Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Replay Rewind - Double Out Whammy Costs Braves

In this edition of Replay Rewind, we visit Atlanta, where the visiting Cubs topped the Braves 3-2 following a 5th inning upheld review immediately followed by a missed out call that manager Brian Snitker couldn't challenge (having lost the preceding video effort), causing Chip Caray and Joe Simpson to chide, "That is absolutely horrible."

F1 Montgomery tries to tag out R3 Camargo.
The First Play: With one out and two on (R1, R3) in the bottom of the 5th inning of Tuesday's Cubs-Braves game, Cubs pitcher Mike Montgomery pitch eluded catcher Willson Contreras, who threw to Montgomery, covering home, as baserunner R3 Johan Camargo attempted to score, originally ruled out by HP Umpire Jim Wolf.

Replay Review: Upon Manager's Challenge by Atlanta's Snitker, the Replay Official determined that evidence was not clear and convincing as to determine whether the runner was safe or out; as such, Wolf's on-field ruling stood and Snitker's challenge was unsuccessful, resulting in his loss of the Manager's Challenge.

Culberson attempts to take third.
The Second Play: Nary two pitches later, Montgomery threw another pitch in the dirt that Contreras blocked as baserunner R2 Charlie Culberson (having moved up to second base during the play in which Camargo was thrown out at home) attempted to advance to third base as Contreras recovered and threw to third baseman Kris Bryant, ruled out by 3B Umpire Sam Holbrook.

No Replay: Although replays indicate baserunner Culberson appeared to have conclusively arrived at third base prior to Bryant's tag, Snitker, by virtue of having lost his Manager's Challenge on the preceding play, was unable to have the play looked at (a Crew Chief Review would be unavailable for the next two+ innings).

Wolf takes a position to best see a tag & touch.
Analysis, First Play: HP Umpire Wolf takes a position along the third baseline extended as he lines up the two anticipated points of contact that will prove most important for this play: Wolf must judge whether Montgomery's tag of Camargo came before or after Camargo's left hand touched home plate. As is said, there are no ties (statistically, ties can exist but are extremely improbable; hence, there are no ties).

Wolf determines the pitcher tagged the runner before the runner touched home plate. Snitker filed a challenge, so from this point on, it becomes a matter for Replay Review.

The telecast provides several angles that prompt several questions that the Replay Official must answer:
1) Where did the pitcher tag the runner? Helmet? Shoulder (because he missed the helmet)? Leg?
2) Where did the runner touch home plate? Parallel edge? Left side (because his hand was raised)?
3) When did the fielder's tag of the runner occur in relation to the runner's touch of home plate?

Angle 1, High 1B Dugout (Fielder): It is inconclusive whether the fielder tagged the runner's helmet.
Angle 1, High 1B Dugout (Runner): It is inconclusive where the runner touched home (B1 blocking).

Angle 2, CF Camera (F1): Angle suggests first tag was on the shoulder—it is clear and convincing?
Angle 2, CF Camera (R3): Angle suggests hand is in the air on initial approach, but F1 is blocking.

Angle 3, Press Box (F1): Angle suggests glove bends after helmet attempt when hand is on shoulder.
Angle 3, Press Box (R3): Angle suggests hand touches plate on or near edge, but is similarly unclear.

Conclusion, Replay Review: There are two moving parts here—the fielder's tag and the runner's touch—though the fielder's tag will determine the result of this review. If the fielder tagged the runner's helmet, the runner is out. If the fielder did not tag the runner's helmet, the runner is likely safe. From the angles provided, it is unclear whether the fielder tagged the runner's helmet. For this reason, the call must stand.

Had the standard for Replay Review been to make the call "from scratch" (e.g., call "out" or "safe" from Replay HQ without regard to the call on the field), I'd surmise the runner would be deemed safe.

Annotation of where U3 and the ball will go.
Analysis, Second Play: 3B Umpire Holbrook must rule on this play similarly to a stolen base attempt at third base. The problem for any third base umpire, naturally, is that the umpire must call a tag on the front side of the base from behind the play. In order to get an optimal angle here, the umpire must quickly move into position. If the umpire is unable to see over top of the play, he must attempt to see through it, which is oftentimes a losing proposition.

By the time the catcher's throw arrives at third, the umpire should ideally be set or nearly set to observe the play and adjust if necessary. From the replay of Culberson's attempted advancement, it appears Holbrook is a tick tardy to his desired calling position, which means his eyes are vertically moving as the tag is being applied. Because the umpire appears to be continuing to close down as the play is concluding, the head height—and therefore the "look"—isn't constant, which makes this tough call even tougher to call. In the end, the runner should be safe, but he is declared out.

Wegner's tossed Lou over a similar play at 3B.
Compare and Contrast: Consider this similar passed ball/wild pitch-turned-putout from June 2007 in Chicago, when 3B Umpire Mark Wegner ejected Lou Piniella for the first time in Lou's Cubs managerial career. It's a very similar play, with a similar tag attempt, but look at the umpire's positioning, relative to that from Cubs-Braves.

In Chicago, Wegner puts himself much closer to the play at a much earlier stage of the play so that he only must make minor position adjustments as the ball and baserunner arrive at the base. In the end, Wegner gets the call right and has a hat-slinging, dirt-kicking Piniella to thank for his efforts.
Related Video: Wegner calls the out on play at third base...Here's Lou (CHC)

Because Snitker lost his challenge due to the previous close play, Tuesday's out call at third base—which would otherwise have easily been overturned via replay—wasn't subject to review.

History: In expanded Replay Review's first week of existence (April 2014), the San Francisco Giants lost a challenge on a 4th inning pickoff play at first base, such that an incorrect safe call at home plate later in the inning that Bruce Bochy would have otherwise challenged was not subject to review.
Related Video: Giants are unable to challenge play at the plate after losing an earlier review (ARI)

Video as follows:
Alternate Link: Braves lose challenge on upheld call at plate, can't contest out call at third (ATL)


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