Saturday, April 28, 2018

MLB Ejection 028 - Tripp Gibson (1; Curt Young)

HP Umpire Tripp Gibson ejected Giants Pitching Coach Curt Young (balls/strikes; QOCN) in the top of the 3rd inning of the Dodgers-Giants game. With two out and one on (R2), Dodgers batter Chase Utley took a 0-2 fastball from Giants pitcher Roberto Gomez for a called first ball, and 1-2 slider for a called second ball, after which Dodgers batter Corey Seager took a 0-0 changeup from Gomez for a called first ball. Replays indicate the 0-2 pitch to Utley was located off the outer edge of home plate and above the midpoint (px -1.788, pz 3.766), the 1-2 pitch was located over the outer half of home plate and thigh-high (px -.486, pz 2.296), and the first pitch to Seager was located over the outer half of home plate and below the midpoint (px -.524, pz 1.428 [sz_bot 1.627 / MOE 1.544]), the call was incorrect. At the time of the ejection, the Dodgers were leading, 8-2. The Dodgers ultimately won the contest, 15-6.

This is Tripp Gibson (73)'s first ejection of 2018.
Tripp Gibson now has -4 points in the UEFL Standings (-2 Prev + 2 MLB - 4 Incorrect Call = -4).
Crew Chief Dan Iassogna 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.
*The 1-2 pitch to Utley was located 3.144 horizontal inches from being deemed a correct call.

This is the 28th ejection of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is San Francisco's 1st ejection of 2018, 4th in the NL West (COL, SD 3; ARI 2; SF 1; LAD 0).
This is Curt Young's first ejection since April 25, 2013 (Jim Reynolds; QOC = U [USC-DiMuro]).
This is Tripp Gibson's first ejection since August 13, 2017 (Jeff Banister; QOC = U [Warnings]).

Wrap: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Francisco Giants, 4/28/18 | Video as follows:

Injury Scout - Cory Blaser Out Sick in Chicago

Cory Blaser was a late scratch Saturday afternoon in Chicago due to illness.

After serving as third base umpire during Friday night's Brewers-Cubs game, Blaser was unable to attend Saturday's proceedings, leaving his crew shorthanded for the early start at Wrigley Field.

As such, the three-person umpiring crew Saturday consisted of HP Umpire Eric Cooper, 1B Umpire and Crew Chief Gary Cederstrom, and 3B Umpire Stu Scheurwater. Due to the timing of the absence, no minor league umpire was immediately available to start in Blaser's place.

Relevant Injury History: N/A.

Last Game: April 27 | Return to Play: May 3 | Time Absent: 5 Days.

Master Mike - Boone Boots a Replay as Scioscia Plays Coy

Friday night's Yankees-Angels game produced an odd run-scoring sequence that left NY Manager Aaron Boone out of time as Halos skipper Mike Scioscia outcoached rookie Boone by strategically opting not to challenge an umpire's apparent missed call on the bases.

A close call, missed chance, and strategy win.
The Play: With one out and two on (R2, R3), Yankees batter Neil Walker hit a fly ball deep to right field, resulting in a leaping catch at the wall by Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun, who threw to shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who in turn stepped on second base to appeal that Yankees baserunner R2 Giancarlo Stanton left the base too early as baserunner R3 Didi Gregorious crossed home plate.

The Call: 2B Umpire Angel Hernandez ruled R2 Stanton out for failing to timely tag up and HP Umpire Alan Porter ruled that R3 Gregorious' run should count because Gregorious scored prior to the third out of the inning.

Replays and Aftermath: Because replays suggest that R2 Stanton did timely tag up and that R3 Gregorious touched home plate after F6 Simmons tagged second base, both managers potentially had reason to consider challenging the play... and because one apparent missed call went against New York while the other went against Anaheim Los Angeles, the skippers had additional reason to pause.

Scioscia immediately exited his dugout to inform the umpires he was considering a challenge. After some thought, he opted not to challenge the call, likely knowing that although Gregorious did not touch home plate until after Simmons' tag at second, the Replay Official would have also reviewed when Simmons left second base relative to Calhoun's first touch, and would have likely reversed U2 Hernandez's out call, thus rendering UIC Porter's time play a moot call, awarding the Yankees not only Gregorious' run, but Stanton's placement at third base with just two out.

As for Boone...well...he Boone'd it. Replays indicate Boone loitered in the dugout after getting word from his video room that Calhoun had, indeed, caught the ball...only thinking to review the tag-up play at second base after more than 30 seconds had passed, which means his time was up and New York was no longer eligible to challenge the call(s).

What Should Have Happened: Batter out on the sac fly, R3 scoring and R2 to third base. Two out.
What Happened Instead: Batter out on the sac fly, R3 scoring. R2 out at second. Three out.

A snapshot at the moment Calhoun catches.
Umpire Responsibilities: In general, with runners at second and third and the infield in, the first base umpire has responsibility for boundary calls involving the right fielder who moves to his left, while the second base umpire has fly ball responsibility for plays that take the right fielder to his right (same coverage as with the bases empty).

Because F9 Calhoun turned and ran to his left, 1B Umpire Bill Miller properly went out into right field and observed Calhoun's catch.

The 2B Umpire's responsibility in this situation is to drift into the infield between first and second and take the tag-up at second base as well as the batter-runner once the batter-runner achieves first base. In addition to the tag-up at second base, the 2B Umpire is to quickly glance toward first to make sure the batter-runner touches first base as he runs by. Replays indicate 2B Umpire Angel Hernandez followed this instruction, though may have turned to see BR's touch at a crucial moment when R2 tagged up. Which base touch is more important here, anyway?

The 3B Umpire lines up the tag-up at third base, and takes the runner from second into third. Replays indicate 3B Umpire Todd Tichenor did this.

The HP Umpire stays home and has all runners at home including the batter-runner as well as R3. HP Umpire Alan Porter stayed home and was in good position to rule on the time play at second base.

Scioscisa strategically chose not to challenge.
What Went Wrong: Prior to ruling on the appeal play at second base, 2B Umpire Hernandez looked toward first, presumably for U1 Miller, possibly because, had Calhoun gone to his right, the first base umpire would have had the tag-up at second; perhaps Hernandez wanted to ensure no conflicting call would be made. However, if this alternate mechanic were in use, Hernandez would have gone out, not Miller. Regardless, this wasn't "wrong" in and of itself; watching BR at the crucial moment was what went wrong for the umpires. Whether right or not, Boone's failure to timely challenge the play was what went wrong for New York: the Yankees failed to control a controlable.

As for Porter, he had to rule whether Gregorious' touch of home plate preceded Simmons' tag of second base—a tall order from over 128 feet away, especially given Simmons' minor stumble at second base. In all, this makes for a very difficult time play; without satisfactory evidence to suggest that the run scored after the third out was made, Porter's call was to score the run. Scioscia could have challenged it, but it turned out to be far more strategic for him not to challenge the play, so, he didn't and in doing so, outcoached Aaron Boone.

Video as follows:

Friday, April 27, 2018

MLB Ejection 027 - Alan Porter (1; Josh Bard)

HP Umpire Alan Porter ejected Yankees Bench Coach Josh Bard (strike three call; QOCY) in the top of the 4th inning of the Yankees-Angels game. With none out and none on, Yankees batter Aaron Judge took a 1-2 sinker from Angels pitcher Andrew Heaney for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer edge of home plate and thigh-high (px .742, pz 2.487) and that all other pitches during the at-bat were properly officiated (Judge's at-bat was the first of the inning), the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Angels were leading, 1-0. The Yankees ultimately won the contest, 4-3, in 10 innings.

This is Alan Porter (64)'s first ejection of 2018.
Alan Porter now has 6 points in the UEFL Standings (2 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 6).
Crew Chief Bill Miller now has 1 point in Crew Division (0 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 1).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
*The pitch was located 2.064 horizontal inches from being deemed an incorrect call.

This is the 27th ejection of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is New York-AL's 4th ejection of 2018, 1st in the AL East (NYY 4; BOS 1; BAL, TB, TOR 0).
This is Josh Bard's first ejection since May 31, 2007 (Ed Rapuano; QOC = U [HR/Not HR]).
This is Alan Porter's first ejection since April 21, 2017 (Brian Butterfield; QOC = Y-C [Replay Review]).

Wrap: New York Yankees vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 4/27/18 | Video as follows:

Case Play 2018-2 - Balk-A-Day...Joe West? [Solved]

Crew Chief and 1B Umpire Joe West called a controversial balk Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium in the top of the 8th inning of a contentious Marlins-Dodgers game, awarding Miami baserunner Derek Dietrich second base on LA pitcher Tony Cingrani's move to first. Did the Cowboy get it right or was MLB's senior-most umpire incorrect in his ruling?

1B Umpire Joe West calls a balk in LA.
This Case Play isn't as much of a logic exercise as it is a test of judgment; both the Play and Case Play Question are included in the introductory paragraph, above, and the following related rule contains references to previous balk discussions; the West-Cingrani balk in particular is noteworthy because baserunner Dietrich eventually came around to score and Miami ultimately defeated the Dodgers by a one-run margin.

After the game, a local reporter presented the following quote as Joe West's response to a pool reporter's question about the balk: "There’s nothing I can do about it. Nobody’s looking to call a balk there, f*ck, if it doesn’t jump out at you. That’s why I called it. You saw how fast I f*ckin’ called it. You hate that you have to do it, but you can’t let them cheat."

Cingrani deadpanned, "Joe West just knows what he's doing. Been around the game for a while. So obviously that's a balk if he calls it a balk."

One supplemental question to this Case Play has to do with camera angles: Replays indicate U1 West was the first of the four umpires to identify and signal the infraction. Why, in this case, would the broadcast's default center field camera angle prove insufficient in determining this call's Quality of Correctness? What camera angle—whether shown on television or not—would be most beneficial in adjudicating this play, given the first base umpire's on-field ruling?

Finally, what's your call, and, if you were to ascribe a QOC to West's balk call, what would it be?

Answer: Though it is debatable whether Cingrani made a motion naturally associated with his pitch, as in 6.02(a)(1), the answer lies in Cingrani's right foot, specifically where it settled relative to 6.02(a)(3)'s requirement that the pitcher balks if throwing to a base without stepping directly toward that base.

Taking a closer look at Cingrani's right foot, it returns to the mound somewhere in the vicinity of no-man's land between the plate and first base, but the clue as to where Cingrani was stepping toward is to single in on the direction of his foot: it is pointing toward the first base dugout.

Because the foot is pointing toward the dugout, Cingrani has failed to step directly toward first base before throwing to that base, which is a step balk, pursuant to Rule 6.02(a)(3).

Official Baseball Rules Library (Not all rules may apply to this particular play)
6.02(a): If there is a runner, or runners, it is a balk when:
6.02(a)(1)The pitcher, while touching his plate, makes any motion naturally associated with his pitch and fails to make such delivery.
6.02(a)(1) CommentIf a left-handed or right-handed pitcher swings his free foot past the back edge of the pitcher’s rubber, he is required to pitch to the batter except to throw to second base on a pick-off play.
6.02(a)(3)The pitcher, while touching his plate, fails to step directly toward a base before throwing to that base.
6.02(a)(3) Comment: Requires the pitcher, while touching his plate, to step directly toward a base before throwing to that base. If a pitcher turns or spins off of his free foot without actually stepping or if he turns his body and throws before stepping, it is a balk. because he steps. A pitcher is to step directly toward a base before throwing to that base and is required to throw (except to second base) because he steps.
6.02(a) Comment: Umpires should bear in mind that the purpose of the balk rule is to prevent the pitcher from deliberately deceiving the base runner. If there is doubt in the umpire’s mind, the “intent” of the pitcher should govern.
Related Post: UEFL Archive for Balk Ejections, Analyses, and Discussions.
Related PostRule 6.02(a): It is a balk when— (7/21/12).

Video as follows:

Featured MiLB Ejection - Anthony Warner (Wyatt Toregas)

In our first Featured Minor League Ejection of 2018, we visit the Class-A South Atlantic League, where MiLB umpire Anthony Warner ejected West Virginia Power Manager Wyatt Toregas, who unleashed a profanity-filled tirade while arguing a strike three call during the second game of Wednesday's doubleheader against the visiting Rome Braves.

The game had barely begun—it was the bottom of the 1st inning—when Toregas took umbrage at a strike zone that had seen West Virginia's first two batters of the game, Chris Sharpe and Calvin Mitchell, both called out on strikes.

Toregas' tawdry temper tantrum, which appeared quite illogical as Toregas quickly gave up questioning the fairness of his ejection ("You just tossed me for no reason") when told the reason for his removal from the game ("I don't give a ****"), concluded with a verticality dispute as 1B Umpire Justin Whiddon stepped in to provide support, upon which Toregas simply walked off the field; in the end, Braves starting pitcher Bruce Zimmerman struck out the first six batters he faced (including four after Toregas' ejection) en route to a six-inning, zero-run performance. The Braves ultimately won the contest, 8-3, and swept the doubleheader.

Wrap: Rome Braves vs. West Virginia Power (Doubleheader Game 2), 4/23/18 | Video as follows:

Thursday, April 26, 2018

MLB Ejection 026 - Mike Winters (1; Clint Hurdle)

2B Umpire Mike Winters ejected Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle (out of the base path call; QOCY) in the bottom of the 8th inning of the Tigers-Pirates game. With one out and two on (R1, R2), Pirates batter Starling Marte hit a 2-1 fastball from Tigers pitcher Joe Jimenez on the ground to third baseman Niko Goodrum, who threw late to first base as baserunner R2 Adam Frazier attempted to elude Goodrum's tag. Replays indicate that baserunner Frazier initially avoided Goodrum as he fielded the batted ball by veering to the left before stopping and cutting back to his right in an effort to avoid Goorum's tag, ultimately running more than three feet out outside of his base path as established at the time of Goodrum's tag attempt, the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 0-0. The Pirates ultimately won the contest, 1-0.

This is Mike Winters (33)'s first ejection of the 2018 MLB regular season.
Mike Winters now has 3 points in the UEFL Standings (-1 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 3).
Crew Chief Mike Winters now has 0 points in Crew Division (-1 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 1).
*Official Baseball Rule 5.09(b)(1) states that a runner is out when, "He runs more than three feet away from his base path to avoid being tagged unless his action is to avoid interference with a fielder fielding a batted ball. A runner’s base path is established when the tag attempt occurs and is a straight line from the runner to the base he is attempting to reach safely."
Related PostNo No-No? Out of Base Path Call Voids Potential Sox Hit (4/22/18).

For an explanation as to why 2B Umpire Winters, as opposed to 3B Umpire Tim Timmons, was able to see this play and make this call, see the following related post; U3 Timmons ruled "no tag," which was accurate because F5 Goodrum did not physically tag R2 Frazier. Naturally, confusion can arise when one umpire appears to rule "safe" while a crew-mate appears to rule "out." If two umpires make conflicting calls on the same play (unlike this present play, say U2 has "tag" and U3 has "no tag"), in general, the crew chief shall decide which call shall prevail, as in Rule 8.03(c).
Related PostWhose Call - Runner Out of Base Path Considerations (5/17/16).
If different decisions should be made on one play by different umpires, the umpire-in-chief shall call all the umpires into consultation, with no manager or player present. After consultation, the umpire-in-chief (unless another umpire may have been designated by the League President [Ed. note, the crew chief is the designated umpire]) shall determine which decision shall prevail, based on which umpire was in best position and which decision was most likely correct. Play shall proceed as if only the final decision had been made.
This is the 26th ejection of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is the ninth Manager ejection of 2018.
This is Pittsburgh's 1st ejection of 2018, 3rd in the NL Central (CHC, MIL 2; PIT 1; CIN, STL 0).
This is Clint Hurdle's first ejection since September 13, 2017 (Bill Welke; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Mike Winters' first ejection since October 18, 2017 (Joe Maddon; QOC = N-C [K3/Foul]).

Wrap: Detroit Tigers vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, 8/26/18 | Video as follows:

Funny Foul - Returning Runners When Ball is Dead

Leave it to an Adrian Beltre practical joke to teach us the importance of knowing when the ball has a status of live or dead. Tuesday in Texas, Beltre attempted to advance from first to third base when a replacement baseball handed to a catcher after a foul ball sailed over the pitcher's glove and into center field, Beltre providing one last glimpse of sunshine before landing on the Disabled List.

Beltre's joke gives us a valuable lesson.
The Play: With one out and Beltre on first base, batter Jurickson Profar fouled off a 1-1 offering from A's pitcher Andrew Triggs into the stands behind the third base dugout. After HP Umpire Vic Carapazza handed catcher Jonathan Lucroy a replacement ball, Lucroy's return throw to Triggs was wild and wound up in center field. In his latest hometown hustle, Beltre ran toward second, rounded the base, and sprinted into third as the Arlington crowd roared its approval.

The Call: Naturally, 3B Umpire Greg Gibson raised his hands to signal "Time" and prodded Beltre back to first base while a bemused Carapazza explained to Rangers Manager Jeff Banister why Beltre was being returned to first base.

Analysis: When Profar's batted ball became foul abruptly after his bat struck the pitch, the ball became dead, pursuant to Official Baseball Rule 5.06(c)(5), which portrays one situation under which the ball becomes dead:
A foul ball is not caught, in which case runners return to their bases. The umpire-in-chief shall not put the ball in play until all runners have retouched their bases.
As the sole baserunner who began the play on first base, Beltre was obligated to return to first.

3B Umpire Gibson and Beltre rehash the play.
Though Carapazza handed catcher Lucroy a replacement ball, the rules book is also very clear about precisely when a dead ball becomes live once again; simply handing the ball to a fielder does not signify that the umpire has "put the ball in play."

Instead, Rule 5.12 continues: "After the ball is dead, play shall be resumed when the pitcher takes his place on the pitcher's plate with a new ball or the same ball in his possession and the plate umpire calls 'Play.' The plate umpire shall call 'Play' as soon as the pitcher takes his place on his plate with the ball in his possession."

As for the ball's status, Rule 5.12(a) states, "Between the call of 'Time' and the call of 'Play' the ball is dead."
Related PostCalling Time to Avoid a Balk - When a Ball Becomes Dead (5/10/16).

Thus, because pitcher Triggs never took his place on the pitcher's plate with the ball in his possession, plate umpire Carapazza never called "Play." Because Carapazza never called "Play," the ball was dead during the time in which Beltre attempted to advance from first to third base.

We return to Rule 5.06(c) to see why Beltre is not legally allowed to do this: "While the ball is dead no player may be put out, no bases may be run and no runs may be scored, the result of acts which occurred while the ball was alive."

Beltre's hustle is all for laughs & all for naught.
Conclusion: Though it seems a foregone conclusion that a runner cannot advance on a foul ball, it is nonetheless important to know where each baserunner has begun play in the event the runner needs to be instructed to return (as well as in calculating certain base awards as prescribed by rule), and it is similarly vital to note when a live ball becomes dead and vice versa, so as to prevent illegal advancement of runners (and, similarly, so as to avoid an improper balk call, appeal play, or the like).

It seems rather silly—and Beltre has a habit of turning gameplay into smiling situations—but a momentary lapse in judgment or failure to strictly enforce rules pertaining to live vs dead ball status could lead to trouble if a runner is permitted to advance or awarded a base when otherwise prohibited by rule to do so.

Video as follows:

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

MLB Ejection 025 - Mike Estabrook (1; Rick Renteria)

HP Umpire Mike Estabrook ejected White Sox Manager Rick Renteria (strike three call; QOCN) in the bottom of the 6th inning of the Mariners-White Sox game. With two out and two on (R1, R3), White Sox batter Matt Davidson took a 0-2 sinker from Mariners pitcher Marco Gonzalez for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located off the outer edge of home plate and above the hollow of the knee (px 1.322, pz 1.765 [sz_bot 1.601]), and was the only callable pitch of the at-bat; the call was incorrect.* At the time of the ejection, the Mariners were leading, 1-0. The Mariners ultimately won the contest, 1-0.

This is Mike Estabrook (83)'s first ejection of 2018.
Mike Estabrook now has -1 points in the UEFL Standings (1 Prev + 2 MLB - 4 Incorrect Call = -1).
Crew Chief Alfonso Marquez 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.
*The pitch was located 4.896 horizontal inches from being deemed a correct call.

This is the 25th ejection of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is the eighth Manager ejection of 2018.
This is Chicago-AL's 1st ejection of 2018, T-1st in the AL Central (CWS, DET 1; CLE, KC, MIN 0).
This is Rick Renteria's first ejection since September 8, 2017 (Eric Cooper; QOC = N-C [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Mike Estabrook's first ejection since Sept 3, 2017 (Carlos Gomez; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Seattle Mariners vs. Chicago White Sox, 4/24/18 | Video as follows:

Tempers Flare as Baez Face-Guards LeMahieu in Colorado

A heated moment between Chicago's Javier Baez and Colorado runner DJ LeMahieu during Sunday's Cubs-Rockies game occurred after Baez attempted to block LeMahieu's vision, prompting umpire intervention. Is this obstruction, unsportsmanlike conduct, or is it even illegal?

SS Baez stands in front of R2 LeMahieu.
The Play: There's a reason for everything, and Baez was convinced that LeMahieu was stealing signs in the midst of a 6-0 ballgame at Coors Field. In response to his suspicion, Baez opted to approach LeMahieu as he prepared his lead near second base, stand in front of the runner, and then jockey left and right in response to LeMahieu's movements and in order to prevent him from seeing the catcher and pitcher's signals.

LeMahieu objected to the accusation, and 2B Umpire Vic Carapazza stepped in the middle to prevent a bigger issue.

The Rule: Baez's actions approached the bounds of illegality, as jockeying in front of a baserunner in order to block his view of the pitcher is an example of visual obstruction.

Though obstruction at the professional level is generally reserved for instances of physical hindrance, the cobwebs of baseball's playing rules—and a key interpretation of the obstruction rule—do allow for visual obstruction when a fielder purposely attempts to block a baserunner's vision.

The definition of obstruction, for instance, makes no explicit reference to physicality: "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."

The MLB Umpire Manual (MLBUM) thus includes the following interpretation relative to visual obstruction, and a fielder who deliberately approaches a runner and jockeys back-and-forth in front:
If the umpire deems the fielder's actions are a deliberate effort to block the runner's view of the pitcher, it is illegal and clearly not within the spirit of the Rules. The [fielder] should be warned to stop, and if he persists, he is subject to ejection.
2B Umpire Carapazza warns Baez to stop.
In other words, if the illegal act occurs during relaxed play (e.g., pitcher holding ball on the mound), the proper recourse is to warn the fielder to stop and eject the offender if the warning is not heeded.

If the illegal act occurs during active gameplay (e.g., during a batted or thrown ball), the proper recourse is to call obstruction, which most likely will be of the Type 2 / Type B variety.

Analysis: 2B Umpire Vic Carapazza properly addressed the Baez-LeMahieu situation by approaching the offending player (shortstop Baez) and warning him not to obstruct the vision of baserunner LeMahieu. If Baez failed to comply with Carapazza's instruction, he would be subject to ejection.

SIDEBAR: This rule is related to Unsportsmanlike Conduct Rule 6.04(c), which states, "No fielder shall take a position in the batter’s line of vision, and with deliberate unsportsmanlike intent, act in a manner to distract the batter. PENALTY: The offender shall be removed from the game and shall leave the playing field, and, if a balk is made, it shall be nullified."

Naturally, the principal difference is that the Baez/LeMahieu play concerns a runner, not a batter, and a batter, unlike a runner, cannot be obstructed until such time as the batter becomes a runner.

See the following UEFL University Video, as follows:

Injury Scout - CB Bucknor's Mysterious Absence

CB Bucknor left Monday night's assignment in Cincinnati for unknown reasons just one inning early.

Heading into bottom of the 8th inning of the Braves-Reds game, the Atlanta broadcast noticed an umpire was missing from the field of play, identifying the absent arbiter as CB Bucknor. No reason was given for Bucknor's absence, though he was not part of Tuesday's umpiring lineup in Cincinnati, either.

With 1B Umpire Bucknor out of commission, 2B Umpire Brian O'Nora slid over to first base, while 3B Umpire and crew chief Fieldin Culbreth remained at third and HP Umpire Chris Conroy continued behind the plate.

Minor League call-up umpire Chris Segal was called in to replace Bucknor for Tuesday night's game, serving as the second base umpire with Culbreth leap frogging the rotation to first base.

Relevant Injury History: N/A.
RelatedInjury Scout - CB Bucknor Exits Due to Leg Injury, Returns (6/2/17) [Most recent injury].

Last Game: April 23 | Return to Play: April 25 | Time Absent: One Day | Video as follows:

Monday, April 23, 2018

Stayin' Alive - The Umpire-Aided Triple Play

Knowing when umpire's interference occurs and when it does not can be crucial, especially when baserunners are involved and a ball bounces off the umpire in an unusual and unexpected way.

Ump INT no-call turns into AAA triple play.
Sunday afternoon in Pawtucket, 1B Umpire Jeremy Riggs had to think quickly when a batted ball bounced off him and back toward Red Sox pitcher William Cueves, who stepped on first base to force out Gwinnett batter-runner Rio Ruiz, before throwing to several teammates who tagged out baserunners Ronald Acuna and Ezequiel Carrera, who were wandering off their bases as if the ball had become dead. So what is the correct call?

Answer: Because batter Ruiz's fair batted ball passed Red Sox first baseman Sam Travis before striking umpire Riggs, umpire's interference did not occur, and the ball was properly kept live and in play. This correctly officiated triple play and potential lack of rules knowledge on the bases may have cost Gwinnett the game, as Pawtucket eventually walked off in extra innings.

Official Baseball Rule 6.01(f) Comment concerns two types of umpire's interference, and states:
Umpire’s interference occurs (1) when a plate umpire hinders, impedes or prevents a catcher’s throw attempting to prevent a stolen base or retire a runner on a pick-off play; or (2) when a fair ball touches an umpire on fair territory before passing a fielder. Umpire interference may also occur when an umpire interferes with a catcher returning the ball to the pitcher.
NOTE: The interference shall be disregarded if the catcher's throw retires the runner. (Rule 5.06(c)(2)).

The penalty for umpire's interference is a dead ball and runners return to their bases occupied at the time of the pitch unless forced to advance by virtue of the batter becoming a runner, in which case the forced runners shall be awarded one base.

To review, umpire's interference only exists if the following conditions are met:

Umpire interference during a catcher's throw.
Type 1 Interference) The catcher must possess the baseball and be attempting a throw on a baserunner. There is no interference if the umpire is hit by a pitched ball or becomes entangled with a catcher who is attempting to field a loose ball. There is no interference if the umpire makes contact with the catcher attempting to retire a batter. Type 1 interference cannot occur during a batted or pitched ball, and does not apply to any umpire who is not the plate umpire nor any fielder who is not the catcher.
Note to plate umpires: If you recognize umpire's interference, keep play alive until the baserunner has been successfully thrown out or not. If the runner is thrown out, disregard the interference. If the runner is not thrown out, call the interference and enforce the penalty (dead ball, runners return). This is a de facto delayed dead ball.

Umpire INT can only occur in certain cases.
Type 2 Interference) The umpire must make contact with a) a fair batted ball, which b) has not passed an infielder other than the pitcher or catcher, and which c) has not made contact with any player on the defensive team (including the pitcher or catcher). It is not interference if an umpire does not touch the baseball in the aforementioned manner. Type 2 interference cannot occur during a thrown, deflected, or pitched ball.

The accompanying video discusses the case of umpire's interference with a multitude of video examples elucidating what is and is not eligible for this particular ruling:

Sunday, April 22, 2018

MLB Ejections 023-24 - Cory Blaser (1-2; Davis, Haines)

HP Umpire Cory Blaser ejected Cubs Hitting Coach Chili Davis and Assistant Hitting Coach Andy Haines (Unsportmanlike-NEC/warnings & ejection no-calls; QOCU) in the top of the 1st inning of the Cubs-Rockies game. With two out and none on, Cubs batter Kris Bryant took a 1-2 fastball from Rockies pitcher German Marquez for a hit-by-pitch, the first hit batsman of the game; no warnings or other actions resulted from the HBP. Replays indicate the pitch was located inside and head-high, after which Bryant left the game due to injury, the call was irrecusable. At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 0-0. The Cubs ultimately won the contest, 9-7.

These are Cory Blaser (89)'s first and second ejections of 2018.
Cory Blaser now has 6 points in the UEFL Standings (2 Prev + 2*[2 MLB + 0 Irrecusable Call] = 6).
Crew Chief Greg Gibson now has 2 points in Crew Division (0 Previous + 2 Irrecusable Call = 2).

These are the 23rd and 24th ejections of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is Chicago's 1/2nd ejection of 2018, T-1st in the NL Central (CHC, MIL 2; CIN, PIT, STL 0).
This is Andy Haines' first career MLB ejection.
This is Chili Davis' first ejection since September 7, 1997 (Durwood Merrill; QOC = U [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Cory Blaser's first ejection since August 10, 2016 (Barry Bonds; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Chicago Cubs vs. Colorado Rockies, 4/22/18 | Video as follows:

No No-No? Out of Base Path Call Voids Potential Sox Hit

Three innings before Oakland Athletics pitcher Sean Manaea celebrated the first no-hitter of 2018, HP Umpire Hunter Wendelstedt and crewmates Adrian Johnson, Tripp Gibson, and Brian Gorman convened about a potential out-of-the-base-path call at first after Red Sox batter-runner Andrew Benintendi attempted to avoid a tag near the foul line for Boston's first base hit of the game, thus breaking up Manaea's masterpiece.

The implications of this decision were significant: Either no-call the tough-to-tell base path infraction and end a potentially historic night with two outs in the top of the 6th inning, or rule Benintendi out, consequently keeping Manaea's no-hitter intact.
Related Post2018 No-Hitter 1, Hunter Wendelstedt (1; Sean Manaea) (4/21/18).

As Jim Joyce would say, "This isn't a call. This is a history call..."

Official Baseball Rule 5.09(b)(1) states that any runner is out when:
He runs more than three feet away from his base path to avoid being tagged unless his action is to avoid interference with a fielder fielding a batted ball. A runner’s base path is established when the tag attempt occurs and is a straight line from the runner to the base he is attempting to reach safely
To be clear, we're not talking about a baseLINE, and the 45-foot runner's lane does not apply to this play (the runner's lane only applies to plays of potential interference...there is no potential for runner's lane interference here). Refer to the following related post to learn about runner's lane interference.
Related PostRunner's Lane Interference Plagues Chicago's Heyward (5/24/17).

The runner's lane is not part of this play.
Instead, we consider whether batter-runner Benintendi ran more than three feet from the direct line between where he was at the time A's first baseman Matt Olson first attempted to tag him and the first base bag (see annotated image at the top of this analysis).

From the available camera angles, this appears a 50-50 call if there ever was one; I see no definitive evidence to support the on-field ruling, nor do I see any clear and convincing evidence to refute it. This is really close to three feet. In sum, it is difficult to ascertain from a distance whether the runner deviated by more than three feet from his established base path, and I wouldn't be able to confirm that he was less than three feet from the direct line. If this call were subject to Replay Review (it's not), I'd have to imagine the Replay Official would rule "call stands."

Gorman's crew rehashes the play near first.
This crew consultation for an out-of-the-base-path no-call suggests that Wendelstedt had doubt as to whether Benintendi illegally exited his base path; after all, with a fielder lunging from one side of the baseline to the other, it is clear that the runner will attempt to avoid this tag. The only question, naturally, is whether the runner ran more than three feet from his path to do so.

U1 Johnson, primarily engaged with the question of tag/no tag—both of player and of base, though this play developed into a pretty clear swipe tag situation—signaled "safe" due to Olson's missed tag; there appeared to be no initial call pertaining to the base path issue.

Gil's Call: Oddly enough, or perhaps not as odd as it is confounding, is that the Jim Joyce safe call during Armando Galarraga's Imperfect Game—one of the plays that was supposedly a catalyst for MLB expanded video replay—has everything, yet nothing, to do with this call.

Did the game situation influence the call?
This out-of-the-base-path play, combined with an official scorer's decision to rule a dropped fly ball an error instead of a base hit, helped keep Manaea's dream alive and made his no-hitter possible. If this call doesn't get made, that no-hitter never happens. The notion is simple, yet the gravity of this call held an untold (and unsounded, and perhaps subconscious if nothing else) weight during the crew consultation. It was the white elephant in the stadium, which, pursuant to the umpire's creed, "had nothing to do with the call that was made."

Finally, Joyce's call had nothing to do with that of the Gorman crew, either, because Joyce's call would have been reviewable today; out of the base path isn't, and absent someone borrowing a yard stick from the Coliseum grounds crew, who's to say whether this call was definitively correct or not? There could be a lengthy debate as to where precisely the runner was when the fielder gained possession of the baseball and moved toward him in order to start his tag.

So when Wendelstedt walked to Red Sox Manager Alex Cora to relay the bad news, and Gibson and Johnson visited with Benintendi, the most notable outcome—besides the no-hitter—was that Gorman's crew now won't have to live with the next line (but most importantly, the final sentence) from the aforementioned Jim Joyce quote: "...And I kicked the sh*t out of it. And I took a perfect game away from that kid who worked his ass off all night."

If the arm is 3 feet, does it ever get to the line?
After the game, Gorman said the crew talked about body parts, "We were discussing the three-foot variation. Your arm is three feet long and you got a glove at the end of it that's a pretty good indicator. He [Benintendi] goes to the side of him [Olson], then he went more than three-feet."

Naturally, the question becomes whether Olson's fingertips ever made it to Benintendi's base path—did the leather ever break the plane formed by the direct line between Benintendi at the time of the tag and first base?

If it did, perhaps a visual exercise could help determine whether another arm length (starting at the direct line) could have reached the runner. If Olson's hand did not make it to Benitendi's path, however, then Gorman's logic becomes faulty: of course the runner was more than three feet away from the fielder's reach...the fielder didn't start the play even with the runner's base path, meaning that the runner had a "head start" of sorts.

Ugh, math.

Benintendi simply surmised that the umpires were looking for a reason to preserve the no-no.

Does he have a point? Would this same play produce the same call in a more relaxed ballgame without a no-hitter on the line?

We've discussed out-of-the-base-path plays many times; click through the various Related Post links that follow to read about several previous plays that also pertained to this rule.
Related PostMLB Ejection 047 - Nic Lentz (2; Clint Hurdle) (5/23/17).
Related PostMarlins File Doomed Protest Over Out of Base Path Call (6/14/16).
Related PostBaez Out of Base Path in Rare Runner's Lane Appearance (5/23/16).
Related PostWhose Call - Runner Out of Base Path Considerations (5/17/16).
Related PostMLB Ejection 133: Alan Porter (3; Mike Redmond) (7/23/14).

Video as follows: