Friday, September 7, 2018

MLB Ejections 150-151 - Doug Eddings (3-4; ATL x2)

HP Umpire Doug Eddings ejected Braves CF Ender Inciarte (check swing strike two call by 3B Umpire Mark Ripperger; QOCY) in the top of the 4th and Hitting Coach Kevin Seitzer (strike three call; QOCY) in the top of the 8th inning of the Braves-Diamondbacks game. In the 4th, with two out and one on (R1), Inciarte attempted to check his swing on a 2-1 fastball from Diamondbacks pitcher Patrick Corbin, ruled a swinging strike on appeal to 3B Umpire Ripperger. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer half of home plate and at the midpoint (px -.289, pz 3.503 [sz_top 3.320 / RAD 3.443 / MOE 3.526]), which renders the strike call correct pursuant to UEFL Rule 6-2-b-6-a.* At the time of Inciarte's ejection, the Diamondbacks were leading, 4-1.

In the 8th, with one out and the bases loaded, Braves batter Adam Duvall took a 1-2 curveball from Diamondbacks pitcher Brad Ziegler for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the inner half of home plate and above the hollow of the knee (px -.613, pz 1.769 [sz_bot 1.56]), the call was correct. At the time of Seitzer's ejection, the Diamondbacks were leading, 4-3. The Diamondbacks ultimately won the contest, 5-3.

These are Doug Eddings (88)'s third and fourth ejection of 2018.
Doug Eddings now has 10 pts in the UEFL Standings (3 Prev + 2*[2 MLB] + 1 QOCY-C + 2 QOCY = 10).
Crew Chief Joe West now has 4 points in Crew Division (2 Previous + 2*[1 Correct Call] = 4).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-6-a states, "Any displayed reasoning for such a call, including a communicated application or interpretation of a rule, shall not affect the determination of Quality of Correctness. Quality of Correctness is governed by the (in)correctness of the call made, not by the quality of reasoning given for such a call." The call here is "strike"; the reasoning is swing vs pitch location.
*The 2-1 pitch to Inciarte was located 0.276 vertical inches from referral to the UEFL Appeals Board.

This is the 150th and 151st ejection report of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is the 72nd player ejection of 2018. Prior to ejection, Inciarte was 0-2 (2 SO) in the contest.
This is Atlanta's 5/6th ejection of 2018, 2nd in the NL East (WAS 8; ATL 6; MIA, NYM 5; PHI 0).
This is Ender Inciarte's first career MLB ejection.
This is Kevin Seitzer's first ejection since July 4, 2014 (Vic Carapazza; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Doug Eddings' 3/4th ejection of 2018, 1st since May 12 (Steven Souza; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Atlanta Braves vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, 9/7/18 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejection 149 - Andy Fletcher (5; Bud Black)

HP Umpire Andy Fletcher ejected Rockies Manager Bud Black (balk call; QOCY) in the top of the 5th inning of the Dodgers-Rockies game. With one out and two on (R1, R2), Rockies pitcher Chris Rusin committed a balk, resulting in awards to the runners of second and third base. Replays indicate Rusin attempted to hold the runners via a false move in contravention of the balk rules prohibiting the illegal actions described in Official Baseball Rule 6.02(a), the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 2-2. The Dodgers ultimately won the contest, 4-2.

This is Andy Fletcher (49)'s fifth ejection of 2018
Andy Fletcher now has 10 points in the UEFL Standings (6 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 10).
Crew Chief Jeff Nelson now has -1 points in Crew Division (-2 Previous + 1 Correct Call = -1).
*OBR 6.02(a)(1) states that is a balk when—"The pitcher, while touching his plate, makes any motion naturally associated with his pitch and fails to make such delivery."
*OBR 6.02(a)(2) states that it is a balk when—"The pitcher, while touching his plate, feints a throw to first or third base and fails to complete the throw."

This is the 149th ejection report of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is the 61st Manager ejection of 2018.
This is Colorado's 5th ejection of 2018, 5th in the NL West (SF 8; ARI, LAD 7; SD 6; COL 5).
This is Bud Black's 2nd ejection of 2018, 1st since June 18 (Bill Welke; QOC = Y [Out of Base Path]).
This is Andy Fletcher's 5th ejection of 2018, 1st since August 4 (Tucker Barnhart; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Colorado Rockies, 9/7/18 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejections 147-148 - Adam Hamari (5-6; SF x2)

HP Umpire Adam Hamari ejected Giants C Nick Hundley and Manager Bruce Bochy (strike three call; QOCY) in the top of the 9th inning of the Giants-Brewers game. With one out and none on, Giants batter Nick Hundley took three consecutive pitches from Brewers pitcher Jeremy Jeffress for called first, second, and third strikes. Replays indicate all pitches were properly officiated and, of the three, the pitch farthest away from the center of the strike zone was the final pitch of the at-bat (called third strike), located over the outer half of home plate and above the hollow of the knee (px .193, pz 1.588 [sz_bot 1.540]), the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Brewers were leading, 4-2. The Brewers ultimately won the contest, 4-2.

This is Adam Hamari (78)'s fifth ejection of 2018.
Adam Hamari now has 9 points in the UEFL Standings (1 Prev + 2*[2 MLB + 2 Correct Call] = 9).
Crew Chief Tom Hallion now has -6 points in Crew Division (-8 Previous + 2*[1 Correct Call] = -6).
*The 0-2 pitch was located 3.048 vertical inches from being deemed an incorrect call.
^Add another nickel to the broadcaster Ham-ARE-ee pronunciation jar.^

This is the 147th and 148th ejection report of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is the 71st player ejection of 2018. Prior to ejection, Hundley was 1-4 (2 SO) in the contest.
This is the 60th Manager ejection of 2018.
This is San Francisco's 7/8th ejection of 2018, 1st in the NL West (SF 8; ARI, LAD 7; SD 6; COL 4).
This is Nick Hundley's 2nd ejection of 2018, 1st since August 14 (Eric Cooper; QOC = U [Fighting]).
This is Bruce Bochy's 2nd ejection of 2018, 1st since May 17 (Chris Segal; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Adam Hamari's 5th ejection of 2018, 1st since August 12 (Tyler Webb; QOC = U [Throwing At]).

