Saturday, August 11, 2018

MLB Ejection 117 - Adam Hamari (3; Danny Duffy)

1B Umpire Adam Hamari ejected Royals pitcher Danny Duffy (check swing ball two call) in the top of the 6th inning of the Cardinals-Royals game. With one out and one on (R1), Cardinals batter Harrison Bader attempted to check his swing on a 1-2 changeup from Duffy, ruled a ball by HP Umpire Ryan Blakney and affirmed as no swing by 1B Umpire Hamari, before hitting a home run on a later 3-2 pitch. Play was reviewed and adjudicated by the UEFL Appeals Board (0-6-3), the call was incorrect. At the time of the ejection, the Cardinals were leading, 6-2. The Cardinals ultimately won the contest, 8-3.

This is Adam Hamari (78)'s third ejection of 2018.
Adam Hamari now has -3 points in the UEFL Standings (-1 Prev + 2 MLB - 4 Incorrect Call = -3).
Crew Chief Tom Hallion now has -9 points in Crew Division (-9 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = -9).

This is the 117th ejection report of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is the 56th player ejection of 2018. Prior to ejeciton, Duffy's line was 5.1 IP, 6 ER, HR.
This is Kansas City's 5th ejection of 2018, 2nd in the AL Central (CWS 7; KC 5; MIN 4; DET 3; CLE 1).
This is Danny Duffy's 2nd ejection of 2018, 1st since June 17 (John Tumpane; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Adam Hamari's 3rd ejection of 2018, 1st since August 3 (Alex Cora; QOC = U [Warnings]).

Wrap: St. Louis Cardinals vs. Kansas City Royals, 8/11/18 | Video as follows:

Friday, August 10, 2018

MLB Ejection 116 - Bill Miller (1; Joe Maddon)

HP Umpire Bill Miller ejected Cubs Manager Joe Maddon (batter-runner's lane interference; QOCY) in the bottom of the 7th inning of the Nationals-Cubs game. With none out and one on (R1), Cubs batter Willson Contreras bunted a 0-1 slider from Nationals pitcher Greg Holland on the ground to third baseman Anthony Rendon, who threw to first baseman Matt Adams as Contreras ran toward first base, ruled out for runner's lane interference by HP Umpire Miller. Replays indicate Contreras ran inside (to the left of) the foul line, thus out of the running lane, for the entirety of his journey to first base. By rule, the batter-runner is liable to be called out for interference if he fails to run within the runner's lane for the entire length of said runner's lane, the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 2-2. The Cubs ultimately won the contest, 3-2.

This is Bill Miller (26)'s first ejection of 2018.
Bill Miller now has 1 point in the UEFL Standings (-3 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 1).
Crew Chief Bill Miller now has -7 points in Crew Division (-8 Previous + 1 Correct Call = -7).
*OBR 5.09(a)(11) states a batter is out when—"In running the last half of the distance from home base to first base, while the ball is being fielded to first base, he runs outside (to the right of) the three-foot line, or inside (to the left of) the foul line, and in the umpire’s judgment in so doing interferes with the fielder taking the throw at first base, in which case the ball is dead."
The runner may exit the lane "in the immediate vicinity of first base for the sole purpose of touching first base." However, the runner is not protected via this "exit" provision of Rule 5.09(a)(11) Comment if he isn't actually exiting the lane (e.g., if the runner is not within the lane from the beginning, he cannot physically "exit" it and, thus, isn't protected by the "exit" exemption).
Jim Evans Interpretation: "A runner who has advanced the entire distance from home plate to first in fair territory making no effort to run within the lane is not extended the same leniency as the runner who runs in the lane as required and then cuts into fair territory near the base to touch it."
Harry Wendelstedt Interpretation: "The determination is not whether the throw is true, but whether it could still reasonably retire the runner."

More About Runner's Lane Interference:
Related PostRunning Lane Interference and Advancing to 1st Base (9/6/15).
Related PostOfficially Speaking - Runner's Lane Interference (6/3/16).
Related PostOfficially Speaking - RLI No-Call, Part Deux (7/2/16).
Related PostAngels Protest Cuzzi RLI No-Call in Kansas City [Denied] (7/27/16).
Related PostRunner's Lane Interference Plagues Chicago's Heyward (5/24/17).

This is the 116th ejection report of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is the 47th Manager ejection of 2018.
This is Chicago-NL's 7th ejection of 2018, 1st in the NL Central (CHC 7; MIL 4; CIN 3; PIT 2; STL 1).
This is Joe Maddon's 2nd ejection of 2018, 1st since July 21 (Will Little; QOC = Y [Check Swing]).
This is Bill Miller's first ejection since July 8, 2017 (Lorenzo Cain; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Washington Nationals vs. Chicago Cubs, 8/10/18 | Video as follows:

UEFL's MLB Umpire Sabermetrics - July 2018

UEFL's MLB Umpire Sabermetrics report for July 2018 features 107 ejections and 910 Replay Reviews through 1,609 regular season games played (66.2% complete). Click here for last month's stats.

Though ejection #s are projected to decrease year-over-year, based on current rates, replays are projected to remain at an equitable level.

The attached Most & Least Accurate Umpires, Replay Review contains the top and bottom of the Replay Review table ordinarily found in the "Read More" detailed section of the monthly report.

Related: Visit our Replay Review Statistics and Sabermetrics page for daily-updated umpire stats. This page includes Replay Review Rankings sorted by umpire, by team, and by call type. Daily ejections information is available at our Ejection List page.

Summary, Ejections.
>> 107 Total Regular Season Ejections through July 31, 2018 (on pace for 162 ejections this season).
>> Umpires were 73.3% accurate on calls associated with ejection.
>> The New York Yankees led MLB in ejections. The Cubs, Dodgers, and Padres led the National League.
>> Managers John Gibbons led MLB in ejections. Andy Green led the National League.
>> Player Matt Kemp led MLB players in ejections. Marwin Gonzalez led the American League.
>> Umpires Brian Gorman and Hunter Wendelstedt led all umpires in ejections.
>> Chief Larry Vanover's crew led all umpire crews in ejections.
>> Most ejections occurred in the 3rd inning; Ejections from 7th and on comprised 38% of all tosses.
>> Most ejections occurred on Wednesday. Weekend series (Fri-Sun) featured 30% of all heave-ho's.
>> The most common reason for ejection was Balls/Strikes, followed by Check Swings.
>> All else equal, a team tied at the time of ejection ended up winning the game 40.0% of the time.

Summary, Replay Reviews.
>> 910 Total Replay Reviews, of which calls were affirmed 52.0% of the time (48.0% overturned).
>> The Twins and Cardinals used replay more than any other team, but were fairly unsuccessful.
>> The Kansas City Royals were the League's most successful team in review (21-for-27).
>> The BAL Orioles experienced fewer reviews than any other team.
>> The Milwaukee Brewers were the worst MLB team in terms of Replay success (5-for-20).
>> Umpire Brian O'Nora was the umpire most reviewed.
>> Chief Jeff Kellogg's crew led all of baseball in replay activity, and performed at league average.
>> Umpire John Tumpane led in accuracy (8/10).
>> Umpire Phil Cuzzi experienced the highest rate of calls overturned by replay (9/11).
>> Umpire Brian O'Nora had the most number of calls overturned by replay (11 overturns).
>> The 8th inning had more reviews than any other inning. 43% of all reviews occurred from 7th-on.
>> Most reviews occurred on Saturday; Weekend series (Fri-Sun) featured 50% of all replays.
>> The most common reason for review was Out/Safe (Force - 1st) followed by Out/Safe (Tag - In).

Most & Least Accurate Umpires, Replay Review (sorted by Review Affirmation Percentage [RAP]).

1Tumpane, John80.0%28
2Fairchild, Chad77.8%27
2Scheurwater, Stu77.8%27
2Timmons, Tim77.8%27
5Davis, Gerry76.9%310
6Libka, John75.0%13
6Barber, Sean75.0%26
6Rackley, Dave75.0%26
6Barrett, Ted75.0%39
10Estabrook, Mike71.4%25
10May, Ben71.4%25
10Torres, Carlos71.4%410
13Gorman, Brian68.8%511
14Wolf, Jim66.7%12
14Reynolds, Jim66.7%36
14Woodring, Tom66.7%36
14Reyburn, DJ66.7%510
14Welke, Bill66.7%510
73Porter, Alan35.7%95
74Iassogna, Dan33.3%21
74Foster, Marty33.3%42
74Kulpa, Ron33.3%42
74Miller, Bill33.3%63
74Winters, Mike33.3%63
74Gibson, Greg33.3%84
74Wolcott, Quinn33.3%84
74Meals, Jerry33.3%105
82Hamari, Adam30.0%73
82Kellogg, Jeff30.0%73
82Wegner, Mark30.0%73
85Tichenor, Todd28.6%52
85Holbrook, Sam28.6%104
87Livensparger, Shane25.0%31
88Cuzzi, Phil18.2%92

Umpires with Fewest and Greatest # of Overturned Calls [NEW]
1 Overturn: Libka, Marhley, Wolf.
2 Overturns: Barber, De Jesus, Estabrook, Fairchild, Iassogna, May, Rackley, Scheurwater, Timmons, Tumpane.
9 Overturns: Cuzzi, Porter.
10 Overturns: Cooper, Holbrook, Meals.
11 Overturns: O'Nora.

For detailed sabermetric analysis of MLB umpire ejections and instant replay review outcomes, follow the "read more" link below.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

MLB Ejection 115 - Nic Lentz (2; Justin Verlander)

HP Umpire Nic Lentz ejected Astros pitcher Justin Verlander (balk call; QOCY) in the top of the 2nd inning of the Mariners-Astros game. With two out and one on (R2), Verlander attempted to pick off Mariners baserunner R2 Mitch Haniger and, in doing so, was called for a balk by HP Umpire Lentz. Replays indicate Verlander made a motion naturally associated with his pitch and failed to make such delivery while stepping to the side of the rubber, but not toward second base, prior to disengaging the pitcher's plate, and that all callable pitches during the half-inning were properly officiated (12/12 = 100% accuracy), the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Mariners were leading, 6-0. The Mariners ultimately won the contest, 8-6.

This is Nic Lentz (59)'s second ejection of 2018.
Nic Lentz now has 9 points in the UEFL Standings (5 Prev + 2 AAA + 2 Correct Call = 9).
Crew Chief Joe West now has 1 point in Crew Division (0 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 1).

This is the 115th ejection report of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is the 55th player ejection of 2018. Prior to ejection, Verlander's line was 2.0 IP, 6 ER, 3 HR.
This is Houston's 4th ejection of 2018, 2nd in the AL West (TEX 5; HOU 4; LAA, SEA 3; OAK 1).
This is Justin Verlander's first ejection since July 5, 2011 (Joe West; QOC = Y-C [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Nic Lentz's 2nd ejection of 2018, 1st since July 23 (Kevin Long; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Seattle Mariners vs. Houston Astros, 8/9/18 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejection 114 - Adrian Johnson (1; James Rowson)

HP Umpire Adrian Johnson ejected Twins Hitting Coach James Rowson (strike three call; QOCN) in the top of the 7th inning of the Twins-Indians game. With none out and none on, Twins batter Ehire Adrianza took a 2-2 sinker from Indians pitcher Corey Kluber for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer half of home plate and above the midpoint (px .516, pz 3.634 [sz_top 3.411 / RAD 3.534 / MOE 3.617]), the call was incorrect.* At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 4-4. The Indians ultimately won the contest, 5-4.

This is Adrian Johnson (80)'s first ejection of 2018.
Adrian Johnson now has -1 points in the UEFL Standings (1 Prev + 2 MLB - 4 Incorrect Call = -1).
Crew Chief Marvin Hudson now has 1 point in Crew Division (1 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = 1).
*This pitch was located 0.204 vertical inches from being deemed correct.

This is the 114th ejection report of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is Minnesota's 4th ejection of 2018, T-2nd in the AL Central (CWS 7; KC, MIN 4; DET 3; CLE 1).
This is James Rowson's first career MLB ejection.
This is Adrian Johnson's first ejection since May 12, 2017 (Chase Headley; QOC = Y [Foul/HBP]).

Wrap: Minnesota Twins vs. Cleveland Indians, 8/9/18 | Video as follows:

Injury Scout - Dreckman's Moth Ear Canal Adventure

2B Umpire Bruce Dreckman ejected a moth from his left ear during Wednesday's Yankees-White Sox game in Chicago. In the 9th inning, Dreckman jogged toward the first base dugout and sought assistance from New York's training staff to evict the live insect from his ear canal as the game momentarily continued with three umpires.

During Dreckman's brief absence, 1B Umpire and Crew Chief Angel Hernandez and 3B Umpire Chad Fairchild shared field responsibilities while HP Umpire Mike Estabrook continued officiating behind home plate.

Dreckman returned moments later, missing just four pitches.

Relevant Injury History: None.

Last Game: August 8 | Return to Play: August 8 | Time Absent: Four Pitches  | Video as follows:

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Plate Meeting Podcast Episode 2 - Dale Scott

Here is the second episode of The Plate Meeting, a LF Umpire Podcast from Close Call Sports, where we talk umpiring with umpires. In episode 2, Tmac and Gil are joined by 32-year major league and World Series umpire and Crew Chief Dale Scott, who retired from MLB ahead of the 2018 season. In this episode, Dale talks about his journey to the big leagues, tells some stories of a few notable events along the way, and answers your questions about his umpiring career.

Click the below "play" button to hear Episode 2 - Dale Scott, or visit the show online at to subscribe. The Plate Meeting is also available through the iTunes store's podcasts section (The Plate Meeting on iTunes), Google Podcasts, TuneIn, and other podcast providers listed on the page.

Additional Links, Videos, and Other Media:
The following section contains relevant links, footnotes, or additional commentary relative to subjects discussed on the show. Click the following links for this episode to access the relevant videos.

Donate/Store Buttons (2:30)
Support the UEFL
Shop the CCS Store.
Follow us on Twitter 🐦 (@UmpireEjections) and like on Facebook 👍 (/UmpireEjections).

Related Video #1 (21:30): Derek Jeter's fly to deep right field is ruled a HR in the 1996 ALCS.

Related Video #2 (39:00): Billy Martin's last ejection after Rick Reed's play at second base.

Related Post (1:05:00): Dale Scott Comes Out as Gay After Feature Article (12/2/14).

Related Video #3 (1:21:00): Russell Martin's throw hits Shin-Soo Choo's bat.
Related PostCarefree Throw, Extended Bat, and Blue Jays Protest (10/14/15).
Related PostMLB Ejection P-2|3: Carapazza, Scott (5, 2; Saunders, Buehrle) (10/14/15).

Related Video #4 (1:33:30): Bautista and Odor start a fight in the Texas middle infield.
Related PostMLB Ejections 040-047 - Scott & Iassogna (TOR-TEX Fight) (5/15/16).

Related Video #5 (1:42:00): Overturned call on catch/trap in the outfield leads to Fredi's ejection.

Related Video #6 (2:05:30): Dale Scott's unique strike three mechanic (and an ejection to boot).

MLB Ejections 112-113 - Greg Gibson (3-4; WAS x2)

HP Umpire Greg Gibson ejected Nationals LF Juan Soto and Hitting Coach Kevin Long (strike three call from an earlier at-bat; QOCY). With none out and none on in the bottom of the 6th inning, Soto argued balls and strikes from an earlier at-bat with Gibson as he stepped into the batter's box, resulting in ejection. In the bottom of the 4th inning, Soto led off the frame by taking a 3-2 slider from Braves pitcher Mike Foltynewicz for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the inner edge of home plate and above the hollow of the knee (px .842, pz 1.602 [sz_bot 1.565]) and that all pitches during the at-bat were properly officiated, the call was correct.*^' At the time of the ejections, the Braves were leading, 7-3. The Braves ultimately won the contest, 8-3.

These are Greg Gibson (53)'s third and fourth ejections of 2018.
Greg Gibson now has 7 points in the UEFL Standings (3 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 7).
Crew Chief Jerry Layne now has 6 points in Crew Division (5 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 6).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
*The strike three pitch was located 0.876 horizontal inches from being deemed an incorrect call.
^UEFL Rule 6-2-b-5-b, formerly the DiMuro Rule, was eliminated during the 2015 UEFL Rules Summit to allow for QOCY/N determination regardless of when in the game the ejection occurred.

'Soto's ejection falls under both the leaving one's position to argue balls and strikes and reference to/contradiction of an earlier call Standards for Removal from the Game.

This is the 112th and 113th ejection report of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is the 54th player ejection of 2018. Prior to ejection, Soto was 0-2 (SO) in the contest.
This is Washington's 5/6th ejection of 2018, 1st in the NL East (WAS 6; NYM 5; MIA 3; ATL 2; PHI 0).
This is Juan Soto's first career MLB ejection.
This is Kevin Long's 2nd ejection of 2018, 1st since July 23 (Nic Lentz; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Greg Gibson's 3/4th ejection of 2018, 1st since July 14 (Brandon Belt; QOC = Y [Check Swing]).

Wrap: Atlanta Braves vs. Washington Nationals, 8/8/18 | Video as follows:

Shortage of Sportsmanship Series - Jarboe Ejects Dog

Not to be outdone, Chicago Dogs Manager Butch Hobson challenged Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks player Brennan "trash can" Metzger for the lack-of-sportsmanship award of the series in his ejection just a day later, care of 3B umpire Mike Jarboe during Tuesday's American Association action.

The tantrums started Monday when Metzger, unhappy with a called third strike, took a garbage bin from the RedHawks dugout and placed it behind home plate in the umpire's usual position.
Related PostFeatured Indy Ejection - Mike Jarboe (Brennan Metzger) (8/7/18).

Tuesday, 3B Umpire Jarboe ejected Dogs Manager Hobson for arguing a safe call at third base. With two out and two on (R1, R2), RedHawks batter Yhoxian Medina hit a ground ball to Dogs third baseman Trey Vavra (you may remember him from a Blake Halligan ejection in the Australian Baseball League in 2016), who fielded the ball and raced to tag third base as RedHawks baserunner R2 Charlie Valerio slid into the bag, ruled safe by field umpire Jarboe, thus allowing the inning to continue (Fargo-Moorhead would eventually score Valerio from third base). At the time of the ejection, the Dogs were leading, 5-0. The Dogs ultimately won the contest, 12-7.
Related PostABL Ejections - Blake Halligan, Andrew Bell (2 Vavras) (1/8/16).

After leaving the dugout to argue the call, Hobson earned himself an ejection from a calm and collected Jarboe as the broadcaster predicted fireworks from Hobson on par with Monday's Metzger mess. Hobson then made a beeline for third base, picked up the base itself and handed it to a spectator before leaving the field.

The Dogs and RedHawks conclude their series Wednesday night at 7pm at Newman Outdoor Field.

Sidebar: On a related note, Metzger received a one-game suspension for Tuesday's ejection, having doubled down on what he said was a "garbage" decision Monday night, and found himself in a parody public service announcement about trash pickup.

Wrap: Chicago Dogs vs. Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, 8/7/18 | Video as follows:

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

MLB Ejection 111 - Ed Hickox (1; Ryan Tepera)

HP Umpire Ed Hickox ejected Blue Jays pitcher Ryan Tepera (balls/strikes; QOCN) in the top of the 8th inning of the Red Sox-Blue Jays game. With none out and none on, Tepera struck out Red Sox batter Brock Holt, surrendered a double to Sandy Leon, walked Mookie Betts, gave up a single to Andrew Benintendi, induced a ground ball force out from Mitch Moreland, gave up a home run to JD Martinez, and secured a groundout from Xander Bogaerts. Replays indicate of the 11 callable pitches during the half inning preceding Tepera's ejection, Hickox correctly officiated 10 of them (10/11 = 91% accuracy) and the incorrectly officiated pitch was the 0-0 pitch to Martinez; by rule, given Hickox's overall inning performance and the timing of the sole miss, the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Red Sox were leading, 5-3. The Red Sox ultimately won the contest, 10-7, in 10 innings.

This is Ed Hickox (15)'s first ejection of 2018.
Ed Hickox now has 8 points in the UEFL Standings (4 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 8).
Crew Chief Jerry Meals now has 4 points in Crew Division (3 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 4).
*UEFL Rules 6-5-c-5-d and 6-5-d govern this QOC. A 0-0 pitch improperly ruled a ball does not satisfy the "realistically resulted in a different outcome" criterion of 6-5-c-5-d and an accuracy rating of 91% exceeds the benchmark established in 6-5-d. Thus, this is a QOCY ejection.

This is the 111th ejection report of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is the 53rd player ejection of 2018. Prior to ejection, Tepera's line was 1.0 IP, 4 ER, HR.
This is Toronto's 7th ejection of 2018, T-1st in the AL East (NYY, TOR 7; BAL, BOS 3; TB 1).
This is Ryan Tepera's first career MLB ejection.
This is Ed Hickox's first ejection since June 8, 2014 (Clint Hurdle; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Boston Red Sox vs. Toronto Blue Jays, 8/7/18 | Video as follows:

Joe West Greets Girardi's Ump Proposal with Snark & Stat

After Joe Girardi recently proposed his idea to move the home plate umpire to behind the pitcher's mound to call balls and strikes, Joe West responded via the umpire union's Twitter account, shooting down Girardi's claim that an umpire's view from behind the catcher hinders the ump's ability to accurately discern pitch location.

Girardi simulates pitch calling from the mound.
Monday night on MLB Network, Girardi explained his proposal, claiming that umpires can better officiate the issue of balls and strikes from behind the mound than from behind the plate because the unobstructed view from the middle infield allows an umpire to see the entire plate, as opposed to a catcher blocking out the umpire from seeing a corner or lower height.

MLBN's Studio 42, for reference, where Girardi conducted the Diamond Demo, is not regulation size.

On Tuesday, the umpires association took to Twitter in response to Girardi's claim:
“While it would probably have been safer to call balls and strikes behind the mound when Girardi was catching, we prefer to stay behind the plate to keep our 97.3% average.” Joe West 
#MLBUA #mlbnetwork #MLBTonight
97.3% average. And what happens during the remaining 2.7% of the time?

As manager of the New York Yankees, Girardi was ejected 20 times for arguing balls and strikes, but only 25% of these ejections were because the umpire had actually made an incorrect call; the umpire was still right a majority of the time.

Of those 20 ejections, 15 concerned pitches that were correctly officiated, meaning that Girardi was in the wrong 75% of the time (2/2 in 2008, 1/2 in 2009, 2/2 in 2010, 2/2 in 2011, 2/3 in 2012, 1/1 in 2013, 1/2 in 2014, 2/2 in 2015, 1/1 in 2016, and 1/3 in 2017). That's five meritorious ejections in 10 years.

Video as follows:

Featured Indy Ejection - Mike Jarboe (Brennan Metzger)

Monday's independent league game between the Chicago Dogs and Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks of the American Association took an odd turn when ejected batter Brennan Metzger concluded his temper tantrum by taking a garbage can from the dugout and placing it behind home plate as HP Umpire Mike Jarboe discussed Metzger's expulsion with Fargo-Moorhead manager Michael Schlact.

Metzger points at his greatest achievement.
The Play: With one on (R2) and none out, Metzger took a 3-2 pitch from Dogs pitcher Trevor Simms for a called third strike as F-M baserunner R2 Tim Colwell stole third base. At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 3-3. The RedHawks ultimately won the contest, 4-3.

Following Metzger's generous dose of earlier profane insults and complaints, he placed a trash bin behind home plate, pointed to the red cylinder and told the umpire, "Go to your home," all while umpire Jarboe was calmly conversing with manager Schlact.

Who's to say if the umpire even saw Metzger's juvenile antics. And they wonder why there's an officiating shortage.

Wrap: Chicago Dogs vs. FM RedHawks (American Association), 8/6/18 | Video as follows:

Monday, August 6, 2018

INT or OBS - Hammering the Catcher Contact Home

Every so often, one type of controversial play seems to endemically occur throughout MLB in a short span of time. This summer, it's catcher/batter/runner contact on a batted ball near home plate—is it obstruction, interference, legal tangle/untangle, or none of the above?

Primer: First, if you haven't yet read our compare-and-contrast article regarding a pair of obstruction (F2 on BR) vs interference (BR on F2) calls, please do so in order to get familiar with the obstruction and interference rules regarding a batted ball hit near home plate.
Related PostComparison - Infield Interference or Only Obstruction?

The Play: That said, here's what we hope will be a terminal discussion on the subject...with a twist.

Did F2 obstruct R3 or did R3 interfere w/ F2?
The game situation is bottom 8th, one out and one on (R3, the tying run) in Tampa Bay, with Rays batter Mallex Smith at the plate. Smith squared to bunt White Sox pitcher Juan Minaya's 2-1 offering, dropping down a suicide squeeze that, due to Smith's speed, could similarly qualify as a bunt-for-hit situation, in front of home plate as Rays baserunner R3 Joey Wendle sprinted down the line from third base, Wendle making contact with White Sox catcher Omar Narvaez as Narvaez attempted to field the bunt alongside third baseman Yolmer Sanchez and pitcher Minaya, ultimately throwing wildly past first base, which allowed batter-runner Smith to advance to second.

Question: Naturally, the question is whether this is obstruction, interference, or incidental/legal contact?

Rules: The difference between obstruction and interference is that, "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," while, "Offensive interference is an act by the team at bat which interferes with, obstructs, impedes, hinders or confuses any fielder attempting to make a play."

Penalties: If obstruction is ruled on the catcher, since this is Type 2/B (no play being made on the obstructed runner), the baserunner from third is awarded home plate. Seeing as he fell on top of home plate immediately following the collision, there's no realistic call to make other than for formalities' sake.

If interference is ruled on the baserunner advancing to home plate, the ball is immediately dead, the runner declared out for interference, and the batter-runner awarded first base (unless the runner's interference is ruled to be an intentional act, in which case the batter-runner shall also be declared out for his teammate's intentional interference [6.01(a) Penalty for Interference Comment]).

Analysis: By now, we're very familiar with the "in general" right-of-way rules (If batted ball, then (protected) fielder; else runner). The previous cases we've discussed have all pertained to the batter-runner and a fielder (the catcher), but rest assured, it matters not which runner is involved here...other than in the case of the Armbrister tangle/untangle situation when the batter and catcher have incidental contact while the batter is running to first base and the catcher is attempting to field a batted ball to which he is the sole fielder entitled to protection from the default case of obstruction.

No incidental "Armbrister" tangle/untangle exists for any runner other than the batter-runner.

How can we best classify this contact?
That said, what we have in Tampa Bay is contact that has either clearly hindered the catcher from fielding the batted ball (6.01(a)(10)) or, realistically, nothing, since the would-be-obstructed runner instantaneously fell onto home plate upon his contact with the catcher.

For what it's worth, this would be Obstruction Type 2/B if it were to be obstruction, since no play was actively being made on the runner at the time of the collision (imagine, as an extreme example, that the collision prevented the runner from touching home plate, and the defense was able to turn a double play before the runner touched home [e.g., via a missed base appeal]...that's how this is technically obstruction 2, even if it realistically doesn't matter all that much).

Recall that the fielder is entitled to field the ball as long as he is the protected fielder (deemed the fielder entitled to protection).
Related PostProtection Question - HS Obstruction on Fielding Catcher (5/22/18).

Thus, 6.01(a)(10)'s "the umpire shall determine which fielder is entitled to the benefit of this rule, and shall not declare the runner out for coming in contact with a fielder other than the one the umpire determines to be entitled to field such a ball" clause is all that's needed to officiate this play.

The contact is clearly impeditive to someone, the only question is, 'to whom?'

It's either interference if the catcher was entitled to field the ball or obstruction (but, realistically, nothing, since the runner fell on top of home plate) if any other fielder was entitled to field the ball.

Conclusion: HP Umpire Ramon De Jesus' only call in accordance with the rules would be that, either, A) The third baseman (or pitcher), but NOT the catcher, was entitled to field the batted ball, or, B) the runner's contact with the catcher did not hinder or impede the catcher's attempted play.

Gil's Call: I can follow the umpire here as long as he didn't choose option B—the contact clearly impedes the catcher's attempted play...the only question is whether this hindrance was legal, and the only way the hindrance is legal is if the third baseman (or pitcher) was the fielder ruled as the entitled one. Generally speaking, per the batter-runner/catcher Armbrister Tangle/Untangle discussion above, contact between a runner other than batter-runner and fielder on a batted ball is interference or obstruction, but not nothing.

Did R3 legally hinder F2's attempted play?
How many times have we seen a squeeze play where the third baseman—charging in alongside the runner—scoops and flips the ball to the catcher as the runner slides into home plate. Under this circumstance, the third baseman would be the protected fielder and the catcher's contact with the runner would be ruled obstruction.

The only hitch in the giddy-up is that R3 Wendle got home so quickly that no one on Chicago had a chance to so much as touch the ball before he was on top of home plate. Therefore, the defense's play here, all else equal, will most likely not be on the runner at home plate....

...Which suggests that, perhaps, the catcher will be the fielder most likely to field the ball after all.*

*Bear in mind, the NCAA ruleset, in 8-5d AR, uses the language "the umpire shall determine which fielder is more likely to make the play and only that fielder is protected": it's not an OBR saying. OBR 6.01(a)(10) and NFHS 8-4-1g use the following: "the umpire shall determine/decide which fielder/one is entitled to...field such a/the ball."

Snapshot of fielders at the moment of contact.
Tropicana Field's mid-home (press box) camera angle suggests that, at the time of contact between R3 and F2, the catcher was very likely the fielder who would get to the ball first. In NCAA, this is a no-doubter "F2 is protected" situation. Though it takes slightly more massaging relative to rulebook verbiage, I believe F2 should be protected in OBR/NFHS as well.

I determined the catcher should be protected after the benefit of multiple replays from multiple angles and a freeze-frame from mid-home that shows precisely where all the fielders were at one split second of the play.

That makes it (unintentional) interference. Call "Time," declare R3 out and award BR first base.
Point: But no one was covering first! BR Smith would have been safe anyway.
Counterpoint: The interference occurred prior to that part of the play. The ball was already dead. See aforementioned penalty, which awards BR Smith first. It just doesn't allow him to take second on a poor throw caused by a teammate (R3)'s interference.

In real-time, though, I'm probably expecting a play on the tying run at home plate and, thus, may very well incorrectly protect the third baseman who is charging in from his position, simply based on experience and expectation, in which case this play would possibly get an obstruction point, but no ultimate call other than to keep play alive and allow the batter-runner to reach second on the overthrow.

Very tough play for a runner in full-sprint who suddenly has a catcher blocking his access to home plate who, by most accounts, likely has the legal right to temporarily block home plate while he's fielding the ball (this latter fact also explaining, in part, why the plate blocking rule does not apply). But the onus on avoiding hindrance here is on the runner, which makes it a case of interference, however unfortunate it may be.

Video as follows: