandez (19.2%), Jeff Kellogg (6.9%).

Award Winner: Eric Cooper (56).
Eric Cooper receives the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League's 2018 Most Disappointing Season. In his 21st Major League Baseball umpiring season, Cooper concluded the year with five ejections; he ejected once in 2017 and three in 2016. Cooper might have had one of the strangest ejections you'll ever see in July when he tossed Reds skipper Jim Riggleman over an intentional walk signal from the dugout. Originally ruled irrecusable and affirmed as such by the UEFL Appeals Board, Cooper ejected Riggleman over a dispute as to whether Riggleman visually indicated his request to intentionally walk an opposing batter. Though replays conclusively show Riggleman motioning to walk the hitter, Cooper clearly hadn't seen the sign, and the miscommunication quickly devolved into an unsportsmanlike conduct ejection, eliciting several comments critical of Cooper's apparent shouted instruction to Riggleman to, "do your job."
Related PostMLB Ejection 086 - Eric Cooper (2; Jim Riggleman) (7/3/18).

The "unprofessional" critique followed through into Cooper's August ejections of Yasiel Puig and Nick Hundley for fighting, while another commenter wrote, of Cooper's late August ejection of AJ Hinch, "Cooper definitely was escalating the situation when he started walking towards him. That seems a bit aggressive on his part. But he’s had a year to forget, that’s for sure."
Related PostMLB Ejections 121-122 - Eric Cooper (3-4; Puig, Hundley) (8/14/18).
Related PostMLB Ejection 137 - Eric Cooper (5; AJ Hinch) (8/31/18).

Added another, "Cooper has had a very rough season. Between the post game comments, the Riggleman situation and the fact that he's struggled on the bases this is not what we've usually seen from Cooper."

Cooper finished 79th in Replay Review, with a .350 RAP (seven upheld out of 20 total reviews). His 13 overturns was tied for second-most in the league, behind first place Brian O'Nora and Sam Holbrook (14 each).

Unfortunately, Cooper's streak of seven consecutive years of postseason appearances came to an end in 2018.

UEFL Awards History, Eric Cooper
None.

Eric Cooper now has 1 point in the UEFL Standings (2 Previous - 1 Award = 1).
The next postseason award, Most Improved Umpire of the Year, will be released later this afternoon.


Saturday, November 3, 2018

2018 Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game Umpires

The Arizona Fall League selected four Minor League umpires to officiate Saturday's Fall Stars Game at Surprise Stadium. The AFL umpiring staff is composed of 12 umpires from the International (IL) and Pacific Coast (PCL) Leagues.

Related Post: 2018 Arizona Fall League Umpire Roster.

HP: Adam Beck. IL.
1B: Nestor Ceja. PCL.
2B: Alex Tosi. IL, 2nd AFL, MLB Spring Training.
3B: Brennan Miller. IL.

This is Alex Tosi (photo'd sprinting, below)'s second consecutive AFL Fall Stars Game assignment.

Ed Hickox's Offseason Charity & Angel Flight

MLB umpire Ed Hickox began his offseason in a familiar scene, aboard his Grumman Traveler fixed-wing aircraft. Captain Hickox, who holds a pilot's license, has been flying charity missions for Angel Flight since 2009 and flew to Panama City to help Hurricane Michael survivors in the Florida panhandle.

The part-time seasonal (or, rather "off-seasonal") detective for the Daytona Beach Shores Police Department sure keeps busy after baseball season ends. Explained Hickox to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, "I can't stay still, I guess. I get satisfaction out of being a public servant, helping people in need."

Hickox continued by explaining that the unique schedule of a major league umpire allows him to give back to the community during the winter months, which is why he started flying Angel Flight missions a decade ago:
"In the offseason, when I have the time and the opportunity, I take a mission. I try to do at least one every offseason. Very seldom is it for relief work. Mainly it’s to help people who are sick and can’t afford to go long-distance for treatment plans. If you love flying, what better way to fly than to help someone in need? It’s a nice thing to be able to do, and I’m just fortunate to be able to do it."
Hickox unloads supplies to relief volunteers.
Photos provided to Daytona Beach NJ.
This time around, Hickox flew a 500-pound load of supplies including food and water, diapers, and medicine to Panama City, where he and several other airplanes unloaded their cargo to waiting Hurricane Michael relief personnel. In 2010, for instance, Hickox flew to Haiti after an earthquake devastated that island.

Hickox graduated from the Harry Wendelstedt school and worked his first American League game in 1990. The Florida native was one of 22 umpires to lose his job in 1999, and one of three (the others being Bob Davidson and Tom Hallion) to work his way back through the minor leagues, regaining MLB status in 2005.
Related PostWUA Rebrands as MLB Umpires Launch MLBUA (8/13/18).
Related PostPlate Meeting Podcast Episode 1 - Bob Davidson (7/17/18).

Hickox is likely better known for his character and, coincidentally enough, his law enforcement job, rather than his on-field disciplinary enforcement. Hickox had one ejection in 2018 after a four-year drought (2014).
Related PostMLB Ejection 111 - Ed Hickox (1; Ryan Tepera) (8/7/18).

Friday, November 2, 2018

Arizona Fall League Welcomes NPB (Japan) Umpires

The 2018 Arizona Fall League welcomed two umpires from Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), who joined the MiLB umpire roster in MLB's premiere offseason development program, producing a rare six-man crew in the AFL.

Fresh off the NPB season in Japan, umpires Chikara Tsugawa and Shinji Hashimoto flew to Arizona and have been officiating with American minor league umpires in the Fall League.

For instance, the October 30 Salt River Rafters-Mesa Solar Sox game might have sported an attendance of just 615 at Sloan Park, but its umpire manpower was playoff caliber, with HP Umpire Chikara Tsugawa, 1B Umpire Jansen Visconti, 2B Umpire Nestor Ceja, 3B Umpire Dan Merzel, LF Umpire Shinji Hashimoto, and RF Umpire Brennan Miller.

This isn't the first NPB-MLB umpire collaboration nor is it Tsugawa's first international umpiring experience, either. He officiated with Ted Barrett's crew during pool play of the 2017 World Baseball Classic tournament. Tsugawa also took part in the 2014 MLB Japan All-Star Series, which featured split squads of NPB and MLB officials.
Related Post2018 Arizona Fall League Umpire Roster (10/1/18).
Related Post2017 World Baseball Classic Umpire Roster (3/6/17).
Related PostRoster: 2014 MLB Japan All-Star Series (11/11/14).

Hashimoto worked the November 2006 NPB-MLB All-Star Series at the Tokyo Dome, a partnership between the USA and Japan umpiring bodies that clearly continues into the present day.

Tsugawa and Hishimoto were crewmates during the 2018 NPB season and are now crewmates in the 2018 AFL.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

UEFL Year End Award Nominations for 2018

Award Nominations: The Umpire Ejection Fantasy League prepares to distribute its Postseason Awards to eligible umpires* who, during the past season, have demonstrated significant performances to fit the terms of one of these awards (UEFL Rule 4-4).

Link to Postseason Awards Ballot (also appears below).
a. Umpire of the Year (min. 1 / max. 1 umpire)
b. Promising Umpire of the Year (min. 1 / max. 2 umpires)
c. Honorable Umpire of the Year (min. 0 / max. 2 umpires)
d. Fill-In Umpire of the Year (min. 0 / max. 1 umpire)
e. Most Improved Umpire (min. 0 / max. 1 umpire)
f. Crew Chief of the Year (min. 0 / max. 1 umpire)
g. Best Ejection of the Year (min. 0 / max. 2 ejections) [Link: 2018 MLB Ejections (UEFL Portal)]
h. Most Disappointing Season (min. 0 / max. 1 umpire)

Click here for the complete history and list of UEFL Postseason Awards recipients.

Please take your time in consideration of an umpire for as many or as few awards as you prefer; Ballots will be accepted until 11:59 PM PT on Sunday, November 4; Awards distribution will begin Monday, November 5. To cast your ballot, complete the following voting form.
Points scale for post season awards: a. (+5); b. (+3); c. (+2); d. (+2); e. (+1); f. (+1); g. (+1); h. (-1).
*Eligible umpires are listed on the ballot for each applicable category. For instance, only umpires on the full-time staff roster and any fill-in umpire that has worked at least 115 games over the course of the season are eligible for Awards a-c, e, f and h. You may also write in an umpire if such umpire does not appear by commenting on this post. Make sure you use the phrase "Write In" so it is counted.

Triple-A Umpires with over 115 MLB games in 2018: Lentz (149), Segal (141), Whitson (141), Blakney (126).

a. Umpire of the Year: This Umpire has been the best MLB Umpire the past year, bar none. This Umpire has been more dedicated, professional, and positive than all others. This award will be given to one umpire.
b. Promising Umpire of the Year: This Umpire has been dedicated, professional, and has worked hard. Perhaps a rising star, the Promising Umpire of the Year is an umpire to keep an eye on, for an expectation of great things down the line. Formerly known as Noteworthy Umpire of the Year, this award will be given to one or two umpires.
c. Honorable Umpire of the Year: This Umpire has been the most honorable Umpire during the past year. Perhaps through Community Service, or through struggling with and overcoming his own difficulties, this Umpire has been the most personally admirable of all. This award may or may not be given to either one or two umpires.
d. Fill-In Umpire of the Year: This Umpire has been the best AAA Call-Up Umpire the past year, bar none. This Umpire has been the most dedicated, professional, and positive AAA/Non-MLB Full Time Umpire of all non-MLB Full Time Umpires. This award may or may not be given to a maximum of one umpire.
e. Most Improved Umpire of the Year: This Umpire has improved his overall performance from the previous season more noticeably than any other Umpire. Generally, this umpire has developed into a solid arbiter within the past year. This award may or may not be given to a maximum of one umpire.
f. Crew Chief of the Year: This Umpire has been the best MLB Umpire Crew Chief, the past year, bar none. This Umpire has led his crew(s) better than all others. This award will be given to one umpire.
g. Best Ejection of the Year: In the form of "Ejection 123: Umpire (1)," this award recognizes the best ejection(s) of the year. Nominated and selected due to form, mechanics, entertainment value, reason for ejection, or overall quality, the Best Ejection of the Year is awarded to one or two umpires for one or two specific ejections. The award may be given to one umpire for two separate ejections, in which case, he receives one point for each ejection.
h. Most Disappointing Season: This Umpire has demonstrated a regression in ability, and might have had a regrettable incident(s) occur in-season. The Most Disappointing Season award may or may not be given to a maximum of one umpire.

Ballot as follows:

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Twofer - Plate Umpire Ted Barrett's 18-Inning Night

Baseball is often thought of as a sport where its umpires don't have to be in peak best physical condition. From Simpsons to Seinfeld, the "fat umpire" shtick persists. And then there's Ted Barrett and his World Series crew, 18 innings spanning seven hours and 20 minutes, and umps whose very fitness contrary to the out-of-shape trope enabled these six men to get through a continuous pattern of standing, walking, jogging, running, and—oh yeah—making calls on a baseball field during the third-longest game in Major League history, and the longest postseason game of all-time.

Ted Barrett worked 18 innings behind the plate.
For home plate umpire Barrett himself, add 561 squats (without sitting) over 7:20 of game time, and on top of everything else, you have the sorest thighs in all of baseball, and a not-so-brief glimpse back at a man who used to spar with the likes of boxers George Foreman, Evander Holyfield, and Mike Tyson.

In 2017, Referee showed us that MLB has taken umpires' fitness to the next level, emphasizing several programs to keep the staff in shape and, according to MLB Umpiring Director of Medical Services Mark Letendre, change the perception surrounding the "fat and out of shape" caricature.

But especially for a plate umpire, the physical demands of 18 innings don't paint the whole picture. Barrett told the New York Times that in addition to physically having to work leg and back muscles over the course of the record-setting 440 minutes of baseball in Game 3 of the 2018 World Series, "the mental part is really tough, because you've got to concentrate. It's just complete concentration every pitch, just staying in the moment and fighting any temptation to let your mind wander."

Barrett saw 561 pitches (286 callable).
And for the Rev. Dr. officiating the ceremony known as Game 3 Friday night (you can also call him "Reverend Doctor Crew Chief"), it's a theme that he knows quite well, as his dissertation for Trinity University was entitled, "An Investigation of Faith as a Life Principle in the Lives of Major League Umpires."

Barrett explained how said faith got him through 18 innings at Dodger Stadium: "For me it’s a lot of prayer, it’s quoting verses in my head, and that just helps me stay focused, stay locked in."

Barrett's Calling for Christ ministry for professional umpires grew out of a divided channel that emanated from The Baseball Chapel in 2007, which Barrett was not in charge of. Umpires such as Josh Miller described his experience with the Chapel thusly: "From Day 1 it was uncomfortable...You have a guy coming in and preaching to you about something you don’t believe in, it throws you off mentally."

Al Clark dealt with bigotry in his journey.
Miller also said that he experienced bullying as a result of his Jewish faith. Retired AL umpire Al Clark said he experienced similar anti-Semitism—even threats that made direct reference to his religion, allegedly from Hall of Fame umpire and NL Supervisor Al Barlick—and Bruce Froemming was caught as recently as 2003 using a slur of his own.

When Barrett developed Calling for Christ to fill the void, and as he progressed in his studies into faith, Barrett made it a central point to mold the group's mission to fully embrace and welcome umpires of all walks of life and spiritualities, from atheist beliefs to religious prayer diversity and beyond. CFC grew to establish relationships with Jewish and Muslim clergy, and under Barrett's leadership is in a position to support any umpire and any faith with a key theme of inclusiveness.
Related PostAngel Hernandez, MLB, and Discrimination (Part 2) (7/13/17).

This message of personal virtue ultimately led Barrett to become the most-decorated umpire in UEFL Postseason Awards history, having earned three Crew Chief of the Year titles (2014, 16, 17), three Honorable Umpire of the Year awards (2012, 13, 14), and one (Best) Umpire of the Year trophy (2014).

All of this—and an UMPS CARE visit to Boston Children's Hospital alongside Jeff Nelson, Jim Reynolds, and Tim Timmons on the morning of Game 2—led to a historically challenging game in Los Angeles, during which Barrett logged a 96.9% plate score, actually improving over the final nine innings of the game, and missing just nine pitches on the night...which amounts to just 1.2 per hour.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Plate Meeting Podcast #7 - Call for Q's - Gary Darling

CloseCallSports.com announces its seventh Plate Meeting podcast episode with guest Gary Darling, a 26-year MLB umpire veteran with 3,270 regular season games, 10 Division Series, 5 LCS, and two World Series. Now's your chance to ask Gary questions about his career, including any one of his 111 ejections, UMPS CARE and charitable endeavors.

Darling began his professional umpiring career with the Northwest League in 1980, and officiated the California, Texas, and Pacific Coast Leagues before his promotion to the National League staff in 1988. He was one of the 22 umpires who lost their jobs in the 1999 mass resignation event, and was rehired to the league in 2002, alongside Bill Hohn, Bruce Dreckman, Joe West, Larry Poncino, Larry Vanover, Paul Nauert, and Sam Holbrook.

Since his return, Darling promoted to Crew Chief, officiated Division Series his first and second years back (in addition to 2005, 07, 08, 10, and 13), and worked his first World Series just a year later, in 2003 (his second World Series was in 2010).

In 2005, Umps Care was initially founded to assist retired umpires and their families in financial difficulty, but the group's mission shortly expanded and, under President Darling's leadership, UMPS CARE regularly began to run programs such as BLUE Tickets and the BLUE for Kids hospital visit event, charity golf outings, the annual online auction at MLB.com, and even an UMPS CARE Charities All-Star College Scholarship award.


The Plate Meeting, a Left Field Umpire Podcast is CCS's official audio show where we talk umpiring with umpires, and discuss officiating related issues, including analysis or other conversation pertaining to plays, ejections, rules, and more.

To subscribe to The Plate Meetingvisit our Anchor.fm page, which offers external links to popular podcast providers, such as Apple Podcasts/iTunes, Spotify, Radio Public, and, coming soon, Google Podcasts.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter 🐦 (@UmpireEjections) and like on Facebook 👍 (/UmpireEjections).