Wrap: San Francisco Giants vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 9/7/18 | Video as follows:

Injury Scout - Foul Ball Prompts O'Nora's Early Exit

Brian O'Nora left Friday's Astros-Red Sox game following a deflected foul ball to the facemask.

In the top of the 2nd inning, Astros batter Josh Reddick fouled a 2-1, 93.2-mph fastball from Red Sox pitcher David Price, deflected by catcher Sandy Leon, into O'Nora's traditional-style facemask.

O'Nora remained in the game until the conclusion of the half-inning upon which time he was replaced by home plate by James Hoye, with David Rackley (1B) and Quinn Wolcott (3B) on the lines.

Relevant Injury History: O'Nora left a September 18, 2016 game in San Francisco after a foul ball-to-mask event, resulting in a reported concussion.

Last Game: September 7 | Return to Play: September 25 | Time Absent: 17 Days | Video as follows:

Thursday, September 6, 2018

MLB Ejections 145-146 - Mark Ripperger (3-4; ARI x2)

HP Umpire Mark Ripperger ejected Braves Manager Brian Snitker (ball three call; QOCY) in the bottom of the 6th and Diamondbacks RF Steven Souza Jr. (strike three call; QOCY) in the bottom of the 8th inning of the Braves-Diamondbacks game. In the 6th, with one out and one on (R1), Diamondbacks batter Souza took a 2-2 fastball from Braves pitcher Shane Carle for a called third ball before walking on an ensuing pitch. Replays indicate the 2-2 pitch was located off the outer edge of home plate and thigh-high (px .838, pz 2.371) and that all pitches during the at-bat were properly officiated, the call was correct.* At the time of Snitker's ejection, the Braves were leading, 5-3.

In the 8th, Souza took a 1-2 sinker from Braves pitcher Jonny Venters for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the heart of home plate and at the hollow of the knee (px .099, pz 1.486 [sz_bot 1.630 / RAD 1.507 / MOE 1.424]) and that all other pitches during the at-bat were properly officiated, the call was correct.^ At the time of Souza's ejection, the Braves were leading, 5-4. The Braves ultimately won the contest, 7-6, in 10 innings.

These are Mark Ripperger (90)'s third and fourth ejections of 2018.
Mark Ripperger now has 15 points in the UEFL Standings (7 Prev + 2*[2 MLB + 2 Correct] = 15).
Crew Chief Joe West now has 2 points in Crew Division (0 Previous + 2*[1 Correct Call] = 2).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
The 2-2 pitch (6th inning) was located .912 horizontal inches from being deemed an incorrect call.
^The 1-2 pitch (8th inning) was located .744 vertical inches from being deemed an incorrect call.

This is the 145th and 146th ejection report of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is the 59th Manager ejection of 2018.
This is the 71st player ejection of 2018. Prior to ejection, Souza was 0-2 (2 SO) in the contest.
This is Atlanta's 4th ejection of 2018, 4th in the NL East (WAS 8; MIA, NYM 5; ATL 4; PHI 0).
This is Arizona's 7th ejection of 2018, T-1st in the NL West (ARI, LAD 7; SD, SF 6; COL 4).
This is Brian Snitker's 4th ejection of 2018, 1st since August 15 (Paul Nauert; QOC = U [Fighting]).
This is Steven Souza Jr.'s 2nd ejection of 2018, 1st since May 12 (Doug Eddings; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Mark Ripperger's 3rd ejection of 2018, 1st since May 28 (Mike Scioscia; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Atlanta Braves vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, 9/6/18 | Video as follows:

Critique - ESPN's Triple-A Rant Was Over Full-Time MLBU

This edition of Commentary Critique is a fact check. During ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball, broadcasters claimed MLB assigned too many minor league umpires to big time games. Problem: The ump referenced is a full-timer.

Stu Scheurwater is a staff umpire for MLB.
The Claim: With Stu Scheurwater behind the plate for Sunday's Angels-Astros game, ESPN play-by-play voice Matt Vasgersian and color commenter Alex Rodriguez took aim at the umpiring crew (what else is knew), and particularly the home plate umpire, criticizing the league for assigning two minor league umpires to a pennant chase game (for Houston, that is).

Said Vasgersian during the game's top of the 4th inning:
It is a pair—not just one, but two Triple-A umpires on this crew this weekend, one at third and then Stu Scheurwater at the plate is also a Triple-A umpire. That's Ramon De Jesus at third...Am I nuts for suggesting that in a meaningful game in September —Astros have just a two-game lead in the division—I think it's exceedingly rare to have two backup umpires working a September game with pennant implications.
Added Rodriguez:
Gary Cederstrom, the crew chief at first to see him in a big game behind the plate, one of the best umpires in baseball. To have two youngsters—uh, it's a lot with a game with such recourse.
Fact Check: FALSE. As we first reported in December 2017, and later confirmed in February 2018, contrary to Vasgersian's repeated criticism, Scheurwater is a full-time, MLBUA-member umpire.

Corollary Fact Check, K-Zone: What's worse, Scheurwater's ball four call, which jumpstarted Vasgersian's remarks about Triple-A umpires, received a QOC of Correct.

