Saturday, August 18, 2018

MLB Ejection 127 - Cory Blaser (3; Craig Counsell)

HP Umpire Cory Blaser ejected Brewers Manager Craig Counsell (warnings) in the bottom of the 1st inning of the Brewers-Cardinals game. With two out and none on, Cardinals batter Tyler O'Neill took a first-pitch fastball from Brewers pitcher Wade Miley inside for a called first ball, resulting in warnings. Replays indicate the pitch was located inside and thrown between O'Neill's feet; Brewers batter Lorenzo Cain had been hit by a pitch from Cardinals pitcher Miles Mikolas in the top of the 1st, the call was irrecusable. At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 0-0. The Cardinals ultimately won the contest, 7-2.

This is Cory Blaser (89)'s third ejection of 2018
Cory Blaser now has 8 points in the UEFL Standings (6 Prev + 2 MLB + 0 Irrecusable Call = 8).
Crew Chief Gary Cederstrom now has 9 points in Crew Division (8 Previous + 1 Irrecusable Call = 9).
*Standards for Removal from the Game: Manager shall be ejected if...enters the field to dispute a warning.

This is the 127th ejection report of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is the 51st Manager ejection of 2018.
This is Milwaukee's 5th ejection of 2018, 2nd in the NL Central (CHC 8; MIL 5; CIN 3; PIT, STL 2).
This is Craig Counsell's 4th ejection of 2018, 1st since June 6 (Quinn Wolcott; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Cory Blaser's 3rd ejection of 2018, 1st since April 22 (Andy Haines; QOC = U [Warnings]).

Wrap: Milwaukee Brewers vs. St. Louis Cardinals, 8/18/18 | Video as follows:

Fan Inter-Beer-ence - Baseball's Neutral Zone

Friday's Replay Review that upheld umpires' home run and fan interference no-call in San Diego upset Arizona after video conclusively indicated that Diamondbacks left fielder Jon Jay's glove made contact with a Padres fan's beer during Eric Hosmer's solo-HR in the bottom of the 5th inning.

Did a fan interfere with Jay in San Diego?
Lest they say we're going to the animals in the jungle of outfield fandom, let's cruise into our capstone report on spectator interference, introducing a concept of interference neutrality.

The Play: With one out and none on during Friday's D'Backs-Padres game, Padres batter Hosmer hit a fly ball to deep left field. As D'Backs outfielder Jay leapt to catch Hosmer's batted ball, his right hand and glove came into contact with a fan in the left field bleachers attempting to do the same. Upon Crew Chief Review, the Replay Official upheld 3B Umpire Sean Barber's on-field ruling of home run (no fan interference).

The Rule: By now, we know that "Spectator interference occurs when a spectator (or an object thrown by the spectator) hinders a player’s attempt to make a play on a live ball, by going onto the playing field, or reaching out of the stands and over the playing field."
Related PostMLB Changes Rules for Retired Runner, Fan Interference (3/25/18).

We're dealt with this play before, most recently when Astros batter Alex Bregman fell prey to an interference ruling by 2B Umpire Greg Gibson, but it's time to add another layer to the issue. We call it baseball's "neutral zone."
Related PostFact Check - Bregman's Fan Interference Out (7/26/18).

Related Rule: The Definition of Terms states that "FAIR TERRITORY is that part of the playing field within, and including the first base and third base lines, from home base to the bottom of the playing field fence and perpendicularly upwards. All foul lines are in fair territory" (underline added for emphasis).

The neutral zone is a free-for-all.
Analysis: This neutral zone encompasses that area referred to as the "top of the wall" extended vertically upward—any fly ball that bounces off the top of the wall, untouched by a fan, and caroms back onto the field is considered live and in play, while any ball that bounces off the top of the wall and caroms into the seats behind is deemed a home run.

For all intents and purposes relative to this rule, wall padding is to be considered part of the wall itself.

As for a ball that sticks to the top of the wall, that's where the neutral zone takes on a rather unique quality: if a batted ball in flight strikes and settles on top of an outfield wall without a fan touching it, the call is "Time" and a two-base award. If a fan does touch the ball atop the wall before it settles, the proper call is "Home Run."

Summary of Top-of-the-Wall Batted Ball Considerations/Calls (Fair ball, wall/seats in fair territory):
Fly ball hits top of wall and immediately bounces back into play, untouched by fans = In Play.
Fly ball hits top of wall and immediately bounces out of play (in fair territory) = Home Run.
Fly ball hits top of wall, eventually settling on top of the wall, untouched by a fan = Two Bases.
Fly ball hits top of wall, and a fan picks it up while it's still in motion on top of the wall = HR.
Fly ball hits top of wall, and a fan picks it up after it's settled on top of the wall = Two Bases.

I'm not kidding—that's the importance of this neutral zone and an example of how a spry home-town fan can influence the game simply by choosing to touch or not touch a batted ball on top of the wall.

Relative to actual fan interference, because the term is interference, this implies a violative act (by the fan). In order to be said to have violated a rule, the fan has to actively engage in misconduct by "reaching out of the stands and over the playing field" (or by going onto the playing field).

Jay's arm bends backward above the wall.
In other words, "reaching out of the stands" and into the neutral zone is not enough for interference: the fan must break the plane separating the playing field from the neutral zone in order to submit candidacy for interference; otherwise, the fielder reaches into the neutral zone (and stands) at his own peril.

The accompanying image indicates Jay's right arm is flush with the outfield wall, and bends backward at the wrist (and possibly elbow, as well), which is at or above the height of the wall. This portion of Jay's body and glove which has bent backward beyond the base-of-wall plane and into the neutral zone is not subject to protection against interference: if the fan makes contact with the portion of Jay's person or glove that is extended into the neutral zone, this contact shall not be deemed fan interference for the fielder has reached out of the playing field at his own peril.

That makes this the proper ruling, for lack of evidence or angle to suggest the fan broke the playing field plane.

SIDEBAR: Another baseball saying holds that "it all evens out." Perhaps, one can consider this an even-out play for Padres Manager Andy Green, who was ejected in April on an interference no-call decision (also finalized via Replay Review) that went against San Diego.
Related PostMLB Ejection 011 - Brian Gorman (1; Andy Green) (4/9/18).

Video as follows:

Friday, August 17, 2018

MLB Ejection 126 - James Hoye (1; Nick Ahmed)

HP Umpire James Hoye ejected Diamondbacks SS Nick Ahmed (strike three call; QOCY) in the top of the 3rd inning of the Diamondbacks-Padres game. With none out and two on (R2, R3), Ahmed took a 2-2 sinker from Padres pitcher Joey Lucchesi for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the inner edge of home plate and thigh-high (px -.805, pz 1.927 [sz_bot 1.589]) and that all pitches during the at-bat were properly officiated, the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Diamondbacks were leading, 4-1. The Diamondbacks ultimately won the contest, 9-4.

This is James Hoye (92)'s first ejection of 2018.
James Hoye now has 5 points in the UEFL Standings (1 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 5).
Crew Chief Eric Cooper now has 3 points in Crew Division (2 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 3).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
This pitch was located 1.308 horizontal inches from being deemed an incorrect call.

This is the 126th ejection report of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is the 62nd player ejection of 2018. Prior to ejection, Ahmed was 1-2 (SO) in the contest.
This is Arizona's 6th ejection of 2018, T-2nd in the NL West (LAD 7; ARI, SD, SF 6; COL 4).
This is Nick Ahmed's first ejection since April 24, 2016 (Marin Hudson; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is James Hoye's first ejection since May 28, 2016 (Alfredo Simon; QOC = U [Throwing At]).

Wrap: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Diego Padres, 8/17/18 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejection 125 - Ben May (1; Don Mattingly)

HP Umpire Ben May ejected Marlins Manager Don Mattingly (strike three call; QOCN) in the top of the 4th inning of the Marlins-Nationals game. With two out and one on (R2), Marlins batter Derek Dietrich took a 3-2 cutter from Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located off the outer edge of home plate and thigh-high (px -1.059, pz 2.610), the call was incorrect.* At the time of the ejection, the Nationals were leading, 2-0. The Nationals ultimately won the contest, 8-2.

This is Ben May (97)'s first ejection of 2018.
Ben May now has 1 point in the UEFL Standings (3 Prev + 2 AAA - 4 Incorrect Call = 1).
Crew Chief Ted Barrett now has 12 points in Crew Division (12 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = 12).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
This pitch was located 1.74 horizontal inches from being deemed a correct call.

This is the 125th ejection report of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is the 50th Manager ejection of 2018.
This is Miami's 5th ejection of 2018, T-2nd in the NL East (WAS 6; MIA, NYM 5; ATL 3; PHI 0).
This is Don Mattingly's 2nd ejection of 2018, 1st since June 19 (Andy Fletcher; QOC = U [Throwing At]).
This is Ben May's first ejection since June 28, 2016 (Clint Hurdle; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Miami Marlins vs. Washington Nationals, 8/17/18 | Video as follows:

Statcast - Umpire Manny Gonzalez's Bat Flip Catch

We've seen home plate umpires snare discarded catcher's masks on foul balls in the past, so when we saw HP Umpire Manny Gonzalez caught Tigers hitter Nicholas Castellanos' bat out of the air during a celebratory flip on Thursday in Minnesota, it seemed a natural extension of the modern athletic plate umpire's projectile-catching prowess.

Though Manny's bat catch is likely not the first time an umpire has caught a flying bat, it is the first time in memory that MLBAM's Statcast technology has been used to highlight an umpire's play that doesn't involve the strike zone.

In addition to potential definite overuse of a stock sound effects library, the MLBAM crew used Statcast to calculate the bat's launch angle (90.4-degrees), the umpire's catch probability (52.8%), and his extension on the catch (3.2 feet).

Video as follows:

Plate Meeting Podcast Ep 3 Teaser - Brian Hertzog

Announcing Episode 3 of The Plate Meeting, a LF Umpire Podcast from, which will debut Monday. Tmac & Gil are joined by Brian Hertzog, former MiLB umpire and CEO of Official Business, who talks his career, release & life after Minor League Baseball, and the topic of game management, which transcends all levels of officiating.

It's a story to which many Minor League umpires can relate. MiLB Umpire Development previously said that only five percent of umpires in the minors will make it to the major leagues, and less than one percent of umpire school attendees will see regular season MLB action.

Episode 3 of The Plate Meeting debuts Monday, August 20.

The following video teaser features Hertzog's recollection of a brawl he presided over in Reno (AAA):

Replay Review and the Seven-Minute Balk Call

A botched pickoff attempt and balk call against Toronto in Kansas City turned into a seven-minute delay as 2B Umpire and acting Chief Marvin Hudson consulted Replay Review for a rules check, affirming the crew's original ruling to award Royals baserunner Rosell Herrera second base on Blue Jays pitcher Sam Gaviglio's fumble at the mound.

A balk in KC resulted in a seven-minute delay.
The Play: With two out and one on (R1) with Royals batter Jorge Bonifacio at the plate, Blue Jays pitcher Sam Gaviglio attempted to pick off Royals baserunner R1 Rosell Herrera at first base. Replays indicate Gaviglio fumbled the ball while attempting a jump-turn pickoff maneuver, and the errant ball came to rest in the grass between the pitcher's mound and first base foul line aside the home dugout.

The Call: Initially ruled a balk by 2B Umpire and crew chief Marvin Hudson, who convened his crew of HP Umpire Bruce Dreckman, 1B Umpire Mike Estabrook, and 3B Umpire Chris Segal following the play, the umpires agreed to a rules check upon request from Blue Jays Manager John Gibbons, after which the balk ruling prevailed and Herrera was awarded second base.

The Rule: The relevant rule here is OBR 6.02(a)(11), which states, "It is a balk when—The pitcher, while touching his plate, accidentally or intentionally has the ball slip or fall out of his hand or glove."

John Gibbons states his case for a reversal.
So why the seven-minute delay for a non-reviewable balk?

Recall that a balk of this sort requires the pitcher to be "touching his plate." If the pitcher is not on the rubber when he loses the ball, it is treated the same as if he were another fielder who has bobbled the ball: no penalty.

Thus, if the ball slips out of his hand/glove while the pitcher is making a move from the rubber, it is a balk, but if the ball slips out after he has already legally disengaged the rubber, thus becoming an infielder, there is no call to make.

Was F1 Touching His Plate? As we previously explained during Pat Hoberg's reversed balk call and ejection of Twins Manager Paul Molitor in June, the MLB Umpire Manual states that such a jump-turn pickoff move is to be interpreted as occurring from the rubber: "It is legal for a right-handed pitcher to begin a pickoff move to first base by first moving his pivot foot in the direction of third base provided that he makes a legal step toward first base with the non-pivot foot before throwing there and provided that the move is continuous and without interruption. A pitcher who makes such a pickoff move is considered to be in contact with the rubber when he makes his throw to first base."
Related PostMLB Ejections 081-82 - Davis, Hoberg (1, 3; Glynn, Molitor) (6/27/18).

Pitcher Gaviglio loses the ball during pickoff.
Analysis: Right-handed pitcher Gaviglio's continuous move toward first without interruption is a legal pickoff move that is considered "in contact with the rubber." Because it is considered in contact with the rubber (aka "while touching his plate"), Rule 6.02(a)(11) is applicable.

Conclusion: This is a balk because the ball accidentally or intentionally slipped or fell out of the pitcher's hand or glove while the pitcher was said to be in contact with the rubber. Recall that during a balk, the ball remains live until playing action has subsided and the ball otherwise may be declared dead.

SIDEBAR A: Upon slow-motion review of the play, it is apparent that pitcher Gaviglio's front leg may have flinched prior to his jump-turn pickoff move. If called, the leg-flinch balk is covered under OBR 6.02(a)(1) ("The pitcher, while touching his plate, makes any motion naturally associated with his pitch and fails to make such delivery").

SIDEBAR B (aka PITFALL TO AVOID): This is not a situation where the play would be considered "ball one" if the baseball crossed the foul line because this was not a pitched ball, and, moreover the bases were not unoccupied.

The illegal pitch/foul line issue is irrelevant.
The rule about a ball that slips out of the pitcher's hand and crosses the foul line is 6.02(b) Comment (which is called "Illegal Pitches with Bases Unoccupied" and, again, is not applicable here), and states: "A ball which slips out of a pitcher’s hand and crosses the foul line shall be called a ball; otherwise it will be called no pitch. This would be a balk with men on base."

Even if one were to consider this a delivery (assuming that, for instance, the ball rolled across home plate), it would be a balk pursuant to Rule 6.02(a)(6), which states, it is a balk when—"The pitcher delivers the ball to the batter while he is not facing the batter."

Again, this was clearly not a delivery to the batter so 6.02(a)(6) is not applicable, but just in case the "what if it crossed the foul line?" argument were to be made, this should adequately demonstrate that the "call it a ball" rule is not applicable to this play with a runner on first.

Video as follows:

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Commentary Critique - Ball is Live After Missed Base

Welcome back to Commentary Critique, where we respond to a broadcaster's statement about the rules of baseball with book-supported analysis. In this edition, we listen to YES Network's summation about a runner's missed base during Thursday's Rays-Yankees game.

Appeal failure leads to Pham's advance.
The Play: With none out and two on (R1, R3), Rays batter Tommy Pham doubled to Yankees left fielder Shane Robinson, scoring Rays baserunner R3 Joey Wendle as R1 Jake Bauers attempted to advance to third base as Robinson's throw arrived in third baseman Miguel Andujar's glove. Bauers successfully slid to avoid Andujar's tag, failing to touch third base in the process, and continued advancing toward home plate, where he was ultimately tagged out by Andujar.

The Call: 2B Umpire Nic Lentz (3B Umpire Jordan Baker was in the outfield due to the rotation play, leaving Lentz to cover the play at third base) kept play alive and made no call until Andujar physically tagged Bauers, upon which HP Umpire Jerry Layne declared Bauers out and U2 Lentz called batter-runner Pham safe at third base.

Commentary Critique, Statement: As Yankees Manager Aaron Boone ("10% Boone") exited the dugout to argue the call, Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay surmised that the umpires should have declared baserunner Bauers out after he passed third and continued toward home plate without having touched third base.

Said Kay, "Once he takes off for home, the third base umpire should call him out and you can defend third against Pham. Instead you go into a full rundown that isn't needed, and that allows Pham to get to third."

Boone argues the call with Layne & Gibson.
Commentary Critique, QOC: This statement is inaccurate (QOCN). While advancing past a base without touching it is illegal, the defense must still put out the violative runner, either via a tag while off his base, or via claiming violation of the rules by virtue of an appeal. The ball remains live and "Time" shall not be called simply because a runner failed to touch a base. A runner is considered to have achieved a base when he passes it, whether or not he physically touches it.

Commentary Correction: If Kay's statement were to be accurate, it should have been, "Once he takes off for home, the third baseman should appeal to the umpire that the runner missed third base, which would allow him to defend third against Pham. Instead, the fielder goes into a rundown that isn't needed, and that allows Pham to get to third."

The Rule: Official Baseball Rule 5.09(b)(4) is the rule that describes how the Yankees retired Bauers during this play: "Any runner is out when—He is tagged, when the ball is alive, while off his base."

OBR 5.09(c)(2) states, "Any runner shall be called out, on appeal, when—With the ball in play, while advancing or returning to a base, he fails to touch each base in order before he, or a missed base, is tagged."

Diagram of when a runner passes a base.
This appeal procedure under 5.09(c)(2) references violation by the offense for failing to satisfy Rule 5.06(b)(1), which states, "In advancing, a runner shall touch first, second, third and home base in order."

This appeal can only be effected when the runner has run past the base and continued to advance or made no attempt to return to (re)touch it (e.g., overrunning first base without touching it...see references section below). Regardless of whether or not the runner has physically touched the base, said runner is considered to have passed a base "if he has both feet on the ground beyond the back edge of the base or beyond the edge of the base in the direction to which he is advancing."

Conclusion: In this case, R1 Bauers clearly runs (or slides) past third base without touching it. As previously stated, the ball remains live during the entirety of this play, whether or not an appeal is made.

Bauers briefly considers trying to touch third.
Once Bauers continues his advancement having failed to touch third base, the appeal may be executed by communicating to the umpire an intention to appeal while tagging the allegedly missed base. Had F5 Andujar tagged third base while holding the ball as R1 Bauers was running home, the proper call would be to declare Bauers out on appeal for missing third base. Obviously, the runner may be tagged out while standing off his base, as in Rule 5.09(b)(4), but this is not an appeal play unless the tagging fielder makes it clear to the umpire that he is appealing the runner's baserunning violation.

Why is this distinction important? If, with R1 and R3, there were two outs and R1 Bauers missed second base on Pham's hit to the outfield, and the defense successfully appealed that Bauers missed second base, then the appeal would result in both a force out and the third out of the inning, meaning that R3 Wendle's run would not count and the batter would not be credited with a hit.

Naturally, the defense could get both the third out via a standard 5.09(b)(4) tag and a fourth out via appeal (the fourth out would take precedence over the third out, thus becoming the official third out).

References: The so-called real-time appeal play is a rare, but quite practical occurrence in baseball.
Related PostRare Real-Time Appeal Retires Runner over Retouch Rule (6/15/17).
Related PostOfficially Speaking - Hanley, an avid Hunter...of Outs (6/23/16).
Related PostUEFL Series: Baseball Rules in the Real World (Fourth Out) (1/18/14).

Video as follows:

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

MLB Ejections 123-124 - Nauert, Fairchild (2, 2; MIA-ATL)

3B Umpire Paul Nauert ejected Braves Manager Brian Snitker (fighting) and HP Umpire Chad Fairchild ejected Marlins pitcher Jose Ureña (throwing at Braves batter Ronald Acuña resulting in injury; QOCU) in the bottom of the 1st inning of the Marlins-Braves game. With none out and none on, Ureña's first pitch of the ballgame stuck Acuña for a hit-by-pitch. Replays indicate the pitch was located inside and made contact with Acuña on his left arm and elbow, resulting in a bench-clearing incident during which Snitker was ejected for fighting and after which Ureña was ejected for intentionally throwing at a batter, the call was irrecusable. At the time both ejections, the Marlins were leading, 1-0. The Braves ultimately won the contest, 5-2.

This is Chad Fairchild (4)'s second ejection of 2018.
This is Paul Nauert (39)'s second ejection of 2018.
Chad Fairchild now has 11 points in the UEFL Standings (9 Prev + 2 MLB + 0 Irrecusable Call = 11).
Paul Nauert now has 2 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Previous + 2 MLB + 0 Irrecusable Call = 2).
Crew Chief Paul Nauert now has 4 points in Crew Division (2 Previous + 2*[1 Irrecusable Call] = 4).

This is the 123rd and 124th ejection report of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is the 49th Manager ejection of 2018.
This is the 61st player ejection of 2018. Prior to ejection, Ureña's line was 0.0 IP, HBP.
This is Atlanta's 3rd ejection of 2018, 4th in the NL East (WAS 6; NYM 5; MIA 4; ATL 3; PHI 0).
This is Miami's 4th ejection of 2018, 3rd in the NL East (WAS 6; NYM 5; MIA 4; ATL 3; PHI 0).
This is Brian Snitker's 3rd ejection of 2018, 1st since March 31 (Jerry Layne; QOC = U [Pace of Play]).
This is Jose Ureña's first career MLB ejection.
This is Paul Nauert's 2nd ejection of 2018, 1st since May 17 (Jeff Banister; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Chad Fairchild's 2nd ejection of 2018, 1st since June 20 (Alcides Escobar; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Miami Marlins vs. Atlanta Braves, 8/15/18 | Video as follows:

2018 Instant Replay - Status Report at Review No. 1000

Wednesday's first manager's challenge of the day marked MLB's 1,000th Replay Review of the 2018 season, a decision that overturned 1B Umpire Larry Vanover's out call to that of safe during the White Sox-Tigers game. Here's a look back at the first thousand video reviews of the season and the associated umpire stats and sabermetrics.

Summary and Quick Stats at Replay #1000:
Total Upheld: 518 (51.8%).
Total Overturned: 482 (48.2%).

Leaderboard - Top 10 Umpires in RAP
Rank Umpire Name Upheld Overturned RAP
1 Tumpane, John 10 2 .833
2 Timmons, Tim 9 2 .818
3 Davis, Gerry 11 3 .786
4 Fairchild, Chad 7 2 .778
4 Scheurwater, Stu 7 2 .778
4 Rackley, David 7 2 .778
7 Libka, John 3 1 .750
8 Estabrook, Mike 5 2 .714
9 Additon, Ryan 7 3 .700
9 Reynolds, Jim 7 3 .700

Reviews by Call Type. Click for full graphic.
Leaderboard - Teams

Leaderboard - Reasons for Review
1. Out/Safe (Force - 1st) - 235 reviews (.336 RAP).
2. Out/Safe (Tag - Into Base) - 146 reviews (.657 RAP).
3. Out/Safe (Tag - Stolen Base) - 135 reviews (.519 RAP).
4. Out/Safe (Pulled Foot) - 72 reviews (.597 RAP).
5. Out/Safe (Tag - Pickoff) - 66 reviews (.439 RAP).

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

MLB Ejections 121-122 - Eric Cooper (3-4; Puig, Hundley)

HP Umpire Eric Cooper ejected Dodgers RF Yasiel Puig and Giants C Nick Hundley (fighting/inciting bench-clearing incident) in the bottom of the 7th inning of the Dodgers-Giants game. With two out and none on, Puig slapped at his bat following a foul ball, provoking a verbal response from Hundley, after which Puig and Hundley's verbal confrontation turned physical when Puig shoved Hundley, resulting in a bench-clearing incident after which both players were ejected for fighting, the call was irrecusable. At the time of the ejections, the Giants were leading, 1-0. The Giants ultimately won the contest, 2-1.

These are Eric Cooper (56)'s third and fourth ejections of 2018.
Eric Cooper now has 6 points in the UEFL Standings (2 Prev + 2*[2 MLB + 0 Irrecusable Call] = 6).
Crew Chief Eric Cooper now has 2 points in Crew Division (0 Previous + 2*[1 Irrecusable Call] = 2).

This is the 121st and 122nd ejection report of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is the 59th player ejection of 2018. Prior to ejection, Puig was 0-3 (2 SO)* in the contest.
This is the 60th player ejection of 2018. Prior to ejection, Hundley was 1-2 (SO) in the contest.
This is Los Angeles' 7th ejection of 2018, 1st in the NL West (LAD 7; SD, SF 6; ARI 5; COL 4).
This is San Francisco's 6th ejection of 2018, T-2nd in the NL West (LAD 7; SD, SF 6; ARI 5; COL 4).
This is Yasiel Puig's first ejection since March 16, 2017 (Tom Woodring; QOC = U [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Nick Hundley's first ejection since May 18, 2015 (Hunter Wendelstedt; QOC = Y [Check Swing]).
This is Eric Cooper's 3/4th ejection of 2018, 1st since July 3 (Jim Riggleman; QOC = U [USC-NEC]).

*Includes Puig's strikeout as completed by pinch hitter Austin Barnes.

Wrap: San Francisco Giants vs. Los Angeles Dodgers, 8/14/18 | Video as follows:

Joe West Passes Froemming for 2nd Most Games Ump'd

Congratulations to MLB's senior umpire Joe West, who writes a new page of history this week in Minnesota as he passes Bruce Froemming for the number two spot on baseball's Most Games Umpired List with 5,163 regular season games officiated.

Bill Klem, long considered the grandfather of professional umpiring, and a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, holds the number one spot on the list, with 5,372 regular season games umpired and, come Wednesday when West passes Froemming, is the only official standing between West and the "Most Games Umpired" title.

West already holds the "Most X Umpired" title as it relates to Most Years Umpired (currently 41) and Most World Series Games Umpired Amongst Active Umpires (currently 34). Fellow veteran crew chief Gerry Davis holds the Most Postseason Games Umpired [All-Time] record (presently 143, compared to West's 123).

West's 176 career ejections is also the most on the active roster (e.g., Klem had 305 in his career).

At West's current rate of approximately 125 to 130 games-per-season, assuming a consistent schedule without interruption, he would pass Klem and achieve 5,373 games officiated at some point during the 2020 MLB season, likely before the All-Star Break.

2018 is West's 41st season in the major leagues, including his National League debut year of 1976 (eight games officiated), and excluding the 2000 and 2001 seasons, when West was absent as one of 22 umpires to lose his job during the 1999 MLUA mass resignation event.
Related PostWUA Rebrands as MLB Umpires Launch MLBUA (8/13/18).

By contrast, Froemming spent 37 years on the NL and MLB field from 1971 through 2007 (he did not lose his job in 1999), although Froemming didn't have to contend with losing out on games due to expanded instant replay and the Replay Review room.

SIDEBAR: No Replay For Joe? Interestingly enough, West's retrosheet numbers of 128.75 games-per-season suggest that he is staying on the field and officiating games instead of spending a week or two at MLBAM's replay headquarters in New York.

Related: West ump'd his 5,000th game in 2017.
Other staff umpires, for instance, have averaged 110-120 games-per-season since 2014—while comparable crew chiefs have averaged up to 122 games per season since 2014 (Gerry Davis, averaged 117 games-per-season since 2014...running down the list of seniority, the numbers were as follows: Dana DeMuth (94*), Gary Cederstrom (113*), Jerry Layne (88*), Brian Gorman (96*), Jeff Kellogg (104), Tom Hallion (116), Mike Winters (109*), Fieldin Culbreth (112), Ted Barrett (121), Jeff Nelson (122), Bill Miller (121), Jerry Meals (121), Larry Vanover (113*), Mike Everitt (112*), Paul Emmel (117), Sam Holbrook (115^), and Mark Wegner (118)—compared to West's 129 games-per-season average.

*Indicates Disabled List appearances or other absences influenced the numbers. Because the sample size of four seasons is so small, the outliers were not excluded unless they were zero. Even so, the maximum number of seasonal games worked by a non-Joe West crew chief from 2014-17 was 127 games [Sam Holbrook, 2017]). West's totals exceeded the non-West crew chief maximum twice (124 in 2014, 138 in 2015, 121 in 2016, and 132 in 2017).

^Holbrook's seasonal totals exclude 2014 (zero games officiated).

H/T: @MLBUA first reported this story.

Video as follows:

MLB Ejections 119-120 - Phil Cuzzi (1-2; Maddon, Zobrist)

HP Umpire Phil Cuzzi ejected Cubs Manager Joe Maddon in the bottom of the 6th and 2B Ben Zobrist (strike three call; QOCN) at the end of the 8th inning of the Brewers-Cubs game. In the 6th, with none out and one on (R2), Cubs batter Ben Zobrist took a 3-2 slider from Brewers pitcher Jhoulys Chacin for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located off the outer edge of home plate and thigh-high (px -.969, pz 2.746), the call was incorrect.* At the time of Maddon's ejection, the Brewers were leading, 6-0.

In the 8th, Cubs batter Javier Baez struck out swinging as Zobrist waited on deck. Following the conclusion of the inning, Zobrist engaged Cuzzi in a conversation pertaining to the 6th inning strike three call, resulting in his ejection, the call was incorrect.^ At the time of Zobrist's ejection, the Brewers were leading, 7-0. The Brewers ultimately won the contest, 7-0.

These are Phil Cuzzi (10)'s first and second ejections of 2018.
Phil Cuzzi now has -11 points in the UEFL Standings (-7 Prev + 2*[2 MLB - 4 Incorrect Call] = -11).
Crew Chief Tom Hallion now has -8 points in Crew Division (-8 Previous + 2*[0 Incorrect Call] = -8).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
This pitch was located 0.66 horizontal inches from being deemed a correct call.
^Zobrist's ejection is QOCN pursuant to UEFL Rule 6-5-c-3, which states, "Ejections, wherein an argument for a previously ruled play (either correct or incorrect) continues into a later play (i.e., some point after a pitch has been delivered to the next batter), shall be ruled QOC Y/N under Rule 6-2-b-5."

This is the 119th ejection report of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is the 48th Manager ejection of 2018.
This is the 58th player ejection of 2018. Prior to ejection, Zobrist was 1-3 (SO) in the contest.
This is Chicago-NL's 8th ejection of 2018, 1st in the NL Central (CHC 8; MIL 4; CIN 3; PIT, STL 2).
This is Joe Maddon's 3rd ejection of 2018, 1st since August 10 (Bill Miller; QOC = Y [RLI/Interference]).
This is Ben Zobrist's first career MLB ejection.
This is Phil Cuzzi's first ejection since July 30, 2017 (Miguel Sano; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Milwaukee Brewers vs. Chicago Cubs, 8/14/18 | Video as follows:

Monday, August 13, 2018

WUA Rebrands as MLB Umpires Launch MLBUA

In August 2017, Angel Hernandez ejected Ian Kinsler, whose post-game tirade prompted the World Umpires Association (WUA)'s white wristband protest against umpire abuse. One year later, the Major League Baseball Umpires Association (@MLBUA) serves as MLB umpiring's new brand, replacing WUA, alongside a new union website and social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and even YouTube.

MLB umpires' new website is
MLB umps' now joins NBA (National Basketball Referees Association,, NHL (National Hockey League Officials Association,, NFL (NFL Referees Association,, and MLS (Professional Referee Association, officials as the final sport of North America's "big five" to take its officiating union public with a website and/or social media accounts.

MLBUA explained the major league umpires' transition from WUA to MLBUA in an introductory blog post on the new association's website:

The union representing MLB Umpires has a new name – the Major League Baseball Umpires Association ("the MLBUA"). MLB Umpires are re-engaging with the baseball world with a new logo, a new website, and a social media presence. This re-engagement is historically significant. As the officials of baseball, Umpires have traditionally maintained a quiet position in off-line conversations about the game.  Now, we have the tools to engage in the ongoing dialog about America’s favorite game throughout the year. In addition to this website, you can also follow the MLBUA through Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Already, MLBUA on Twitter has tweeted out a reply to Joe Girardi's suggestion that umpires call pitches from behind the mound, highlighted the important work of UMPS CARE Charities, recounted that one time a moth flew into Bruce Dreckman's ear, and tweeted at a few broadcasters, too.
Related PostJoe West Greets Girardi's Ump Proposal with Snark & Stat (8/7/18).
Related PostInjury Scout - Dreckman's Moth Ear Canal Adventure (8/9/18).

As MLBUA wrote, this latest move "is historically significant." How so and what's the history?

How Did We Get Here? A history of a union entering the digital age.
In 1970, umpires seeking better compensation staged a one-day strike during the American and National League Championship Series, prompting both the AL and NL presidents to acknowledge a union as a representative of all major league umpires (and to give the umpires a pay raise). This union was called the Major League Umpires Association (MLUA).

MLUA and Richie Phillips: Pennsylvania labor lawyer Richie Phillips, who had successfully gotten NBA referees a three-fold salary increase in the 1970s, was tapped to serve as general counsel and executive director of the MLUA in 1978, holding the position over the next two decades while securing new labor agreements and such while representing the umpires to the two league offices: from '78 to '99, umpires salaries increased from $17,500 to $95,000 for rookies and from $40,000 to $282,500 for experienced veterans. That's a 443% increase for rookies in about 22 years.

By contrast, per the Wendelstedt School, MLB umpires presently start at $120,000/yr, which amounts to a 21% increase over approximately 19 years from 2000 to 2018 (120-95=25; 25/120=20.8%). The key difference, naturally, is that the 1978-99 period started with a much lower salary than did the 2000-18 era.

Richie Phillips, former MLUA general counsel.
By 1999—a so-called contract year for the umpires (CBA negotiation year)—MLUA's relationship with MLB had deteriorated to such a point that the league, in an effort to exert greater control over its umpires in the AL and NL, proposed a restructuring maneuver that would merge the two bodies into one central MLB umpiring staff, answering to the Commissioner of Major League Baseball, as opposed to the AL or NL president. As its first order of business, the newly emboldened Office of the Commissioner (BOC) sought to raise the strike zone, which upset the MLUA, which felt that MLB was attempting to suffocate its membership.

The MLUA also feared that MLB was angling to fire its umpires when the contract ran out on December 31, 1999.

In July 1999, MLUA voted to strike to head-off a potential MLB-imposed lockout, but this proved problematic: the CBA Phillips had negotiated with MLB in effect through 1999 prohibited strikes, so Phillips proposed a different strategy to counter a potential mass-firing: mass resignation, which would trigger about $15 million in severance payments, not to mention depleting a majority of the staff, both circumstances that Phillips was counting on MLB to consider as untenable and unacceptable.

AL Umpire Ken Kaiser lost his job in 1999.
Suffice it to say, the move was a miscalculation. For instance, if MLB was indeed angling to fire the top AL and NL umpires, it likely wouldn't consider a mass resignation as worse for its numbers than a mass firing, and MLB seemed willing to absorb the multi-million dollar cost in exchange for greater control over the umpiring staff.

Mass Resignation: Though 57 MLUA umpires (of 66 total, which excludes Derryl Cousins and John Shulock, who were not members of MLUA because they crossed the picket line to work during the 1979 umpires' strike) sent letters of resignation, Phillips' plan backfired as 42 of the resigning umpires opted, as a group, to rescind their resignations, leaving the MLUA fractured and vulnerable.

MLB pounced, accepting 22 resignations and hiring 25 minor league replacements, opting to cherry pick which of the resigned umpires to hire back. Suddenly, long-time major league umpires such as Gary Darling, Larry Vanover, Joe West, and Bob Davidson were out of baseball. A few, such as Rich Garcia and Frank Pulli, landed Supervisor gigs with the league.
Related PostPlate Meeting Podcast Episode 1 - Bob Davidson (7/17/18).

Fates of the 22 accepted-resignation umpires.
The Resigned 22: Through years of arbitration, lawsuits, new CBA negotiations, and other remedies, including several umpires who re-entered minor league baseball in an effort to work their way back to the big leagues (Davidson, Tom Hallion, Ed Hickox), 11 of the 22 umpires whose resignations were accepted eventually made it back to the MLB level; some of the others, including Jim Evans, Dale Ford, and Ken Kaiser, retired with severance; some, such as Drew Coble, Frank Pulli, and Terry Tata, received back pay; and the rest, including Eric Gregg, simply lost their careers.

World Umpires Association: Shortly thereafter, the remaining umpires voted to decertify the MLUA, push Phillips out, and replace it with the World Umpires Association, voting John Hirschbeck as president.

Through presiding officers Hirschbeck and successor Joe West, the WUA continued negotiating CBAs and represented the new, combined AL/NL umpires as one full-time MLB umpiring staff (which invited Cousins and Shulock back into the fold, given the MLUA's dissolution).

WUA's First Website: In the year 2000, WUA launched its website, announcing the union's purpose, objectives, and activities—sort of a public major-league umpires' newsletter. Over the years, the website highlighted umpires' accomplishments, engaged in recruitment efforts with advertisements for umpire schools, and provided general information about umpiring and the WUA umpires.

WUA's website, circa 2008.
The website did not, however, make a habit of explaining the rules of the game, responding to team discontent, or generally interacting with non-officials.

By 2010, however, the website had fallen into an apparent state of disrepair, destined to an infinite loop of redirects and error messages; WUA's last stable site appeared online in 2008.

Around this time, came on the scene, but with a copyright of "Joe West Co.," this may have better been deemed umpire Joe West's personal venture, as opposed to a continuation of WUA's activities.

For all intents and purposes, in that case, WUA's online presence dropped to a minimal level, while Joe West Co.'s majorleagueumpires site and West Vest Blog continued posting umpiring information and news into early 2016.

Kinsler, Hernandez, and WUA's White Wristband Protest: The related post, linked below, contains a far more detailed account of the events between 2011 and 2017, but in summary form, WUA and BOC's relationship began to experience a new source of friction as players became more emboldened in their public, and often profane, criticism of umpires, while receiving little if any meaningful discipline from newly-installed MLB Vice President of Baseball Operations Joe Torre, now Chief Baseball Officer.

The pendulum which had once favored the umpires in the second half of the 20th century had crossed back over the median in a significant way, jumpstarted by the 1999 shakeup, and was on its way toward the "Open Season on Umpires" terminus.
Related PostWUA-MLB Relations Deteriorate with New Umpire Protest (8/19/17).

Angel's ejection of Kinsler woke up the WUA.
From its suspension of Bob Davidson alongside Charlie Manuel for an ejection in Philadelphia to its lack of action when Phillies pitcher Jonathan Papelbon repeatedly bashed DJ Reyburn in a 2012 postgame interview, to its treatment of Angel Campos' career following ejections involving Don Mattingly's Dodgers, to its failure to suspend David Ortiz for violently destroying a dugout phone in protest of a Tim Timmons call, to its failure to suspend ejected manager John Gibbons for returning to the field after entering the clubhouse (the first time around), to its suspension of Joe West for three-games for comments about Adrian Beltre that Beltre himself said, "I don't think the suspension was necessary, I know he was kidding. I didn't think it was a big deal," BOC did not endear itself to WUA from 2012-17.

John Farrell argues his 3B Coach's ejection.
For instance, when Torre's group issued a memo in July 2016 warning managers to stop consulting video replay in order to argue balls and strikes, the targeted managerial ejections were replaced by a significant uptick in assistant coach ejections—generally hitting coaches—for arguing balls and strikes...We ran the number at the time and found that the rate of manager + coach ejections for arguing balls and strikes post-Torre memo was remarkably similar to the rate of manager ejections for arguing balls and strikes prior to the memo (49.25 games-per-ejection after, compared to 53.76 before).

In a few cases, these ejections quickly turned into double whammies as now the managers were being ejected, not directly for arguing balls and strikes, but for arguing the ejection of their assistant coaches!
Related PostTorre's Warning Leads to Coach, Not Manager, Ejections (8/22/16).

This all manifested in Angel Hernandez's ejection of then-Tigers 2B Ian Kinsler and Manager Brad Ausmus for arguing a correctly called strike in August 2017 (again, the manager wasn't directly ejected for arguing balls and strikes, but in support of his player, who was ejected for arguing balls and strikes). After the game, Kinsler accused Hernandez of "messing with baseball games, blatantly," saying, "He needs to find another job. He really does. He's just that bad."
Related PostMLB Ejections 135-35 - Angel Hernandez (1-2; DET x2) (8/14/17).

In 2017, umpires put their collective foot down.
On August 18, MLB fined, but did not suspend Kinsler, thus placing the proverbial straw atop the major league umpires' unprotected backs.

Having likely held its collective tongue for several years as it perceived BOC as having continually hung the umpiring profession out to dry, WUA released a statement decrying BOC for its apparent lack of concern for its umpiring staff and announcing its infamous white-wristband protest:

"The Office of the Commissioner has failed to address this and other escalating attacks on umpires...Our most important duty is to protect the integrity of the game, and we will continue to do that job every day. But the Office of the Commissioner must protect our integrity when we are attacked simply for doing our jobs. Enough is enough. Umpires will wear the wristbands until our concerns are taken seriously by the Office of the Commissioner."
Related PostFined - Kinsler Not Suspended for Hernandez Comments (8/18/17).

When MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred responded by threatening the Union with penalties and punishments while offering a meeting instead, the umpires removed the wristbands, but hardly went underground.
Related PostWUA Secures Commissioner Meeting, Suspends Protest (8/20/17).

Conclusion & Gil's Call: Given all of this, MLBUA's summation that "this re-engagement is historically significant" doesn't just cover the fact that WUA didn't have a functioning website for 10 years, and doesn't just allude to MLB umpires being the last of the major professional sports officials' associations to get a new website.

No, this statement is jam-packed with significant meaning for an organization whose members have voices yearning to be heard—especially when the Commissioner's Office won't necessarily have their backs.

Congratulations to the MLBUA on this step forward and we look forward to hearing from this newly-galvanized group looking to restore decorum and decency to baseball's treatment of the profession.

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