Saturday, November 24, 2018

ABL Ejections - Geelong-Korea's Dirty Slide Allegation

Dirty slide? Australian Baseball League HP Umpire Michael Lyons ejected Geelong-Korea Manager Dae-Sung Koo and 3B Umpire Stewart Howe ejected pitcher Jin-Woo Kim (interference no call; QOCY) in the top of the 2nd inning of Saturday's Heat-Korea game. With two out and the bases loaded, Perth Heat batter Chris Betts hit a ground ball to Geelong-Korea right fielder Kwang-Min Kwon, who threw to catcher Sun-Gu Han, to shortstop Hwi-Yeon Park as batter-runner Betts slid into second base, resulting in a collision with the shortstop, who failed to catch the ball, ruled legal by 3B Umpire Howe, as Betts continued to advance, winding up at third base on the play, ruled a missed catch error at shortstop. Replays indicate Betts did not appear to intentionally interfere with a thrown ball (OBR 6.01(a)(10)), the throw appeared to sail into the runner, and, because no potential for a double play existed in regard to the play at second base, the bona fide slide rule interference provision (6.01(j)) does not apply, the call was correct.* At the time of the ejections, the Heat were leading, 5-0. The Heat ultimately won the contest, 15-2, in seven innings.

Betts runs past the injured Geelong-Korea SS.
*OBR 6.01(a)(10) states, "It is interference by a batter or a runner when—He fails to avoid a fielder who is attempting to field a batted ball, or intentionally interferes with a thrown ball."
*OBR 6.01(j) does not apply ("for the purpose of breaking up a double play" is a chief criterion). Nonetheless, if 6.01(j) was applicable, the rule requires that a runner "begins his slide (i.e., makes contact with the ground) before reaching the base" and that "interference shall not be called where a runner’s contact with the fielder was caused by the fielder being positioned in (or moving into) the runner’s legal pathway to the base." The question for the umpire would then rest with whether the runner's slide was in front of the base and contact occurred due to the fielder's position in front of the base.

The runner's right leg is on the ground.
OBR 6.01(j) also states, "a slide shall not be a 'bona fide slide' if a runner engages in a 'roll block,' or intentionally initiates (or attempts to initiate) contact with the fielder by elevating and kicking his leg above the fielder’s knee or throwing his arm or his upper body." So, again, assuming this had been potential double play situation, the question is whether the runner intentionally elevated and kicked his leg above the fielder's knee. Naturally, with the fielder's knee on the ground and in front of the base, any contact would naturally be a kick above the knee. Thus, the question is whether the runner's action was 1) intentional and 2) elevated. From this video clip, though the slide looks late and high, I believe the runner would have contacted the ground at, but not necessarily in front of, the base; nonetheless, the contact would not have occurred (in this fashion) had the fielder not blocked the base.

SIDEBAR: Whose Right is it Anyway? This wasn't a collision during an attempt to field a batted ball (it was a thrown ball), so the right-of-way here belongs to the runner. There is no obstruction here (if there was, note that it would be type A--play being made on the runner...dead ball award, etc.), because the runner was not impeded in his attempt to run the bases (he successfully advanced to second, and then third, on this play).

Pitcher Jim-Woo Kim also was ejected.
Accordingly, had there been a potential double play that would have made 6.01(j) relevant, I would have had no interference (QOC for the umpires' INT no-call = Correct) simply because the fielder's act in blocking the runner's pathway to the base, which was necessitated by the throw into the runner, prevented further judgment relative to the runner's slide legality, since the slide was interrupted prior to the base...lest we forget, the fielder did not have the ball (and, anyhow, the fielder's positioning likely would have precluded his realistic opportunity to turn a double play, had there been a trailing runner; the throw could have ended up retiring the sliding runner, but would be very unlikely to afford a realistic opportunity to make a play on a runner at a different base).

Gil's Call: Notwithstanding the legality of the slide in front of the base in the runner's sliding lane such that no elevated kick would have occurred had the fielder stood at or behind the base, I'd expect the League to issue a Heads Up alert for these two teams in the future for a potentially intentional retaliatory hit-by-pitch on this runner's return to the batter's box, if such an officiating warning program exists in the ABL.

Wrap: Perth Heat vs. Geelong-Korea (Australian Baseball League), 11/24/18 | Video as follows:

Friday, November 23, 2018

2018 Rules Summit - Results

The following are results of the 2018 UEFL Rules Summit. Based on your votes this year, no rules will be changed for the 2019 Umpire Ejection Fantasy League season. Appeals Board re-election results are also posted.

Items that passed (indicated in green highlight had there been any) would have become rules for the 2019 UEFL season. Text of items which did not pass (all of them) are indicated in red highlight. Successful Appeals Board re-elections are indicated in green.

Rule 1 - Selection of Umpires
Prop 1-2: Addition of Drafted Crew Chief - 38.9% YES.
> Would have added one crew chief to the draft.

Prop 1-6: Addition of Drafted AAA Umpire - 49.1% YES.
> Would have added one fill-in draft pick.

Rule 3 - Crew Chief Division
Prop 3-3: Penalty for Incorrect Ejection - 41.8% YES.
> Would have deducted one point for each incorrect crew ejection.

Rule 4 - League Scoring
Prop 4-8: Ball/Strike Accuracy - 49.1% YES [32.7% for 98+ anytime, 9.1% for 98+ postseason...].
> Would have awarded one bonus point for each plate performance score above a certain percentage.

Prop 4-9: Reason for Ejection Points - 16.1% YES.
> Would have based points on reason for ejection + QOC.

Rule 6 - Challenges and Appeals
Prop 6-2-b-5a: Throwing At QOC - 39.3% YES.
> Would have applied QOCY/N to Throwing At ejections.

Prop 6-2-b-5b: Elimination of Irrecusability - 25.0% YES.
> Would have required all ejections to be QOCY/N.

Prop 6-3: Scott Rule Pitch Location QOC - 40.4% YES.
> Would have deemed dual borderline pitches (with both horizontal & vertical values of borderline) as BALL based on "expected call."

Prop 6-4: Appeals Board Composition - 33.3% YES.
> Would have expanded the UEFL Appeals Board from nine to 11 members.

Rule 8 - Umpire Odds & Ends and Community Issues
Prop 8-1: Require Registration - 44.4% YES.
> Would have required DISQUS commenting platform registration, disabling guest comments.

UEFL Appeals Board
Prop-A: Permanent Appointment - 38.5% YES.
> Would have allowed at-large Appeals Board members to be considered for permanent appointment.

At Large Re-Elections (The following at-large members sought re-election to the Board)
Arik G: 78.0% YES [46.3% for 2019 + 31.7% for permanent appointment].
cyclone14: 79.5% YES [46.2% for 2019 + 33.3% for permanent appointment].
jvick2017: 74.4% YES [43.6% for 2019 + 30.8% for permanent appointment].
MarkCanada: 83.7% YES [44.2% for 2019 + 39.5% for permanent appointment].
MLBUmpireObserver: 92.8% YES [47.6% for 2019 + 45.2% for permanent appointment].

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Teaser - Plate Meeting Podcast 7 - Gary Darling

To celebrate the spirit of Thanksgiving, we're chatting with 26-year MLB umpire and UMPS CARE Charities President Gary Darling about baseball, charity, and more—and we'll be releasing daily snippets or teasers for Episode 7 of the Plate Meeting Podcast on our social media accounts from now until the episode's release date on Monday, November 26, 2018.

We begin with a pre-Thanksgiving feast, in reverse, kind of, with Gary's infamous gum spitting ejection of Red Sox Manager Bobby Valentine on May 18, 2012.

To subscribe to The Plate Meeting, visit our page, which offers external links to popular podcast providers, such as Apple Podcasts/iTunes, Spotify, Radio Public, and, coming soon, Google Podcasts.

And be sure to follow us on Twitter 🐦 (@UmpireEjections) and like on Facebook 👍 (/UmpireEjections) to make sure you get all the latest UEFL info and baseball news, and to grab all of our teasers for Episode 7 over the Thanksgiving weekend.

Video as follows:

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Retro Teachable - Chuck & Phil's Check Swing Bunt

When tmac announced some retro teachable moments late this season, he had no idea there were so many plays our audience wanted to see discussed. Without further ado, let's take a look at this play from a 1979 Braves-Pirates game, as viewed through the 2018 prism.

Chuck Tanner's ejection is today's Teachable.
Umpiring Differences, 20th Century vs Modern Era: It wasn't all that long ago that if we missed a call, we ate the decision, but that idea just doesn't hold water today. We must get the call right or at least attempt as best we can. Here, we have a pretty basic situation. Pitcher up to bat, runners on 1st and 2nd, one out, so we know in all likelihood we have a bunt situation.

The Play: With R1 and R2, and a 0-0 count, the batter squares to bunt and then swings and misses in self defense as the ball hits his shoulder. Should he be awarded first base or charged a strike in this situation?

Corner Umpire Thoughts: At this point, what are you thinking as a base umpire? If it's not, "Oh boy we better get the call right," then we have a big problem. Whether or not the batter fouled the pitch off or hacked and missed is irrelevant as either way the swinging batter will be up with an 0-1 count and runners will return to their bases from the 0-0 pitch.

Braves batter Phil Niekro swings at a pitch.
How to Handle: Here's the way this needs to be handled now: umpires should confer before the dugouts are burned to the ground. Everyone in the yard (who knows the rules) will tell you this is a strike—swinging, foul, dead ball doesn't's strike one either way. So if you say to the offended manager, "Hey Chuck, go back to your dugout we'll get it right," odds are you won't have a six-minute riot on your hands. Also, when the other manager comes out (which is not a guarantee, even if it's Bobby Cox) you can explain, "by rule we can't give him first base because he swung at the pitch."

We'd ideally like to see all umpires involved.
A Crew's Ego: I was recently asked "What happens when the calling umpire refuses to change his call even though everyone in the ballpark knows it was the wrong call?" The answer is simple:  "Get the call right."  If you are the guy that never makes a mistake and can't handle being overruled on a play like this, baseball umpiring is no longer for you. It's no longer about pride or ego, but rather in doing what is right and just. Coaches can't wait to throw umpires under the bus and if both coaches tell an assignor or supervisor the call was missed, who is going to look like a goat?

Simultaneous arguments are unwise.
Support and Communication: So let's say we have a brain freeze and don't tell our partner he's not enforcing a swing rule properly. Maybe we all didn't see it. What next? Well we certainly don't allow our partner to get swarmed by the right fielder and four other players. Our goal here is to allow a one on one conversation with the calling umpire and the manager. Once that happens, when we get together, we need to get together with ALL members of our crew. Maybe the guy furthest away saw something or knows the rule. At about the six-minute mark, you get the impression that the third base umpire told the manager that he saw a swing. When the manager tells this to the plate umpire the plate umpire says, "it's my call" and the manager loses his mind and, well, you can watch the video. It appears that the third base umpire tries to give help by running to the plate man and is denied by the HP umpire.

Limit the argument by halting, not resuming.
Restoring Order: So what happens when the ejected parties refuse to leave the dugout. There's no need to go over and yell, but you can't restart the game. This is a fascinating part of baseball. If you delay the game for a minute or two because the player ejected hasn't left, watch what the other team will do.* They will help you by guilting the person to leave. Heck, sometimes even his own team will tell him to leave.

Forfeit, Anyone? And if not, we refer to Rule 7.03(a)(6), which states an ejected person must obey an umpire's order "within a reasonable time." The longer the person disobeys, the worse it looks for them and the better for the officiating crew because as time goes on in this standoff, the original call matters less and less, compared to the gross disrespect shown by the ejected personnel.
Related PostABL - Korea Pulls Team off Field After Manager Ejection (11/16/18).

For the record, here are the ejections: Pirates Manager Chuck Tanner by HP Umpire Hank Rountree, Pirates Coach Joe Lonnett by 3B Umpire Ed Norris.

*The Pirates protested the game after this play, claiming Niekro swung at the pitch such that the rule was misinterpreted. After the inning, with Lonnett still in the dugout, Braves skipper Bobby Cox protested the game for the umpire's failure to enforce the expulsion of Lonnett.

Conclusion: What have we learned here? Know the rules. Prevent situations from turning ugly by getting the call right and if you can do it in a timely manner, even better. Don't eject someone and leave him in the dugout. As always, have fun out there and Happy Umpiring.

Wrap: Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Atlanta Braves, 5/9/79 | Video as follows:

Sunday, November 18, 2018

2018 UEFL Rules Summit Ballot and Voting

Voting is now open for the 2018 UEFL Rules Summit. Visit the Discussion thread for a detailed look at the various proposals and items up for consideration in this year's ballot.

Each measure up for vote is listed in the following ballot, including descriptions. Upon Commissioner approval, all proposals receiving a majority of votes, or a plurality where appropriate pursuant to Rule 8-3, will become rules for the 2019 UEFL season. Each at-large Appeals Board member receiving a majority of votes cast in the affirmative shall be re-elected to next year's UEFL Appeals Board.

The Rules Summit ballot will close Wednesday, November 21, at 11:59 pm PT. A run-off ballot and/or election, if necessary, will follow.

The 2018 Rule Summit includes 11 Rules proposals, and five Appeals Board retention polls. You may vote in as many or as few polls as you wish, but only may submit one ballot. We will review voting records to determine ballot authenticity and adjust the record appropriately to account for suspicious or fraudulent activity or conduct, pursuant to the framework and procedure delineated by UEFL Rule 4-4-j. Click "read more" to access the ballot.