Even 3D K-Zone doesn't paint the entire picture.
When Vasgersian said, "Not that we have any skin in the game... you kind of want to see the game called the right way. I don't get it," he relied on ESPN K-Zone in making a determination on Scheurwater's ball four call.

Too bad 3D K-Zone is misleading, just like 2D K-Zone.

Math: Angels batter Eric Young Jr.'s bottom of the strike zone, as measured by sz_bot, was 1.763 during this pitch, while Cole's pitch height (pz) was 1.737. Accordingly, had an ejection occurred, Scheurwater's call would be deemed correct because pz was less than sz_bot. And that's before MOE.

Conclusion: The computerized strike zone box, whether 2D or 3D, is still not a pitch calling panacea.
Related PostAnalyzing Strike Zone Analysis - Not So Easy or Simple (10/27/16).

Cederstrom crew schedule, 8/26 - 9/3.
A-Rod as Umpire Scheduler: Furthermore, to address Rodriguez's remarks, the Angels-Astros series was a four-game set with Sunday's game the series finale; accordingly, Cederstrom had the plate for the first game of the series on August 30.

Generally speaking (and it might be a CBA issue, too), umpires won't work the plate twice in less than a four-game span (in-game injuries and other events can lead to a one-off situation where an umpire works the plate more frequently), and, furthermore, the only series to feature plate duplicates was, generally, the best-of-seven League Championship Series and World Series up until just a few seasons ago, when MLB integrated the Replay Official into a seven-umpire crew, thus eliminating the former two-plates-per-LCS/WS rotation schedule.

Even so, the Cederstrom crew's series prior to Angels-Astros was Mets-Cubs; like the Astros, the Cubs are similarly competing for a postseason berth...the Cederstrom crew's schedule pertaining to plate work from August 26 through early September is attached; the crew was off the field the week beginning 9/3.

History: Though Scheurwater was a minor league fill-in umpire through 2017, he had 253 games of Major League experience heading into 2018, following his 2014 debut in Los Angeles. De Jesus, who is on the fill-in slate, had similarly officiated over 200 games at the big league level as of the 2018 All-Star Break.
Related PostFuture MLB Hiring Outlook at the 2018 Break (7/16/18).
Related PostSource - Stu Scheurwater Hired to Full-Time MLB Staff (12/23/17).
Related PostMajor League Umpiring Debut: Stu Scheurwater (85) (4/25/14).

Gil's Call - Philosophical Question: How might one hope to get young umpires big league experience without putting them behind the plate during a game with, per Vasgersian, "pennant implications"?

Or, perhaps it might be wise to start with the correct information about which umpire holds which employment status before suggesting how MLB assign its umpires, or to understand why Umpire X is at first base instead of behind the plate before criticizing base assignments within the crew.

Video as follows:

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

MLB Ejection 144 - Marty Foster (3; Dale Sveum)

HP Umpire Marty Foster ejected Royals Bench Coach Dale Sveum (balls/strikes; QOCY) in the bottom of the 4th inning of the Royals-Indians game. With none out and none on, Indians batter Melky Cabrera doubled off Royals pitcher Brad Keller, Jason Kipnis lined out, Yan Gomes struck out swinging, and Greg Allen grounded out. Replays indicate of the six callable pitches thrown during the inning, five were officiated correctly (the 0-0 pitch to Kipnis ruled a ball was located in the strike zone; Kipnis lined out on the next pitch), the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 1-1. The Indians ultimately won the contest, 3-1.

This is Marty Foster (60)'s third ejection of 2018.
Marty Foster now has -1 points in the UEFL Standings (-5 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = -1).
Crew Chief Joe West now has 0 points in Crew Division (-1 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 0).
*See UEFL Rule 6-5-d concerning the Balls/Strikes Exemption.

This is the 144th ejection report of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is Kansas City's 7th ejection of 2018, T-1st in the AL Central (CWS, KC 7; MIN 6; DET 4; CLE 1).
This is Dale Sveum's 2nd ejection of 2018, 1st since August 24 (Ramon De Jesus; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Marty Foster's 3rd ejection of 2018, 1st since April 7 (Dave Martinez; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Kansas City Royals vs. Cleveland Indians, 9/5/18 | Video as follows:

Replay Rewind - Hollywood Magic at Dodger Stadium

Something about Dodger Stadium's Hollywood magic fooled LA's video replay coordinator on Monday for the second time this season. With the Mets in Los Angeles, a Todd Frazier non-catch and Alex Verdugo legal failure to touch a base are our two featured non-reviews in today's edition of Replay Rewind.

Frazier may not have actually caught the ball.
Play #1 (Frazier's Sleight of Hand): In the 2nd inning of Monday's Mets-Dodgers game, Mets infielder Todd Frazier ranged to his right in pursuit of a foul fly ball off the bat of Dodgers hitter Alex Verdugo, leaping into the stands along the short wall in foul territory and appearing to complete a remarkable catch for the third out of the inning, called as such by 3B Umpire Mark Wegner.

Analysis #1: As SNY's own investigation discovered, however, Frazier, in crashing into the stands, had knocked a second baseball-like sphere out of a fan's bag and onto the ground, where Frazier's quick sleight of hand was good enough to fool not just Wegner, but the Dodgers as well, who failed to challenge the play (it was both an issue of catch in the outfield and a boundary call).

Mike DiMuro calls an out in 2012.
Related: We all remember when 3B Umpire Mike DiMuro ejected Indians player Jack Hannahan after he ruled Hannahan out on a fly ball to Yankees left fielder Dewayne Wise, who jumped into the stands and feigned a catch, all while a fan nearby held up the game ball as DiMuro held up his fist. After the game, DiMuro conceded that the ball was dropped and said, "In hindsight, I should have asked [Wise] to show me the ball since he fell into the stands and out of my line of vision."
Related PostEjection 078: Mike DiMuro (2) (6/12/18).

As for Wegner, the old switcheroo would have made even this "show me the ball" approach susceptible to error, lest we ask our umpires to now ask to examine the ball to make sure it's the genuine article after each highlight-reel grab.

As it stands, in magic terminology, magician Frazier successfully completed his sleight of hand through a crash-filled misdirection that drew everyone's attention away from the actual game ball.

As Penn & Teller: Fool Us would say, Todd Frazier is a Fooler.

The runner has missed his physical base touch.
Play #2 (Verdugo's Missed Base; NYM's Missed Appeal) : With the Mets leading 4-1 in the bottom of the 9th inning, Dodgers batter Alex Verdugo kick-started a potential comeback with a single up the middle. With Verdugo at first base, ensuing batter Cody Bellinger hit a line drive down the first base line, ruled foul by 1B Umpire Ryan Blakney. Upon Replay Review, the call was reversed to a fair ball, with Verdugo placed at third and Bellinger at first.

Analysis #2: Though the main points of contention here are whether the line drive landed at or past Blakney's position (it did; had it not, the play would not have been eligible for review) and whether batter Bellinger should have been awarded a double or single (because the bounding ball appeared to carom directly to the right fielder, the batter-runner was held at first base), this analysis has absolutely nothing to do with either of those issues.

Instead, we look at an innocuous baserunning quirk that came into being thanks in part to a humorous play from a 2012 overturned replay call.

When Wegner removed the headsets and signaled the baserunning awards, Verdugo and Bellinger were gathered together at first base, but shortly thereafter, Verdugo cut across the diamond without touching second base.

Although Rule 5.06(b)(4)(I) Comment states:
The fact a runner is awarded a base or bases without liability to be put out does not relieve him of the responsibility to touch the base he is awarded and all intervening bases. For example: Batter hits a ground ball which an infielder throws into the stands but the batter-runner missed first base. He may be called out on appeal for missing first base after the ball is put in play even though he was 'awarded' second base.
And 5.09(c)(2) continues: "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," with 5.06(b)(1)'s "In advancing, a runner shall touch first, second, third and home base in order"), the Mets didn't bother appealing Verdugo's clear miss of second. What would have precluded the Mets from appealing this play?

Morse's "HR" complied with touch rules.
Runner Legally Allowed to Skip Over Base: It turns out that when a runner is awarded a base via replay, the Replay Official's placement of the runner carries with it a legal touch of any intermediary bases (in this case, second), such that Verdugo is assumed to have legally touched second base en route to third, because the Replay Official determined that he would have achieved third base had the original ruling been proper.

According to a credible source with knowledge, the runner's requirement to physically touch bases during the dead ball period after a replay decision was eliminated after a bit of fun six years ago involving the Washington Nationals.

Morse Code: Remember Michael Morse's grand slam in 2012, originally ruled in play and overturned to a home run via (limited) instant replay? There's a reason Jeff Nelson's crew sent Morse back to home plate to mime his four-bagger, with Morse touching every base during the course of his phantom HR trot. It's the same reason that a plate umpire remains on the field during a walk-off home run until the batter touches home plate.

The ball being dead doesn't absolve the runner of legal baserunning responsibility, and at the time, Morse (and all other runners) were required to touch their bases after review.
Related LinkMichael Morse hits a replacement home run with an imaginary ball (WAS)

At some point after the Morse play, however, runners were absolved of their responsibility to touch each intervening base in order after a Replay Review—maybe as a time-saving precaution, or perhaps as an effort to ensure that no runner was put at a disadvantage as the result of an overturned Replay Review decision. If the Replay Official places R1 at third base, R1 can go directly to third without touching second.

As fate would have it, the last missed base (that was, in fact, a missed appeal as well) occurred at Dodger Stadium earlier this season as Los Angeles failed to appeal Phillies baserunner Maikel Franco's failure to touch home plate as he scored a run on May 31. Unlike the Verdugo play, Franco was required to touch home plate (since this occurred during the play itself and didn't involve the dead ball period during Replay) and the non-appeal proved quite costly for LA, as the Dodgers lost to Philadelphia, 2-1.
Related PostVideo Loss - Failure to Appeal Costs LA Run, Game (5/31/18).
It must be that Hollywood magic in LA.

Conclusion & Gil's Call
: What this all stresses in this modern era of expanded video review is the importance of hiring an observant and inquisitive video coordinator—someone in the clubhouse that is dedicated to reviewing every intricacy of every play. You never know when that missed out or run will come back to bite you.

Just ask the Dodgers vs Philly on May 31.

Then again, you never know when a player will swap out a fake baseball and try to pass it off as... you get the idea.

Sidebar: Didn't that used to be called the old Potato-into-Left-Field trick care of Double-A catcher Dave Bresnahan who, during an Eastern League game, carried a peeled potato with him onto the field and, with a runner on third, threw it wildly down the line, drawing the runner toward home plate, where Bresnahan was waiting to apply a tag.

HP Umpire Scott Potter awarded the runner home for Bresnahan's deception, and the Cleveland Indians organization released Bresnahan the very next day for his travesty of the game antics.

For what it's worth, in terms of Team Success Percentage (TSP), the Dodgers are the 18th-most successful team in MLB when it comes to Replay Review, while the Mets are 20th in the league (Kansas City is 1st, San Francisco 2nd, New York-AL 3rd). In terms of raw number of overturned calls, through September 4, the Dodgers are ranked 19th and the Mets 26th (KC 1st, Cubs 2nd, Yankees 3rd). For more, visit our Replay Review Stats page.
Related LinkMLB Umpire Replay Review Statistics and Sabermetrics.

Who's the best replay coordinator in baseball? That's easy. Kansas City's Billy Duplissea has consistently placed his Royals in the top spot on our Replay Review teams' leaderboard for several years running. As Ned Yost once said, "He's just really, really good."

Video as follows:

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Maddon to Morales - "I Went Too Far...I Was Wrong"

In an interview with 670 The Score, Cubs Manager Joe Maddon expressed remorse at his Labor Day ejection, admitting he "went too far" and intended to apologize to umpire Gabe Morales, who he called "really good."

Chicago's Maddon is ejected in Milwaukee.
Maddon also dismissed an earlier interview Tuesday morning on 670 featuring sportswriter Jon Heyman, who claimed that, "the umpires are not big fans of Joe Maddon. I don't know if that's out there or not, but that's the truth...they're not too thrilled with him, generally speaking."

In the hours after Heyman's striking statements, online articles began to spread with headlines such as "MLB umpires apparently hate Joe Maddon" and "MLB umpires 'not big fans' of Maddon."

Meanwhile, another article that incorrectly classified the pitch leading to ejection on Monday as a ball called a strike (it was a ball called a ball) hedged Heyman's hypothesis with the phrase, "Maddon reportedly getting a reputation."

The MLB Umpires Association responded to Heyman's allegation with a statement of its own: "MLB Umpires are entrusted with maintaining the integrity of the game. To imply we would hold a grudge against a player or manager is sheer nonsense."

Maddon responded to Heyman's conjecture-as-fact with bemusement: "I'd love to know where Jon got that information from, that's really funny." Maddon went on to say, "I actually have a great relationship with the umpires...I support the umpires as much as anybody." He concluded the interview by stating, "he's a young umpire, I think he's really good and I don't want my diatribe yesterday to impact how he feels about himself. Our game needs good umpires and he could be very good."
Related LinkMaddon's interview with 670 The Score (9/4/18...relevant comments at 4:15).

In 2010, Bob Davidson ejected Joe Maddon in Tampa Bay, and, as we found out in the comments section of The Plate Meeting Episode 1, the ensuing toe-to-toe argument was pretty much for show; in this "game within the game" sense, it might well be possible to support the umpires while having an animated argument with them.
Related PostPlate Meeting Podcast Episode 1 - Bob Davidson (7/17/18).

Maddon also is on the record, most recently, vehemently against the use of electronic ball/strike pitch calling, having previously been a proponent of the computerized strike zone.

And then there are the series of relentless blowups and post-game rants that place Maddon firmly not supportive of the umpires, as he claims.
Related Link: Close Call Sports history for label "Joe Maddon".

Regarding Monday's ejection, Maddon said, "Gabe was supposed to throw me out last night. He did what he was supposed to do," adding that, "I went too far...he was right and I was wrong and I probably should have gotten out of that argument sooner." Maddon said he planned to apologize to Morales personally, and already sent a text message to MLB Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre explaining as much.
Related PostMLB Ejections 142-143 - Gabe Morales (1-2; CHC x2) (9/3/18).

Gil's Call: Somewhere between Heyman's "umpires are not a big fan of Joe Maddon" and Maddon's "I actually have a great relationship with the umpires" lies the truth, as competing claims tend to produce.

But more to the point, this assumes that all umpires are the same (robots, anyone?), with little variability of human emotion or free thought. While there is something to be said about "reputation" and brotherhood amongst the boys in blue (and black), there is a lesson to be learned that can be applied to other levels of baseball, and even other sports.

Maddon & West get along, yet an EJ is an EJ.
Related: Ejection - West (Maddon) (9/16).
That lesson is, perhaps, a teachable moment, that on a crew of two, three, or four, each official has a distinct set of strengths. For instance, one official on the crew may be the rules guru, another might be a premiere balk caller, and another yet might have the best relationships with a specific coach or manager.

In Theory: When it comes to the latter, for instance, an umpire with a stronger relationship with a Maddon-type character, there is no harm in using that official's strength to enhance the entire crew. Although certain actions demand immediate repercussions regardless of whose strength is what (e.g., "Gabe was supposed to throw me out last night"), there's nothing wrong with preventative officiating relative to the potential ticking time bomb managing from the dugout.

In Practice: Got a complicated play that requires crew consultation? Rules ump talks us through it and ump who has rapport with the home manager goes to explain the call to the home team. Obviously, this doesn't mean that the umpire with rapport should intercede in an argument the manager is having with another person on the crew (but this umpire *could* help peel the manager away after an ejection). Work is work and an ejection is an ejection.

All that said, there exists is an interesting cognitive disconnect when Maddon or any manager claims to be supportive of the umpires ("as much as anybody"), only to go on and do to an umpire what he did to Ryan Blakney and Chris Conroy during and after a game in 2017 (and another article after a Blakney plate game he called a "ball zone"), even when hedging it with "the guy is a good guy."
Related PostMLB Ejection 139 - Chris Conroy (3; Joe Maddon) (8/16/17).

So, where in the divide between Heyman and Maddon does the truth line exist? Depends on who you ask.

Tmac's Teachable Moments - Selling the Call

In this edition of Tmac's Teachable Moments, we discuss the very realistic possibility of when things don't go as planned. Without replay and likely umpiring in a 2-man or 3-man umpiring system at best, what happens at our levels when a play isn't straightforward, when it isn't routine?

Today's Teachable is about selling the call.
Well, we follow the advice of Randolph and Mortimer Duke in Trading Places: "Get back in there at once and sell, sell!"

Too often these days, we're seeing umpires on very close plays—ones that quite frankly could go either way—soft selling their calls.  That may work for guys in MLB, but it just doesn't fit with what you need to do to have credibility and believability at the amateur and/or non-replay levels.

Today we take a play from a MLB game last week and flip it into the amateur prism: With a runner on first and two outs, the batter ropes a line drive to the left field wall.

The runner slides sideways into home plate.
It looks like we're going to have a play at the plate when all of a sudden the relay throw is a two-seamer with a lot of run. The catcher slides to the left while the runner, who would usually be sliding in the direction of the back of the plate, makes half of an adjustment and slides sideways.

In the words of Hawk Harrelson, "You've got to be bleeping me."

The catcher tags the lower leg of the runner, but at :52 seconds we get a look at the two big things we can control: our positioning and our mechanic (voice and signal).

Plate umpire Mahrley signals the runner safe.
Our plate umpire here is Nick Mahrley, who does an excellent job in getting to and staying in the place where he believes the tag will come to him off the catcher's right shoulder. Whacker safe mechanics are really tough and Mahrley's is excellently timed and one heck of a sell.

I watched this play upwards of twenty times and can't honestly tell you if the catcher tagged the back leg before the front leg was on the plate, but what I can tell you that if you take this positioning and sell your call then you will be in great shape. In this case I believed what Mahrley was selling.

So, our takeaways here are do your best to get to the best possible view, and when you have a close play, get in there and SELL SELL SELL!! Until next time: Happy Umpiring!!

Video as follows:

Monday, September 3, 2018

MLB Ejections 142-143 - Gabe Morales (1-2; CHC x2)

HP Umpire Gabe Morales ejected Cubs Manager Joe Maddon (ball two call; QOCY) and pitcher Carl Edwards, Jr. (balls/strikes; QOCY) in the bottom of the 8th inning of the Cubs-Brewers game. With two out and the bases loaded, Brewers batter Mike Moustakas took a 1-0 fastball from Edwards for a called second ball. Replays indicate the pitch was located off the inner edge of home plate and waist-high (px 1.311, pz 2.794) and that all pitches during the at-bat were properly officiated, the call was correct. Immediately following Moustakas' ensuing walk on four pitches, Edwards was ejected for arguing balls/strikes. Replays indicate of the 17 callable pitches during the half-inning preceding Edwards' ejection, 16 were properly officiated (16/17, 94.1% accuracy) and the one incorrect ball call was the 0-1 pitch to Jesus Aguilar several batsmen earlier (Aguilar would go on to strike out), the call was correct.* At the time of Maddon's ejection, the Cubs were leading, 3-2. At the time of Edwards' ejection, the game was tied, 3-3. The Brewers ultimately won the contest, 4-3.

These are Gabe Morales (48)'s first and second ejections of 2018.
Gabe Morales now has 8 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Prev + 2*[2 MLB + 2 Correct Call] = 8).
Crew Chief Jerry Meals now has 9 points in Crew Division (7 Previous + 2 Correct Call = 9).
*See UEFL Rule 6-5-d concerning the Balls/Strikes Exemption.

This is the 142nd, 143rd ejection report of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is the 58th Manager ejection of 2018.This is the 69th player ejection of 2018. Prior to ejection, Edwards' line was 0.2 IP, ER, BS.
This is Chicago's 9/10th ejection of 2018, 1st in the NL Central (CHC 10; MIL 5; CIN 3; PIT, STL 2).
This is Joe Maddon's 4th ejection of 2018, 1st since August 14 (Phil Cuzzi; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Carl Edwards, Jr.'s first career MLB ejection.
This is Gabe Morales' first ejection since September 8, 2017 (Lucas Giolito; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 9/3/18 | Video as follows:

MLB Declares Pitcher Cards Legal After West Game

After confiscating Phillies pitcher Austin Davis' scouting report card Saturday night, umpire Joe West invoked foreign substance Rule 6.02(c)(7), concluding that the MLB Commissioner's Office will have to provide guidance on the matter. MLB has now weighed in, and the card is legal.

MLB told its teams that P note cards are legal.
After the game, West told a pool reporter that he saw the card as foreign, invoking 6.02(c)(7) in electing to remove the card from play. West said, " I didn't want to throw him out. I know it's foreign, but he's not trying to cheat."

As we wrote in the aftermath, 6.02(c)(7) proper doesn't allow an umpire to confiscate a foreign substance without also ejecting the offending pitcher: Rule 6.02(d)(1) requires an automatic ejection for violating the Pitching Prohibition rules, which includes 6.02(c)(7) (provision 7 is not eligible for warning).

Instead, West's only recourse would be to interpret the card not as a foreign substance, but as an attachment-type foreign object, as in 6.02(c)(7) Comment, which triggers one of baseball's "don't do that" provisions. By rule, an umpire can order the offending pitcher to remove the attachment, without further penalty other than "don't do that."

Thus, West's only legal maneuver here would be to interpret the card as an attachment under 6.02(c)(7) Comment using elastic 8.01(c) and "don't do that" authority of 8.01(b).
Related PostCarded - Why West Confiscated Pitcher's Cheat Sheet (9/1/18).

MLB Steps In: After the game, West tipped off the Commissioner's Office: "Right now, until the office says it's OK to carry this, he can't do it."

Orel Hershiser has his cheat sheet checked.
Accordingly, MLB alerted both teams and the umpires that, going forward, the note card will be legal, as long as a pitcher's use of the card doesn't delay the game.

Precedent: In 1988, Dodgers pitcher Orel Hershiser brought a similar note card with him onto the mound, but unlike Davis, Hershiser sought out the umpires' permission to use the document during the game, willfully submitting it for inspection. Upon satisfaction that the cheat sheet was not and did not contain an illegal foreign substance, crew chief Doug Harvey allowed Hershier to use the card during his appearance.
Related VideoHershiser has umpires check his cheat sheet during the 1988 World Series.

Why Joe Picked the Booger: Davis isn't the first pitcher across the league to use a scouting report note card, but West is the first umpire to confiscate it. West is MLB's senior-most umpire, he already has the second-most games worked all-time and is going for the record.
Related PostJoe West Passes Froemming for 2nd Most Games Ump'd (8/14/18).

West has less at stake than other umpires.
Gil's Call: This puts West in a unique position: of all the umpires in the league, he has the most clout to stick his nose into an ambiguous rule such as 6.02(c)(7) as old-school baseball—a time when pitchers didn't generally carry anything onto the mound except for a uniform and equipment authorized by rule—gives way to the modern game, when cheat sheets are more commonly used in order to parse the massive amounts of data driven out by statistics-minded front offices.

In Hershiser's day, the card was an exception that could easily be decided on a game-by-game basis because it was not widely used. In the modern era, however, the card is gaining traction throughout the game requiring a standard policy for the sake of consistent enforcement.

A Triple-A call-up umpire likely would never be so bold as to confiscate a pocket-sized note card from a pitcher lest they lose their job as a result (fill-in gigs have been lost for less); a solid young full-timer all the way up to a promising "number two" would similarly stay out of it for fear of losing out on a postseason, or, worse, being denied a promotion to crew chief. A crew chief might stay out of it lest risk losing out on a postseason crew chief assignment.

Umpires like West or senior-most crew chief Gerry Davis (who ejected Adrian Beltre for moving an on-deck circle), however, don't have all that much to lose when diving into such a rabbit hole.
Related PostMLB Ejections 109-110 - Gerry Davis (1-2; Beltre, Banister) (7/26/17).

Younger officials aren't as free to be proactive.
For younger officials, a proactive approach to this kind of thorny issue could prove costly to a career, especially if there's a chance the league won't back them up, as occurred with West and the foreign-but-not-really scouting card.

So senior-most MLB umpire West, whose career and postseason accolades are already well established, takes the note card because he sees it as foreign—just that foreign objects aren't specifically referenced in the rules while foreign substances are, thus West forms his own interpretation of "confiscate but don't eject"—and forces the MLB office to make a decision on an otherwise-unaddressed portion of the rules.

With West, it's just another one of the Cowboy's antics. With a younger official, it'd be a reason to release him from Triple-A or deny that long-awaited promotion to MLBU, #3, #2, or to Crew Chief.

While West comes across as overstepping his bounds, since MLB issued a memo saying the card is legal, his proactive action served a higher purpose, forcing MLB to publicly address an issue that could have proven trickier in the future as time goes on and the cards are used more and more, while making it easier for umpires in the future by clearly establishing what should be done in a similar situation.

Even though MLB all but threw West under the bus for enforcing what he thought was a rule needing to be enforced—a risk West willingly took when he confiscated the card—he's in good company.

Hall of Fame Umpire Dealt With Similar Issue: Longtime National League umpire Al Barlick in 1963 threatened to quit baseball because he and his fellow NL umpires were "fed up with things," namely, that NL President Warren Giles failed to support his umpires when there was a controversy.

HOF Ump Al Barlick faced a similar problem.
In '63, the main issue of contention was the balk rule, with the NL ordering its umpires to crack down on balks. Naturally, this led to a significant increase in balk calls (one memorable game featuring Barlick as the plate umpire saw Cubs baserunner Billy Williams balked all the way home from first base as Milwaukee pitcher Bob Shaw was called for three consecutive balks...Barlick eventually ejected Shaw).

Said Barlick, "We umps have to shoulder too much blame, yet all we do is enforce the rules. We don’t write the rules, just make certain none is violated."

After Barlick went home having threatened to quit, Giles spoke with him and released a statement shortly thereafter: "A misunderstanding has been cleared up. I asked Barlick to spend two or three days with his family. He will rejoin his crew in Chicago on June 21."

He did, and he wound up in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

History Repeats Itself: Likewise, MLB has purportedly cleared up a misunderstanding. According to the Phillies broadcast, MLB legalized the scouting report card, but somehow forgot to inform the umpires of this determination (see video below). Thus, West's action Saturday forced the league to issue its umpires a direction as to the scouting card issue, eliminating ambiguity or confusion that a little piece of paper might cause.

West forced MLB's hand on the card issue.
We've said it before, and it bears repeating: West is a no-nonsense umpire who isn't afraid to get involved, even if it means being accused of over-officiating. Though this riles up fans and rubs some players and teams the wrong way, in this case, the positive outcome is that it forced MLB to take a look and issue a decision on a tweener issue that could have proven problematic had it been left unaddressed in the future.

At least now the standard is clear and umpires can consistently and confidently enforce this rule (card = legal, delay = illegal) without worry that the league office won't support them...until a pitcher actually does delay the game as a result of checking the card, that is—an issue for another time.

Or, as one commenter on the MLB website, probably from Chicago, wrote, "So now I can guarantee that some cheating pitcher (most likely in a red uniform with a bird on it, that plays in Missouri) will have their notes written on the back of a piece of sand paper!"

Video as follows:

Sunday, September 2, 2018

MLB Ejections 140-141 - Alan Porter (3-4; MIN x2)

HP Umpire Alan Porter ejected Twins pitcher Matt Belisle (throwing at Rangers batter Adrian Beltre) in the bottom of the 6th and P Addison Reed (arguing Belisle's ejection/Unsportsmanlike-NEC; QOCU) in the bottom of the 7th inning of the Twins-Rangers game. In the 6th, with one out and one on, Rangers batter Nomar Mazara hit a two-run home run off Twins pitcher Tyler Duffey, resulting in a pitching change upon which Belisle entered the game. Beltre, the first batter Belisle faced, took a 1-1 fastball for a hit-by-pitch. Replays indicate the pitch was located inside and struck Beltre in the upper left arm, the call was irrecusable. At the time of Belisle's ejection, the Rangers were leading, 10-0.

In the 7th, Reed argued Belisle's ejection while walking off the mound after his outing (Unsportsmanlike-NEC), the call was irrecusable. At the time of Reed's ejection, the Rangers were leading, 13-0. The Rangers ultimately won the contest, 18-4.

These are Alan Porter (64)'s third and fourth ejections of 2018.
Alan Porter now has 8 points in the UEFL Standings (4 Prev + 2*[2 MLB + 0 Irrecusable] = 8).
Crew Chief Bill Miller now has -6 points in Crew Division (-8 Previous + 2 Irrecusable Call = -6).

This is the 140th, 141st ejection report of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is the 68th player ejection of 2018. Prior to ejection, Belisle's line was 0.0 IP, ER*, HBP.
This is the 69th player ejection of 2018. Prior to ejection, Reed's line was 1.0 IP, ER.
This is Minnesota's 5/6th ejection of 2018, T-2nd in the AL Central (CWS 7; KC, MIN 6; DET 4; CLE 1).
This is Matt Belisle's first ejection since September 18, 2015 (Dan Bellino; QOC = U [Throwing At]).
This is Addison Reed's first career MLB ejection.
This is Alan Porter's 3/4th ejection of 2018, 1st since May 11 (Matt Kemp; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

*Includes Earned Run as a result of Beltre scoring during Jurickson Profar's subsequent home run.

Wrap: Minnesota Twins vs. Texas Rangers, 9/2/18 | Video as follows:

When Unintentional Interference Turns Intentional

After judging a batted ball hit down the left field line in Texas as fair, 3B Umpire Angel Hernandez ruled intentional interference by a person authorized to be on the playing field (a security guard), awarding the batter second base and capping off a play that began as unintentional interference.

Intentional Interference doesn't require intent.
The Play: With one out and none on, Rangers batter Carlos Tocci hit a line drive past third base and down the left field line, where it bounced off the wall in foul territory before ricocheting off a security guard's stool and ultimately coming to rest lodged between the guard's arm and torso.

The Call: With no one on base to begin the play, the call is quite simple: place Tocci at second base. But what if there was a runner at first base? Would he have scored?

The Rule: Official Baseball Rule 6.01(d) discusses what happens when a live ball comes into contact with a person authorized to be on the playing field. In sum, there are two types of interference that may result with this person: unintentional and intentional.

If the interference is unintentional, the ball remains alive and in play.
If the interference is intentional, the ball is dead & penalties imposed to nullify the act of interference.
U3 Hernandez tracks the ball down the line.

The definitions of unintentional and intentional may seem self-explainatory, but they're not: there is a distinct difference between the English language definitions of these terms and how the Official Baseball Rules treats them.

6.01(d) Comment spells out the OBR standard, and, in what may come as a surprise, actual intent doesn't have all that much to do with it.
The question of intentional or unintentional interference shall be decided on the basis of the person’s action. For example: a bat boy, ball attendant, policeman, etc., who tries to avoid being touched by a thrown or batted ball but still is touched by the ball would be involved in unintentional interference. If, however, he kicks the ball or picks it up or pushes it, that is considered intentional interference, regardless of what his thought may have been.
Analysis: The security guard at Globe Life Park in Arlington began this play trying to avoid being touched by Tocci's batted ball. Though the ball caromed off his stool, he still attempted to avoid being touched, meaning that during this bounce off the stool, the ball was still alive and in play; the interference was unintentional during this time.

The ball then settled into his arm/torso pocket—we've referred to this as an "umpire's glove" in the past when it involved the home plate umpire—and remained out of play as he kept his arm stationary. The difference, obviously, is that the specific rule that covers what happens when a ball lodges in the umpire's paraphernalia is different than the rule about a nonuniform person's interaction with a live ball.
Related PostLodged or Handled - CB Bucknor Cradles Pitched Ball (7/27/18).
Related PostUEFL Case Play 2018-4 - Bicep of Bellino [Solved] (6/1/18).

As the ball settled into the arm/torso pocket, it became dead as the guard is said to have acted upon the ball (as opposed to the other way around), thus constituting intentional interference, even though he clearly did not intend to interfere. The ball falling out of play due to lodging in the arm/torso pocket is the tipping point that makes this intentional interference.

Penalty: Pursuant to 6.01(d), Hernandez and crew awarded the batter-runner the base they felt would nullify the act of interference. Had there been a runner on first, the umpires would have had to consider whether that runner may have scored absent the interference.

Fair play treats the entire action as intentional.
Splitting Hairs: Though the rules book does not differentiate explicitly between whether "nullify the act" applies only to the act of intentional interference during a sequence where both unintentional and intentional interference elements are present (it just says, "If the interference is intentional, the ball shall be dead at the moment of the interference and the umpire shall impose such penalties as in his opinion will nullify the act of interference"), the most logical course of action pursuant to the tenet of common sense and fair play is to treat the entire ball-guard interaction (from stool to arm/torso pocket) as a singular act of intentional interference; there was no protracted time delay from one bounce to the next and both actions occurred, essentially, in one fell swoop.

This is important because it establishes that the various "lodged ball" provisions of the rules do not apply, which means that no specific base award is mandated, compared to the automatic one-base award for a pitched ball lodging in the umpire's paraphernalia. It's also not a ground rule double as the box score indicates...

Conclusion: To simplify matters in the spirit of common sense and fair play, the entire interaction with the ball is treated as one big instance of interference that so happens to be intentional because it ended up with the guard possessing the ball. Batter and runners are placed so as to nullify the act of interference.
Also SeeBall Boy Interference: Judging Intent of Non-Team Persons (4/12/13).

Video as follows: