Saturday, May 19, 2018

Running Out of Air - Interfering with a Bare Handed Catch

Though a ball is generally dead on interference, the infraction is sometimes ignored, such as an interfered-with catcher who throws out a runner. Friday, a first baseman who lost his mitt in a collision with a batter caught a batted ball in his bare hands—no glove, no problem!

That said, what is the difference between a seeming case of interference where the ball does not immediately become dead versus a situation where the ball is immediately dead?

Using an NCAA-college play as our starting point, we'll dive through the three prominent baseball rulesets—OBR (professional), NCAA (college), and NFHS (high school)—to answer the dead-or-not question.

The ball is dead on runner interference.
In short, ball status all depends whether the interfering player is a batter (delayed dead) or a runner (immediately dead)...but how about a batter-runner?

The Play: With none out and one on (R1), Washington State Cougars batter Robert Teel hit a 1-0 pitch from Stanford Cardinal starter Tristan Beck on a pop fly up the first base line, where first baseman Andrew Daschbach attempted to field the batted ball, briefly colliding with batter-runner Teel, knocking Daschbach's mitt off of his hand. No matter, Daschbach stayed with the play and nonetheless caught Teel's fly ball as HP Umpire Heath Jones signaled an out for the interference. An otherwise-impressive catch, batter-runner Teel would have been out even had Dashbach dropped the ball, for the play was dead as soon as interference occurred (R1 returns to first base).
Video via Read More.

The ball is not always dead on batter INT.
"Delayed" - When the Ball is Not Dead Due to Interference: When a batter, who is not yet a runner, interferes with a catcher attempting to throw out a baserunner, as in Official Baseball Rule 6.03(a)(3) (NCAA Rule 6-2-d, NFHS 5-1-2a & 7-3-5), the interference is acknowledged and signaled as prescribed by level of play, but if the catcher's throw retires the runner, then the interference is ignored. This, too, is true for plate umpire interference (e.g., 5.06(c)(2), NFHS 5-1-2c). If the throw fails to retire the runner, only then does the ball truly die and the rule enforced (runners return and batter is out [if INT...batter is not out if unintentional backswing {OBR, NCAA} or follow-through {NCAA, NFHS} contact {college uses both terms in the same rule 6-2-d}]). If the batter intentionally interferes with a catcher's throw back to the pitcher, the ball is immediately dead. Mandatory reminder that "backswing interference" means something entirely different in high school (pre-pitch contact b/w bat & catcher) than at other levels (generally, post-pitch).
Related PostWanted Dead or Alive - Recording a Backswing Strikeout (3/4/18).

Both batter and runner are out if the batter has struck out immediately prior to interfering with the catcher (in NFHS the umpire shall judge whether interference prevented a potential double play, 8-4-2g).

Note that both NFHS and NCAA use the terminology "delayed dead ball," but OBR does not.

"Immediate" - When the Ball is Dead: After the batter has become a runner, or as relates to any baserunner, Rule 6.03(a) is no longer applicable, as 6.03, entitled "batter illegal action," applies only to the batter. Instead, OBR 6.01(a) (NCAA 8-5-d, NFHS 8-4-2g) takes over. The rule states, in part (language is similar in NCAA and NFHS):
It is interference by a batter or a runner when—He fails to avoid a fielder who is attempting to field a batted ball, or intentionally interferes with a thrown ball...
The penalty for interference, naturally, states, "The runner is out and the ball is dead" (immediately).

This applies to interference committed after a ball is batted or at any time after the batter has become a runner, including after an uncaught third strike, when Rule 6.01(a)(1) comes into play ("After a third strike he clearly hinders the catcher in his attempt to field the ball. Such batter-runner is out, the ball is dead, and all other runners return to the bases they occupied at the time of the pitch").
Related PostCase Play 2017-8 - Batter Interferes on Strike 3 [Solved] (7/21/17).

A batter who has already been put out is also subject to 6.01 "immediate dead ball" interference.
Related PostJoe Calls Interference Double Play out West (5/28/16).

Finally, interference by other actors (base coach, dugout/bullpen persons) = immediate dead ball.
Related PostCase Play 2015-01, A Base Coach's Helping Hand? [Solved] (4/21/15).

Player status dictates how play will proceed.
Why This Difference Matters: A catcher who throws out a baserunner in spite of the batter's (or umpire's) interference allows play to stay alive ("it is to be assumed there was no actual interference and that the runner is out—not the batter"), meaning that actions on subsequent baserunners are possible and will stand as called—including any runners who might score on such a play (there's strategy to be invoked here). On the other hand, a runner who interferes causes play to immediately cease and all other runners to return as prescribed by rule.

For instance, Louisiana State University lost a run in the 2017 NCAA College World Series after 2B Umpire Steve Mattingly ruled a baserunner out for slide rule interference, resulting in a double play and dead ball (runner R3 returns).
Related PostNCAA CWS - Force Play Slide Rule Negates LSU Run (6/27/17).

Video as follows:

Friday, May 18, 2018

Injury Scout - David Rackley Exits in St. Louis

David Rackley exited Friday's assignment in St. Louis for an unspecified reason prior to the 8th inning.

Rackley, who had been spotted speaking with the Cardinals training staff an inning earlier, departed the Phillies-Cards game prior to the top of the 8th inning, resulting in a delay as 2B Umpire Hunter Wendelstedt retreated to the umpires' room to change into his plate gear.

Wendelstedt at home plate was assisted by 1B Umpire and Crew Chief Larry Vanover and 3B Umpire Ramon De Jesus for the remainder of the regulation contest; the delay prompted by Rackley's departure for undisclosed reasons was the latest in a game that had already experienced over an hour's worth of weather-related setbacks.

Relevant Injury History: N/A.
Related PostInjury - David Rackley Leaves Twins-Nats Game (3/6/17) [Most Recent Injury].

Last Game: May 18 | Return to Play: June 5 | Time Absent: 18 Days | Video as follows:

App State's Travis Holden Out on Close Call at Home

Appalachian State batter Travis Holden nearly pulled off an inside-the-park home run in the rain during the Mountaineers' game vs Coastal Carolina Friday, but a controversial call after a brief delay upstaged the home team's celebration as the umpire who made the call scurried off the field toward the visiting dugout.

Ump rings up Holden to dash his HR hopes.
Per the official box score, Friday afternoon's crew as assigned by the NCAA Sun Belt Conference featured HP Umpire Craig Mirr, 1B Umpire Jeremy Hayes, 2B Umpire Nathan Huber, and 3B Umpire Gabriel Chavez.

Controversy, all of it.

Welcome to the UEFL's new Humor section, where we visit the more jovial parts of the officiating game—from bloopers to satire and downright foolishness that's guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Imagine our annual April Fools' Day content, but on a more routine basis. Welcome to UEFL Humor.
*All UEFL Humor entries will carry the "Humor" label and be denoted as such in the post's content.

As for the game itself, Holden's non-inside-the-parker occurred during a terminal rain delay that ultimately resulted in the game's suspension in the bottom of the 6th inning with Coastal Carolina leading, 7-4.

Video as follows:

Ask the UEFL - Trades During a Suspended Game

A rain delay turned Tuesday's Yankees-Nationals contest into a suspended game. With the game not set to resume for another month, Ask the UEFL considers what would occur if New York or Washington added a player to the roster via trade or other transaction during that span. Eligible players ordinarily include those on the active roster, but what of those who weren't with a team when a game first began?

Video: Do the rules address a mid-game trade?
Could a player conceivably wind up playing for both teams during the same suspended game, or, rather, do the rules prohibit a player from appearing on both sides during the same game?

Question: Are such new players—acquired via trade, call-up, coming off the Disabled List, or otherwise—eligible to participate in the second half of the suspended game or is the roster limited to only those who started play on Tuesday when the game was originally suspended? What if a player were serving a disciplinary-related punishment, such as a 50-day PED suspension, when the game first began?

Answer: First, we find that the Yankees-Nats game is suspended because it was a regulation game (5+ innings) called with the score tied (3-3), as in Rule 7.02(a)(6).

With that established, we find our answer in Rule 7.02(c), which states:
A player who was not with the club when the game was suspended may be used as a substitute, even if he has taken the place of a player no longer with the club who would not have been eligible because he had been removed from the lineup before the game was suspended.
This player "not with the club" specifically refers to a player who did not appear on the 25-man active roster (or 40- in September), meaning that in addition to traded players, a club can use a player who has returned from the Disabled List, been called up from the minor leagues, or been moved from the 40- to the 25- active roster—as long as the team carries no more than 25 players (40 in September) on the roster in use for the resumption portion of the suspended game. A suspended player, likewise, was "not with the club" in the sense that he was not in the clubhouse or eligible to participate when the game was suspended, even if he were still on the Major League squad serving his penalty.

This ensures that a team which trades heavily or is subject to a Restocking Draft (pursuant to ML Rule 29, Major League Disaster Plan) is not placed at an unfair disadvantage upon resumption of a suspended game; for instance if a team had traded away half of its roster between the first and second halves of a suspended game, it will not lose the eligible-to-play roster spots that had been occupied by traded-away players.

Picture This: A player who was taken out in the 3rd inning of what will eventually become a suspended game because that player had been traded to another team is then traded back to his original team months later. Can this player re-enter the game because he "was not with the club when the game was suspended" in a later inning?

2015: NYM's Wilmer Flores thought he was
traded mid-game, but eBIS never verified it.
Answer: Simply put, no. Rule 5.10(d) states that "a player once removed from a game shall not re-enter that game." A mid-game trade won't change that.

A longer explanation is that if the transaction was entered into the Electronic Baseball Information System (eBIS)—the same system through which other transactions such as drafts, minor league assignments, and Disabled List placements are effected—prior to the suspension of the game, then the player is said not to be with the club. The realistic nature of each transactions' detailed subtleties indicates that it simply takes time to dot the i's and cross the t's, and additional time for the League to cross-check certain eligibility criteria (no-trade clause? bonus? do the teams actually agree to the trade's terms?). Thus, the trade will not be official before the game becomes suspended, meaning, in addition to 5.10(d), this player will not be eligible to re-enter the game under 7.02(c).

History: According to SABR archives, no player has appeared for both the winning and losing teams in a suspended game separated by a period of time, but it could have happened on several occasions.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

MLB Ejections 041-42 - Chris Segal (1-2; Crawford, Bochy)

HP Umpire Chris Segal ejected Giants SS Brandon Crawford and Manager Bruce Bochy (strike three call; QOCY) in the bottom of the 12th inning of the Rockies-Giants game. With none out and none on, Crawford took a 3-2 fastball from Rockies pitcher Wade Davis for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer half of home plate and at the hollow of the knee (px -.289, pz 1.423 [sz_bot 1.589 / MOE 1.506 / MOE-RAD 1.382]), the call was correct.* At the time the ejections, the Rockies were leading, 5-3. The Rockies ultimately won the contest, 5-3, in 12 innings.

These are Chris Segal (96)'s 1st and 2nd ejections of 2018.
Chris Segal now has 8 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Prev + 2*[2 AAA + 2 Correct Call] = 8).
Crew Chief Brian O'Nora now has 2 points in Crew Division (0 Previous + 2 Correct Call = 2).
*This pitch was located 0.492 vertical inches from being deemed an incorrect call.
*The definitive angle to suggest this as a correct call is the camera from the third base dugout.

These are the 41st and 42nd ejection reports of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is the 21st player ejection of 2018. Prior to ejection, Crawford was 1-5 (SO) in the contest.
This is the 16th Manager ejection of 2018.
This is San Francisco's 2/3rd ejection of 2018, T-3rd in the NL West (ARI, SD 4; COL, SF 3; LAD 1).
This is Brandon Crawford's first ejection since July 23, 2012 (Jordan Baker; QOC = U [USC-NEC]).
This is Bruce Bochy's first ejection since July 24, 2017 (Chris Conroy; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Chris Segal's first ejection since August 16, 2017 (Mike Matheny; QOC = U [Calling "Time"]).

Wrap: Colorado Rockies vs. San Francisco Giants, 5/17/18 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejection 040 - Will Little (1; Freddy Galvis)

HP Umpire Will Little ejected Padres SS Freddy Galvis (strike three call; QOCY) in the top of the 8th inning of the Padres-Pirates game. With two out and none on, Galvis took a 3-1 fastball from Pirates pitcher Michael Felix for a called second strike and 3-2 fastball for a called third strike. Replays indicate the 3-1 pitch was located over the outer edge of home plate and thigh-high (px -.787, pz 2.080) and the 3-2 pitch was located over the outer half of home plate and below the midpoint (px -.636, pz 3.163 [sz_top 3.301]), the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Pirates were leading, 5-4. The Pirates ultimately won the contest, 5-4.

This is Will Little (93)'s first ejection of 2018.
Will Little now has 3 points in the UEFL Standings (-1 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 3).
Crew Chief Ted Barrett now has 6 points in Crew Division (5 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 6).

This is the 40th ejection of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is the 20th player ejection of 2018. Prior to ejection, Galvis was 2-4 (SO) in the contest.
This is San Diego's 4th ejection of 2018, T-1st in the NL West (ARI, SD 4; COL 3; LAD, SF 1).
This is Freddy Galvis' first career MLB ejection.
This is Will Little's first ejection since September 24, 2017 (AJ Hinch; QOC = Y [Check Swing]).

Wrap: San Diego Padres vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, 5/17/18 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejection 039 - Paul Nauert (1; Jeff Banister)

HP Umpire Paul Nauert ejected Rangers Manager Jeff Banister (ball four call; QOCN) in the bottom of the 8th inning of the Rangers-White Sox game. With two out and the bases loaded, White Sox batter Nicky Delmonico took a 3-2 slider from Rangers pitcher Jose Leclerc for a called fourth ball after which subsequent batter Matt Davidson took a 3-2 slider for a called fourth ball; Banister was ejected arguing balls and strikes during a subsequent pitching change. *This ejection is eligible for a Balls/Strikes Exemption, if so challenged.* Replays indicate the 3-2 pitch to Delmonico was located over the heart of home plate and at the hollow of the knee (px -.016, pz 1.721 [sz_bot 1.601 / MOE 1.684]), the call was incorrect.* At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 2-2. The White Sox ultimately won the contest, 4-2.

This is Paul Nauert (39)'s first ejection of 2018.
Paul Nauert now has -2 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Prev + 2 MLB - 4 Incorrect Call = -2).
Crew Chief Angel Hernandez now has 3 points in Crew Division (3 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = 3).
*This pitch was located 0.444 vertical inches from being deemed a correct call.
*UEFL Rule 6-5-d-2 states, in part, "Balls/Strikes ejections that occur during a pitching change, mound visit, or other pause in play, shall be judged on a case-by-case basis, as above, with a strong regard for Rule 6-5-c. The same exemption that may be made under Rule 6-5-d shall also apply to this provision."

This is the 39th ejection of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is the 15th Manager ejection of 2018.
This is Texas' 1st ejection of 2018, T-1st in the AL West (HOU, LAA, SEA, TEX 1; OAK 0).
This is Jeff Banister's first ejection since September 12, 2017 (Jeff Nelson; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Paul Nauert's first ejection since August 22, 2015 (James Loney; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Texas Rangers vs. Chicago White Sox, 5/17/18 | Video as follows:

Gambling Ban Reversal Has Joe West Scared "to Death"

MLB's senior-most umpire and World Umpires Association president Joe West says that the United States Supreme Court's decision to lift a federal ban on sports gambling "scares me to death," positing that ump safety is in greater jeopardy now that gamblers have more freedom to bet on games.

Joe West is concerned for umpires' safety.
Before writing this off as an umpire taking things to the extreme, bear in mind the MLB Players Association confirmed that its members have similarly expressed concerns about safety and criminality related to the new gambling reality—monetary wagering, it turns out, is something that players and umpires agree on.

As Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett said: "It’s amazing what drunk fans that hate their lives will say to players even with no money on the game. Can't imagine anything worse."

Maybe a former Reds manager, who bet on baseball, flagrantly pushing a former NL umpire while arguing a call he didn't like. Oh wait, I'm saving the Pete Rose-Dave Pallone story for later.

MLBPA director Tony Clark echoed West and Gennett's concerns, as pertains to his group's membership: "The court's decision is monumental...From complex intellectual property questions to the most basic issues of player safety."

SCOTUS ruled New Jersey can bet on sports.
But why does the Supreme Court's 6-3 ruling to reverse a 1992 federal law that had prohibited most states from legal sports wagering—a ban that the NCAA, NFL, and NBA supported—have Joe West scared "to death"? Maybe this will help explain (we'll get to why MLB didn't join the others in a little while).

First, the Supreme Court's decision refers to a New Jersey case concerning sports wagering: The NJ party was legally prohibited from gambling on sports in that state thanks to the 1992 federal ban. The Court's decision to lift the federal sports betting prohibition applies immediately to New Jersey, and the remainder of the country (except Nevada and other states where some form of sports gambling is already legal) will have to decide, on a state-by-state basis, whether to permit sports betting in the respective state.

As to West's reaction, unlike the players' version of fan-imposed pressure, umpires not only must worry about fans affected by a perceived missed call against their chosen team or by fandom's anti-umpire echo chamber, but by incendiary player (and coach, and broadcaster) comments that accuse umpires of wrongdoing, too.
Related PostThe Blame Game (Umpire Scapegoating) (8/8/14).

The umpire perspective is a bit more complex than that of the players' and goes back to the oldest testament of the old non-ump line of thought: if it's not the team's fault, then surely it's the umpire's. It's scapegoating and when taken too far—as money can do—it can be devastating.

When exactly is enough, enough?
Had Ian Kinsler held his tongue against Angel Hernandez and not taken it public, it would have sufficed.
Had he taken it public and not said that Hernandez "needs to find another job," it would have sufficed.
Had he said "he needs to find another job" and not said "he's just that bad," it would have sufficed.
Had he said "he's just that bad" and not said "he's messing with games, blatantly," it would have sufficed.
Had he said "he's messing with games, blatantly," get the idea.

Angel Hernandez ejected Ian Kinsler in 2017.
Although MLB's CBA with the player's association contains a provision that states the Commissioner (Rob Manfred) or Chief Baseball Officer (Joe Torre) may suspended a player without pay for, amongst others, "making public statements that question the integrity of the game, the umpires, the Commissioner and/or other Commissioner's Office Personnel," the league office decided not to suspend Kinsler and instead opted to fine him the paltry sum of $10,000.

That's right, Kinsler—a player who made $11,000,000 in 2017—was fined $10,000, or 0.09% of his salary, for publicly impugning Hernandez's integrity.
Related PostToken Gesture - Kinsler Fined $10k, .09% of $11m Salary (8/21/17).
Related PostFined - Kinsler Not Suspended for Hernandez Comments (8/18/17).

For illustration's sake, if a person who makes $50,000 per year were fined 0.09% of his or her salary, the penalty would be $45—$90 for a $100,000 salary, and $135 for $150k.

Yeah, that'll show him. Meanwhile, the damage is done, and if a fan were to take Kinsler's words seriously and interpret Hernandez's "blatant" "messing" as "cheating me out of my wager," suddenly Joe West's umpire safety concerns make a lot more sense.

SIDEBAR: Kinsler's previous relevant disciplinary history included a 2010 one-game suspension for returning to the field after having previously been ejected.

ALSO RELEVANT: Manfred's office suspended Joe West in 2017 based on the findings that West violated the MLB-WUA collective bargaining agreement when he answered a reporter's question of who MLB's biggest complainer is with, "Adrian Beltre."
Related Post: Source - Joe West Suspended 3 Games for Beltre Comment (8/8/17).

Maybe MLB's CBA with the players' union doesn't matter as much as its basic agreement with WUA.

No wonder the umpires took to a white wristband protest against "escalating verbal attacks on umpires and [WUA's] strong objection to the Office of the Commissioner's response to the verbal attacks."
Related PostWUA-MLB Relations Deteriorate with New Umpire Protest (8/19/17).

Speaking of "cheating," Brandon Belt Wednesday night responded in the affirmative to a postgame question of whether he felt cheated by home plate umpire Doug Eddings' game-ending strike call, accusing Eddings of manufacturing the call in order "to get the game over with."

Belt's comments were apparently so scathing that USA Today headlined the story as, "Giants slugger Brandon Belt questions umpire's integrity after questionable call ends game."

Undeterred, Belt expanded his critique and accused umpires of applying their monumental level of influence to harm players: "You can't have those guys affecting careers and affecting games like that."

Isn't it frustrating when numbers don't lie?
Sounds similar to Mets 3B Todd Frazier, who earlier this season accused umpires of "put[ting us] in a hole every day of the week," referring specifically to six games played from April 26 through May 2 when umpires were 95.3% accurate on favorable pitches to Frazier (93.8%) overall, and not one miss pertained to a terminal pitch (e.g., a called third strike). We followed Frazier for the next four games in which he went 2-for-16 to see if the umpiring really was subpar. In a finding that should surprise no one, the umpires were fine: they were 97.7% efficient at not erroneously calling strikes on pitches thrown outside of the strike zone.
Related PostTodd Frazier - "These Umpires Have Got to Get Better" (5/3/18).
Related PostAnalysis - Catching Up With Todd Frazier 5 Days Later (5/7/18).

Guess what the Commissioner and league did in response? ... ... ... I can't find it, either.

Time to break out the white wristbands again? Clearly, MLB has no respect for its officials, right?

Can player discontent breed fan uprising?

Gil's Call: Hyperbole aside, this much is clear. When more players defame more umpires, the denigration and disparagement becomes normalized and acceptable—and we're not even talking about physical assaults or players throwing things at umpires in disgust (don't read the comments...don't read the comments).

When demonization and degradation of umpires becomes acceptable, it becomes physical.

And Joe would know: a baseball thrown from the stands landed on Joe's crown in Milwaukee in 2017.
Related PostAssault - Joe West Hit in Head by Ball Thrown From Stands (6/30/17).

Lest one thinks there's no possible way an upper deck fan could hit an umpire with a baseball, a witness confirmed that prior to the toss, the suspect said, "Ump, you're going to cost us the game."
Related PostCold Case - Police Closing in on Joe West Assailants (12/19/17).

Now add a wager of $1,000 to "the game" and see what happens.

There was the KBO that fined Korean teams that sent money to former umpire Choi Kyu-Soon, and that time Lenny Dykstra claimed he blackmailed umpires through extortion schemes, and the time the New York Times accused MLB of trying to intimidate its umpires, but what really matters is that the players play and the gamblers gamble, right?
Related PostKBO Fines Korean Teams That Sent Money to Ex-Ump Choi (11/28/17).
Related PostLenny Dykstra Claims He Blackmailed Umpires (10/27/15).
Related LinkSports of the Times; The Poison Threatening The Umpires (7/18/01).

Shouting at someone: An American tradition.
Donald Collins tracks assaults and batteries on his website's Attacks on Officials page, sharing notable news clippings of violent criminal behavior perpetrated by players, coaches, parents, and fans against sports officials—all of which have occurred with, seemingly, no explicit monetary wagering involved. In these numerous examples, we've seen anything from a (relatively) minor bump to threats ("I will kill you") to actual murder. So money should help make those go away, eh?
Related Link: Attacks on Officials (

From the league's own players can publicly accuse umpires of a plethora of nefariousness without worrying that the league will seriously do anything about it to fans that feed from that behavior, West is concerned that adding money to the vitriolic mix will make things exponentially worse.

Then there's the issue with how to prove when a team or player has thrown something at an umpire versus when antipathy is simply implied—yet at the end of the day, regardless of explicit intent, an umpire's been physically harmed.
Related PostDid Detroit Throw at Umpire Wolcott? A Visual Analysis (9/14/17).
Related PostCoach Filmed Allegedly Plotting Umpire Assault (6/2/17).

Commissioner Manfred has a different take.
Despite West's supposition that, "I don't think anybody thinks [gambling is] good for the game," MLB Commissioner Manfred's comments regarding gambling and baseball don't exactly echo anything said by West's WUA or Clark's MLBPA: "Sports betting happens....Are we better off in a world where we have a nice, strong, uniform, federal regulation of gambling that protects the integrity of sports, provides sports with the tools to ensure that there is integrity in the competition…or are we better off closing our eyes to that and letting it go on as illegal gambling?"

So while Manfred appears to have not yet taken a particularly strong stance on the gambling issue, which explains why baseball did not join the NCAA, NFL, and NBA in opposing the overturn, his overarching message carries a valid consideration. Whatever the posture of WUA and MLBPA—and MLB itself—the Supreme Court voted 6-3 to lift the federal betting ban, meaning that gambling will occur with or without league support or condemnation.

Pete Rose pushed Dave Pallone in April 1988.
The only question is how will the league interact with this new legal reality? What policies and procedures will address gambling, from financial regulations to participant safety initiatives?

Maybe baseball should ask Pete Rose. Wait wait, belay that. Pete was one of those players who bumped umpires—though at least the league had the wherewithal to suspend him for 30 days for bumping Dave Pallone...and a permanent ban for betting on the game. Yeah, money's definitely more important.
Related PostManager Pete Rose bumps Pallone over purported late call (CIN)

This should serve as yet another reminder that sports is a business. I can't wait to bet on Little League.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Replay Rewind - Double Out Whammy Costs Braves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video as follows:

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

MLB Ejection 038 - Jeff Nelson (1; Scott Servais)

1B Umpire Jeff Nelson ejected Mariners Manager Scott Servais (retired runner's interference no-call; QOCY) in the top of the 9th inning of the Rangers-Mariners game. With one out and one on (R2), Rangers batter Joey Gallo hit a 0-2 slider from Mariners pitcher Edwin Diaz on the ground to first baseman Ryon Healy, who threw to Diaz to retire Gallo as baserunner R2 Profar attempted to score. Replays indicate that as Diaz prepared to throw home, he and retired batter-runner Gallo incidentally interacted in a fashion not subject to interference, the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 8-8. The Mariners ultimately won the contest, 9-8, in 11 innings.

This is Jeff Nelson (45)'s first ejection of 2018.
Jeff Nelson now has 4 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 4).
Crew Chief Jeff Nelson now has 3 points in Crew Division (2 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 3).
*Rule 6.01(a)(5) governs retired runners' interference, and states that interference occurs when—"Any batter or runner who has just been put out, or any runner who has just scored, hinders or impedes any following play being made on a runner. Such runner shall be declared out for the interference of his teammate."
*The rule's associated Comment states that an offensive player who simply continues to run the bases in the immediate aftermath of being put out shall not by this act alone be deemed to have interfered with a following play: "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."
*Related PostTwins Turn Two on Ian's Retired Runner Non-Interference (5/14/18).

This is the 38th ejection of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is the 14th Manager ejection of 2018.
This is Seattle's 1st ejection of 2018, T-1st in the AL West (HOU, LAA, SEA 1; OAK, TEX 0).
This is Scott Servais' first ejection since August 16, 2017 (Stu Scheurwater; QOC = N [Check Swing]).
This is Jeff Nelson's first ejection since Sept 16, 2017 (Logan Morrison; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Texas Rangers vs. Seattle Mariners, 5/15/18 | Video as follows:

Injury Scout - Fieldin Culbreth Departs on Foul to Jaw

Fieldin Culbreth exited Tuesday's game in Anaheim after taking a foul ball off the lower right jaw.

In the bottom of the 3rd inning of the Astros-Angels game, batter Shohei Ohtani fouled a 99.4-mph 0-2 fastball from Astros pitcher Gerrit Cole into the lower right portion of Culbreth's traditional-style facemask.

2B Umpire CB Bucknor replaced Culbreth behind home plate with 1B Umpire Chris Conroy and 3B Umpire Brian O'Nora as the two field umpires. O'Nora served as acting crew chief in Culbreth's absence.

Relevant Injury History: In 2015, Culbreth exited his assignment in Arizona after sustaining a concussion as the result of a foul ball to the left side of his mask in the first inning of July 5's Rockies-Diamondbacks game. Culbreth had remained in the game in the immediate aftermath of the head injury, but departed the game in the bottom of the 2nd.
Related PostFieldin Culbreth Leaves Game with Mild Concussion (7/5/15).

Exactly five years ago to the day, Culbreth left an extra-inning game in Pittsburgh after a foul ball wedged between his facemask and chest protector.
Related PostCulbreth Leaves Game with 11th Inning Collarbone Injury (5/15/13).

Last Game: May 15 | Return to Play: May 28 | Time Absent: 12 Days | Video as follows:

Monday, May 14, 2018

MLB Ejection 037 - DJ Reyburn (1; Robbie Grossman)

HP Umpire DJ Reyburn ejected Twins LF Robbie Grossman (strike three call; QOCY) in the bottom of the 5th inning of the Mariners-Twins game. With one out and one on (R1), Grossman took a 0-0 cutter from Mariners pitcher Wade LeBlanc for a called first strike, 1-1 changeup for a called second strike, and 2-2 cutter for a called third strike. Replays indicate the 0-0 pitch was located over the inner edge of home plate and thigh-high (px -.802, pz 2.272), the 1-1 pitch was located over the heart of home plate and thigh-high (px .094, pz 2.729), and the 2-2 pitch was located the heart of home plate and below the midpoint (px 0.019, pz 3.172 [sz_top 3.371]), the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 0-0. The Mariners ultimately won the contest, 1-0.

This is DJ Reyburn (17)'s first ejection of the 2018 MLB regular season.
DJ Reyburn now has 5 points in the UEFL Standings (1 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 5).
Crew Chief Angel Hernandez now has 2 points in Crew Division (1 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 2).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
The 0-0 pitch was located 1.344 horizontal inches from being deemed outside of the strike zone.
The 2-2 pitch was located 3.384 vertical inches from being deemed an incorrect call.

This is the 37th ejection of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is the 19th player ejection of 2018. Prior to ejection, Grossman was 0-2 (SO) in the contest.
This is Minnesota's 1st ejection of 2018, T-2nd in the AL Central (DET 2; CLE, CWS, MIN 1; KC 0).
This is Robbie Grossman's first career MLB ejection.
This is DJ Reyburn's first ejection since July 30, 2017 (AJ Pollock; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Seattle Mariners vs. Minnesota Twins, 5/14/18 | Video as follows:

Twins Turn Two on Ian's Retired Runner Non-Interference

When the Official Playing Rules Committee changed the recently-retired runner's interference rule over the offseason in response to Boston's protest of an INT no-call against Yankees baserunner Matt Holliday, we pondered how long it would take for such a quirky play to occur again.

Recently retired runners may return to a base.
Well, it just did when R1 Ian Kinsler retreated and slid into first base as the Twins attempted to turn a double play with Angels batter-runner Kole Calhoun arriving at first as Minnesota fielder Joe Mauer caught a return throw.

The Play: With none out and one on (R1) in the bottom of the 12th inning of Saturday's Twins-Angels game, LA-of-A batter Calhoun hit a 1-1 offering from Twins pitcher Fernando Rodney on the ground to first baseman Mauer, who threw to shortstop Gregorio Petit to retire R1 Kinsler at second, who then threw back to Mauer in an attempt to double-up Calhoun at first base. R1 Kinsler, possibly under the mistaken assumption that Mauer had fielded the ground ball and then gone back to tag first base (which would have put out Calhoun and removed the force on Kinsler), returned and slid head first back into first base as shortstop Petit's return throw arrived in Mauer's mitt and Calhoun's foot arrived at the first base bag.

Three players came together at first base.
The Call: 2B Umpire Larry Vanover casually ruled Kinsler out at second due to the force and 1B Umpire David Rackley, most likely blocked out from observing Calhoun's foot on first base thanks to the diving Kinsler, declared Calhoun safe at first. Mauer, observing that batter-runner Calhoun had ventured to his left, into fair territory beyond first base, ran to tag Calhoun, to which 1B Umpire Rackley declined to declare Calhoun out; Minnesota Manager Paul Molitor challenged the play concerning Calhoun at first base, resulting in an overturned ruling.

Baseball amended its rule after this 2017 play.
History & Precedent: Last season, Yankees R1 Holliday did the same thing as Kinsler in extra innings at Fenway Park, sliding back into first base when batter Jacoby Ellsbury hit a ground ball to Red Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland, who threw to shortstop Xander Bogaerts to force out Holliday at second base, and back to Moreland at first as Ellsbury arrived at the base.

The only difference was that the Yankees-Red Sox play culminated with a protest after Holliday's slide prevented fielder Moreland from attempting to catch the ball, resulting in a fielder's choice with Ellsbury declared safe at first base by 1B Umpire Gabe Morales as Crew Chief Gary Cederstrom entertained Sox Manager John Farrell's argument (to no avail).
Related PostBoston Files Protest Over Odd Interference No-Call (7/15/17).

Another related play occurred in Anaheim in April 2017, when recently-retired runner R3 Ben Revere slid into third base after being tagged out in a rundown, causing fielder Kendall Graveman to fall as he attempted to hurdle the pop-up-sliding Revere, who had begun to stand up. Graveman, however, was still able to complete his attempted play, tagging out trailing baserunner Cliff Pennington to complete the double play.
Related PostCase Play 2017-4 - Hurdling a Retired Runner [Solved] (4/30/17).

Players and Rackley await a MIN decision.
The Rule: Farrell's protest was denied pursuant to Official Baseball Rule 6.01(a)(5), which states that it is interference by a batter or runner when, "Any batter or runner who has just been put out, or any runner who has just scored, hinders or impedes any following play being made on a runner. Such runner shall be declared out for the interference of his teammate."

Because of Farrell's protest, the Rules Committee amended the Official Baseball Rules during the 2017-18 offseason, inserting the following language into Rule 6.01(a)(5) Comment regarding recently-retired runner's interference (new language is underlined): "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."

Accordingly, Saturday's Twins-Angels play is legal and, had Replay Review not overturned Rackley's safe call at first base, would have otherwise stood: this is not recently-retired runner's interference; Kinsler's actions were within the rules.

SIDEBAR: When Mauer tagged out Calhoun, the only acceptable reason to declare the batter-runner out would be if he attempted to advance to second base. The "turn the wrong way" or "turn into fair territory" arguments are baseball myths—no such rule exists. The only relevant rule here is 5.09(b)(10), which states that the batter is out when: "He fails to return at once to first base after overrunning or oversliding that base. If he attempts to run to second he is out when tagged."

As for the possibility of a real-time appeal that Calhoun never touched the base, see the following:
Related PostOfficially Speaking - Hanley, an avid Hunter...of Outs (6/23/16).

And just because listening to broadcasters who don't know rules can be fun...| Video as follows:

Dodger Stadium Deja Vu - Double Switch Drama in LA

For the second time in as many years, double switch drama infected Dodger Stadium as Reds Manager Jim Riggleman, plate umpire Alan Porter, and a pair of Cincinnati outfielders suffered through late-inning the music too loud in LA?

Friday's substitutions had some problems.
The question is part tongue-in-cheek, yet equally legitimate. Last season, HP Umpire Lance Barrett misheard Twins Manager Paul Molitor in Los Angeles as he relayed a substitution request during a television timeout and commercial break, resulting in 18 minutes of confusion, chaos, and communication problems that saw the wrong player enter the game, only to be removed for the player listed on Barrett's lineup card as the proper substitute—well, kind of.
Related PostDouble Switch Drama in LA and the Lineup Card Rule (7/26/17).

The issue of music volume at Dodger Stadium has been noted by legendary Dodgers voice Vin Scully (thinks it's too loud) and Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow (thinks it ruins the experience); the New York Times described it as, "it is so loud inside Dodger Stadium these days that Tommy Lasorda cannot listen to himself talk and Magic Johnson can hardly hear his own hyperbole."

Dodger Stadium's loudness has made waves.
Perhaps that is part of the problem of the double switch dilemma in Dodgertown: Last year, Barrett thought Molitor said a name he did not say and, this year, the Reds couldn't hear themselves think. The Dodgers' decibel devil has struck again.

Friday night at Chavez Ravine, the miscommunication involved Cincinnati's botched double switch attempt that caused a 7th inning delay after Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts submitted to umpire Porter a thoughtfully-timed inquiry.

As they say, "successfully appeal the Mets batting out of order one day, mess up a double switch the next."
Related PostReds' Batting Out of Order Appeal vs Mets 1st since 2016 (5/9/18).

The Play: With two out and none on in the bottom of the 7th inning of Friday's Reds-Dodgers game, Dodgers batter Max Muncy hit a solo home run off Reds pitcher Austin Brice, prompting Riggleman to remove Brice from the game.

Diagram of the unintentional "Triple Switch."
Riggleman approached Alan Porter prior to visiting the pitcher's mound, signifying a double switch {5.10(b) Comment, "The umpire-in-chief must be informed of the multiple substitutions and interchanged batting order before the manager calls for a new pitcher (regardless of whether the manager or coach announces the double-switch before crossing the foul line)"}. As part of Riggleman's intended double switch, incoming pitcher Amir Garrett replaced Brice and would bat first, in left fielder Jesse Winker's #1 spot. In turn, Winker would be replaced by Adam Duvall, batting 8th (the pitcher's spot, due up second in the top of the 8th inning).

Instead, what actually happened is that Winker remained in the game, moving from left to right field, and right fielder Scott Schebler, batting 6th, who made the final out of the top of the 7th inning, exited the game, while pitcher Garrett and substitute left fielder Duvall entered the game.

If you didn't catch it yet, Schebler shouldn't have departed.

The Rule: As we discussed last year when the Barrett/Molitor situation occurred, Rule 5.10(d) states that if play proceeds after an improper substitution is made, then, "If such direction to remove the substituted-for player occurs after play has commenced with the substituted-for player in the game, then the substitute player shall be deemed to have been removed from the game (in addition to the removal of the substituted-for player) and shall not enter the game."

Bob Geren waited until a pitch was thrown.
Analysis: In basic terms, this means that by waiting until batter Yasiel Puig saw a pitch before he approached the umpires, LA skipper Roberts—care of bench coach Bob Geren—forced the Reds to remove Winker (the substituted-for player) in addition to Schebler, thus creating a vacancy in right field (which Cincinnati filled with Alex Blandino, a player who had never appeared in an MLB outfield before).

And this is indeed what happened as acting crew chief Angel Hernandez, after convening the umpires, enforced 5.10(d) and ordered Winker to leave the field, joining Schebler in the dugout.

Had Roberts brought up the snafu to the umpires before Puig took a pitch, the mistake could have been fixed without costing Cincinnati the opportunity to keep Schebler in the game ("If such direction to remove the substituted for player occurs before play commences with the player improperly in the game, then the substitute player may enter the game"). Yes, in this case Winker is the "substituted for player" and Schebler is considered the "substitute player" for only one reason: Schebler was the one (not Duvall) sitting in the dugout with Winker remaining on the field, when the opposite placement (Schebler in the field and Winker in the dugout) should have occurred.

It's as if Geren could have been a manager...oddly enough, it was Geren's managerial "communication style" that received criticism in 2011, just one month before Oakland terminated his contract.

Back to this one, Cincinnati got the last laugh of the night, defeating Los Angeles, 6-2, going onto sweep the four-game series against the Dodgers.

Coincidentally, the 2017 Barrett/Molitor play also took place with Yasiel Puig at bat. What a mess.

Gil's Call: So, again, this light-hearted, half-joking question of sound system audio makes another appearance, only this time with a little more urgency: is the music at Dodger Stadium too darn loud?

Former Dodgers scribe Jon Weisman opined, concerning the music in LA, "I don't understand [for] whom they're making it loud for."

Maybe now we do: lulling visiting teams into a false sense of security until WHAM! Geren's deployment of the ol' unintentional "triple switch" trick. Either that or a curiously timed use of the "play" button while a pitcher is mid-windup. Works every time.
Related Video: Arizona speakers play loud Motley Crue sound to kickstart JJ Putz's delivery (ARI).

Video as follows:

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Starting Young - Kid Umpire Calls MiLB Game from Stands

Happy Mother's Day - all umpire moms will love this.

A young fan got an early start to his professional umpiring career, dressing in his home plate best to call balls and strikes from the front row of stands at Modern Woodmen Park, home of the Class-A Midwest League's Quad Cities River Bandits.

Meet Grant from Moline, Illinois, who joined MiLB umpires Jake Bruner and Trevor Dannegger to officiate the Lake County Captains-River Bandits finale. Young Grant had some work to do, presiding over a combined 23 strikeouts, four stolen bases, two hit batsmen, a balk, and 311 total pitches in Lake County's 2-1 victory over three hours and 15 minutes.

Here's hoping he makes it to the show. Video as follows: