Monday, December 31, 2018

ABL Ejection - Greg Howard (Luke Hughes)

After setting an Australian Baseball League record by hitting two grand slams in one game against Geelong-Korea, Melbourne Aces DH Luke Hughes was ejected by 2B Umpire Greg Howard during an incident with the Korean bench in the 9th inning of an 8-1 ballgame.

2B Umpire Greg Howard ejected Aces DH Luke Hughes (Unsportsmanlike-NEC) in the middle of the 9th inning of the Aces-Korea game. After popping out to first baseman Yong-Wook Lee to conclude the top of the inning, an incident transpired between the Geelong-Korea bench and Aces fielders, resulting in Hughes' ejection from the game; Hughes set a league record by clubbing two grand slams and tied the ABL's single game RBI record (8) during Melbourne's preceding game against Geelong-Korea. At the time of the ejection, the Aces were leading, 8-1. The Aces ultimately won the contest, 8-1.

Wrap: Melbourne Aces vs. Geelong-Korea (ABL), 12/29/18 | Video as follows:

Friday, December 28, 2018

The Top 20 Ejections of 2018 - A UEFL Year in Review

As 2018 draws to a close, we revisit this past season of umpiring with a UEFL Year in Review and a look at The Top 20 Umpire Ejections of 2018, featuring your votes from the 2018 year-end Awards Nominations. These Top 20 Ejections were selected from the 185 ejections that occurred during the 2018 baseball year (five pre-season, 179 regular season, and one postseason ejection).

*Quality of Correctness is provided in the following format:
Y = Correct, N = Incorrect, U = Irrecusable.
Note: Click each ejection number and umpire name in the list to view the corresponding ejection report and video from the season.

Umpire Ejection Fantasy League Year in Review: The UEFL's Top 20 Ejections of 2018
20: E-087: Jeff Nelson (2); Dodgers P Daniel Hudson (Instruction/Illegal Motion; QOC = U).
19: E-034: Alan Porter (2); Dodgers LF Matt Kemp (Strike Three Call; QOC = Y).
18E-167: Phil Cuzzi; Nationals Bench Coach Chip Hale (Balls/Strikes; QOC = Y).
17: E-026: Mike Winters (1); Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle (Out of Base Path Call; QOC = Y).
16E-131/132: Bruce Dreckman (1-2); Angels P Deck McGuire, Mgr Mike Scioscia (Throwing At, QOCU).
15: E-111: Ed Hickox (1); Blue Jays pitcher Ryan Tepera (Balls/Strikes Calls; QOC = Y).
14E-017-20: Hunter Wendelstedt (1-4); Multiple Yankees & Red Sox (Fighting; QOC = U).
13: E-116: Bill Miller (1); Cubs Manager Joe Maddon (Runner's Lane Interference; QOC = Y).
12: E-058: Stu Scheurwater (1); Mets Manager Mickey Callaway (No Attempt to Avoid HBP; QOC = Y).
11: E-108: Adam Hamari (2); Red Sox Manager Alex Cora (Warnings; QOC = U).
10: E-175: Joe West (5); Dodgers LF Joc Pederson (Strike One and Two Calls; QOC = Y).
#9: E-170: DJ Reyburn (3); Nationals RF Bryce Harper (Strike Three Call; QOC = N).
#8: E-157: Jeremie Rehak (4); Yankees LF Brett Gardner (Strike One Call; QOC = Y).
#7E-004: Jerry Layne (1); Braves Manager Brian Snitker (Pace of Play/Delay; QOC = U).
#6E-127: Cory Blaser (3); Brewers Manager Craig Counsell (Warnings; QOC = U).
#5: E-129: Mike Muchlinski (1); Mariners Manager Scott Servais (Strike Two Call; QOC = Y).
#4E-154-156: Tom Hallion (1-3); Brewers x3 (Warnings/Non-Ejection; QOC = U).
#3: E-010: Tim Timmons (1); Diamondbacks Manager Torey Lovullo (Strike Calls; QOC = Y).
#2: E-135: Nic Lentz (3); Yankees Manager Aaron Boone (Strike Two Call; QOC = Y).
HONORARY: E-062|63 (2016): Hamari; Revisiting the Situation - Tom Hallion & Terry Collins.
#1: E-062: Joe West (1); Padres Manager Andy Green (Foul Ball Call; QOC = Y).

Links to previous years' Top Ejections countdowns: 20172016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Brawl - State of Venezuelan Winter League Coverage

A huge bench-clearing brawl during Wednesday night's Venezuelan Winter League Leones del Caracas-Tiburones de La Guaira game reminds us of MLB's half-hearted "Caribbean Baseball" association, ejections which we haven't featured as of late due primarily to lack of video. By contrast, the Australian Baseball League posts full video of most games on its YouTube channel.

Fight turns uncontrollable in Venezuela.
This time around, the grainy fan video is useful due precisely to its unique angle, but moreso, it relies on a corresponding TV video for context. We'll go over that a little later on, but let's start by saying this is a pitcher-throwing-at-batter & batter charging the mound situation.

In the 9th inning, HP Umpire Jorge Teran ejected Leones DH Jesus Guzman, SS Wilfredo Tovar, 1B Felix Perez, and Tiburones pitcher Jorgan Cavanerio for fighting after Perez took exception to an inside pitch from Cavanerio. With none out and none on, Cavanerio threw a 0-0 fastball behind Perez, a 1-0 strike, and a 1-1 fastball behind Perez, upon which Perez charged the mound, resulting in a benches-clearing incident. At the time of the ejection, los Tiburones were leading, 6-2, and ultimately won the contest by that same score.

We have two videos for this play: one is from a local television broadcast and one is a fan video. The contrast between the two videos indicates the problem with much footage we see from the winter leagues—the TV video is useful because it shows the entire sequence leading up to the fight. We have a first-pitch fastball thrown behind the batter and, two pitches later, a repeat of ball one and mound charge. This is good to know and better to see.

TV footage is useful for analysis.
We can debate whether warnings should have been issued (there were no earlier HBPs, but, again, we don't have the benefit of the context of the full game, nor any information as to potential history between the teams or players), but at the very least, we do have video of the entire incident.

We have a press box/mid-home video showing what the fight looks like along the infield, and we can discuss such concepts as separating the teams and how to time implementation of the division of halves strategy, etc.
Related PostDodger vs Giants Bench-Clearer and Division of Halves (5/17/17).

Archived pic: What INF Halves look like.
On the other hand, the fan video, taken from the spectator area above the third-base dugout, begins well after both teams have come together on the mound. An angry Leones player is held back on the warning track in foul territory, breaks free, and re-enters the fray, igniting a chaotic brawl that spills into the dugout as fans get involved, throwing drinks and other debris on the players.

The one thing the fan video does help illustrate, however, is how the baseball gathering at the pitcher's mound turned into an all-out fight, thanks to an uncontrolled instigator well removed from the mass of humanity.

We sometimes may wonder why, during a bench-clearing, an umpire will stay with one player well away from the large gathering. We see an umpire take a player (generally, the principal combatant who is at a 10-out-of-10 on the emotional scale) out of the pile and stay nearby that player while the meeting breaks up. Is it a good idea to isolate ourselves "one-on-one" so to speak and leave the rest of the crew to fend for themselves in regard to the remaining 50 people on the field? HINT: The answer will vary depending on the size of the crew.

Fan video angle from third base.
Well, this time, we see what happens when we don't stay with the 10/10 emotional player. Thanks to the fan video, we see that this player breaks free from his teammates' restraint and restarts something that looked to be calming down.

Lesson: In a mound charging situation, don't lose sight of the batter or the pitcher, because in general, these are the two people who are most likely to cause or participate in a fight, especially if they have the opportunity to get lost in the shuffle. This is where sensitivity becomes an umpire's greatest asset. If you notice—or sense—a 10/10 emotional player, whether it's the pitcher, batter, or someone else, you'll want to give them more time and attention than you would to a 5/10 or someone else who is just there for the sake of being part of the ruckus.

Get them out of the pile and keep them out. If you can afford to, stay with them until it's absolutely clear they are no longer a threat to spark an all-out melee.

On Winter Coverage: It's not that ejections aren't happening (indeed, HP Umpire Jose Navas [MiLB, 2018 Southern League] ejected Cardenales de Lara Manager Jose Moreno yesterday as well), it's that video is scant and when video does emerge, rarely is it useful for education purposes—often fan-provided footage that begins too late, leaves out the play or other relevant event, and is otherwise far below our expected quality standard.

In the aforementioned fight, our fan footage 1) fortuitously featured the problem player, and 2) was accompanied by TV film that provided much-needed context for the fight. With fan footage alone, we'd know the player was angry, but we wouldn't as easily know why. Without the TV video, the fan footage greatly loses value.

Watching a fight without any knowledge as to the play that preceded it isn't too educationally valuable, other than to determine whether or not we'd need to forfeit the game (and the lower the level, the greater likelihood that the corresponding answer would be "yes").

This time, however, the fan video just happened to catch the primary problem player at exactly the right time.

Wrap: Leones del Caracas vs Tiburones de La Guaira (Venezuelan), 12/20/18 | Videos as follows:

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Plate Meeting Podcast 8 - Call for Q's - Jerry Crawford

CloseCallSports.com announces its eighth Plate Meeting podcast episode with guest Jerry Crawford, a 35-year MLB umpire veteran with 4,371 regular season games, five Division Series, 12 LCS, and five World Series. Now's your chance to ask Jerry questions about his career and any of his 86 career ejections.

Crawford began his professional umpiring career with the New York-Penn League in 1967, and officiated the Florida State, Carolina, Eastern, and International Leagues before his promotion to the National League staff in 1976. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Jerry is the son of long-time Major League umpire Shag Crawford and brother of retired NBA referee Joe Crawford.

As we wrote in our recent retro Teachable Moment, Crawford didn't eject relatively often, but was involved in a few intense rhubarbs during his tenure in the majors.
Related PostTeachable - Feisty Ejections, Jerry Crawford Style (12/12/18).


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. Due to the holidays, Episode 8 is presently scheduled for record & release in early January.

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).

Monday, December 17, 2018

Teachable - Handling a Big Moment Ejection

In this Retro Teachable, brought to you by Pro Umpire Camp (click on the link below for more info), we hearken and glance back to a rare playoff ejection involving a pitcher and a star one at that. At the time this umpire-pitcher interaction was one of the most controversial moments in sports. Lip readers were breaking down what Roger Clemens said to American League Umpire Terry Cooney to warrant an ejection. To our younger audience this may be new, but to anyone over the age of 40 this should be a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

Clemens confronts Cooney.
If you have time, I suggest rewinding and watching the video from the very beginning. First off, if listening to the old CBS baseball theme doesn't bring you chills, I don't know what will. Next, it provides some much needed context leading up to our situation. Anywho, you can fast forward to the 7:33-mark for the main event.

Right before the ejection, and Jim Grey's interesting story on Mike Gallego's glove (remember when sideline/field reports weren't forced into our games), Willie Randolph walks on a pitch Clemens thinks is a strike. When Gallego enters the box, he's looking out towards the mound, sees something, and backs out. Why would he do that? Hold that thought!

A couple seconds later Cooney ejects Clemens in what at the time appeared an EJ that came out of nowhere. As we continue to watch, CBS shows an angle focused on Clemens and I'm not a professional lip reader, but it certainly appears there was a 'F******* Sucks' in there. Interestingly, why did Clemens stay on the mound as if he was going to continue to pitch? It's pretty clear that Cooney gave him a rather large heave ho, a relative rarity for Cooney, who once went nearly three years and 300+ games without an ejection, from August 1986 to May 1989 (Cooney also tossed Marty Barrett, who threw a bucket and other debris onto the playing field during the incident).

Clemens talks to LF Umpire John Hirschbeck.
Contrary to popular belief, you don't get to say anything you want to an umpire in a playoff game.  It's pretty obvious that Clemens, pitching on three-days' rest and getting hit around, doesn't want to be out there. When interviewed afteward, Clemens didn't say that he didn't deserve to be tossed. Instead, he said in a Sports Illustrated article, "I was verbal during the Series, very verbal. Even before that game, I got caught on the bench on TV a couple of times being verbal."

In fact, Clemens was so verbal that the Commissioner's Office led at the time by Fay Vincent hired a lip reader, concluding that Clemens deserved a five-game suspension for bumping an umpire following the ejection and for threatening Cooney; however, MLB determined that the umpires weren't truthful in describing the incident. Clemens was definitely disputing the strike zone, but MLB's lip reader determined that he didn't say anything personal, despite two umpires reporting that Clemens told Cooney, "I'm going to find out where you live. I'm going to get you."

Whether Cooney and crew were guilty of being inaccurate in the report, we'll never know because it wasn't made public, but in your games, you best be accurate. Don't lie. Remember, head coaches and managers and players like nothing more than to call an umpire wrong. If you're in a situation it is hard to get everything 100% perfect, but don't add things that you know didn't happen. Have integrity. Plus, these days, they can go to the 4K HD video and pick everything apart.

But all that is just a sidebar to the real issue here: the player. We've talked about handling pitchers on the mound in a previous teachable and I stand by what I said there (and if you haven't yet, you might want to read that teachable, too). At all costs get your catcher to go out to the mound and save the pitcher. I get it—we are under mound visit restrictions now, but nobody wants to launch the starting pitcher in the 2nd inning, let alone in a playoff game.
Related PostTmac - Situation Handling and Pitcher Disagreement (7/31/17).

Cooney points toward Clemens.
While this EJ was proper, could it have been prevented? If Gallego could see Clemens was unraveling and had time to step out of the box, how did veteran catcher Tony Pena not see it? I understand the dugouts are a mile away in Oakland, but nobody on the coaching staff recognized The Rocket was in outer space? Keeping players in games is often a team effort, and without the help of the adults in the room, an umpire is often left with no recourse, even in a game of this magnitude.

How often have we seen an umpire step out in front of home plate to issue such an ultimatum warning as Kaat suggests Cooney should have done, and then be accused of being the aggressor? An umpire shouldn't march to the mound by any means, but if removing the mask and taking so much as one step toward the pitcher in order to warn is seen as an antagonistic act, how do you think a subsequent ejection will be viewed (answer: "the umpire had it out for me and the video will show it")?

Cuzzi warns Vogelsong before tossing him.
For instance, Phil Cuzzi took his mask off, put up a stop sign, and didn't even step toward the mound before ejecting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong (and skipper Bruce Bochy) in 2015...yet the broadcaster's analysis was, "Phil's having a bad night...If Phil Cuzzi turns around and says to Boch, 'I missed that pitch,' there's no argument." Naturally, QOC for these ejections was Correct, but let's not allow facts to get in the way of an ex-player's grievance. Earlier, we spoke to an umpire needing help from the coaching staff, but here it looks like Bochy is hurting Vogelsong, which makes it absolutely impossible for Phil to keep either man in the game. This is a case of a manager actively helping his pitcher to get ejected.

On the plus side, we did get a, "that's an inexperienced catcher right there."
Related PostMLB Ejections 116-117: Phil Cuzzi (3-4; Vogelsong, Bochy) (7/5/15).

Succinctly, when an umpire is hung out to dry, some things simply don't get the intermediate step of an informal "stop sign" style warning.

Don Denkinger analyzed the ejection.
SIDEBAR: If you watch the extended version, you're in for a special treat around the 13-minute mark. Don Denkinger, who was an American League umpire at the time, provides his insight as a studio analyst.

We've talked many times about non-officials' general lack of rules knowledge, whether it is the managers (6.6 out of 10), players (5.5), media (4.4), fans (3.7), or Aaron Boone (1.0 out of 10...on a 10-question true/false quiz). Bob Davidson has told us many times not to listen to the broadcasters because they just don't get it.

I'm pretty sure many of us who frequent this website would be able to provide better insight as to officiating and the rules of baseball than most of the current broadcasting crop that has zero umpiring experience. How refreshing it is to see Denkinger in the studio ready to provide an umpire's wisdom in real-time to a national television audience.
Related PostESPN Baseball Quiz: Media Scores Low, Players Run Gamut (6/18/13).

Katt wanted Cooney to go "above the rule."
After Denkinger's explanation, Jim Kaat opts to speak "over and above the rule," saying that he believes common sense should have prevailed. Which, given Kaat's introductory statement of going "over and above the rule," logically means that, in Kaat's opinion, Cooney should have treated Clemens as if he were "above the rule."

It should go without saying that an umpire is prohibited from going outside of (or "above") the rules to administer a baseball game.

We also see Clemens refusing to leave the dugout such that Jim Evans ultimately has to prod Boston to get him to leave.

Finally, if you've read to here, you deserve an inside scoop! Wednesday we'll announce our next guest on The Plate Meeting and we think you're going to love who we have in store. That means we'll be calling for your questions. So come back later this week for the big news!

Video as follows:

Sunday, December 16, 2018

ABL Ejection - Stewart Howe (Lim/Korea [HP Collision])

HP Umpire Stewart Howe ejected Geelong-Korea 2B Jong-Hyuk Lim (home plate collision/illegal contact; QOCU) in the bottom of the 3rd inning of the Auckland Tuatara-Geelong-Korea game. With one out and two on (R1, R3), baserunner R3 Lim attempted to steal home on throw from Tuatara catcher Taka Kaneko's to shortstop Taylor Snyder, Snyder catching Kaneko's throw in front of second base and returning the ball to F2 Kaneko as R3 Lim arrived at home plate. Replays indicate Kaneko tagged the runner well in advance of home plate and, in doing so, legally blocked the runner's access to home plate by virtue of Kaneko possessing the baseball prior to the runner's arrival, and that R3 Lim ran into the catcher, resulting in injury.* At the time of the ejection, Geelong-Korea was leading, 1-0. Geelong-Korea ultimately won the contest, 3-0.

*Rule 6.01(i)(1) pertains to the baserunner's responsibility during a home plate collision situation and states, "A runner attempting to score may not deviate from his direct pathway to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher (or other player covering home plate), or otherwise initiate an avoidable collision." 6.01(i)(1) comment states, in part, "The failure by the runner to make an effort to touch the plate, the runner’s lowering of the shoulder, or the runner’s pushing through with his hands, elbows or arms, would support a determination that the runner deviated from the pathway in order to initiate contact with the catcher in violation of Rule 6.01(i), or otherwise initiated a collision that could have been avoided...

"If a catcher blocks the pathway of the runner, the umpire shall not find that the runner initiated an avoidable collision in violation of this Rule 6.01(i)(1)."

Is R3 legitimately trying to reach the plate?
Replays indicate R3 ran toward the foul territory side of the baseline and remained rather upright such that he did not lower his shoulder or push through the catcher, as in 6.01(i)(l) Comment. R3 also stepped on home plate, or by his actions, indicated an attempt to reach home plate.

Gil's Call: I don't believe the runner has deviated from his direct pathway to to the plate to initiate an avoidable collision. The runner has made an effort to touch the plate, kept his shoulder upright, and has not pushed through with his arms, hands, or elbows. The catcher legally blocks the runner's path by virtue of possessing the baseball. This is a legal collision and the runner is out for having been tagged while off his base.

To review, under OBR, this likely is not a 6.01(i)(1) violation on the runner's behalf and, even if it were, is not an automatic ejection using the code under which MLB/MiLB abides. ABL guidelines may vary, which may explain the basis for this ejection.

NFHS/NCAA Rules Differences: That said, this may be deemed malicious contact under the NFHS/high school ruleset, which does carry the penalty of ejection. Obviously, the Force Play Slide Rule (FPSR) does not apply here as this was not a force play. NCAA/college Rule 8-7 pertains to collisions and states, in part, "If the defensive player blocks the base (plate) or base line with clear possession of the ball, the runner may make contact, slide into or make contact with a fielder as long as the runner is making a legitimate attempt to reach the base (plate). Contact above the waist that was initiated by the base runner shall not be judged as an attempt to reach the base or plate." If the contact is flagrant or malicious, the runner is ejected from the game.

Wrap: Auckland Tuatara vs. Geelong-Korea (ABL DH Game 2), 12/15/18 | Video as follows:

Friday, December 14, 2018

NFL Fines Ellison - A Postgame Lesson from Eddings

After the National Football League fined umpire Roy Ellison $9,300 (one game fee for an NFL ump) for purportedly calling a player a derogatory name during a postgame argument, we recall Doug Eddings' different method of handling an abuse incident following a game in 2015. While the NFL significantly punished Ellison, Eddings received no such public admonishment from MLB. Why?

How should officials react to postgame abuse?
This article will explore the Ellison and Eddings postgame player/coach abuse incidents, as well as Ellison's and Eddings' different approaches to situation handling that saw the former in hot water with the league while the latter simply went on with his regular duties.

Ellison & Hughes: According to a league source, the NFL's decision to fine and reinstate Ellison, after placing him on administrative leave, follows a postgame confrontation between Ellison and Buffalo Bills player Jerry Hughes on December 2. Upon leaving the field and heading to the officials' room after Miami defeated Buffalo that day, Hughes appeared to follow Ellison and seek out a conflict. In turn, Ellison purportedly called Hughes a derogatory name as Hughes shouted back toward Ellison, resulting in the League's decision to place Ellison on administrative leave.

Umpire Ellison Fined: After reviewing the evidence, the NFL fined Ellison $9,300—or his standard per-game rate—and reinstated him for this weekend's games. In other words, Ellison's punishment was a de facto suspension last week, and forfeiture of his entire game fee from the December 2 Bills-Dolphins contest.

Player Hughes Fined: Buffalo DE Hughes received a $53,482 fine for his actions. Hughes is set to earn approximately $10.4 million, including bonuses, or $6.35 million in base salary alone, which means his $53,482 fine represents approximately 0.84% of this base salary figure, or about one-seventh of a game fee.

SIDEBAR: 0.84% is notably greater than the .09%-of-salary demonstrated by MLB's $10,000 fine dished to Ian Kinsler for his postgame personal remarks about Angel Hernandez in 2017.
Related PostToken Gesture - Kinsler Fined $10k, .09% of $11m Salary (8/21/17).

Lessons Learned: What we see here is the high standard officials are held to and what happens when an official's interpersonal actions deviate from that standard.

Umpires toss players/coaches. Not vice versa.
Power Imbalance: In short, sports officials have power over players and coaches; referees and umpires have the authority to warn, disqualify, or eject dissenting or unsporting team personnel, while team members enjoy no such power over the contest officials.

Because of this dynamic, the onus on upstanding citizenship must fall to the officials.

Different Era: Earlier this week, tmac's Teachable Moment featured Jerry Crawford's animated arguments with Lou Piniella and Don Zimmer (and another with AJ Hinch).
Related PostTeachable - Feisty Ejections, Jerry Crawford Style (12/12/18).

We wrote that Crawford umpired during a different time where ferocious battles like these were commonplace, and that this 'old school' approach isn't as welcome in sports anymore, but don't let the veracity of yesterday's ejection theatre detract from one of these central points from this Teachable's conclusion: "I'm not saying scream at the dugout. But don't allow them to run you over, either. Be stern, be fair, and most of all, be in control."

Crawford's battles were measured.
Let's look at that last phrase, "be in control." The reason Ellison received such a punishment was that he was not in control. Yes, it's true that an official's recourse for postgame misconduct can be rather limited, especially when the act occurs outside the visual confines of the playing area or near the officiating crew's dressing room, and it's similarly true that this is when we as officials are often at our most vulnerable.

Even so, we must remain "in control" and, as Crawford did in the Teachable, "let you know I'm here," while still not crossing the line into personal insults, as Ellison purportedly did by allegedly calling Hughes a derogatory name.

Consider this: If a player or coach flagrantly violates the sporting rules by verbally attacking or abusing an official, the official's recourse is to issue an administrative warning, technical foul, unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, code violation, misconduct, game misconduct, and/or ejection.

Crawford tells Hinch it's time to go.
Those are a lot of options (yes, from many different sports, but the point is that every sport's rules book provides officials with recourse to combat abuse from players and coaches). In other words, if a coach threatens, insults, or otherwise engages in unsporting behavior, the official's response is prescribed by book—it effectively punishes the offender while professionally reinforcing the official's authority, without devolving into ad hominem insults or off-topic attacks.

Even after Crawford finishes his bobblehead sequence with AJ Hinch in the aforementioned Teachable, he quickly returns to the rulebook by ordering Hinch to leave the field (which Hinch does shortly thereafter). Again, Crawford's rhubarbs were largely controlled.

Now, if a player or coach engages in such misconduct after the game is over and after the official's jurisdiction over the game has terminated, the official's recourse is to document the misconduct and file a report with the assignor, supervisor, commissioner, league, conference, etc. At this point, the contest rules largely fall away and it's now an issue of violating league protocol, rather than violating an individual contest rule. Because the governing documents and codes are different in this postgame environment, it requires a different tact.

Ejection 161: Doug Eddings (3; Ian Kinsler)
Example of Proper Umpire Response to Postgame Misconduct (Eddings): After losing to Boston on April 29, 2015, Blue Jays coach Brook Jacoby allegedly shoved 3B Umpire Doug Eddings in a Fenway Park hallway leading to the clubhouses and umpire room. MLB also fined Toronto Manager John Gibbons $5,000 for contributing to the incident with unsporting comments prior to the hallway event.

Toronto had complained about HP Umpire Adrian Johnson's strike zone during the game, but the crew effected no ejections—in fact, none of Eddings' 85 major league ejections through 2018 have featured a Blue Jay.

Jacoby's alleged actions weren't solely confined to verbal abuse (he accused MLB of a "very biased, harsh, and unfair" penalty, adding that he refused to apologize despite reports stating he allegedly "pinned Eddings against the wall and had his arm around his throat") and could have provoked Eddings into a fight, which we would certainly have heard about. Instead, Eddings handled it a different way, and he didn't receive any punishment for his response.

The reason we didn't see any publicly announced discipline for Eddings is because according to multiple reports—from crew chief Bill Miller, a Red Sox security staffer, and MLB's Resident Security Agent assigned to Boston—Eddings didn't cross the line with Jacoby as Ellison purportedly did with Hughes on December 2, 2018. Instead, he let his crew chief, Miller, file a report with the league, and MLB took care of the purported postgame miscreant, suspending Jacoby 14 games, or about nine percent of his salary. Just your standard offseason lesson in handling incidents after the game is over.
Related PostJays Appeal Punishment for Jacoby-Eddings Ump Shove (5/5/15).

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Teachable - Feisty Ejections, Jerry Crawford Style

Before we begin today's Jerry Crawford ejection lesson, I'd like to welcome Pro Umpire Camp to the Close Call Sports family. They have joined us as a title sponsor to the Teachables! See their banner below.

Today we look at two game management situations involving an all-time great, Jerry Crawford.

Jerry Crawford and Cubs skipper Don Zimmer.
For those who don't know, Jerry's father, Shag, umpired over 3100 MLB games and three World Series. Jerry worked nearly 4500 games including the postseason and appeared in five World Series. Let's take a gander at two plays where umpires could take control and lets talk a little about handling benches. While every bench jockeying situation is unique, there are some rules of thumb that may help you when you return to the field.

Frankly, I yearn for the days of when you could handle stuff the way Crawford does here, but those days are gone and they aren't coming back. If you can find the video when AJ Hinch is unmanned by Crawford (corresponding to 2009's Ejections: Jerry Crawford (3)) it's one of the great ones.

Video 1: Jerry Crawford ejects Cincinnati's Lou Piniella after a heated hit-by-pitch from Montreal.
Crawford and Piniella go nose to nose.
In our first video we witness a 2-2 offering to a batter with runners on first and third and one out with the defensive team, Montreal, leading 3-2 in the bottom of the sixth. On the surface, it doesn't make much sense to hit a guy to load the bases up a run and you can clearly understand why Crawford handled the situation this way, without warning or ejecting the pitcher. Like a good crew chief, Doug Harvey, who is enshrined on Cooperstown, takes some of the heat off Crawford. Piniella is sticking up for his guys because it's the second time they were hit in the game.

This is the kind of thing that just happens in baseball, a strange play that in the moment a team interprets as an attack by the other team, but in the grand scheme of things, intentionally hitting someone makes no sense here. Manager Piniella is trying to show some emotion (albeit contrived) and full well knows he will be ejected but does it anyway. Umpire can't look like he's weak so he must respond. Pretty textbook.

But what happens now? I'd like to think that if you tell a screaming manic something rational, he'd just go "ok," but that won't happen. If you eject, your supervisor or assignor may ask, "Did you warn him?"—that very question shows up on a lot of the ejection report forms around the sport these days, too. And every time I hear it, I throw up in my mouth a little. If I went to my boss and told him where he can shove his newspaper do you suppose he'd warn me or would he fire me? Think about it. I love that Crawford is completely in control until Piniella takes a cheap shot on his return to the hole. At this point, Crawford gives no quarter. He simply is one of the best at handing these types of situations, as "old school" as it might seem.

Video 2: Don Zimmer and Crawford have a back-and-forth after a three-pitch strikeout.
Zimmer and Crawford discuss a check swing.
Our second video is one of my favorites and if you haven't seen it, you're in for a treat: It's a heavyweight fight between Don Zimmer and Crawford (come for the Zim-Crawford argument, stay for the Joe West comments). I love this for a number of reasons. It's an age when if a player showed up an umpire, the umpire could let him know about it. We have a pitcher who didn't like strike two and shows up the umpire in my opinion. So, Crawford gets strike three on a borderline check swing—it's a 50/50 as they tend to be, and it is the plate umpire's call if he sees it. After being shown up on strike two, it figures the scales would be tipped toward a strikeout.

The manager will stick up for his batter, and it looks evident that Zimmer was ejected for, as Bill Klem would put it, crossing the Rio Grande with that one final gesture from the dugout. Now, whether or not you agree with the way this is handled, one thing is certain: Don't mess with Jerry Crawford. He gave you an honest day's work for an honest day's pay and you will learn that he is in complete control of his games. You probably noticed Joe West come in towards the end with Charlie Williams, but did you know Bill Hohn was the second base umpire?

So you've seen these videos and are thinking that Crawford must have had hundreds of ejections in his career. Nope, just 86. Even though we saw two very fiery Crawford ejections here, Jerry had one ejection for every 50+ games that he officiated, which is amongst the lowest rates in umpiring. Ted Barrett, Tim Timmons, Hunter Wendelstedt, Bill Klem...these are just some of the names who ejected more frequently than Crawford. So too did Jerry's dad, Shag (once every 41 games).
Related PostPolls: He Gone (Average Ejection Rate Results), 8/1/11.

A manager once told me he appreciated how I handled his opponent's dugouts. I thought it odd, but the next night while I worked third, with the heat off, I asked him what he meant. He said that the team he was playing was a bunch of crybabies and when they played a few weeks ago, the umpires bent to their will. Managers know who they can yell at to get calls and who will shut it down. You don't wanna be a guy who is knows as someone that gives calls after you get yelled at.

Now, don't misunderstand me: I'm not saying scream at the dugout. But don't allow them to run you over, either. Be stern, be fair, and most of all, be in control. Contrary to what some will say, I think Crawford knows exactly what he's doing in both of these videos. He's making a point that if you come at me, I'm going to let you know I'm here. In today's times, we can do the same thing. All situations are unique, but I just wanted to take a look at one of my personal favorite umpires handing two non-believers in a way that worked for him. Handle things based on your personality, but don't have your head in the sand and pretend nobody ever says anything to you. We'll be back next week with another teachable. Until next time: Happy Umpiring everyone!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

ABL - Bench Clearing After Home Run Taunt, Gesture

Benches cleared after a 9th inning go-ahead home run by Sydney Blue Sox batter Gift Ngoepe, who yelled at Sydney Bandits pitcher Loek Van Mil, who responded with a lewd gesture similar to that which Joe West ejected Jonathan Papelbon for in Philadelphia during the 2014 MLB season.

With two out and none on—Van Mil having already surrendered a game-tying home run to Sydney's Dwayne Kemp—Ngoepe hit a home run to left field. While rounding second base, Ngoepe appeared to repeatedly look toward the pitcher's mound before yelling in that direction as he rounded third base. In turn, Van Mil made a lewd gesture that somewhat resembled the crotch-grabbing maneuver ex-Phillies pitcher Jonathan Papelbon made toward the fans of Philadelphia as he exited a game in September 2014, leading to an ejection care of Crew Chief Joe West.
Related PostMLB Ejection 189: Joe West (3; Jonathan Papelbon) (9/14/14).

No one was ejected this time around in Brisbane, as HP Umpire Paul Latta and crew herded the Blue Sox and Bandits back toward their respective dugouts.

Wrap: Sydney Blue Sox vs. Brisbane Bandits (ABL), 12/2/18 | Video as follows:

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Hernandez's Lawsuit Seeks Replay - A Review of Our Stats

Umpire Angel Hernandez has filed an amended complaint in his discrimination lawsuit against MLB, requesting information about Replay Review. Our UEFL replay stats database goes back to 2014, so we present these historical statistics, relative to the suit's relevant period, which ends in 2017.

Hernandez v MLB progresses this offseason.
Suit History - Since We Last Spoke.
Since we last discussed the Hernandez v. The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball et al lawsuit in October 2018, when Judge Barrett of Ohio Southern District Court granted MLB's motion to transfer venue to the Southern District of New York, Judge J. Paul Oetken took over the case, the two sides filed a slew of letters and motions, added and removed attorneys, and Hernandez filed an amended complaint just after Thanksgiving, reiterating his demand for a jury trial and seeking further information from MLB in regard to performance metrics, evaluations, and Replay Review protocols to address charges of unlawful discrimination relative to 1) Crew Chief promotions and 2) World Series assignments.

As we previously wrote, Hernandez's ejection statistics are rather middle-road, if not fewer-than-average, and the entire situation presents a red herring of a perceived attitude issue from decades ago (e.g., Hernandez's allegation against Torre refers to a hold-over animus from 2001) that has embedded itself so deeply into Hernandez's reputation that many observers are having an incredibly difficult time divorcing the past from present-day fact.
Related PostBallad of Angel Hernandez - An Umpire's Controversy (10/9/18).

It's even schadenfreude-like in that Hernandez's three-overturn ALDS Game 3 produced a Google rating of "100" interest on October 9, 2018, versus Larry Vanover's Google interest rating of 2 on August 10, 2017, when Vanover was similarly overturned three times in one game. By the way, Hernandez's interest rating on that same day (August 10, 2017) was also 2 (he had the plate in Chicago-AL and was challenged on a hit-by-pitch call, which was affirmed as a HBP).
Related PostReplay Oddity - Vanover Overturned 3 Times Thurs (8/11/17).

Hernandez's 98% plate in the 2018 ALDS.
For instance, Yankees losing pitcher CC Sabathia's recent call to bar Hernandez from the postseason (and, implicitly, from baseball altogether) after Boston clinched Game 4 of the 2018 American League Division Series included opinions masquerading as facts that were not supported by evidence. For instance, Sabathia said, "He's absolutely terrible. He was terrible behind the plate today," all while the actual plate performance score Hernandez put up in Game 4 was the highest of the entire series, even benefitting Sabathia specifically to the tune of calling one additional strike on a Sabathia-thrown pitch outside of the zone, and getting 100% of his ball calls correct. Though Hernandez's replay performance during the ALDS was historically poor, his plate was significantly strong.
Related PostCC Meta Game - Is Open Season on Umpires MLB Ploy? (10/10/18).

SIDEBAR: Sabathia's statement ("he was terrible behind the plate today") is an example of the immature Freudian defense mechanism known as projection. Sabathia is the one who lost the game, and Hernandez's plate performance was statistically stellar.
Related PostGil's Call: The Blame Game (Umpire Scapegoating) (8/8/14).

I'll reiterate that the Commissioner's Office's continued failure in recent years (since, approximately, 2016) to adequately address the Kinsler- and Sabathia-esque personal attacks (in additions to the Gomez, etc. episodes targeting umpires other than Hernandez) increases the likelihood of a potential hostile work environment claim with EEOC down the road, but that's another issue for another day.

Profits above people. Umpires are the "people."
Pedro Martinez too has repeatedly said things like, "He's as bad as there is" in front of a national audience, all without supporting evidence. After all, baseless claims are rather routine in today's society, and, as we've long known, objective evidence is the enemy of emotional argument; thus, it would be in the best interests of those like Sabathia and Martinez to quash such discovery in favor of generating prosperous storylines.

MLB, of course, has an additional concern relative to the privacy rights of its umpires and Umpiring Department. Accordingly and not surprisingly, MLB bit back at Hernandez's requests for employment documents, requesting confidentiality in regard to grievance and arbitration material, as well as umpire training, evaluation, and replay-related information. MLB also accused Hernandez of weaponizing the legal process to breach the privacy rights of others.

Judge Oetken agreed, in part, issuing on November 28 a protective order regarding procedures to be followed as to the handling of confidential material, though the judge didn't agree with MLB's allegation that Hernandez was "weaponizing" discovery or ostensibly acting in bad faith.

Disclaimer/Lest We Forget: MLB reviewed umpires calls long before Replay Review's expansion (and still does)...we just never heard about it. Umpires were constantly observed/reviewed behind the scenes, and could watch a disc/video of games/calls. Correct/incorrect existed prior to replay's 2014 expansion, and thus, the following statistics represent a somewhat limited basis for evaluation. These are likely some of the documents Hernandez is requesting in his amended complaint.

The Stats: To the extent plainly available, we present Replay Review statistics during the relevant period, namely 2014-17. Included are Angel Hernandez and the seven umpires promoted to crew chief between 2013 and 2017 (years as a full-time crew chief indicated in bold). The stats table includes Replay Affirmation Percentage (RAP), league-wide RAP ranking, and raw number of calls overturned (QOCN).
Umpire2014201520162017
Hernandez.450 (58th), 11 QOCN.579 (26th), 8 QOCN.400 (69th), 12 QOCN.471 (48th), 9 QOCN
Barrett, T.455 (57th), 12 QOCN.364 (78th), 7 QOCN.696 (5th), 7 QOCN.643 (16th), 5 QOCN
Culbreth.667 (15th), 5 QOCN.643 (11th), 5 QOCN.500 (31st), 11 QOCN.550 (35th), 9 QOCN
Emmel.333 (78th), 4 QOCN.615 (18th), 5 QOCN.440 (58th), 14 QOCN.450 (53rd), 11 QOCN
Everitt.385 (73rd), 4 QOCN.500 (42nd), 5 QOCN.647 (14th), 6 QOCN.438 (60th), 9 QOCN
HolbrookN/A [0 Games].688 (5th), 5 QOCN.611 (21st), 7 QOCN.368 (75th), 12 QOCN
Joyce.333 (78th), 4 QOCN.556 (30th), 4 QOCN.450 (53rd), 11 QOCNN/A [Retired]
Meals.556 (34th), 8 QOCN.444 (64th), 10 QOCN.250 (87th), 15 QOCN.471 (48th), 9 QOCN
Miller.625 (24th), 6 QOCN.357 (81st), 9 QOCN.455 (49th), 12 QOCN.643 (16th), 5 QOCN
Nelson.533 (38th), 7 QOCN.588 (21st), 7 QOCN.636 (15th), 8 QOCN.375 (72nd), 10 QOCN
Vanover.571 (32nd), 9 QOCN.500 (42d), 10 QOCN.600 (22nd), 6 QOCN.308 (81st), 18 QOCN

Here are the leaders, amongst crew chiefs and candidates for crew chief (defined as those who promoted to crew chief between 2015 and 2018 [e.g., after Replay Review's expansion] and broken down into two groups - those already hired by the indicated year and those hired in a subsequent year), for overturned calls (QOCN). 2018 is also included for illustrative purposes (though, bear in mind, Hernandez's suit was filed in 2017...more on this in the "what this means" section).

> 2014: Cederstrom (14); T Barrett (12); Welke, AH (11); Layne (10).
> 2015: Hirschbeck, T Welke (12); Kellogg, Meals, Vanover, West (10); Davis, Miller (9); AH (8).
> 2016: Davis (16); Meals (15); Emmel (14); Hirschbeck (13); Miller, Scott, AH (12).
> 2017: Vanover (18); Holbrook (12); Emmel, Layne (11); Davis, Nelson (10); AH (9).
> 2018: Holbrook (14); AH (13 incl postseason); Wegner (12); Meals (11); AH (10 reg season only).

RAP vs Raw: We discussed in the past the potentially misleading nature of Replay Affirmation Percentage (RAP) because, unlike batting average or ball/strike percentage, RAP is dependent on whether the manager opts to pursue video review (via challenge or crew chief review). If the manager decides not to request a review when an incorrect call has been made or if the manager decides to request a review when an obviously correct call has been made, the RAP statistic becomes subject to team-influenced bias. Meanwhile, raw overturned values—simply put, the number of overturned calls an umpire has experienced—eliminates the possibility of superfluous reviews, though it still leaves open the door to a manager's failure to review.

Paul Emmel is our QOCN statistical outlier.
Raw Overturns: Regardless, take a look at the Raw Overturn list from 2014-2017. Hernandez (denoted by AH) never leads the raw overturn category; In 2014, Ted Barrett (promoted to crew chief in 2013) had one more overturned call than Hernandez. In 2015, Jerry Meals and Larry Vanover (both promoted to crew chief in 2015) had more overturned calls (10 to eight). In 2016, Meals and Paul Emmel (promoted in 2017) had more overturned calls (15 and 14, respectively, to Hernandez's 12). In 2017, Vanover, Emmel, and Sam Holbrook (promoted in 2017) all had more overturned calls (18, 12 & 11 to nine), and in 2018, Holbrook had more overturned calls (14 to 13 [or nine, if only considering the regular season]).

What This Means: Statistically, Hernandez grades out better than at least one (generally a handful) recently hired crew chief every year when it comes to Replay Review. The conundrum becomes that the Crew Chiefs he bests each year in the raw overturn category are all, with the exception of Paul Emmel in 2016, already Crew Chiefs by the time they perform worse than Hernandez.

This trend also exists for top replay CC Everitt.
For instance, Meals and Vanover didn't make the overturn leaderboard until their inaugural season as Crew Chief in 2015; Holbrook didn't make it until his promotion year of 2017; Wegner didn't make it until his promotion year of 2018. The only outlier is Emmel in 2016, wherein he was promoted to Crew Chief in 2017. It's as if MLB wanted to hire Emmel prior to the 2016 season, but there were no available slots, so his promotion was held over until 2017.

A final case study can be found with Mike Everitt, who was a top-tier Replay umpire as a number-two prior to his promotion to Crew Chief in 2017 (no more than six raw overturns from 2014-16). Upon promotion, QOCN spiked to nine. Had he not been injured in early 2018, we would have expected Everitt to return to six-to-eight raw overturns.

Thus, our conclusion is simply this: Umpires generally experience a regression in Replay Review performance upon promotion to Crew Chief. Had Hernandez been promoted to Crew Chief in 2017, for instance, his 2018 performance would have been on par with what we would expect from a rookie Crew Chief—not the best and not the worst amongst crew chief candidates; better than some 2014-17 hires and worse than others.

This falls in line with podcast guest Gary Darling's summation of a Crew Chief's responsibility: "It's a whole different mindset being the crew chief. It's like you're working the plate every night." Thus, we might well expect a rookie Crew Chief's individual performance to decrease due to increased attention toward supervising the game and crew.
Related PostPlate Meeting Podcast Episode 7 - Gary Darling (11/27/18).

Hernandez had a tough '18 Replay postseason.
Because promotion to crew chief isn't generally a rescinded transaction, it becomes rather difficult to prove any of these promotions were made at the expense of Hernandez, since statistically, Hernandez did not perform better than any of the promoted candidates prior to their promotions to crew chief, with the exception of Emmel in 2016.

World Series: Replay stats for the World Series umpires from 2014-17 is a slightly easier subject. Here we simply present the raw overturns for each Series umpire and compare it to Hernandez's for that season. 2018 is again presented for illustrative purposes. Both the postseason and regular season QOCN figures are presented for Hernandez.

> 2014: T Barrett (12); AH (11); Meals (8); Reynolds (7)...
> 2015: Carlson (14); Winters (9); AH (8); ...
> 2016: Hudson, Randazzo (14); Hirschbeck (13); AH (12); West (11)...
> 2017: Davis (10); Iassogna, AH (9); Nauert (8)...
> 2018: AH (13/9); T Barrett, Danley, Reynolds (8)...

WS Analysis: When it comes to World Series assignments, Hernandez had fewer raw overturns than at least one selected WS umpire each year from 2014-17. But so too did other eligible umpires on staff who were not selected to officiate the Fall Classic.

Conclusion: All this leads to precisely what Hernandez's amended complaint states: we need more data from the league to analyze the merits of this lawsuit. Replay on its own is clearly not enough; if it were, Emmel would likely not have promoted to crew chief ahead of Hernandez (UNLESS our 2016 "no slots" hypothesis is correct), and a handful of other personnel transactions could be called into question. Whether it's plate performance figures, proprietary evaluation/observation information from observers throughout the league (that deviate from the favorable evaluations Hernandez presented in his original complaint), or other metrics, the League is in a situation where it must provide evidence to support its decision to deny Hernandez his requested promotion and World Series assignments during the relevant period. Now that a protective order for confidentiality is in place, hopefully, they will.