Saturday, August 25, 2018

MLB Ejections 131-132 - Bruce Dreckman (1-2; LAA x2)

HP Umpire Bruce Dreckman ejected Angels pitcher Deck McGuire and Manager Mike Scioscia (throwing at Astros batter Yuli Gurriel with warnings in effect) in the top of the 9th inning of the Astros-Angels game. With two out and none on, Gurriel took a 1-1 fastball from McGuire for a hit-by-pitch. Replays indicate the pitch was located inside and hit Gurriel in the upper left leg, following two HBP from earlier in the game with both teams having been warned, the call was irrecusable. At the time of the ejection, the Astros were leading, 8-3. The Astros ultimately won the contest, 8-3.

These are Bruce Dreckman (1)'s first and second ejections of 2018.
Bruce Dreckman now has 3 points in the UEFL Standings (-1 Prev + 2*[2 MLB + 0 Irrecusable] = 3).
Crew Chief Marvin Hudson now has 5 points in Crew Division (3 Previous + 2 Irrecusable Call = 5).

This is the 131st and 132nd ejection report of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is the 63rd player ejection of 2018. Prior to ejection, McGuire's line was 0.2 IP, 0 ER, HBP.
This is the 54th Manager ejection of 2018.
This is LA-AL's 4/5th ejection of 2018, T-1st in the AL West (LAA, TEX 5; HOU, SEA 4; OAK 1).
This is Deck McGuire's first career MLB ejection.
This is Mike Scioscia's 2nd ejection of 2018, 1st since May 28 (Mark Ripperger; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Bruce Dreckman's first ejection since September 19, 2015 (Joe Maddon; QOC = U [Throwing At]).

Wrap: Houston Astros vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 8/25/18 | Video as follows:

Friday, August 24, 2018

MLB Ejection 130 - Ramon De Jesus (1; Dale Sveum)

HP Umpire Ramon De Jesus ejected Royals Bench Coach Dale Sveum (ball one call; QOCY) in the top of the 8th inning of the Indians-Royals game. With none out and none on, Indians batter Michael Brantley took a 0-2 slider from Royals pitcher Brandon Maurer for a called first ball. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer half of home plate and below the hollow of the knee (px -.412, pz 1.516 [sz_bot 1.589]), the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Royals were leading, 3-2. The Royals ultimately won the contest, 5-4.

This is Ramon De Jesus (18)'s first ejection of 2018.
Ramon De Jesus now has 5 points in the UEFL Standings (1 Prev + 2 AAA + 2 Correct Call = 5).
Crew Chief Gary Cederstrom now has 12 points in Crew Division (11 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 12).
This pitch was located 1.596 vertical inches from being deemed an incorrect call.

This is the 130th ejection report of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is Kansas City's 6th ejection of 2018, 2nd in the AL Central (CWS 7; KC 6; MIN 4; DET 3; CLE 1).
This is Dale Sveum's first ejection since August 18, 2016 (Todd Tichenor; QOC = N [RLI]).
This is Ramon De Jesus' first ejection since Sept 10, 2017 (Jake Marisnik; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Cleveland Indians vs. Kansas City Royals, 8/24/18 | Video as follows:

Happy Anniversary - Davidson Ejects Mascot Youppi!

Happy 29th anniversary to Bob Davidson's historical ejection of Montreal mascot Youppi! during an extra-inning affair between the visiting Dodgers and host Expos in 1989. The following report captures the unique moment in MLB history:

3B Umpire Bob Davidson ejected Montreal Expos mascot Youppi!, now an NHL-Canadiens property (unsportsmanlike-NEC; banging on the visiting Dodgers' dugout roof) in the top of the 11th inning of the Dodgers-Expos game. As Dodgers second baseman Willie Randolph prepared to face Expos pitcher Bryn Smith, Dodgers Manager Tommy Lasorda protested Youppi!'s presence atop the visitors' third base dugout; with the game in the 11th inning, Youppi! had donned sleepwear and, per Lasorda, was distracting his squad, leading Youppi's removal from the game, a major league mascot first. At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 0-0. The Dodgers ultimately won the contest, 1-0, in 22 innings.

Bob talked about this six-hour, 14-minute game in August of 1989 during Episode 1 of The Plate Meeting podcast, calling it one of his travel-day nightmares. As the story goes, the crew got back to the hotel at some point in the morning following this eight-longest game in MLB history, packed up, and headed directly to the airport for an AM flight to the west coast, via Chicago.
Related PostPlate Meeting Podcast - Episode 1 - Bob Davidson (7/18...Tune to 1:11:00).

Video as follows:

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Trash Can Team Releases Player After Assault Charge

American Association's Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, home of Brennan Metzger, suspended one game for his trash can ejection, has released player Keury De La Cruz after he was charged with assault for allegedly fighting in a parking lot hallway following a contentious game at the ballpark, according to a source.

The nature of the alleged crime suggests the "fight" may not have been consensual and more of a "Team A player jumps Team B player" type of incident with Sioux City’s Jason Garcia listed as the victim.

During Tuesday's game against the Sioux City Explorers, benches cleared in the bottom of the 5th inning after pitcher Ian McKinney's first-pitch offering to Fargo-Moorhead batter Keury De La Cruz was thrown up, in, and behind the batter (which allowed a runner to score), resulting in a bench-clearing incident and warnings from umpire Ron Teague, prompting this summation from the broadcast:
Ron Teague has done a nice job in this series of playing the sheriff and judge.
According to the game report, Sioux City had taken exception to De La Cruz's treatment of a home run during Monday's game by allegedly taking his bat to first base before discarding it.

After taking a fourth ball inside for a walk in the 5th inning on Tuesday, De La Cruz jawed with more Explorers, resulting in a second bench-clearing incident during which De La Cruz had to be restrained by teammates as fellow RedHawk Charlie Valerio appeared to try and fight a member of Sioux City; neither player was ejected.

Fargo-Moorhead lost to Sioux City, 19-5, including a 12-run ninth inning for the visiting team.

Following the game, a fight reportedly occurred in the hallway to the parking lot; by Wednesday, De La Cruz had been criminally charged with assault, and the RedHawks released him, citing conduct detrimental to the team, with manager Michael Schlact saying, "Keury’s conduct last night is not condoned by RedHawks and isn’t what our team is about or how we represent the community."

Related: Following an ejection by umpire Mike Jarboe two weeks prior, Fargo-Moorhead's Metzger engaged in histrionics and profanity before using a prop from the dugout (a garbage bin) to further insult the umpire, leaving the receptacle behind home plate and pointing to it as Jarboe calmly discussed the ejection with Metzger's manager. Metzger served a one-game suspension for the conduct.
Related PostFeatured Indy Ejection - Mike Jarboe (Brennan Metzger) (8/7/18).

Updated: A previous version of this story indicated an arrest. This has been revised to a criminal charge of assault. No arrest was indicated.

The De La Cruz wild pitch video is available at the 2:20:50 mark here.

Jim Joyce, Dale Scott Named Inaugural Oregon Legends

The Oregon-based nonprofit "Friends of Baseball" named retired MLB umpires Jim Joyce and Dale Scott as inaugural Oregon Legends alongside several others in the Pacific northwest state who have made significant contributions to baseball and softball.

Local softball umpire Sue Seaver, who has also served as tournament director for Alpenrose Stadium's Little League Softball World Series, was also named an Oregon Legend.

According to the Daily Astorian, 2018 marks the group's first "Oregon Legends" class, although the organization was first established in 2006 to promote baseball at the youth and grassroots level.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Tmac's Teachable Moments - Tricky Boundary Coverage

From the better late than never department, today's Teachable Moment concerning Red Sox SS Xander Bogaerts' sliding attempt to save a live ball from entering the dugout involves many umpire considerations for this complex boundary call.

Fumbled ball leads to a tricky coverage play.
The first thing I notice is that it must be cold because all the field umpires are in heavy coats. 2B Umpire Todd Tichenor has his ears covered, yet our home plate guy, Bill Miller, is in short sleeves.

The play begins in a 4-man system with a runner on first and less than two outs, which means if our 3rd base umpire goes out, we have a rotation. With a lefty at-bat and the defense shifting him to pull, that probably won't happen...

...Sure enough, we have a rocket to the left center gap and out goes U3 Alan Porter. Plate Umpire Miller properly rotates to 3rd and as the ball is thrown back into the infield, it nearly hits Miller as it is deflected toward the 3rd base dugout: Now we have a potential boundary play (Rule 5.06(b)(4), two bases if this ball goes out of play)—a free for all!

U3 Porter and UIC Miller head toward the play.
Umpire Locations & Responsibilities:
U3 - Left field, having gone out on the batted ball.
UIC - Third base, having rotated to take the play at third.
U1 - Home plate, having rotated to take the play at home.
U2 - Infield, prepared to take plays at first or second.

In this edition of when players make the umpire's life miserable, we see...who's that—is it bird, a plane...?—no, it's 3B Umpire Al Porter coming back in to try to provide help on a ball potentially going out of play. You may not notice him the first time you watch, but he's there hustling into a position where he can SAVE the crew. Miller, who most assuredly can't see Porter along the foul-territory wall in shallow left field, also is keeping an eye on the ball, but he can't vacate 3rd (or can he?) as he may have a potential play with the batter-runner coming to 3rd base or R1 going back into third.

U1 Angel Hernandez, who is now at the plate, can't leave his area as he too may have a potential play on the baserunner that may try and score. Meanwhile, UIC Miller, not seeing U3 Porter, does decide to vacate and and U2 Tichenor fills in the space and splits the difference in what is now a 2-man infield between himself and U1 Hernandez.

Angel Hernandez's positioning is strategic.
This is great umpiring all-around, but it doesn't stop there.

When the trainer and Red Sox Manager Alex Cora come onto the field to attend to Bogaerts at about 1:30, we see U1 Hernandez keeping his distance, but standing between the huddle and the pitcher's mound, while at the 2:05-mark in the video, after Hernandez has joined Miller on the headsets to Replay HQ, we see U2 Tichnor walking off with the injured Red Sox player skipper. Is TT a certified athletic trainer?  Does he just really care about the injured player?  Maybe, but it's more likely he's just making sure Cora doesn't give any advice to his pitcher who is wandering around behind the mound—we've got mound visit limitations to worry about now, after all.

It started with U1 Hernandez at 1:30 and ended with U2 Tichenor at 2:05—a perfect handoff!

Todd Tichenor picks up the Sox as they leave.
Later we see Cora talking to TT probably asking him if he can make a pitching change now (he has to wait for the replay to be over)...and remember, all of this coordination and coverage is happening while the ball is dead.

Picking up your crewmates is something that can save a crew from a firestorm and the field umpires do an excellent job here, but what if this is was a crew of two to begin with?

In that case, splitting differences is very important; you don't want to overcommit. If the plate umpire realizes there will be no play at third, it opens the door to slink back towards home while trying to keep ball and runner in the line-of-sight.

In a lower level game, it's much more likely that the ball either goes out of play or that R1 attempts to score on an overthrow so you always have to be thinking about your next possible play while also being aware of your next possible call. The other question is if this ball goes out of play, where would you have placed the runners? It this an uncontrolled fumble or failed—but controlled—flip to no one (we had a case play about this not too long ago...)?
Related PostUEFL Case Play 2018-6 - Kicked Out of Play [Solved] (7/23/18).

This is a fun play to watch and admire the work of the umpires, but also a lesson that we need to be prepared for anything at any time.  As always have fun and Happy Umpiring!

Video as follows:

Monday, August 20, 2018

MLB Ejection 129 - Mike Muchlinski (1; Scott Servais)

HP Umpire Mike Muchlinski ejected Mariners Manager Scott Servais (strike two call; QOCY) in the bottom of the 8th inning of the Astros-Mariners game. With one out and none on, Mariners batter Dee Gordon took 0-0 and 0-1 fastballs from Astros pitcher Collin McHugh for called first and second strikes. Replays indicate the 0-0 pitch was located over the outer half of home plate and thigh-high (px .648, pz 2.307) and the 0-1 pitch was located over the inner edge of home plate and below the midpoint (px .772, pz 3.023 [sz_top 3.319]), the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 4-4. The Mariners ultimately won the contest, 7-4.

This is Mike Muchlinski (76)'s first ejection of 2018.
Mike Muchlinski now has 6 points in the UEFL Standings (2 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 6).
Crew Chief Mike Winters 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 0-1 pitch was located 1.704 horizontal inches from being deemed an incorrect call.

This is the 129th ejection report of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is the 53rd Manager ejection of 2018.
This is Seattle's 4th ejection of 2018, T-2nd in the AL West (TEX 5; HOU, SEA 4; LAA 3; OAK 1).
This is Scott Servais' 3rd ejection of 2018, 1st since May 22 (Brian Knight; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Mike Muchlinski's first ejection since July 18, 2017 (Craig Counsell; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Houston Astros vs. Seattle Mariners, 8/20/18 | Video as follows:

Plate Meeting Podcast Episode 3 - Brian Hertzog

Welcome to the third episode of The Plate Meeting, a LF Umpire Podcast from Close Call Sports, where we talk umpiring with umpires. In episode 3, Tmac and Gil sit down with Brian Hertzog, CEO of Official Business and MiLB umpire from 2006-14. Brian talks about his journey into and release from professional baseball, and life after his minor league journey, including the launch of Official Business.

In our first themed episode, we also discuss situation handling and hear a few stories about brawls Hertzog found himself in the middle of during his time in Triple-A.

Click the below "play" button to hear Episode 3 - Brian Hertzog's Official Business of Situations, 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.

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Related Link (5:30): As They See 'Em - A Fan's Travels in the Land of Umpires book about JEAPU.

Related Video #1 (23:00): Hertzog ejects Eric Hosmer during MLB Spring Training.
Related PostMLB Ejection S6: Brian Hertzog (S1; Eric Hosmer) (3/25/14).

Related Video #2 (26:20) & (33:30): Isotopes and Redbirds brawl in Albuquerque.
Related PostMiLB Ejection of the Week: ALB-MEM Bench Clearing Brawl (6/23/13).

Related Video #3 (29:00): Isotopes and Aces brawl in Reno.
Related PostMiLB (AAA PCL) Fighting Ejections: Isotopes-Aces (x10) (7/27/14). (45:00): Hertzog is the CEO of Official Business.

Related Link (57:00): Changing the Game Project: Why We Rage (Science Behind...)

Sunday, August 19, 2018

MLB Ejection 128 - Jansen Visconti (2; John Gibbons)

1B Umpire Jansen Visconti ejected Blue Jays Manager John Gibbons (safe call at first base; QOCN) in the bottom of the 6th inning of the Blue Jays-Yankees game. With one out and the bases loaded, Yankees batter Greg Bird hit a 1-1 slider from Blue Jays pitcher Tim Mayza on the ground to first baseman Kendrys Morales, who threw to catcher Danny Jansen for the force out on R3 Miguel Andujar, back to second baseman Devon Travis covering first base in an attempt to complete the inning-ending double play, Bird ruled safe at first for a fielder's choice and Toronto unable to challenge the call due to an unsuccessful challenge earlier in the inning. Replays indicate after Travis leapt in the air to field Jansen's high throw, his cleat appeared to make contact with first base prior to batter-runner Bird's arrival, the call was incorrect. At the time of the ejection, the Yankees were leading, 8-2. The Yankees ultimately won the contest, 10-2.

This is Jansen Visconti (52)'s second ejection of 2018.
Jansen Visconti now has -3 points in the UEFL Standings (-1 Prev + 2 AAA - 4 Incorrect Call = -3).
Crew Chief Larry Vanover now has 17 points in Crew Division (17 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = 17).

This is the 128th ejection report of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is the 52nd Manager ejection of 2018.
This is Toronto's 8th ejection of 2018, 1st in the AL East (TOR 8; NYY 7; BAL, BOS 3; TB 1).
This is John Gibbons' 6th ejection of 2018, 1st since July 25 (Sean Barber; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Jansen Visconti's 2nd ejection of 2018, 1st since July 8 (AJ Pollock; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Toronto Blue Jays vs. New York Yankees, 8/19/18 | Video as follows:

Walk-Off Balk - Dodgers' Floro Does Too Much at Once

Rarer than a perfect game, a walk-off balk plagued Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Dylan Floro in Seattle Saturday night, handing the Mariners a 5-4 extra inning win as baserunner R3 Cameron Maybin scored on Floro's botched step-off and illegal move from the rubber.

Rare? Seattle's was only the 22nd balkoff win in MLB history, compared to 23 perfect games.

Analyzing a rarity: LA-SEA's walk-off balk.
The Play: With one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th inning, Mariners batter Kyle Seager prepared to face the 0-1 pitch from Dodgers pitcher Floro as Mariners baserunner R3 Maybin danced down the line, distracting Floro such that Floro attempted to step off the rubber, resulting in a balk call by 1B Umpire Andy Fletcher, the resulting award of home plate ending the game in balkoff fashion.

The Rule: To see if Fletcher had this call correct or not, we turn to Official Baseball Rule 6.02(a)(1), which states that with runners, it is a balk when—"The pitcher, while touching his plate, makes any motion naturally associated with his pitch and fails to make such delivery." Rule 6.02(a)(10) is also relevant to this play, so we will reference that provision of the balk rule as well: "The pitcher, after coming to a legal pitching position, removes one hand from the ball other than in an actual pitch, or in throwing to a base."

Analysis: Floro, seeing Maybin relatively far from third base, attempted to slow the runner by stepping off the rubber. First, we establish that Floro is pitching from Set Position (occurs when a pitcher stands facing the batter with the pivot foot in contact with the pitcher's plate and the other foot entirely in front of the plate, 5.07(a)(2)).

This is important because prior to assuming Set Position (i.e., before coming set), "the pitcher may elect to make any natural preliminary motion such as that known as 'the stretch'...After assuming Set Position, any natural motion associated with his delivery of the ball to the batter commits him to the pitch without alteration or interruption."
Related PostOdd Position - Limits of a Legal Pitching Delivery [Set vs Windup] (3/6/18).

Floro's walk-off balk in three parts.
During this play, Floro comes set in Frame A, after which he moves both his arms leg(s), and torso in Frame B, before separating his hands in the time between B and Frame C.

This qualifies as a "natural motion associated with delivery" and, because Floro failed to deliver the ball to the batter, this is a balk. It is also a separation of hands without pitching or throwing to a base.

Conclusion & Plain English: Whether you want to use knee pop, double set, or even start-stop as rationale, it all leads to the same place: Floro's body was far too "busy" during the fateful sequence to be legal.

Lest this sound too subjective, let's break it down in a more mechanically objective fashion.

This is a balk because when Floro attempts to disengage from the pitcher's plate, he simultaneously moves other parts of his body—be it his arms, free leg, torso, or hands—and in doing so, makes a series of natural motions associated with delivery.

For instance, Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts after the game called it both a "buckle of the knee" and a "flinch after he came set," crediting Fletcher with making the correct call.

Back to our snapshot: Frame B looks very much like a pitcher in the midst of a delivery to the batter, who has opted to abort said delivery by the time he arrives at Frame C. This is a balk.

But what about the "deceives the runner" provision of the balk rule? Who did he deceive?

Roberts seeks an explanation after the game.
Critics of the call and the balk rule itself are quick to cite Rule 6.02(a) Comment (ironic for a critic of the rule to cite the rule as a defense, but I digress...), which states, "Umpires should bear in mind that the purpose of the balk rule is to prevent the pitcher from deliberately deceiving the base runner. If there is doubt in the umpire’s mind, the 'intent' of the pitcher should govern."

The answer to Rule 6.02(a) Comment's question of intent is simple: F1 Floro attempted to step off for and because of one primary factor: Baserunner R3 Maybin. It is illegal for a pitcher to stop his delivery to interact with a runner and this is the "intent" that Rule 6.02(a) Comment refers to.

Floro's intent was to prevent Maybin from getting too big of a lead, or to stop Maybin from jogging along the baseline. Accordingly, this "intent"—even if only to reset the play, thus depriving Maybin of his legal competitive advantage—shall govern.

That's a balk.

How Could Floro Fix It? As stated above, Floro balked because he did too much at once: he kept his arms and hands moving as he attempted to step off with his pivot foot, twitching his torso and popping his free knee in the process. There are many ways to grab a balk here and, accordingly, many ways Floro can fix his disengagement to make sure he doesn't balk.

The secret? Slow things down, keep the arms still, in their alignment from coming set, and try not to twitch the non-pivot leg. A pitcher legally disengages by stepping back and off the rubber with his pivot foot, but the key for a legal step-off is to keep the rest of the body silent while doing so. For instance, don't start to pull the hands apart before the pivot foot has disengaged the rubber (unless, of course, a pickoff throw is involved; remember that fakes to first and third are illegal).

Isolating motion to only that vital to step off the rubber (the pivot foot and leg) will help avert a balk.

Gil's Call: My only wonderment is how the first base umpire saw this ahead of, or even in place of, the rest of the crew, since the pitcher's back was to him more than to anyone else. There appears to be a definitive twitch or body-rotation prior to the attempted disengagement, but to see it from behind the pitcher is some kind of accomplishment that proves why Fletcher is a big leaguer. Nonetheless, this is an excellent pickup by U1.

Video as follows: