Saturday, March 31, 2018

MLB Ejection 004 - Jerry Layne (1; Brian Snitker)

2B Umpire Jerry Layne ejected Braves Manager Brain Snitker (pace of play, mound meeting, delayed substitute pitcher entry, and time for warmup; QOCU) in the bottom of the 3rd inning of the Phillies-Braves game. With two out and two on, Phillies Manager Gabe Kapler made a pitching change to replace Vince Velasquez with Hoby Milner. After initial confusion because no pitcher was warming in the Phillies bullpen, Milner jogged to the infield and met with Kapler, catcher Jorge Alfaro, and other teammates on the mound. Snitker was ejected for arguing that HP Umpire Vic Carapazza allowed Milner too much time to warm up, the call was irrecusable.* At the time of the ejection, the Braves were leading, 7-2. The Braves ultimately won the contest, 15-2.

This is Jerry Layne (24)'s first ejection of the 2018 MLB regular season.
Jerry Layne now has 2 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Prev + 2 MLB + 0 Irrecusable Call = 2).
Crew Chief Jerry Layne now has 2 points in Crew Division (1 Previous + 1 Irrecusable Call = 2).

*Pursuant to 2018 Pace of Play initiatives, "The pitching change timer shall begin as soon as the relief pitcher crosses the warning track (or foul line for on-field bullpens) to enter the game." At 25 seconds on the countdown timer, the pitcher shall throw his last warmup pitch; at 20, the batter is announced or returns to home plate, and at zero, the windup or motion to come set shall begin.

Relevant to the Milner play, Milner, who had to be summoned by 3B Umpire Greg Gibson, physically crossed the warning track a significant amount of time after Vasquez was removed from the game, and the pitching break clock accordingly did not start until Milner actually stepped onto the field. Snitker's ejection actually occurred with more than 25 seconds remaining on the timer, meaning that Milner was not yet on his pace-of-play-mandated final warmup pitch.

According to the rules, it was all legal.
Gil's Call: This is actually one loophole in the pitching change timer rule. Though Milner is subject to a 2-minute, 5-second timer (regional game), the timer does not start until Milner crosses the warning track from the Phillies' outfield bullpen. Milner delayed his entry from the 'pen so that Gibson had to run out and finally coax him in, which is gamesmanship, but not necessarily an explicit rules violation. Rule 5.07(c) ["Pitcher Delays"] and similar Rule 6.02(a)(8) ["The pitcher unnecessarily delays the game"] also wouldn't apply, since 5.07(c) and 6.02(a)(8) [and related rule 6.02(c)(7)] only apply to pitchers already in the game.

Meanwhile, Rule 7.03(a)(2) specifies the one and only penalty for a team that "employs tactics palpably designed to delay or shorten the game." The answer is the same as the section's title: "Forfeited Games." Seems to drastic a step for this situation, yet these are the only rules that address team delays.

Thus, Milner got "free time" to warm up while in the bullpen because the timer starts only when he crosses the foul line, NOT when the manager visits the mound to replace the original pitcher.

This is the fourth ejection of the 2018 MLB season.
This is the 3rd Manager ejection of 2018.
This is Atlanta's 2nd ejection of 2018, 1st in the NL East (ATL 2; MIA, NYM, PHI, WAS 0).
This is Brian Snitker's 2nd ejection of 2018, 1st since March 29 (Jordan Baker; QOC = Y [Check Swing]).
This is Jerry Layne's first ejection since September 10, 2017 (Terry Collins; QOC = Y [Replay Review]).

Wrap: Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves, 3/31/18 | Video as follows:

Injury Scout - Everitt Concussed on Pitch to Head

Mike Everitt left his Opening Day assignment about halfway through what would turn out to be an eventful marathon game, suffering a concussion on a pitch that struck his facemask directly.

In the bottom of the 8th inning of Friday's Pirates-Tigers game, Pirates pitcher George Kontos' 1-0 86.5-mph cutter eluded catcher Francisco Cervelli's reach, instead making first contact with the center portion of Everitt's traditional-style facemask and resulting in Everitt's removal from play. Following the game, reports surfaced that Everitt had been diagnosed with concussion.

2B Umpire Tony Randazzo replaced Everitt behind home plate, while 1B Umpire Bill Welke and 3B Umpire Lance Barrett split the field umpires' duties. Welke additionally assumed the role of acting crew chief for the game's remainder, which became relevant in the 10th inning.
Related PostMLB Ejection 002 - Bill Welke (1; Ron Gardenhire) (3/30/18).

Relevant Injury History: There is no recent relevant (e.g., cranial) injury history.

Last Game: March 30 | Return to Play: April 25 | Time Absent: 25 Days | *Complication*
Last Game: May 2 | Return to Play: 2019 | Time Absent: Rest of Season | Video as follows:

Friday, March 30, 2018

MLB Ejection 003 - Eric Cooper (1; Ketel Marte)

HP Umpire Eric Cooper ejected Diamondbacks SS Ketel Marte (strike three call; QOCY) in the bottom of the 6th inning of the Rockies-Diamondbacks game. With none out and none on, Marte took a 0-2 slider from Rockies pitcher Adam Ottavino for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer half of home plate and knee-high (px -.302, pz 1.762 [sz_bot 1.565]) and that all other callable pitches during the at-bat, including the called second strike (px -.779, pz 3.296 [sz_top 3.411]) were properly officiated, the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Diamondbacks were leading, 9-7. The Diamondbacks ultimately won the contest, 9-8.

This is Eric Cooper (56)'s first ejection of the 2018 MLB regular season.
Eric Cooper now has 3 points in the UEFL Standings (-1 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 3).
Crew Chief Gary Cederstrom now has 0 points in Crew Division (-1 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 0).

This is the third ejection of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is the 1st player ejection of 2018. Prior to ejection, Marte was 0-4 (2 SO) in the contest.
This is Arizona's 1st ejection of 2018, 1st in the NL West (ARI 1; COL, LAD, SD, SF 0).
This is Ketel Marte's first career MLB ejection.
This is Eric Cooper's first ejection since September 8, 2017 (Rick Renteria; QOC = N-C [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Colorado Rockies vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, 3/30/18 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejection 002 - Bill Welke (1; Ron Gardenhire)

1B Umpire Bill Welke ejected Tigers Manager Ron Gardenhire (Replay Review decision that overturned HP Umpire Tony Randazzo's safe call) in the bottom of the 10th inning of the Pirates-Tigers game. With the score tied at 10, two out and one on (R2), Tigers batter JaCoby Jones hit a 3-2 splitter from Pirates pitcher Josh Smoker to left fielder Corey Dickerson, who threw to catcher Francisco Cervelli as baserunner R2 Nicholas Castellanos arrived at home plate, ruled safe by HP Umpire Randazzo. Upon Replay Review as the result of a challenge by Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle, Randazzo's call was overturned and Castellanos was out, the call was correct. Play challenged, reviewed, and overturned by the UEFL Appeals Board (0-7-2), the call was incorrect. At the time of the ejection, the contest was tied, 10-10. The Pirates ultimately won the contest, 13-10, in 13 innings.

This is Bill Welke (3)'s first ejection of the 2018 MLB regular season.
Bill Welke now has -2 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Prev + 2 MLB - 4 Incorrect Call = -2).
Crew Chief Bill Welke now has 0 points in Crew Division (0 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = 0).

This is the second ejection of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is the 2nd Manager ejection of 2018.
This is Detroit's 1st ejection of 2018, 1st in the AL Central (DET 1; CLE, CWS, KC, MIN 0).
This is Ron Gardenhire's first ejection since August 18, 2014 (Chris Segal; QOC = N [HBP/Foul]).
This is Bill Welke's first ejection since September 13, 2017 (Clint Hurdle; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Detroit Tigers, 3/30/18 | Video as follows:

Thursday, March 29, 2018

MLB Ejection 001 - Jordan Baker (1; Brian Snitker)

3B Umpire Jordan Baker ejected Braves Manager Brian Snitker (check swing call) in the top of the 9th inning of the Phillies-Braves game. With one out and none on, Phillies batter Cesar Hernandez attempted to check his swing on a 1-2 slider from Braves pitcher Arodys Vizcaino, ruled a ball by HP Umpire Jerry Layne and affirmed as "no swing" on appeal by 3B Umpire Baker. Play reviewed and adjudicated by the UEFL Appeals Board (6-2-1), the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 5-5. The Braves ultimately won the contest, 8-5.

This is Jordan Baker (71)'s first ejection of 2018.
Jordan Baker now has 4 points in the UEFL Standings (2 Previous + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 4).
Crew Chief Jerry Layne now has 1 point in Crew Division (0 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 1).

This is the first ejection of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is the 1st Manager ejection of 2018.
This is Atlanta's 1st ejection of 2018, 1st in the NL East (ATL 1; MIA, NYM, PHI, WAS 0).
This is Brian Snitker's first ejection since July 7, 2017 (Mike Everitt; QOC = N [Check Swing]).
This is Jordan Baker's first ejection since Sept 15, 2017 (Willson Contreras; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves, 3/29/18 | Video as follows:

2018 Opening Day Memorial Patches - Harvey & Engel

MLB umpires are honoring longtime National League umps Doug Harvey and Bob Engel, both of whom passed away over the 2017-2018 offseason, with traditional black memorial patches of DH and BE worn on the left sleeve of the umpire's uniform shirt or jacket.

DH: Harvey died in January at the age of 87. He was born in South Gate, California and, following a 35-year professional umpiring career in the Pacific Coast and National Leagues, was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and California League Hall of Fame.
Related PostHall of Fame and Former NL Umpire Doug Harvey Dies (1/14/18).

BE: Engel died in Nevada in early March at the age of 84. He was a Bakersfield, California native and served as a former president of the Major League Umpires Association in the 1970s.
Related PostFormer NL Umpire and Union Pres Bob Engel Dies (3/10/18).

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

2018 UEFL Draft Results

The 2018 UEFL draft is in the books and rosters are set for Opening Day, available via the 2018 standings page on the UEFL Portal. The following statistics indicate the most commonly selected umpires.

Cowboy Joe West again led crew chief picks.
Crew Chief Draft: For the fourth season in a row, Joe West was the most drafted umpire in Crew Division, accounting for 19.7% of all crew chief selections. West led all crew chiefs with 23 CC points in 2017.

In his first year as a Crew Chief, Mark Wegner was second-most selected (14.2%), ahead of Ted Barrett (13.8%, who finished in second place with 18 -cc points in 2017). No other umpire cracked the 10% mark (4th most commonly chosen crew chief Gerry Davis made up 7.9% of the cumulative roster, with Tom Hallion [5.9%], Jeff Kellogg [5.3%], and Jeff Nelson [4.6%] closely behind). All 19 available crew chiefs were selected.

Primary Umpires: Vic Carapazza was the most popular selection in the primary draft, comprising 8.6% of all Primary Umpire selections. He finished in third place with 22 total points for the 2017 UEFL season.

Vic Carapazza was the most popular draftee.
Will Little followed Carapazza with a 6.3% primary draft rate; Little finished first with 26 points in 2017. Rounding out the top five primary selections were Angel Hernandez (4.6%), Joe West (3.9%), and Alfonso Marquez (3.6%). The umpire who finished in second place last season, Mark Wegner with 24 points, was drafted at a 3.0% clip.

Secondary Umpires: In addition to leading the primary draft class for 2018, Carapazza co-led the secondary draft with John Tumpane; each umpire appeared on 4.9% of UEFL draft rosters. Little was the third-most popular selection in the secondary draft (3.9%), with newly-promoted MLB umpire Stu Scheurwater (3.3%) and Hernandez (3.0%) rounding out the top five.

Undrafted Free Agents: MLB #44 Kerwin Danley was the only full-time big league umpire not selected in this year's draft. Call-Ups not selected include 67 Ryan Additon, 18 Ramon De Jesus, 59 Nic Lentz, 84 John Libka, 48 Nick Mahrley, 97 Ben May, 40 Roberto Ortiz, 96 Chris Segal, 62 Chad Whitson, and 75 Tom Woodring (Jeremie Rehak and Jansen Visconti were not on the draft board).

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Broken Sewer Pipe Ends Angels-Dodgers Game in 5th

Tuesday's Spring Training finale at Dodger Stadium came to an abrupt halt in the bottom of the 5th inning, when a third-base side water main burst and flooded the left field warning track, purportedly with sewage, along foul territory. Enter the unconventional plumbing delay.

Pipe bursts, making the field unfit for play.
After further delay and consultation with the grounds crew and both clubs, Crew Chief Gerry Davis opted to call the game pursuant to Official Baseball Rule 7.01 and 4.08(g).

First, OBR 4.08(g) states that, "Between games of a doubleheader, or whenever a game is suspended because of the unfitness of the playing field, the umpire-in-chief shall have control of ground-keepers and assistants for the purpose of making the playing field fit for play.
PENALTY: For violation, the umpire-in-chief may forfeit the game to the visiting team."

Because the home team was leading at the time Davis called the game after the visiting team had already batted five times (e.g., the bottom of the 5th inning), it became a regulation game (Rule 7.01[c][2]) that, had this occurred during the regular season, may well have become a suspended game to be completed at a future date (Rule 7.02[a][3]); because of the Spring Training nature of the game, naturally, the game became final with the home team the victor.

It was Rule 7.02(a)(3) (then known as Rule 4.12(a)) that served as basis for a Giants protest in August 2014, resulting in MLB's first upheld protest in nearly three decades and an order to continue the suspended game.
Related PostProtest Upheld for 1st Time in 28 Yrs in SF-CHC Rainout (8/20/14).
Related PostForgoing "Time" to Power Through Light Failure (4/14/17).

As we recently reviewed, the home team determines whether or not to start the game, but, once started, the umpire has sole authority to call or suspend the game, in accordance with the official rules.
Related PostAsk the UEFL - Testing for Fog and Other Perils of Play (3/17/18).

For what it's worth, the third and final Replay Review of the 2018 preseason was also the third call to go against the Dodgers following a manager's challenge. In the 2nd, Angels center fielder Mike Trout's relay to shortstop Andrelton Simmons to catcher Martin Maldonado was just in time to nab Dodgers baserunner Enrique Hernandez trying to score from first base. HP Umpire John Libka's out call stood following a challenge by Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts.

Wrap: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim vs. Los Angeles Dodgers, 3/27/18 | Videos as follows:

Spring Replays - Right Where We Left Off

On October 31, 2017, the home town Dodgers unsuccessfully challenged Astros baserunner Josh Reddick's slide at second base, putting a confirmed cap on Replay Review for the year.

Crew Chief Gerry Davis signals an out.
On Monday, instant replay picked up right where it left off, with a Dodger Stadium review, this time from Angels Manager Mike Scioscia of 2B Umpire Gerry Davis' "no catch" call on a diving play by center fielder Mike Trout in the bottom of the 1st inning of the annual Spring Training Freeway Series in Southern California.

Both bookend replays turned against the boys in blue, as MLBAM HQ overturned Davis' ruling to award Trout with a double-saving effort, the two-minute review delay prompting broadcaster Victor Rojas to quip, "What are they looking at? It's ridiculous that it takes this long to overturn that call."

A neighborhood play is overturned at second.
In the top of the 7th inning, Anaheim (Los Angeles, formerly of Anaheim) again challenged a call up the middle, with Replay Review determining that Dodgers shortstop Gavin Lux failed to legally tag second base before throwing on to first.

Fortunately, New York cut down on its review time for this non-neighborhood play, clocking in at 1:30.

MLB in 2017 announced a two-minute guideline for its replay officials in New York, noting that the guideline is not a hardline rule nor limit. Baseball did not announce any substantive changes to its review process for the 2018 season.
Related Post2017 Rules Mods, Including IBB Change, Announced (3/2/17).

Videos as follows:

NY State Federation Dismisses HS Basketball Protest

In the latest case of a high school sports team protesting an in-game ruling, the New York State Federation dismissed Long Island Lutheran boys basketball's protest over an excessive timeout technical foul call during the team's Class AA semifinal loss to Archbishop Stepinac; LuHi had alleged that a scorekeeping error caused the technical to occur because the official scorer allegedly charged LuHi with a timeout taken by Stepinac earlier in the game so that it appeared LuHi had used more time outs than it, in fact, had.

NY's decision reflects and supports the general NFHS philosophy that outlaws protests, and runs in stark contrast to the purportedly rogue Georgia High School Association's repeated decisions to entertain protests and appeals, though the NYSAIS decision did not pertain to a judgment call as GHSA's did.
Related PostDangerous Precedent - GHSA Overturns Judgment Call (5/22/17).
Related PostGHSA Affirms Basketball Protest, Orders Replay (1/24/18).

The alleged fifth timeout call—which the official book said was the team's sixth [one more than allowed]—occurred with 8.3 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and the score tied at 72. After converting both technical free throws, and then two more, Stepinac won the contest, 76-72.

In denying LuHi's protest, the NYSAIS stated that it cannot overturn a clerical mistake. Surmised LuHi athletic director Todd Huebner, "The officials followed protocol, and even though they acknowledged a clerical mistake was made by a person on the book, our protest was not upheld."

UEFL Invokes Injury Rule for Dana DeMuth

With the draft nearly complete, we note that umpire Dana DeMuth has not appeared in a single 2018 Spring Training game.

As such, we have invoked UEFL Rule 1-5, Qualified Alteration of Drafted Umpires / Authorization to Change Umpires After Draft But Before Season Begins.

If you have drafted Dana DeMuth in any capacity (Primary, Secondary, or Crew Chief selection), you may replace him on your crew if you so choose; you will have until Thursday (Opening Day) to effect this change; no changes will be accepted following the first pitch of the first game ("before season begins").

Click here to submit a revised draft form (please indicate in the COMMENTS that DeMuth is to be replaced) or reply as a comment to this announcement.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

MLB Changes Rules for Retired Runner, Fan Interference

MLB's Playing Rules Committee issued its list of changes to the Official Baseball Rules ahead of the 2018 season, addressing a retired runner's interference no-call that occurred in 2017, spectator situations from the 2016 regular and postseason, and correctable scorekeeping errors. All this is in addition to the pace of play adoptions—mound visit limits and inning break timing—that were already announced. Notable changes include:

Rule 5.09(c)(1) Comment - Runner Takes a Flying Start
It has long been illegal for a runner to take a flying start from behind a base when tagging up, and, although the prohibition has been listed under 5.09 Appeal Plays, there remained a question on when and how a runner would be declared out under this rule: should it receive the "automatic out" standard ordinarily reserved for a runners-passing play or is it an appeal subject to a time play, as colloquially enforced?

Answer: The Playing Rules Committee added a sentence (underlined) to make it clear: "A runner is not permitted to take a flying start from a position in back of his base. Such runner shall be called out on appeal."

Rules 5.07(b) [Warmup Pitches], 5.10(l) [Reliever Warmups], and 5.10(m) [Mound Visits]
Related Post2018 Pace of Play Changes Limit Mound Visits, No Clock (2/19/18).

Rule 6.01(a)(5) Comment - Retired Runner's Interference
Returning & sliding alone are not interference.
On July 15, 2017, Yankees baserunner R1 Matt Holliday, retired at second on a force play, slid back into first base as Red Sox fielders attempted to make a play on the batter-runner at first. Due in great part to Holliday's slide, which physically separated Red Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland from the thrown ball, batter-runner Jacoby Ellsbury was ruled safe at first base by 1B Umpire Gabe Morales, who ruled that Holliday, in simply retreating to first base, was not guilty of retired runner's interference, as in Rule 6.01(a)(5).
Related PostBoston Files Protest Over Odd Interference No-Call (7/15/17).

Boston went as far as to protest Morales' ruling, but as we explained when it happened, the play was legal; a baserunner does not violate retired runner's interference Rule 6.01(a)(5) simply by retreating to a base, even if the retired runner unintentionally hinders the defense. MLB agreed and denied Boston's protest two days later, much to the chagrin of skipper John Farrell, who continued his complaint in the wake of MLB's response that Holliday's play was legal. A similar play had occurred at Angel Stadium in April 2017.
Related PostMLB Denies Boston's Protest, Interference No-Call Upheld (7/17/17).
Related PostCase Play 2017-4 - Hurdling a Retired Runner [Solved] (4/30/17).

The Playing Rules Committee formally made the play legal this offseason, adding the following phrase to Rule 6.01(a)(5) Comment: "If the batter or a runner continues to advance or returns or attempts to return to his last legally touched base after he has been put out, he shall not by that act alone be considered as confusing, hindering or impeding the fielders."

Rule 8.02(c) - Correcting Incorrect Ball-Strike Counts
Ball/strike corrections have a formal limit.
When baseball adopted expanded Replay Review, the league office also enabled its umpires to conduct a Crew Chief Review to check for incorrect ball-strike counts or scorekeeping/recordkeeping matters, ordinarily when a plate umpire missed a pitch or struck out/walked a batter too soon (most often, these "missed counts" resulted in a batter taking five pitches for a walk).
Related PostDiscussions: Losing Count & Broadcast Bias (7/1/11).

However, baseball forgot to explicitly declare the time limit involved with correcting an erroneous count; the new addendum to Rule 8.02(c) takes care of the timing issue: "Notwithstanding the foregoing, correction of a missed ball-strike count shall not be permitted after a pitch is thrown to a subsequent batter, or in the case of the final batter of an inning or game, after all infielders of the defensive team leave fair territory."

Definition of Terms - Interference (d) (Spectator Interference)
The definition of fan interference has expanded.
In 2016, a fan ran onto the field during a July Cardinals-Mariners game while St. Louis batter Matt Carpenter hit a fly ball to Seattle left fielder Seth Smith, who successfully caught the fly ball in spite of the fan running through left-center field toward the shortstop area. According to the fan interference rules in play at the time, if this intruder had distracted or otherwise hindered Smith from making a play on the ball, it would not be interference unless the fan physically touched Smith or the baseball.
Related PostCase Play 2016-4 - Fan on the Field [Solved] (6/30/16).

During the 2016 AL Wild Card between the Blue Jays and Orioles, a Toronto fan threw a beer can at Baltimore outfielder Hyun Soo Kim as he caught a descending fly ball. Similar to the fan-on-field Cast Play, this distraction, according to the rules at the time, would not constitute spectator interference unless the fan actually touched the ball or player in reaching out of the stands.
Related PostDiscussion of 2016 AL and NL Wild Card Games (10/4/16).

In response, the Playing Rules Committee rewrote the definition of fan interference to account for a fan on the field, a fan who simply attempts to interfere with play, and an object thrown on the field; to be clear, fan interference shall not be called if the hindrance occurs on the spectator side of the plane separating the stands and playing field: "Spectator interference occurs when a spectator (or an object thrown by the spectator) hinders a player’s attempt to make a play on a live ball, by going onto the playing field, or reaching out of the stands and over the playing field." [Eliminated the requirement that the fan touch the ball or player.]