Saturday, April 7, 2018

MLB Ejections 008-9 - Marty Foster (1-2; Rendon, Martinez)

HP Umpire Marty Foster ejected Nationals 3B Anthony Rendon and Manager Dave Martinez (strike two and three call; QOCN) in the bottom of the 3rd inning of the Mets-Nationals game. With two out and none one, Rendon took a 2-1 curveball and 2-2 changeup from Mets pitcher Steven Matz for called second and third strikes. Replays indicate the 2-1 pitch was located over the heart of home plate and at the upper midpoint (px -.028, pz 3.474 [sz_top 3.411 / MOE 3.494]) and the 2-2 pitch was located over the inner edge of home plate and below the hollow of the knee (px -.795, pz 1.474 [sz_bot 1.565 / MOE 1.482]), the call was incorrect. At the time of the ejections, the game was tied, 0-0. The Mets ultimately won the contest, 3-2.

These are Marty Foster (60)'s first and second ejections of 2018.
Marty Foster now has -4 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Prev + 2*[2 MLB - 4 Incorrect Call] = -4).
Crew Chief Joe West now has 0 points in Crew Division (0 Previous + 0 Incorrect Calls = 0).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
*The 0-2 pitch was located 0.096 vertical inches from being deemed a correct call.

These are the eighth and ninth ejections of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is the 5th player ejection of 2018. Prior to ejection, Rendon was 0-2 (2 SO) in the contest.
This is the 4th Manager ejection of 2018.
This is Washington's 2nd/3rd ejection of 2018, 1st in the NL East (WAS 3; ATL 2; MIA, NYM, PHI 0).
This is Anthony Rendon's first ejection since June 15, 2016 (Bob Davidson; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Dave Martinez's first ejection since July 17, 2011 (Chad Fairchild; QOC = U [USC-NEC]).
This is Marty Foster's first ejection since September 3, 2017 (Paul Molitor; QOC = N-C [Check Swing]).

Wrap: New York Mets vs. Washington Nationals, 4/7/18 | Video as follows:

O's Lodge Protest Over Runners Passing Rule Application

Baltimore filed the first protest of the 2018 season Friday night after umpires declined to rule a double play on an odd rundown play during the Orioles-Yankees game that saw New York's lead runner, Giancarlo Stanton, retreat past third base and into left field as teammate and trail baserunner Gary Sanchez stood on the bag itself.

Meals, Kulpa, Hickox & May listen to Buck.
The Play: With one out and two on (R1, R3), Yankees batter Neil Walker hit a ground ball to Orioles pitcher Richard Bleier, who threw to third baseman Tim Beckham, to catcher Caleb Joseph, as baserunner R3 Stanton became trapped in a rundown between third and home. As Joseph ran Stanton back to third base, trail baserunner R1 Sanchez advanced to third, stepping onto the base with his right foot. With R1 Sanchez standing on third base—and even appearing to motion Stanton to stop—R3 Stanton continued his retreat, running straight through third base and up the left field line before veering into foul territory. Catcher Joseph first tagged Sanchez on third base as Stanton ran into left field before giving chase to, and tagging, Stanton as well.

U3 Kulpa observes F2 Joseph's chase of R3.
The Call: 3B Umpire Ron Kulpa gave no signal when catcher Joseph tagged R1 Sanchez while Sanchez was in contact with third base, and ruled R3 Stanton out when Joseph tagged him beyond the base in foul territory. Upon consultation with HP Umpire Ed Hickox, 1B Umpire and Crew Chief Jerry Meals, and 2B Umpire Ben May, Kulpa's ruling stood and Stanton was declared out, Sanchez "safe" at third base, and batter-runner Walker aboard safely at first.

Orioles Manager Buck Showalter filed a protest as a result of the ruling, but because Baltimore ultimately won the game in extra innings, Showalter's protest is effectively retracted and the result final. Had Baltimore lost, here's how Showalter's protest may have turned out...

MLB rules expert Marazzi is on the phone.
Analysis: The first bit of analysis is to applaud YES Network for calling Rich Marazzi and putting him on air. As Rich surmises, the proper outcome is a double play...but why is that? After all, when R1 Sanchez was tagged, 1) he was on the base and 2) Stanton was not.

What Went Right: Kulpa properly did not call R1 Sanchez out on the tag, and properly called R3 Stanton out on Joseph's tag, but this is where Quality of Correctness falls below the Mendoza line.

What Went Wrong: When R3 Stanton retreated past third base while R1 Sanchez was in contact with the base, he caused R1 Sanchez to commit the offense of passing a preceding runner. Thus, while Sanchez was not out as a result of Joseph's tag, he was out for passing Stanton, even though Stanton looked to have caused the situation (it is the trailing runner's responsibility not to pass a preceding runner). The relevant rule is OBR 5.09(b)(9): "Any runner is out when: He passes a preceding runner before such runner is out."

R1 is legal because R2 never retreated past 2B.
When it comes to a trailing runner passing a preceding (lead) runner between the bases, baseball generally requires one runner's body to physically pass the other's—for instance, runners are allowed to touch each other without consequence, for this is not considered "passing."

When it comes to a potential runners passing situation at the base, we consider an MLB Umpire Manual interpretation, which states, "A runner is considered to have passed a base if he has both feet on the ground beyond the back edge of the base or beyond the edge of the base in the direction to which he is advancing."

Diagram of when a runner has passed a base.
Though this base passing interpretation ordinarily applies to forward progress as runners advance, it is also applicable to retreating runners. This most often occurs during fly out/tag-up situations, where an existing baserunner (e.g., R1), generally running on the pitch, runs past a base, only to return to his base of origin in order to tag up on the caught fly ball. In this case, determining whether the baserunner is past or prior is vital to see if the runner must legally retouch the leading base he may have passed (e.g., for the R1-running-on-the-pitch fly-out play, this would be second base).
Related PostRare Real-Time Appeal Retires Runner over Retouch Rule (6/15/17).
Related PostPast or Prior - Deciding When a Runner Has Passed a Base (7/1/17).

Put it all together and you get Rule 5.09(b)(9) Comment, which is actually an approved ruling, or case play, that the Playing Rules Committee inserted into the rules book, and is precisely what Rich refers to when he says, "the new rule":
PLAY—Runners on second base and third base with one out. The runner from third base (i.e., the lead runner) makes an advance toward home and is caught in a rundown between third base and home plate. Believing the lead runner will be tagged out, the runner at second base (i.e., the trailing runner) advances to third base. Before being tagged, the lead runner runs back to and beyond third base toward left field. At this time, the trailing runner has passed the lead runner as a result of the lead runner’s actions. As a result, the trailing runner is out and third base is unoccupied. The lead runner is entitled to third base if he returns to touch it before he is out, see Rule 5.06(a)(1), unless he is declared out for abandoning the bases.
Suffice it to say, 🚨this is exactly what happened🚨. Lead runner R3 Stanton retreated toward third as trailing runner R1 Sanchez advanced to third base. Before being tagged, R3 Stanton ran back to and beyond third base toward left field, thus running through the past/prior barrier, as depicted above. By rule, R1 Sanchez passed Stanton as a result of Stanton's actions, meaning, R1 Sanchez is out and R3 Stanton is entitled to third base if he returns before he is out...except that fielder Joseph tagged Stanton while off his base, meaning that both baserunners were out.

As for abandonment, let's be clear. U3 Kulpa ruled Stanton out on the tag. Abandonment isn't at issue.

Showalter argues his point to no avail.
Long story short, this double play was missed, may have resulted in an affirmed protest if Baltimore lost the game ("may have," because New York failed to score in the 6th inning, so MLB could have ruled that the incorrect rules application did not affect the outcome of the game), and, had there been an ejection, would have resulted in a QOC of "Incorrect."

It's rare that an MLB game is protested, and it's almost unheard of to have a protest with merit. The last upheld protest—in 2014—concerned a grounds crew that botched its unfurling of a tarp during a Chicago rain delay, and this followed 28 years of no protest having been upheld across the major leagues. What's more, the 2014 protest had absolutely nothing to do with a rules application regarding actual gameplay: it was a rain delay and the decision of suspension vs. calling the game as final. MLB even acknowledged its rain delay tarpaulin rules were deficient and changed the applicable rule during the ensuing offseason. Not so much here, as Rule 5.09(b)(9) Comment fits the Stanton/Sanchez play to a T: MLB won't have to change any rule to account for Friday night's play.
Related PostProtest Upheld for 1st Time in 28 Yrs in SF-CHC Rainout (8/20/14).

MLB punished Culbreth's crew for its mistake.
The last meritorious MLB protest concerning a bungled gameplay rule occurred in 2013 when Angels Manager Mike Scioscia alleged that Crew Chief Fieldin Culbreth and umpires Brian O'Nora, Bill Welke, and Adrian Johnson failed to enforce then-Rule 3.05 (now 5.10(g)), which requires a substitute pitcher to pitch to the batter then at bat or any substitute batter before that pitcher is removed from the game. Culbreth's crew had allowed Astros Manager Bo Porter to replace his just-into-the-game substitute pitcher in response to Scioscia's decision to bring in a pinch hitter, without that pitcher having thrown a single pitch. Faced with a less desirable pitcher on the mound, Anaheim's Los Angeles' batter flew out to end the inning.
Related PostAngels Protest After Wright Exits Without Throwing a Pitch (5/9/13).

As the Orioles ultimately won Friday's game in New York, the Angels won 2013's game in Houston, meaning that Scioscia's protest was effectively dropped. Nonetheless, MLB publicly punished the umpiring crew for the rules misapplication, suspending Fieldin Culbreth and fining O'Nora, Welke, and Johnson, for failing to apply a rule.
Related PostCulbreth Suspended; Johnson, Welke & O'Nora Fined for Pitching Change Fiasco (5/11/13).

Will Meals, Kulpa, Hickox, and May suffer a similar fate for their collective rules error? Stay tuned.

Sidebar: Had both runners been tagged while simultaneously occupying third base, lead runner R3 Stanton would be safe and trail R1 Sanchez would be out.
Related PostRight of Return - When Two Runners Occupy One Base (4/3/18).

Videos (2x) as follows:

Friday, April 6, 2018

Walk On - Bases Loaded HBP Abandonment Forces Extras

It's Norris High School's turn at bat in the bottom of the final inning in regulation, the score is tied, and the bases are loaded. The batter is hit by a pitch and the home team streams out of the dugout to celebrate, the hit batsman included. As the walk-off party moves up the third base line, the visiting coach storms out to argue that the HBP-batter should be declared out for failing to touch first base and the run nullified; during this dead ball appeal, the batter-runner takes off for first base as the plate umpire prepares to rule on the play.

Norris HS's Cade Argo is called out after HBP.
What's the call?

Such a story befell Norris High School in Nebraska during a recent game against Lincoln Southeast when batter Cade Argo was hit by a pitch to seemingly force in the winning run. Replays indicate, however, that after being hit with the pitch, Argo, in the throes, of team celebration and potential injury from the hit-by-pitch, did not immediately advance toward first base, instead appearing to join with his team in celebration to the third-base side of home plate. Shortly thereafter, the visiting coach runs out to appeal Argo's failure to advance as Argo, sensing the appeal, sprints toward first base in an effort to "beat the appeal."

The question, then, is, plainly, how long a plate umpire should wait for a hit batsman to complete or attempt to complete his base-running responsibility before declaring the batter out for his failure to meet this base touching obligation?

As we learned back in May, NFHS (high school) Rule 9-1-1 Note 2 states, "When the winning run is scored in the last half inning of a regulation game, or in the last half of an extra inning, as the result of a base on balls, hit batter or any other play with the bases loaded which forces the runner on third base to advance, the umpire shall not declare the game over until all runners have advanced to the next base."
Related PostAsk the UEFL - Protested Game-Ending Appeal Force Play (5/18/17).

Rules differences (OBR vs NFHS) in appeal procedure.
The professional rule is similar, but, instead of requiring all runners to advance to their next base, OBR 4.09(b) considers the game over when, "the runner forced to advance from third has touched home base and the batter-runner has touched first base."

EITHER WAY, how long should an umpire wait for the required runner(s) and/or batter-runner to complete their touching responsibilities? When does abandonment kick in, or, conversely, when should the defense be allowed to appeal?

In a somewhat related analysis last season regarding a softball appeal play, we found that an appeal cannot be ruled upon until the player completes base-running responsibilities (again, not directly applicable because it's a softball rule).
Related PostCase Play 2017-5 - Dead Ball Missed Base Appeal [Solved] (5/4/17).

For what it's worth, this is not abandonment. NFHS Rule 8-4.2p states that abandonment only applies when a runner, "after at least touching first base, leaves the baseline, obviously abandoning his effort to touch the next base." The subsequent Note supports this interpretation, "Any runner, after reaching first base, who leaves the baseline heading for the dugout or his defensive position believing that there is no further play, shall be declared out if the umpire judges the act of the runner to be considered abandoning his efforts to run the bases."

Thus, we're stuck looking for an appeal in high school baseball. NFHS Rule 8-2 Penalty covers the dead ball appeal procedure, stating that, on the last play of the game, "an appeal can be made until the umpire(s) leave the field of play."

Rule 8-2.6c states, "If the ball has gone out of play, runners must be given the opportunity to complete their base-running responsibilities before the dead-ball appeal can be made."

Thus, the proper procedure here is to wait until the batter-runner (and all other runners) have had a reasonable opportunity to complete their base-running responsibilities. Because we're not looking for abandonment, we must give the batter-runner ample time to complete or attempt to touch first base, watching for potential infractions such as base coach assistance along the way.

For what it's worth, NCAA Softball changed its dead ball appeal rule in the wake of the aforementioned 2017 play. Rule 7.1.2.2.3 now states, "all runners must be given an opportunity to complete their base running responsibilities (advancing or returning), as determined by the umpire. Once a runner has been given sufficient time to advance or return and shows no immediate intention of doing so, a dead-ball appeal can be made."

In softball, the runner would be permitted to correct a missed base infraction in this situation until, "she has left the field of play" (7.1.4.1). NFHS baseball has the same rule as NCAA Softball ("he has left the field of play" [8-2.6d]).

Video as follows:

Case Play 2018-1 - A Little Obstruction Prank [Solved]

Adrian Beltre is a notorious baseball jokester—he pranks teammates, plays tricks on opponents, and even barbs with umpires, falling prey to the infamous Gerry Davis on-deck circle ejection in July 2017, and serving as the subject of Joe West's three-game suspension in August.
Related PostMLB Ejections 109-110 - Gerry Davis (1-2; Beltre, Banister) (7/26/17).
Related PostSource - Joe West Suspended 3 Games for Beltre Comment (8/8/17).

Is this an example of obstruction or is it legal?
But did Beltre go too far with one of his just-fooling-around antics on Tuesday evening?

The Play: With one out and two on (R1, R2) in Oakland, Athletics batter Chad Pinder hit a ground ball to Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus, who threw to second baseman Rougned Odor to force baserunner R1 Marcus Semien as lead runner R2 Jake Smolinski jogged to third base. Hoping to catch Smolinski off-guard, Odor threw to Beltre, the throw getting away from the Rangers third baseman, who appeared to wrap his arms around R2 Smolinski before running to retrieve the baseball as 3B Umpire DJ Reyburn looked on. Smolinski appeared to momentarily break for home plate, but ultimately remained at third base for the remainder of the play.

Case Play Question: Did Beltre commit obstruction when he held Smolinski? If so, what manner of obstruction is this (Type 1/A or 2/B) and what is the proper result of this play? Refer to the obstruction rules and apply the appropriate penalty (if applicable) to assist in your response.

Timeline of Obstruction for this play.
Case Play Answer: Briefly putting the cart before the horse, let's discuss whether this play would qualify as Type 1/A or 2/B obstruction before determining whether this was obstruction at all.

As the accompanying graphic indicates, if Beltre obstructed Smolinski while shortstop Andrus was throwing to second baseman Odor, this would be an instance of Type 2/B obstruction, with no play being made on the runner. If the obstruction occurred while Odor's throw was in flight toward Beltre, Type 1/A would apply. After Beltre failed to catch the throw, the class of obstruction refers back to Type 2/B.

As for determining whether this is actually obstruction, we consider whether Smolinski's progress was actually impeded. At first glance, Smolinski appears to be holding the base, so no progress is impeded and no obstruction has occurred. Shortly thereafter, Smolinski makes a motion toward home plate that appears voluntary, meaning that Beltre's wrap-up maneuver is now impeding Smolinski's progress. This entanglement is thus obstruction of the type 2/B variety.

The penalty for obstruction 2/B is that which will nullify the act of obstruction. In this situation, given the runner, ball, and fielder's position, it is doubtful Smolinski would have tried for home plate absent the obstruction—perhaps had Smolinski immediately broken for home upon the missed catch, an argument could be made, but with the delayed reaction, it is evident he likely would have remained at third base. Thus, in the end, the result of the play was correct: Smolinski stays at third.

Pitfall: The term "fielder's immediate reach" sometimes comes up when talking about obstruction plays. This is not one of those times. Immediate reach only applies to a batted ball, when the fielder has right of way privileges up until the batted ball is missed. As long as the ball is in the fielder's immediate reach, even if technically behind the fielder, the runner must avoid the fielder lest interference be called. Once the ball is no longer in the fielder's immediate reach, similar contact could result in an obstruction ruling.

Official Baseball Rules Library
Related PostObstruction 1 or A vs 2 or B - The Difference is Crucial (6/23/17).
OBR [Definition of Terms]: "OBSTRUCTION is 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."
OBR 6.01(h)(1): "If a play is being made on the obstructed runner, or if the batter-runner is obstructed before he touches first base, the ball is dead and all runners shall advance, without liability to be put out, to the bases they would have reached, in the umpire’s judgment, if there had been no obstruction. The obstructed runner shall be awarded at least one base beyond the base he had last legally touched before the obstruction. Any preceding runners, forced to advance by the award of bases as the penalty for obstruction, shall advance without liability to be put out."
OBR 6.01(h)(2): "If no play is being made on the obstructed runner, the play shall proceed until no further action is possible. The umpire shall then call 'Time' and impose such penalties, if any, as in his judgment will nullify the act of obstruction."

Video as follows:

Thursday, April 5, 2018

MLB Ejection 007 - Brian O'Nora (1; Travis Shaw)

HP Umpire Brian O'Nora ejected Brewers 3B Travis Shaw (strike three call; QOCN) in the bottom of the 6th inning of the Cubs-Brewers game. With two out and one on (R2), Shaw took a 1-2 fastball from Cubs pitcher Jonathan Lester for a called third strike (the second called strike of the at-bat, the first was over the heart of home plate and thigh-high). Replays indicate the 1-2 pitch was off the outer edge of home plate and above the hollow of the knee (px -.922, pz 1.647 [sz_bot 1.627]), the call was incorrect.* At the time of the ejection, the Cubs were leading, 5-0. The Cubs ultimately won the contest, 8-0.

This is Brian O'Nora (7)'s first ejection of 2018.
Brian O'Nora now has -2 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Prev + 2 MLB - 4 Incorrect Call = -2).
Crew Chief Fieldin Culbreth now has 0 points in Crew Division (0 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = 0).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
*This pitch was located 0.096 horizontal inches from being deemed a correct call.

This is the seventh ejection of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is the 4th player ejection of 2018. Prior to ejection, Shaw was 0-3 (SO) in the contest.
This is Milwaukee's 1st ejection of 2018, 1st in the NL Central (MIL 1; CHC, CIN, PIT, STL 0 ).
This is Travis Shaw's first ejection since July 18, 2017 (Mike Muchlinski; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Brian O'Nora's first ejection since July 9, 2017 (Eugenio Suarez; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 4/5/18 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejection 006 - Doug Eddings (1; Trea Turner)

HP Umpire Doug Eddings ejected Nationals SS Trea Turner (strike three call; QOCN) in the bottom of the 6th inning of the Mets-Nationals game. With two out and the bases loaded, Turner took a 0-2 fastball from Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom for a called third strike; it was the only callable pitch of the at bat (the first two strikes were both of the swinging variety). Replays indicate the 0-2 pitch was located off the outer edge of home plate and belt-high (px 1.109, pz 2.934 [sz_top 3.467]), the call was incorrect.* At the time of the ejection, the Mets were leading, 4-2. The Mets ultimately won the contest, 8-2.

This is Doug Eddings (88)'s first ejection of 2018.
Doug Eddings now has -2 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Prev + 2 MLB - 4 Incorrect Call = -2).
Crew Chief Joe West now has 1 point in Crew Division (1 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = 1).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
*This pitch was located 2.34 horizontal inches from being deemed a correct call.

This is the sixth ejection of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is the 3rd player ejection of 2018. Prior to ejection, Turner was 0-3 (3 SO) in the contest.
This is Washington's 1st ejection of 2018, 2nd in the NL East (ATL 2; WAS 1; MIA, NYM, PHI 0).
This is Trea Turner's first career MLB ejection.
This is Doug Eddings' first ejection since July 31, 2017 (Doug Brocail; QOC = Y [Balk]).

Wrap: New York Mets vs. Washington Nationals, 4/5/18 | Video as follows:

2018 International League Umpire Roster

The International League released its 2018 roster of staff umpires ahead of Friday's opening day.

The IL is the eastern Triple-A equivalent of the west's Pacific Coast League; The 2018 PCL roster is available at this link.

The 2018 International League features five Triple-A rookies, and zero transfers from the Pacific Coast League.

The roster additionally features seven umpires who have been assigned sleeve numbers by Major League Baseball and, thus, are qualified to work MLB games during the regular season as fill-in umpires.

International League Umpire Roster - Start of the 2018 Season
IL Umpire Name2017 League and Years in Triple-A
Additon, Ryan* (MLB #67)International - 3rd Year in Triple-A
Bacchus, Erich^Eastern (Double-A) | Rookie
Bacon, JohnInternational - 3rd Year in Triple-A
Barber, Sean* (MLB #29)International - 7th Year in Triple-A
Beck, AdamInternational - 2nd Year in Triple-A
Carnahan, JeffreyInternational - 2nd Year in Triple-A
Clark, RyanInternational - 3rd Year in Triple-A
Costello, ScottInternational - 2nd Year in Triple-A
Gibbs, Reid^Texas (Double-A) | Rookie
Gillam, EricInternational - 3rd Year in Triple-A
Godec, TravisSouthern (Double-A) | Rookie
Graham, ChristopherInternational - 2nd Year in Triple-A
Lentz, Nic* (MLB #59)International - 5th Year in Triple-A
Livensparger, Shane* (MLB #43)International - 4th Year in Triple-A
Merzel, DanInternational - 3rd Year in Triple-A
Miller, BrennanInternational - 2nd Year in Triple-A
Peterson, BrianInternational - 2nd Year in Triple-A
Ramos, CharlieInternational - 2nd Year in Triple-A
Rehak, Jeremie* (MLB #35)International - 3rd Year in Triple-A
Riggs, JeremyInternational | 3rd Year in Triple-A
Riley, Richard^Eastern (Double-A) | Rookie
Shown, Skyler^Southern (Double-A) | Rookie
Tosi, AlexInternational - 3rd Year in Triple-A
Visconti, Jansen* (MLB #52)International - 4th Year in Triple-A
Whitson, Chad* (MLB #62)International - 8th Year in Triple-A
Wills, RyanInternational - 2nd Year in Triple-A
Wiseman, MichaelInternational - 2nd Year in Triple-A
*Indicates umpire also regularly officiated MLB Spring Training | ^ Indicates promotion to AAA.
Bold text indicates umpire is on the Major League call-up list.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Right of Return - When Two Runners Occupy One Base

When two runners converge upon one base, the situation may appear chaotic, but to an umpire well versed in the rules of baseball, such a comedy of errors is simply the product of an obscure rule book test question come to life. Knowing which player to declare out, and how to employ proper mechanics so as to avoid confusing or confounding the situation, is key to adjudicating this "Right of Return" play and looking confident while doing so.

The Right of Return is a good rule to know.
The Play: With one out and runners on first and second (R1 on first and R2 on second), Reds pitcher Austin Brice legally feigns to second before stepping off the mound and trapping lead baserunner R2 Trea Turner between second and third. As F1 Brice runs at R2 Turner, trailing baserunner R1 Brian Goodwin runs toward second base, stepping onto the bag and setting up a situation where both R1 Goodwin and R2 Turner will simultaneously stand on second base. F1 Brice initially tags R2 Turner before tagging R1 Goodwin to conclude the play.

The Call: 2B Umpire James Hoye sees F1 Brice tag the lead runner, R2 Turner, and makes no call. When F1 Brice subsequently tags both R2 Turner and R1 Goodwin in quick succession, only then does 2B Umpire Hoye call R1 Goodwin out, decisively pointing to R1 Goodwin so as to confidently project which runner is out. In basketball, referees call this a "bird dog" (pointing toward the player who has committed the foul), and used to employ this signal on nearly every play. In the modern era, officials use the "bird dog" less often, similar to an umpire refraining from demonstration of a full wind-up "out" call on each and every play at first base. In short, this call is correct and the mechanics are superb.

Hoye's mechanics help communicate the out.
The Rule: On a pickoff play (or any play that isn't a "force play"), the following table shall apply:
Situation: No Force R1 R2 Who is Entitled to 2B?
Neither Touching No No Either Runner.
R1 Only Yes No Either Runner.
R2 Only No Yes R2 Only.
Both Touching Yes Yes R2 Only.

In other words, on non-force plays, preceding runner R2 is always entitled to his/her base of origin: in this situation, R2 can always go back to second base and if both runners are subsequently tagged while standing on second base, R2 is "safe" and R1 is "out." The only way trail runner R1 is entitled to the base to which (s)he is advancing is if the preceding runner R2 has already vacated that base; as soon as R2 returns to touch R2's original base, R2 becomes the entitled runner.

OBR 5.06(a)(2) tells us everything we need to know: "Two runners may not occupy a base, but if, while the ball is alive, two runners are touching a base, the following runner shall be out when tagged and the preceding runner is entitled to the base, unless Rule 5.06(b)(2) applies." 5.06(b)(2) simply states that if the trail runner is forced to advance, then the trail is entitled to the base and the preceding/lead runner will be out when tagged; in a force play situation, the trail runner is always entitled to the base to the next base until the trail is retired; upon the trail runner being declared out, the preceding runner re-assumes entitlement to the base (see aforementioned "Situation: No Force" table). A batted ball force play is the only time you'd "use the force."
Know the Situation, When to Use the "Force."

Situation: Force R1 R2 Who is Entitled to 2B?
Neither Touching No No R1 Only.
R1 Only Yes No R1 Only.
R2 Only No Yes R1 Only.
Both Touching Yes Yes R1 Only.

Sidebar: As stated above, if the trail runner (R1) passes the preceding runner (R2) before R2 is out, then R1 is out. However, as soon as R2 is out in a non-force situation, R1 is legally allowed to stand on the base. For example, if R2 was declared out (say, he was tagged off the base) and only then did F1 tag R1 (who was standing on the base), then R1 would be safe. If R1 arrives at and passes second base, and then tries to return to first when R2 retreats to second, he must retouch second base or be liable to be called out on appeal.
Related PostSolution for Case Play 2013-09: Whose Base is it Anyway? (9/21/13).

Sidebar of the Sidebar (Gil's Call): I just realized the above image showing the situation of two runners (R1, R2) and one out is also a potential infield fly. So in addition to using the "force" on a batted ball, remember that if the batted ball is an infield fly, the table you should use is the "not force" table, since the batter being declared out on the infield fly rule—which will occur before any potential play at second base—removes the force on R1/R2, meaning you shouldn't use the "force."
Drawing even with a teammate is not "passing."

Runners Passing Consideration: If R1's body entirely passes R2 (or if R1 passes a base that R2 is standing on), he is out immediately upon the passing. If R1 is simply touching R2 or even parallel to R2, he has not yet passed his teammate. Passing is an automatic out for time play purposes, and not an appeal play. Rule reference: 5.06(b)(9): "He passes a preceding runner before such runner is out."

See the related post for more information about when a runner has passed a base, which carries a slightly different standard than determining when a runner has passed another runner.
Related PostPast or Prior - Deciding When a Runner Has Passed a Base (7/1/17).

Video as follows:

Monday, April 2, 2018

Tigers Feud with MLB Over Alleged Replay Wrongdoing

Tigers Manager Ron Gardenhire recently reiterated his belief that Baseball botched the review, alleging that the league admitted wrongdoing; in response, MLB claimed Gardenhire's statement was false, that the decision to overturn was correct, and released a four-second video of 13 different angles (many of them completely irrelevant to the play) as proof of its "definitive angle."

Randazzo observes Cervelli's tag attempt.
Follow along as the Tigers and MLB argue about who said what. Maybe the next phone line MLB should wire tap is the one between Corporate and the various team GMs.

The Play: On Detroit's Opening Day Friday afternoon, Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle challenged HP Umpire Randazzo's 10th inning call that baserunner R2 Nicholas Castellanos was safe at home plate, thus scoring the game's winning run in walk-off fashion. After a three-and-a-half minute delay, Replay Review returned a "call overturned" decision, good enough for the third out of the inning, prolonging the game. Gardenhire earned his ejection after continuing to argue the reversal.
Related PostMLB Ejection 002 - Bill Welke (1; Ron Gardenhire) (3/30/18).

MLB claims the evidence was definitive.
Tigers Claim MLB Wrongdoing: According to Gardenhire, Detroit GM Al Avila spoke with MLB brass over the weekend, with MLB officials allegedly telling Avila that A) Yes, the 3:30 review took too long, and, more notably, B) the video evidence wasn't conclusive: "The explanation was they didn't really have conclusive evidence that somebody tagged him."

The issue of exceeding MLB's maximum two-minute target (which is a malleable guideline to begin with) is second to the greater concern of potentially overturning an on-field ruling when the standard of reversal hasn't been met. Analysis as follows:

According to Replay Review Regulation III, in its entirety:
To change a reviewable call, the Replay Official must determine that there is clear and convincing evidence to change the original call that was made on the field of play. In other words, the original decision of the Umpire shall stand unchanged unless the evidence obtained by the Replay Official leads him to definitively conclude that the call on the field was incorrect.
Thus, if MLB admitted to Avila that it didn't have conclusive evidence that the runner was tagged, yet still overturned the "safe" call, then Gardenhire's point prevails: MLB made a mistake.

MLB released this image as its "Definitive Angle."
MLB Responds, Trolls Gardenhire with Mass Video of Many Angles: In its written response, MLB contended that the Replay Official made the correct call, and that he used conclusive evidence to do it.

Said MLB, "The video clearly shows the catcher applying the tag on the upper right arm of the runner."

MLB then released a "definitive angle" video of 13 different images (three of which were from center field and focused on the batter-runner, one which was sitting idly in a dugout capturing video of a staircase, and one which overlooked the entire field of play).

Due to this hearsay controversy, the UEFL Appeals Board will revisit Ejection 002 to review whether or not the decision to overturn Randazzo's safe call was correct or not. In other words, the Board will now consider whether there existed clear and convincing evidence with which to change the original call.

Video as follows:

Sunday, April 1, 2018

MLB Ejection 005 - Jerry Meals (1; Marwin Gonzalez)

1B Umpire Jerry Meals ejected Astros 1B Marwin Gonzalez (Unsportsmanlike-NEC, kicked baseball thrown to mound by HP Umpire Gabe Morales; QOCY) in the top of the 8th inning of the Astros-Rangers game. With two out and none on in the bottom of the 7th inning, Rangers batter Ryan Rua struck out to end the inning. As is customary following the third out of an inning, a ball was tossed toward the pitcher's mound to await the next Rangers pitcher's arrival on the field. Replays indicate Gonzalez intentionally kicked this moundball as he jogged off the field and into the Astros dugout, the call was irrecusable. At the time of the ejection, the Astros were leading, 7-1. The Astros ultimately won the contest, 8-2.

This is Jerry Meals (41)'s first ejection of the 2018 MLB regular season.
Jerry Meals now has 2 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Prev + 2 MLB + 0 Irrecusable Call = 2).
Crew Chief Jerry Meals now has 2 points in Crew Division (1 Previous + 1 Irrecusable Call = 2).

This is the fifth ejection of the 2018 MLB season.
This is the 2nd player ejection of 2018. Prior to ejection, Gonzalez was 0-4 (3 SO) in the contest.
This is Houston's 1st ejection of 2018, 1st in the AL West (HOU 1; LAA, OAK, SEA, TEX 0).
This is Marwin Gonzalez's first ejection since Sept 22, 2017 (Dan Iassogna; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Jerry Meals' first ejection since June 24, 2017 (Nick Franklin; QOC = U [Replay Review]).

Wrap: Houston Astros vs. Texas Rangers, 4/1/18 | Video as follows:

Introducing UEFL's Ump Show - The Video Game

Today we are proud to introduce UEFL's Ump Show, the video game that puts you behind the plate as an umpire for a virtual big league baseball game, giving you the chance to call the action to 100% accuracy...or turn it into a real #UmpShow full of ejections and controversy.

Umpire Ejection Fantasy League, in association with Close Call Sports Media Group, has taken officiating mechanics and created a virtual world that rivals the best baseball simulations in the market, you know, the mainstream abominations that restrict the user to controlling players and teams.

Ump Show has none of it, dedicating its revolutionary Dana DeMicroSAMengine to the boys and girls in blue and black...but be forewarned: as in real life officiating, there are no slow-motion replays (unless you're playing in Replay Official Mode™), and one shot at full speed from the angle you have chosen is all you get. Our program doesn't even have a pause button, allowing for the mini-game, "Sprint to the Dugout Bathroom," a 60-second journey down the stairs.

Want to run the skip? It's your call to make.
And if your calls don't meet to the realistically irrational satisfaction of either manager produced by our cutting edge Mattingly Algorithm, you'll hear chirping and gain access to Ump Show's state of the art Game Management Feature™, where you can discipline or ignore potential misconduct by issuing warnings and ejections.

Careful! If your fuse is too short, you'll see a TILT (Trigger Initiation Limit Tool) and receive downgrades from BOB™, your virtual supervisor (derived from "RoBOBserver Manfried Hard Drive"), but if you're too lenient, both clubs will jump all over you and potentially start a forfeit-inducing fight, which will get you in hot water with your crew chief, CompuKlem™ 9000.

The WEST application.
Choose your character directly from a template of The Show's 20 roster umpires, or create your own unique avatar using the proprietary Wendel-stencil Entertainment Studio Tool (aka the WEST), choosing your path through school for a shot at the show. Ump Show currently offers Hunter Hall and Corporate College as two paths to the pros.

It's all your call in Ump Show, so sit back, relax, and enjoy the game.


Alternate Link: Demo video of UEFL's Ump Show - The Video Game (UEFL)

Happy April Fools' Day!