Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Cubs Drop Maddon's Doomed Judgment Call Protest

Cubs Manager Joe Maddon dropped his protest filed Saturday night concerning Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle's toe-tap delivery. As we wrote at the time, Chicago's protest was doomed to fail, for Maddon's assertion that HP Umpire Sam Holbrook's judgment call that Doolittle's move was not a "second step" toward home plate is not a formally reviewable offense.

Chicago's decision to drop the protest, thus, is a logical outcome meant to preempt an otherwise-inevitable MLB decision that would have denied the club's charge.

Said Maddon, "I still don't agree with the conclusion because I think it's exactly what Carl [Edwards] did, only a different version of it."

The difference, as we illustrated in a comparison of the Doolittle and Edwards deliveries as part of our initial report on the protested game, was that Doolittle's free foot "grazed" the dirt while Edwards definitively stepped with his free foot, stopping his motion, before restarting by picking up that free foot and stepping a second time to deliver the pitch.
Related PostMaddon Protests Game Over Pitcher's Toe-Tap (5/18/19).

The rule upon which Chicago's withdrawn protest was based is 5.07(a), which states: "The pitcher may not take a second step toward home plate with either foot or otherwise reset his pivot foot in his delivery of the pitch. If there is a runner, or runners, on base it is a balk under Rule 6.02(a); if the bases are unoccupied it is an illegal pitch under Rule 6.02(b)."

Said ESPN broadcaster Jessica Mendoza in comparing Edwards and Doolittle's motions: "Look at Carl Edwards, Jr. He clearly steps, places his entire foot down on the ground. This is why he was called for it as being illegal. Then Sean Doolittle last night, it's like he barely nicks the ground. Very different and that's why the umpires did not agree that it was something illegal...what is a step? Clearly Carl Edwards, Jr.—boom—planted: step. Doolittle? I mean he flicks some dirt."

Added Alex Rodriguez: "The way I came up playing the game in the big leagues: any tap is fine, and that's what Doolittle does. If you look at what Edwards does, it's a full-foot plant, and that's not legal."

Video as follows:

Sunday, May 19, 2019

MLB Ejection 058 - Jeremie Rehak (3; Mike Shildt)

HP Umpire Jeremie Rehak ejected Cardinals Manager Mike Shildt (strike three call; QOCN) in the top of the 4th inning of the Cardinals-Rangers game. With none out and none on, Cardinals batter Dexter Fowler took a 3-2 fastball from Rangers pitcher Drew Smyly for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer edge of home plate and below the hollow of the knee (px -0.74, pz 1.43 [sz_bot 1.67 / RAD 1.547 / MOE 1.464]), the call was incorrect.* At the time of the ejection, the Cardinals were leading, 2-1. The Rangers ultimately won the contest, 5-4, in 10 innings.

This is Jeremie Rehak (35)'s second ejection of 2019.
Jeremie Rehak now has -3 points in the UEFL Standings (-1 Prev + 2 AAA - 4 Incorrect Call = -3).
Crew Chief Bill Miller now has 6 points in Crew Division (6 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = 6).
*This pitch was located 0.408 vertical inches from being deemed a correct call.
*Post-game strike zone processing decreased the aforementioned value from 1.368 to 0.408.

This is the 58th ejection report of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 28th Manager ejection of 2019.
This is St. Louis' 2nd ejection of 2019, T-2nd in the NL Central (CIN 7; CHC, MIL, PIT, STL 2).
This is Mike Shildt's first ejection since Sept 25, 2018 (Will Little; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Jeremie Rehak's 3rd ejection of 2019, 1st since April 17 (Justin Bour; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: St. Louis Cardinals vs. Texas Rangers, 5/19/19 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejection 057 - Brian O'Nora (1; Craig Counsell)

HP Umpire Brian O'Nora ejected Brewers Manager Craig Counsell (fair/contact with batter foul ball no call) in the top of the 5th inning of the Brewers-Braves game. With one out and none on, Brewers batter Orlando Arcia hit a 0-1 fastball from Braves pitcher Mike Foltynewicz on the ground toward third base, fielded by third baseman Austin Riley to first baseman Freddie Freeman for a groundout; Milwaukee alleged that the batted ball struck Arcia in the batter's box, which would have rendered the play a foul ball; the fair ball call was upheld following crew consultation. Replays indicate that after making contact with the ground, the batted ball made contact with the instep of Arcia's left foot, the call was incorrect.* At the time of the ejection, the Brewers were leading, 2-1. The Brewers ultimately won the contest, 3-2, in 10 innings.

This is Brian O'Nora (7)'s first ejection of 2019.
Brian O'Nora now has 1 point in the UEFL Standings (3 Prev + 2 MLB - 4 Incorrect Call = 1).
Crew Chief Jeff Kellogg now has 5 points in Crew Division (5 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = 5).
Related PostTmac's Teachable Moments - Let's Fix Replay (1/19/17).

This is the 57th ejection report of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 27th Manager ejection of 2019.
This is Milwaukee's 2nd ejection of 2019, T-2nd in the NL Central (CIN 7; CHC, MIL, PIT 2; STL 1).
This is Craig Counsell's first ejection since Sept 9, 2018 (Tom Hallion; QOC = U [Warnings]).
This is Brian O'Nora's first ejection since April 5, 2018 (Travis Shaw; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Milwaukee Brewers vs. Atlanta Braves, 5/19/19 | Video as follows:

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Maddon Protests Game Over Pitcher's Toe-Tap

Cubs Manager Joe Maddon protested Saturday's Cubs-Nationals game, asserting HP Umpire Sam Holbrook's crew failed to apply Official Baseball Rule 5.07(a) Comment to Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle, alleging that Doolittle took a prohibited second step during his delivery, and that the umpires failed to call an illegal pitch, as in 6.02(b).

Unfortunately for Maddon, this protest is built on shaky ground.

The Play: With one out and none on, Maddon observed that Doolittle, during his delivery, tapped the ground with his free foot before lifting his leg and retouching the ground further down the pitcher's mound as he released the ball.

The Rule: Official Baseball Rule 5.07(a) Comment states, "The pitcher may not take a second step toward home plate with either foot or otherwise reset his pivot foot in his delivery of the pitch. If there is a runner, or runners, on base it is a balk under Rule 6.02(a); if the bases are unoccupied it is an illegal pitch under Rule 6.02(b)."

OBR 5.07(a) outlaws a second step to home.
Precedent: Earlier in the week, on Monday, Crew Chief Fieldin Culbreth initiated a Replay Review/Rules Check in Seattle after HP Umpire DJ Reyburn instructed Mariners pitcher Cory Gearrin not to step twice via a double-tap of his free foot during delivery to home plate.

That game too went to Replay HQ for a Rules Check, upon which Reyburn's instruction prevailed and Gearrin modified his delivery to only take one step with his free foot toward home plate, so as to comply with OBR 5.07(a).
Related PostSEA Replay - Cubby's Pitching Motion Rules Check (3/14/19).


Lentz, Wolf, Holbrook & Iassogna confer.
Saturday's Cubs-Nats Game: Maddon must have been paying attention to Monday's game in Seattle, for he attempted to get Holbrook to enforce the same rule Reyburn addressed in his AL game. Maddon then formally protested Doolittle's first pitch to Cubs batter Kyle Schwarber, ruled a ball by Holbrook.

After Rules Check at Nationals Park, Doolittle's delivery was declared legal and Holbrook signaled the game under protest.

Video Replay: Replays indicate Doolittle's free foot made contact with the mound dirt twice during his delivery.

Analysis: The first item to note is that the pitch Maddon protested from Doolittle to Schwarber was ruled "ball one." Assuming theoretically that Doolittle's delivery violated OBR 5.07(a), the penalty for an illegal pitch with no runners on base is a ball. The outcome of the pitch in question was a ball.

The second item to note is that Maddon, in postgame comments, stated that Holbrook told him, "in our judgment..." and further stated, "I don't know how many he made that were illegal pitches."

Setting aside Maddon's admission that he didn't know how many illegal pitches purportedly occurred, Holbrook responded to Maddon's initial allegation thusly: "He thought he was tapping his foot, which in itself is not illegal, and this all kind of stems from his pitcher being called on something that was a little bit different than what Doolittle was doing. So in our judgment, Doolittle did nothing illegal at all."

Carl Edwards' second step was very obvious.
Holbrook is referring to Cubs pitcher Carl Edwards, who was caught taking a definitive second step toward home plate during delivery in Spring Training and told to stop. In Holbrook's judgment, Doolittle's maneuver did not constitute a second step toward home, as Edwards' motion had.

As we've written many times, judgment calls cannot be protested. If Holbrook and crew judged that Doolittle did not take a violative second step toward home plate in his delivery, that judgment cannot be protested. It may be correct, incorrect, or any variation thereof...but it is not subject to protest and "pitching motion/balk/illegal pitch" is not a reviewable call.

When Would Maddon's Protest Be Valid? Had Holbrook stated that Doolittle took a second step toward home plate, and that "in his judgment" this second step was legal, then Maddon would have a valid basis for protest because the rule clearly states that a second step is illegal. If the umpire acknowledges a second step has occurred, the penalty of illegal pitch (or balk with runners aboard) must be enforced. If the umpire states a second step has not occurred, that is a judgment call not subject to protest.

Gil's Call: As it stands, if Holbrook's contention is that Doolittle did not take a second step toward home plate—in spite of Maddon's toe-tap allegation, which is not a rule in and of itself—is the prevailing piece of the pie and, for this reason, Maddon's protest should be denied.

The only way this protest is affirmed is if Holbrook admits that in his judgment Doolittle took a second step during delivery, for under this scenario, Doolittle's move would be a clear rules violation. Without this precise ruling and admission from the umpires, the protest is dead on arrival.

Video as follows:

Friday, May 17, 2019

MLB Ejection 056 - Andy Fletcher (1; Bruce Bochy)

HP Umpire Andy Fletcher ejected Giants Manager Bruce Bochy (check swing HBP/no attempt to bunt call by 3B Umpire Eric Cooper) in the bottom of the 7th inning of the Giants-Diamondbacks game. With none out and two on (R1, R2), Diamondbacks batter Jarrod Dyson squared to bunt, then moved the bat as he was struck by a 0-0 sinker from Giants pitcher Derek Holland, ruled a ball and HBP [no bunt/no swing] by HP Umpire Fletcher and affirmed as no bunt/no swing on appeal by 3B Umpire Eric Cooper. This play is under review by the UEFL Appeals Board (Check Swing), the call was *PENDING*. At the time of the ejection, the Diamondbacks were leading, 3-0. The Diamondbacks ultimately won the contest, 7-0.

This is Andy Fletcher (49)'s first ejection of 2019.
Andy Fletcher now has X points in the UEFL Standings (0 Prev + 2 MLB + X Call-Crewmate = X).
Crew Chief Joe West now has X points in Crew Division (0 Previous + X Call = X).
Related PostCrew Chief - Twice Changed Bunt HBP & Rule 8.03(c) (5/16/19).
Related PostAsk UEFL - Foul Bunt or Ball Fouled Away? (8/29/18).

This is the 56th ejection report of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 26th Manager ejection of 2019.
This is San Francisco's 4th ejection of 2019, 1st in the NL West (SF 4; SD 2; ARI, COL, LAD 1).
This is Bruce Bochy's 3rd ejection of 2019, 1st since May 1 (Tim Timmons; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Andy Fletcher's first ejection since Sept 20, 2018 (Carlos Gomez; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: San Francisco Giants vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, 5/17/19 | Video as follows:

MiLB Ejections - Dillon Wilson (FSL x2)

As minor league players find new ways to showboat, umpires must be attentive to teams' tendencies to enforce the so-called unwritten rules of baseball. For MiLB Umpire Dillon Wilson, Royce Lewis of Minnesota's Fort Myers Miracle affiliate in Class A-Advanced demonstrated the latest taunt by demonstrating pushups at second base after an early double in what could be interpreted as a play on the traditional "weight room" taunt directed at an opposing player, drawing retaliation from Bradenton Marauders (Pittsburgh affiliate) pitcher Gavin Wallace his next time at bat.

Ejection Report: HP Umpire Dillon Wilson ejected Marauders pitcher Gavin Wallace (throwing at Miracle batter Royce Lewis) and Manager Wyatt Toregas (arguing Wallace's ejection/warnings no-call) and 1B Umpire Ben Fernandez ejected Marauders SS Robbie Glendinning (arguing Wallace's ejection) in the top of the 6th inning of the Miracle-Marauders game. With none out and none on in the top of the 5th, Lewis hit a double to center field, arriving at second base to the tune of pushups on the bag itself. In the top of the 6th, with one out and one on (R1), Lewis took a first-pitch fastball from Wilson for a called first ball. Replays indicate the pitch was thrown behind Lewis and was hip-high, the call was irrecusable. At the time of the ejections, the game was tied, 7-7. The Miracle ultimately won the contest, 13-7.

Rule 6.02(c)(9): "A pitcher shall not—Intentionally Pitch at the Batter. If, in the umpire’s judgment, such a violation occurs, the umpire may elect either to: (A) Expel the pitcher, or the manager and the pitcher, from the game, or (B) may warn the pitcher and the manager of both teams that another such pitch will result in the immediate expulsion of that pitcher (or a replacement) and the manager. If, in the umpire’s judgment, circumstances warrant, both teams may be officially “warned” prior to the game or at any time during the game. (League Presidents may take additional action under authority provided in Rule 8.04.)"

Wrap: Fort Myers Miracle vs. Bradenton Marauders, 5/16/19 | Video as follows:

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Injury Scout - Manny Gonzalez Exits Due to Flu

HP Umpire Manny Gonzalez left Thursday's Cardinals-Braves game in Atlanta in the top of the 5th inning due to the stomach flu, according to the local broadcast.

Following the Braves' bottom of the fourth, Gonzalez left the field as 1B Umpire Jim Wolf exited to change into his plate gear, resulting in a short delay.

2B Umpire Dan Iassogna slid over to the first base position as he and 3B Umpire/Crew Chief Sam Holbrook worked the bases.

Relevant Injury History: N/A

Last Game: May 16 | Return to Play: TBD | Time Absent: TBD | Video as follows:

Crew Chief - Twice Changed Bunt HBP & Rule 8.03(c)

Umpires twice changed a call on a bunt attempt during a Padres-Rockies game as HP Umpire Brian O'Nora's original dead ball strike ruling that Rockies batter Garrett Hampson offered at a pitch that hit him was affirmed by Crew Chief Jeff Kellogg after an initial reversal to a HBP award in a rare application of Rule 8.03(c) and powers granted to the Crew Chief.

Kellogg and O'Nora explain the call to Black.
The Play: With none out and two on (R1, R3), Rockies batter Garrett Hampson squared to bunt a first-pitch fastball from Padres pitcher Eric Lauer. As the pitch rode in on Hampson, the batter made a late decision to move the bat back toward his body as the ball struck his right hand, ruled a dead ball strike by HP Umpire O'Nora.

The First Reversal: After objection from Rockies Manager Bud Black that Hampson had pulled the bat back, O'Nora consulted with 1B Umpire James Hoye, and changed his call, awarding Hampson first base as a result of the ruling that Hampson did not attempt to strike the pitch that hit him.

The Double Negative: This brought Padres Manager Andy Green out of his dugout, this time bringing all four umpires together, upon which Crew Chief Kellogg signaled that O'Nora's initial call of "dead ball strike" shall prevail.

Did Hampson offer at a pitch that hit him?
Analysis, Reversing a Call: In general, no one umpire shall unilaterally overrule another. In practice, this means that if umpires confer about a call made by one particular umpire, then, upon leaving that conference, the calling umpire will generally be the one to signal the reversed call (if indeed the call is reversed).

The relevant rule is 8.02(c): "If a decision is appealed, the umpire making the decision may ask another umpire for information before making a final decision. No umpire shall criticize, seek to reverse or interfere with another umpire’s decision unless asked to do so by the umpire making it." There are limited exceptions to the initiation of a conference, but at the end of it all, the procedure is such that the calling umpire will affirm or reverse his/her own call.

O'Nora speaks with Green after change #1.
Check swings are similar in the sense that a plate umpire who initially calls "ball" can ask the 1B/3B Umpire for assistance. If the corner umpire changes the call to "strike," notice that the plate umpire then will signal "strike."

Analysis, Half Swing Bunt Appeal: We've discussed the unique circumstance of a batter who is struck by a pitch or who fouls a ball off during a bunt attempt. In April 2019, Don Mattingly complained about a crew's HBP decision on such a play, Jim Joyce discussed such an event from his Plate Meeting Podcast, and in August 2018, we wrote an article entirely dedicated to adjudicating whether a batter has attempted to bunt the ball. So that rule is well covered.
Related PostMattingly Rips Umpires After Loss in Miami (4/2/19).
Related PostPodcast - Episode 12 - The Jim Joyce Jubilee (4/2/19).
Related PostAsk UEFL - Foul Bunt or Ball Fouled Away? (8/29/18).

What is absolutely key here is O'Nora's initial ruling that Hampson struck at the ball. Pursuant to OBR 8.02(c) Comment, "The manager or the catcher may request the plate umpire to ask his partner for help on a half swing when the plate umpire calls the pitch a ball, but not when the pitch is called a strike."

Kellogg made sure to apply proper procedure.
As such, O'Nora consulting Hoye for assistance on the matter of whether the batter struck at the ball may be deemed procedurally improper. Cue Green's protest (and failure to follow procedure could be a valid basis for protest) and Kellogg's intervention.

The difference between the Joyce/Hoye play and the Kellogg/O'Nora play is twofold: First, Hoye in Pittsburgh did not definitively signal that the batter struck at the pitch. He called "Time" but made no further signal (O'Nora did definitively signal that the batter struck at the pitch). Second, Joyce/Hoye concerned a foul ball while Kellogg/O'Nora concerned a hit-by-pitch.

Black pointed to U1's strike/attempt call.
Analysis, Reversing a Reversal: The Hampson bunt play is an example of a Crew Chief taking control of an unusual situation. In this case, we have a plate umpire who has called a dead ball strike, ruling that the batter struck at a pitch that touched his hand. Yet we also have a first base umpire who ruled that the batter did not strike at the pitch, thus changing the situation to a hit-by-pitch entitling the batter to first base.

These are conflicting calls by different umpires on a situation not subject to a check swing appeal.

After consultation amongst the entire four-umpire crew, Chief Kellogg thus exited the huddle with a final proclamation, invoking the proper procedure for deciding what to do when two umpires make two different calls on the same play, which is not subject to the allowed half swing appeal exemption, and which is delineated by Rule 8.03(c):
If different decisions should be made on one play by different umpires, the umpire-in-chief shall call all the umpires into consultation, with no manager or player present. After consultation, the umpire-in-chief (unless another umpire may have been designated by the League President) shall determine which decision shall prevail, based on which umpire was in best position and which decision was most likely correct. Play shall proceed as if only the final decision had been made.
Per 8.03(c), CC makes the final call.
SIDEBAR: 8.03(c) is also where the mechanic of having the Crew Chief communicate the Replay Review decision comes into play. In essence, the Crew Chief "determines" that the Replay Official's decision "shall prevail."

The effective difference, again, is that Hoye in Pittsburgh simply signaled the ball becoming dead without a determination as to whether the batter struck at the pitch, before consulting the entire crew to finalize the ruling, while O'Nora in Colorado signaled a strike and spoke with the one member of the crew specifically about whether the batter had struck at the pitch before changing his call from "swinging dead ball strike [missed bunt]" to "HBP [no swing]," upon which the entire crew convened, again, to finalize the ruling.

The other difference, naturally, is that Hoye in Pittsburgh met with his entire four-umpire crew once, whereas O'Nora had two meetings—once with only U1 and a second with the entire crew.

At this time, it was apparent that the two umpires had made conflicting rulings on a play not eligible for a half-swing appeal, necessitating a Crew Chief's prevailing judgment pursuant to 8.03(c), with regard for the half-swing appeal procedure delineated by Rule 8.02(c) Comment.

Video as follows:

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

MLB Ejection 055 - Scott Barry (1; Ian Kinsler)

HP Umpire Scott Barry ejected Padres bench player/2B Ian Kinsler (strike two call; QOCY) in the top of the 5th inning of the Padres-Dodgers game. With one out and none on, Padres batter Ty France took a 0-1 fastball from Dodgers pitcher Kenta Maeda for a called second strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer edge of home plate and knee-high (px 0.837, pz 1.892 [sz_bot 1.56]) and that all other pitches during the at-bat were properly officiated, the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Dodgers were leading, 2-0. The Dodgers ultimately won the contest, 2-0.

This is Scott Barry (87)'s first ejection of 2019.
Scott Barry now has 5 points in the UEFL Standings (1 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 5).
Crew Chief Alfonso Marquez now has 3 points in Crew Division (2 Previous + 1 QOCY = 3).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
*This pitch was located 0.924 horizontal inches from being deemed an incorrect call.

This is the 55th ejection report of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 25th player ejection of 2019. Prior to ejection, Kinsler did not appear in the game.
This is San Diego's 2nd ejection of 2019, 2nd in the NL West (SF 3; SD 2; ARI, COL, LAD 1).
This is Ian Kinsler's first ejection since August 14, 2017 (Angel Hernandez; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Scott Barry's first ejection since May 20, 2017 (Matt Andriese; QOC = U [Throwing At]).

Wrap: San Diego Padres vs. Los Angeles Dodgers, 5/15/19 | Video as follows:

Ask UEFL - HR Replay Stands Due to Parallax

Red Sox batter Michael Chavis' home run over the Green Monster and out of Fenway Park Tuesday night resulted in a "call stands" outcome, upholding 3B Umpire David Rackley's HR call in favor of Boston following a Rockies-requested Replay Review.

We received an Ask the UEFL question about the Replay Official's decision to uphold Rackley's call of "fair ball/HR" all while a camera angle from the stands up along the first baseline suggested the batted ball may have been foul.

What happened here and why did this call stand?

Replay Review lost sight of a high fly ball.
Analysis: This is a perfect example of parallax proving unreliable, if not deceptive. As the attached video analysis demonstrates, the camera angle well to the right of the left field foul line/third baseline extended has a habit of making any batted ball in flight look less fair than the ball actually is (and vice versa for a camera angle from the third-base dugout, paired with a batted ball near the right field line).

To counteract the parallax deception, baseball relies on another law of physics related to vision: if the ball crosses in front of the foul pole, the ball is therefore closer to the viewer than the pole at the point at which it crosses the pole. Ordinarily, for a viewer watching the ball/pole interaction from the playing field (as an umpire or player would), this is a shortcut to say that a ball crossing in front of the pole and leaving the playing field in flight is a fair ball and home run.

Conversely, a ball crossing behind the pole suggests it is farther away from the viewer than the pole at the point of intersection, which would suggest a foul ball.

Parallax proves certain replays unreliable.
Why the Call Stood: For this particular play, Chavis' home run was hit so high in the air that the foul pole frame of reference did not apply to this play, as far as Replay Review was concerned. Because the pole and ball interaction did not appear in any video replay, the Replay Official could not conclusively determine what the ball's location was as it left the playing field (e.g., when it crossed the plane separating the field from the spectator area, as signified by the foul pole).

Due to his angle from the playing field surface up the left field line, 3B Umpire Rackley thus was in the best position of any person to observe the ball as it arrived at the planar edge of the Green Monster, meaning that MLB referred to his on-field ruling of "home run" for lack of evidence to indicate otherwise.
Related PostAsk UEFL - Judging a Fly Ball as Fair or Foul (Video) (7/13/18).

Video as follows:

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

SEA Replay - Cubby's Pitching Motion Rules Check

In the wake of MLB's Carter Capps delivery rule, Chief Fieldin Culbreth's crew initiated a Replay Review Monday in Seattle regarding Mariners relief pitcher Cory Gearrin's motion in the 7th inning, supporting HP Umpire DJ Reyburn's initial assertion of an illegal pitching move as a result of a double-step during Gearrin's motion home.

What was the rule being discussed and was Reyburn's instinct correct?

Gearrin's Illegal Move: During warmups after entering Monday's A's-Mariners game, the right-handed Gearrin demonstrated his usual pitching motion: With his right foot (pivot foot) in contact with the pitcher's plate, Gearrin raised his left leg (free foot) before returning his free foot to the ground, slightly lifting this foot and moving it forward before planting further down the mound, and finally releasing the ball toward home plate.

The second step toward home is illegal.
Rule & Analysis: This is an illegal motion because of Official Baseball Rule 5.07(a) Comment's provision that "The pitcher may not take a second step toward home plate with either foot or otherwise reset his pivot foot in his delivery of the pitch. If there is a runner, or runners, on base it is a balk under Rule 6.02(a); if the bases are unoccupied it is an illegal pitch under Rule 6.02(b)." This rule applies for all pitching deliveries, regardless of whether the pitcher has opted to use Windup Position or to use Set Position.

The rule outlawing a second step toward home plate was added prior to the 2017 season in response to former big league pitcher Carter Capps' unique crow-hop delivery in which he reset his pivot in delivery of the pitch.
Related PostCarter Capps Throws Illegal Pitch, Ejected After Hitting Ump (6/26/17).
Scott Servais disputes the crew's call.

For what it's worth, 6.02(a) simply states that such an illegal pitch is a balk with runners on base, while 6.02(b) states that the penalty for an illegal pitch with the bases unoccupied shall be a ball added to the count.

Preventative Officiating: Thus, Reyburn's instinct was correct—Gearrin's two-step maneuver is illegal and is more severe than a simple "don't do that" instruction; had Gearrin double-tapped his free foot during gameplay, it would have been an illegal pitch.

DJ Reyburn signals for a Replay Review.
Replay Review: After Reyburn informed Gearrin that his motion was illegal, protestation from Seattle brought the umpiring crew of Reyburn, Culbreth, Paul Nauert, and CB Bucknor together, which, after discussion with Mariners Manager Scott Servais, opted to initiate a Crew Chief Review for a rules check relative to OBR 5.07(a) and 6.02(b).

Six minutes? I'm with Dee Gordon (at 3:29).
After a two-and-a-half minute review, New York returned a verdict that confirmed Reyburn's suspicion, and Gearrin subsequently altered his pitching motion such that his free foot remained off the ground until reaching its final landing place, thus satisfying Rule 5.07(a) Comment's requirement that the pitcher not "take a second step toward home plate with either foot."

Total Delay & Pace of Play: The entire process took about six minutes from Reyburn's initial conversation with Gearrin until the resumption of play.

The game then proceeded and concluded without further incident (until Reyburn ejected Athletics Manager Bob Melvin an inning later following a ball four call and game-tying home run).
Related PostMLB Ejection 054 - DJ Reyburn (1; Bob Melvin) (5/13/19).

Video as follows:

Monday, May 13, 2019

MLB Ejection 054 - DJ Reyburn (1; Bob Melvin)

HP Umpire DJ Reyburn ejected Oakland Athletics Manager Bob Melvin (ball four call; QOCN) in the bottom of the 8th inning of the A's-Mariners game. With one out and one on (R2), Mariners batter Edwin Encarnacion took a 3-2 cutter from A's pitcher Lou Trivino for a called fourth ball before a subsequent home run tied the game. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the heart of home plate and at the knee (px 0.13, pz 1.62 [sz_bot 1.57 / MOE 1.653]), the call was incorrect.* At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 4-4. The Mariners ultimately won the contest, 6-5, in 10 innings.

This is DJ Reyburn (17)'s first ejection of 2019.
DJ Reyburn now has -3 points in the UEFL Standings (-1 Prev + 2 MLB - 4 Incorrect Call = -3).
Crew Chief Fieldin Culbreth now has 1 point in Crew Division (1 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = 1).
*MLB uses placeholder values for the vertical strike zone (sz_bot/sz_top) for each batter. These numbers are replaced by observed values after the game, generally in overnight processing. Although sz_bot was not immediately available after the game, UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1's "unless evidence overwhelmingly suggests otherwise" provision has been invoked to adjudicate this call; replays clearly indicate the pitch had requisite height to capture the vertical strike zone.

This is the 54th ejection report of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 25th Manager ejection of 2019.
This is Oakland's 1st ejection of 2019, 3rd in the AL West (LAA, HOU 2; OAK 1; SEA, TEX 0).
This is Bob Melvin's first ejection since September 15, 2018 (Larry Vanover; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is DJ Reyburn's first ejection since Sept 20, 2018 (Bryce Harper; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Oakland Athletics vs. Seattle Mariners, 5/13/19 | Video as follows:

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Greg Gibson Fulfills Goal, Graduates from College

Greg Gibson, the celebrated home plate umpire from MLB YouTube videos of 2013, graduated from Eastern Kentucky University on Friday, achieving a 30-year goal of attaining a college degree, in the program of Risk Management and Insurance.

EKU turned the spotlight on Gibson's accomplishment in March, pointing out that the 23-year MLB umpire is a first-generation college student, the first in his family to pursue and complete a degree.

Gibson's original plans for college at the Ashland Community and Technical College were put on hold in 1991 when he left academia to attend the Harry Wendelstedt School for Umpires, working his way through the minor leagues and into the bigs, where he has officiated nine Division Series, five League Championship Series, and the 2011 World Series; he previously attended the University of Kentucky and Shawnee State University.

The following congratulatory tweet was posted by EKU President Dr. Michael Benson:

Saturday, May 11, 2019

MLB Ejection 053 - Chad Whitson (1; Miguel Cabrera)

HP Umpire Chad Whitson ejected Tigers DH Miguel Cabrera (ball one call; QOCY) in the bottom of the 1st inning of the Tigers-Twins game. With one out and none on, Twins batter Marwin Gonzalez took a 0-0 fastball from Tigers pitcher Gregory Soto for a called first ball. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the inner half of home plate and below the hollow of the batter's knee (px -0.33, pz 1.59 [sz_bot 1.64]), the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 0-0. The Twins ultimately won the contest, 8-3.

This is Chad Whitson (62)'s first ejection of 2019.
Chad Whitson now has 3 points in the UEFL Standings (-1 Prev + 2 AAA + 2 Correct Call = 3).
Crew Chief Paul Nauert now has 1 point in Crew Division (0 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 1).
*This pitch was located 1.872 vertical inches from being deemed an incorrect call.

This is the 53rd ejection report of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 24th player ejection of 2019. Prior to ejection, Cabrera was 0-1 in the contest.
This is Detroit's 3rd ejection of 2019, T-2nd in the AL Central (CWS 4; DET, KC 3; MIN 1; CLE 0).
This is Miguel Cabrera's first ejection since March 18, 2019 (Brennan Miller; QOC = U [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Chad Whitson's first ejection since August 31, 2018 (Matt Wieters; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Detroit Tigers vs. Minnesota Twins (DH Game 2), 5/11/19 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejection 052 - Hunter Wendelstedt (1; Ron Gardenhire)

HP Umpire Hunter Wendelstedt ejected Tigers Manager Ron Gardenhire (ball four call; QOCY) in the bottom of the 3rd inning of the Tigers-Twins game. With two out and two on (R1, R3), Twins batter Jake Cave took a 3-2 fastball from Tigers pitcher Spencer Turnbull for a called fourth ball. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer half of home plate and above the midpoint (px -0.42, pz 3.46 [sz_top 3.34]) and that all other pitches during the at-bat were properly officiated, the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Tigers were leading, 2-1. The Tigers ultimately won the contest, 5-3.

This is Hunter Wendelstedt (21)'s first ejection of 2019.
Hunter Wendelstedt now has 4 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 4).
Crew Chief Paul Nauert now has 0 points in Crew Division (-1 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 0).
*This pitch was located 1.03 vertical inches from being deemed an incorrect call.

This is the 52nd ejection report of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 24th Manager ejection of 2019.
This is Detroit's 2nd ejection of 2019, 3rd in the AL Central (CWS 4; KC 3; DET 2; MIN 1; CLE 0).
This is Ron Gardenhire's 2nd ejection of 2019, 1st since April 19 (Todd Tichenor; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Hunter Wendelstedt's first ejection since July 21, 2018 (Asdrubal Cabrera; QOC = Y [Check Swing]).

Wrap: Detroit Tigers vs. Minnesota Twins, 5/11/19 | Video as follows:

Major League Debut of Umpire Alex Tosi (66)

Umpire Alex Tosi made his MLB debut during Saturday's Tigers-Twins doubleheader in Minnesota, serving as 1B Umpire alongside HP Umpire Hunter Wendelstedt, 2B Umpire Jordan Baker, and 3B Umpire Nauert for Game 1, and as 3B Umpire alongside HP Umpire Chad Whitson, 1B Umpire Baker, and 2B Umpire Nauert for Game 2.

Tosi is a crew chief on the 2019 International League umpire roster, which is his fourth year in Triple-A. Tosi has officiated the New-York Penn (2011), Midwest (2012), Florida State (2013), Arizona Instructional (2014), and Eastern (2014-15) Leagues in addition to the International League (2016-present).

He officiated the 2018 Triple-A National Championship Game, 2017 International League Postseason, and his multiple MLB Spring Trainings.

Tosi wears the sleeve number 66, which was last worn at the Major League level by Jim Joyce, who retired following the 2016 MLB season and was our featured guest on Episode 12 of The Plate Meeting podcast.

Tosi is the third rookie fill-in umpire to make his MLB debut during the 2019 regular season.
Related PostMajor League Debut of Umpire John Bacon (70) (5/2/19).
Related Post: Major League Debut of Umpire Brennan Miller (55) (4/20/19).

Tosi's most recent MiLB assignment was the May 9 Buffalo-Gwinnett game at Gwinnett, where Tosi took third base responsibilities alongside HP Umpire Ryan Wills, 1B Umpire Skyler Shown, and 2B Umpire Sean Barber.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Pants on Fire - Paul Lo Duca's Joe West Accusation

Speaking on his podcast, former MLB catcher Paul Lo Duca accused umpire Joe West of accepting a gift in exchange for ball/strike calls—the only problem is that West never officiated on any date Lo Duca's accusation pertained to. We fact checked Lo Duca, who also destroyed his credibility in the first 10 seconds of his fable, claiming that Joe West ejected him "eight or nine" times out of 15 career ejections, which is an untrue statement (see fact check, below).

In what, at this point, can only be described as a tall tale, Lo Duca said "Joe hates me," and went on to describe a Phillies-Mets game from 2006 or 2007 when New York pitcher Billy Wagner entered in relief, claiming that Wagner admitted to bribing the umpire with a car: "I lend him my '57 Chevy so he can drive it around so then he opens up the strike zone for me."

Fact Check - Wagner Appearances: We researched all Billy Wagner appearances against Philadelphia from 2006 through 2009 (when Wagner was on the Mets) and it turns out that Joe West was never his plate umpire. The one game Joe appeared in with Wagner on the mound was an August 30, 2007 game in Philadelphia, and West was the second base umpire; Ed Hickox had the plate.

Fact Check - Lo Duca Ejections: Lo Duca was ejected eight times during his 11-year MLB career. West ejected him once in 2003—and that's it. West never ejected Lo Duca before a game started, which is another event Lo Duca claimed during his podcast.

Ulterior Motive: Lo Duca's accusation occurred in his capacity as an analyst on a sports betting podcast, much like fellow ex-Met Lenny Dykstra's 2015 comments about blackmailing umpires came during an interview to promote his book.
Related PostLenny Dykstra Claims He Blackmailed Umpires (10/27/15).

Lo Duca isn't the first ex-player to tell tales.
Slanderous Danger: Lo Duca's casual accusation not only affects West, but Wagner as well, as Major League Rule 21 states that any player who "gives, or offers to give any gift or reward to an umpire for services rendered or to be rendered, in attempting to defeat a competing Club will be permanently ineligible"; umpires accepting such gifts will also be declared permanently ineligible.

Obviously, MLB hasn't declared either person ineligible.

Why Run the Story at All? This editorial decision falls somewhere between not giving credence to what appears to be an especially boldfaced lie (why we didn't address it several weeks ago) and reconciling with the reality that several mainstream media outlets have recently picked up on the story and are portraying it as the real McCoy, or at least something to consider to be true, without having researched any of it (why we are addressing it now).

Gil's Call: In this case, it is important to fact check such a severe story and provide a public service of clearly indicating the accuracy of several key aspects of the story. Namely, we were clearly able to conclude that Lo Duca's claim that West ejected him in at least eight out of 15 career chances was inaccurate (it was once, out of eight total ejections), and we were able to conclude that West never called a Billy Wagner game against Philadelphia when Wagner was on the Mets (and thus, when Lo Duca caught Wagner on the Mets). Hence our title, "Pants on Fire."

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

MLB Ejections 050-51 - Brian Knight (1-2; KC)

HP Umpire Brian Knight ejected Royals catcher Martin Maldonado and Manager Ned Yost (strike two/three calls; QOCY) in the top of the 7th inning of the Royals-Astros game. With none out and none on, Maldonado took 1-1 and 1-2 fastballs from Astros pitcher Brad Peacock for called second and third strikes. Replays indicate the 1-1 pitch was located over the outer edge of home plate and thigh-high (px 0.90, pz 1.93 [sz_bot 1.56])  and the 1-2 pitch was located over the outer half of home plate and waist-high (px 0.69, pz 2.57), the calls were correct.* At the time of the ejections, the Astros were leading, 9-0. The Astros ultimately won the contest, 9-0.

These are Brian Knight (91)'s first and second ejections of 2019.
Brian Knight now has 7 points in the UEFL Standings (-1 Prev + 2*[2 MLB + 2 Correct Call] = 7).
Crew Chief Gerry Davis now has -1 points in Crew Division (-3 Previous + 2 Correct Call = -1)
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
*The 1-1 pitch was located 0.168 horizontal inches from being deemed an incorrect call.
*The 1-2 pitch was located 2.688 horizontal inches from being deemed an incorrect call.

These are the 50th and 51st ejection reports of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 23rd player ejection of 2019. Prior to ejection, Maldonado was 0-3 (SO) in the contest.
This is the 23rd Manager ejection of 2019.
This is Kansas City's 3rd ejection of 2019, 2nd in the AL Central (CWS 4; KC 3; DET, MIN 1; CLE 0).
This is Martin Maldonado's first ejection since May 28, 2018 (Mark Ripperger; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Ned Yost's first ejection since July 9, 2018 (Will Little; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Brian Knight's first ejection since June 13, 2018 (Chris Sale; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Kansas City Royals vs. Houston Astros, 5/8/19 | Video as follows:

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

2019 No-Hitter 1, Mark Ripperger (1; Mike Fiers)

HP Umpire Mark Ripperger called Athletics pitcher Mike Fiers' no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds, the first of 2019, at a blistering 100% accuracy rate for Oakland's starter. Rip was joined for Tuesday's game at Oakland Coliseum by 1B Umpire Jeff Kellogg (crew chief), 2B Umpire James Hoye, and 3B Umpire Brian O'Nora.

This is Ripperger's first career no-hitter and the first of the 2019 season. Kellogg's crew also officiated the previously most recent no-hitter on May 8, 2018 (HP: Hoye, 1B: Quinn Wolcott, 2B: Kellogg -cc, 3B: Marvin Hudson); John Tumpane officiated Mike Fiers' first career no-hitter in August 2015.
Related Post: 2018 No-Hitter 3, James Hoye (1; James Paxton) (5/8/18).
Related Post2015 No-Hitter 5, John Tumpane (1; Mike Fiers) (8/21/15).

Ripperger received 73 callable pitches from Fiers, a total of 49 balls and 24 called strikes. The look:

Balls: 49 called balls outside of strike zone / 0 called balls within strike zone = 49/49 = 100% Accuracy.
Strikes: 24 called strikes inside strike zone / 0 called strikes outside strike zone = 24/24 = 100% Accuracy.
Total Raw Accuracy Score for Fiers = 73/73 = 100.0% Accuracy (+0 NU [Neutral]).
Overall Game Score: 93/93 Balls + 46/50 Strikes = 139/143 = 97.2%. +4 CIN. Plots via "Read More"

MLB Ejection 049 - CB Bucknor (2; Anthony Rendon)

HP Umpire CB Bucknor ejected Nationals 3B Anthony Rendon (strike three call; QOCY) in the top of the 7th inning of the Nationals-Brewers game. With two out and two on (R1, R2), Rendon took a 0-2 fastball from Brewers pitcher Freddy Peralta for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer edge of home plate and knee-high (px 0.89, pz 1.88 [sz_bot 1.46]) and all other pitches during the at-bat were properly officiated, the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 0-0. The Brewers ultimately won the contest, 6-0.

This is CB Bucknor (54)'s second ejection of 2019.
CB Bucknor now has 6 points in the UEFL Standings (2 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 6).
Crew Chief Fieldin Culbreth now has 1 points in Crew Division (0 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 1).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
*This pitch was located 0.288 horizontal inches from being deemed an incorrect call.

This is the 49th ejection report of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 22nd player ejection of 2019. Prior to ejection, Rendon was 0-3 (2 SO) in the contest.
This is Washington's 2nd ejection of 2019, T-2nd in the NL East (ATL 3; NYM, WAS 2; MIA, PHI 1).
This is Anthony Rendon's first ejection since April 7, 2018 (Marty Foster; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is CB Bucknor's first ejection since April 17, 2019 (Tim Cossins; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Washington Nationals vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 5/7/19 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejection 048 - Marty Foster (3; Rick Renteria)

3B Umpire Marty Foster ejected White Sox Manager Rick Renteria (check swing ball one call) in the bottom of the 8th inning of the White Sox-Indians game. With two out and the bases loaded, Indians batter Carlos Santana attempted to check his swing on a 0-1 cutter from White Sox pitcher Alex Colome, ruled a ball by HP Umpire Jerry Meals and affirmed on appeal by 3B Umpire Foster as a ball. Ruling was reviewed and adjudicated by the UEFL Appeals Board (1-6-2), the call was incorrect. At the time of the ejection, the White Sox were leading, 2-0. The White Sox ultimately won the contest, 2-0.

This is Marty Foster (60)'s third ejection of 2019.
Marty Foster now has 4 points in the UEFL Standings (6 Prev + 2 MLB - 4 Incorrect Call = 4).
Crew Chief Jerry Meals now has 2 points in Crew Division (2 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = 2).

This is the 48th ejection report of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 22nd Manager ejection of 2019.
This is Chicago's 4th ejection of 2019, 1st in the AL Central (CWS 4; KC 2; DET, MIN 1; CLE 0).
This is Rick Renteria's 3rd ejection of 2019, 1st since April 28 (Tony Randazzo; QOC = Y [RLI]).
This is Marty Foster's 3rd ejection of 2019, 1st since May 2 (David Bell; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Chicago White Sox vs. Cleveland Indians, 5/7/19 | Video as follows:

Monday, May 6, 2019

MLB Ejection 047 - Adam Hamari (1; Charlie Montoyo)

HP Umpire Adam Hamari ejected Blue Jays Manager Charlie Montoyo (strike three call; QOCN) in the bottom of the 5th inning of the Twins-Blue Jays game. With none out and one on (R1), Blue Jays batter Brandon Drury took a 0-2 cutter from Twins pitcher Martin Perez for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer half of home plate and below the hollow of the knee (px -0.46, pz 1.14 [sz_bot 1.69 / RAD 1.567 / MOE 1.484]), the call was incorrect.* At the time of the ejection, the Twins were leading, 6-0.  The Twins ultimately won the contest, 8-0.

This is Adam Hamari (78)'s first ejection of 2019.
Adam Hamari now has -1 points in the UEFL Standings (1 Prev + 2 MLB - 4 Incorrect Call = -1).
Crew Chief Tom Hallion now has 2 points in Crew Division (2 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = 2).
*This pitch was located 4.128 vertical inches from being deemed a correct call.

This is the 47th ejection report of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 21st Manager ejection of 2019.
This is Toronto's 3rd ejection of 2019, T-1st in the AL East (BAL, TOR 3; NYY 2; BOS, TB 0).
This is Charlie Montoyo's first career MLB ejection.
This is Adam Hamari's first ejection since Sept 7, 2018 (Bruce Bochy; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Minnesota Twins vs. Toronto Blue Jays, 5/6/19 | Video as follows:

No Fool - Bob Davidson Heading to Duluth Hall of Fame

Former MLB umpire Bob Davidson may not be heading back to the major leagues...but he will be inducted into the DECC Athletic Hall of Fame in Duluth, MN on May 16.

The 3,911-game veteran compiled 166 ejections during his 30-year MLB career, not including his August 24, 1989 ejection of Expos mascot Youppi!and a handful of heave-ho's in the years since in the Close Call Sports comments section.

Davidson, a Duluth East graduate, also served as our inaugural guest for The Plate Meeting podcast and his career hijinks have peppered subsequent podcast episodes from interviews with Dale Scott to Jim Joyce and beyond.
Related PostPlate Meeting Podcast Episode 1 - Bob Davidson (7/17/18).
Related PostPlate Meeting Podcast 6M - A Postseason with Bob D (10/18/18).

His final year in Major League Baseball also featured a UEFL Ejection of the Year Award, when an unruly fan in Philadelphia found himself escorted out of the stadium. Said Davidson, "People cheered me, which is unusual in this town for me."
Related PostUnofficial Ejection - Bob Davidson Requests Fan Removal (8/2/16).
Related Post2016 Ejections of the Year - Joe West & Bob Davidson (11/10/16).

Congratulations to Bob Davidson on his ejection from induction into the DECC Athletic Hall of Fame.

Case Play 2019-1 - Modified Catch & Carry [Solved]

After HP Umpire Will Little called "Time" when Nationals catcher Yan Gomes stepped into the dugout while keeping his mitt and the ball on the playing field, Joe West's crew awarded Padres baserunner R1 Eric Hosmer second base and R2 Manuel Margot home plate, prompting a nearly 10-minute Replay Review when Nationals Manager Dave Martinez challenged the crew's decision to score baserunner R2 Margot.

The Play (Saturday): With one out and the bases loaded Saturday night in DC, Padres batter Hunter Renfroe hit a 1-2 slider from Nationals pitcher Matt Grace on a fly ball to center fielder Victor Robles for a sacrifice fly, Padres baserunner R3 Manny Machado scoring. Robles' subsequent throw to catcher Yan Gomes bounced off Gomes' mitt and toward the Padres' third base dugout, enabling baserunner R2 Manuel Margot to advance to third base and baserunner R1 Eric Hosmer to advance toward second base. Gomes, in an effort to keep the ball on the playing field and out of the dugout, caught the ball in his mitt, and kept his mitt on the playing surface, while running into the dugout with both feet to keep his balance, before exiting the dugout with ball in hand.

Catcher Hedges also played a wild throw.
The Play (Sunday): With one out and none on Sunday, Nationals batter Howie Kendrick hit a ground ball to Padres first baseman Hosmer, who threw wildly beyond first base, backed up by catcher Austin Hedges, who similarly attempted to save the loose ball from rolling into the opposing dugout. Unlike Gomes, however, Hedges placed his gloved hand in order to tap the ball, keeping the ball rolling freely along the warning track while he stepped into the dugout. Hedges then exited the dugout and, after placing a foot onto the warning track, retrieved the ball.

Gomes disagrees with decision to score R2.
The Call (Saturday): HP Umpire Will Little called "Time" and ruled that because Gomes left the field of play, the ball was dead. As a result, the umpires awarded R2 Margot home plate and R1 Hosmer second base, ruling that Hosmer hadn't yet reached second base at the time Gomes stepped out of play, while Margot had already achieved third base.

Replay Review Decision: Following Nats skipper Martinez's dispute with the crew's runner placement in awarding R2 Margot home (and R1 Hosmer second base), the Replay Official affirmed Margot's placement, but overturned Hosmer's status, instead placing Hosmer at third base, resulting in the rare Manager's Challenge that actually hurt the team requesting the review.
West and crew discusses the play.

So while this statistically is a Manager's Challenge that Martinez won by virtue of the overturned call, the result is a Pyrrhic victory: TSP increases, but the baserunner advances an extra 90 feet.

Case Play Question (Saturday): Given that Replay Review placed Hosmer at third base, was this the proper ruling (not necessarily runner placement, but was the one-base award from time of the dead ball proper?)? Is this a catch-and-carry, given that the fielder did not physically carry the ball out of play?

The Call (Sunday): HP Umpire Joe West ruled the ball live and in play as Nationals batter-runner Kendrick took second base on Hosmer's throwing error.

Case Play Question (Sunday): Was the Hedges play properly ruled a live ball? After stepping out of play, was Hedges entitled to return to the playing field and legally play the ball?

Answer: The first thing to notice about the OBR library is that 5.06(b)(3) refers to a catch of a fly ball. According to the Definition of Terms, "A FLY BALL is a batted ball that goes high in the air in flight." This is reinforced by the following: "A CATCH is the act of a fielder in getting secure possession in his hand or glove of a ball in flight and firmly holding it."

In other words, 5.06(b)(3) applies to batted balls, which these plays were not; the ball was thrown. By rule, this isn't a catch; it's a false catch, to play on the terminology.

Rule 5.06(b)(4)(G) states that runners, including the batter-runner, advance: "Two bases when, with no spectators on the playing field, a thrown ball goes into the stands, or into a bench..."

SIDEBAR: Another way you can tell 5.06(b)(3) applies only to a batted ball is that the batter is explicitly excluded from the base award. Why? Because the batter is out on the caught fly ball.

Because this wasn't a first play by an infielder, the runners are awarded two bases from the time of the throw (first play by an infielder would be two bases from time of pitch). On Saturday, that places R2 at home and R1 at third base. Thus, Replay Review in overturning the crew's placement of R1 at second base corrected far more than a judgment call—it fixed an incorrect application of the rules. Under no circumstances with a thrown ball going out of play would R1 be awarded one base.

As for the difference between Saturday & Sunday, the MLB Umpire Manual States, "A fielder is considered to be in the dugout—and therefore unable to make a valid catch—when the fielder has one or both feet on the surface inside the dugout."

It also states, "If a fielder, after making a legal catch on the playing surface, steps or falls into any out-of-play area at any point while in possession of the ball...the ball shall be dead."

This is where we take a surgeon's knife to the rule to piece together only what is applicable. On Saturday, catcher Gomes was considered in the dugout when he stepped into it. Because he retained possession of the ball while in the dugout, the ball was dead. On Sunday, catcher Hedges was no longer in possession of the ball when he left the playing field and stepped into the dugout. Similarly, he returned to the field by stepping out of the dugout and back onto the warning track before picking up the baseball, thus keeping play alive.

Official Baseball Rules Library
OBR 5.06(b)(3): "Each runner, other than the batter, may without liability to be put out, advance one base when—A fielder, after catching a fly ball, steps or falls into any out-of-play area."
OBR 5.06(b)(3)(C) Comment: "If a fielder, after having made a legal catch, should step or fall into any out-of-play area, the ball is dead and each runner shall advance one base, without liability to be put out, from his last legally touched base at the time the fielder entered such out-of-play area."
OBR 5.09(a)(1) Comment: "A fielder may reach into, but not step into, a dugout to make a catch, and if he holds the ball, the catch shall be allowed. A fielder, in order to make a catch on a foul ball nearing a dugout or other out-of-play area (such as the stands), must have one or both feet on or over the playing surface (including the lip of the dugout) and neither foot on the ground inside the dugout or in any other out-of-play area. Ball is in play, unless the fielder, after making a legal catch, steps or falls into a dugout or other out-of-play area, in which case the ball is dead. Status of runners shall be as described in Rule 5.06(b)(3)(C) Comment."

Videos (Saturday/Gomes & Sunday/Hedges) x2 as follows:

Sunday, May 5, 2019

2019 MLB Mexico Series Umpire Rosters

Major League Baseball visited Monterrey three times as part of MLB's Mexico Series in 2019: Diamondbacks vs. Rockies in Spring Training (March 9-10), Cardinals vs. Reds (April 13-14), and Astros vs. Angels (May 4-5). Umpires assigned to the international games include (for each two-game series, assignments are listed in parentheses):

Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Colorado Rockies (3/9-10)
Ed Hickox (Gm 1 Plate, Gm 2 3B)
Larry Vanover (1B, 1B)
Alfonso Marquez (2B, 2B)
Gabe Morales (3B, HP)

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Cincinnati Reds (4/13-14)
Dan Iassogna (HP, 3B)
Sam Holbrook (1B, HP)
Chad Whitson (2B, 1B)
Jim Wolf (3B, R)
Chad Fairchild (R, 2B)

Houston Astros vs. Los Angeles Angels (5/4-5)
Lance Barksdale (HP, R)
Nic Lentz (1B, 3B)
Ted Barrett (2B, 1B)
Kerwin Danley (3B, 2B)
John Tumpane (R, HP)

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Injury Scout - Replacement Rule for Jerry Layne

Jerry Layne was scratched from the Padres-Braves starting lineup shortly before game-time in Atlanta on April 30, leaving a crew of three to officiate that evening as plate umpire Jordan Baker worked with Chad Whitson and Acting Crew Chief Hunter Wendelstedt. MLB flew Paul Nauert in from Philadelphia to join the crew on May 1, assigning Jeremie Rehak to join Fieldin Culbreth's crew to fill Nauert's slot in the Tigers-Phillies series.

Accordingly, we have invoked UEFL Rule 1-5-b for Layne, which authorizes umpire replacement under certain circumstances during the regular season pertaining to extended absence.

Layne is a Crew Chief, which means UEFL members may own him in Crew Division and/or as a Primary or Secondary Umpire.

If you drafted Layne in any form and wish to make a replacement at this time, the following procedure will take place.

UEFL Acceptable Replacement Procedure
If your Crew Chief is Jerry Layne, you may select any Crew Chief listed below.
If your PRM/SDR is Jerry Layne, you may select any primary/secondary umpire below.

Layne has zero points in Primary and Secondary classifications, and -3 points in Crew Division.

List of Legal Replacements (as of May 4, 2019; Subject to change after this date)
Crew Division - Eligible Replacement Crew Chiefs (ranked by UEFL points, in parentheses):
Wendelstedt, Hunter (1) [Rule 1-2-b replacement]
Davis, Gerry (-3) [Rule 1-5-b replacement]
Meals, Jerry (-8)

Primary/Secondary - Refer to UEFL Standings (umpires must have less than 0 UEFL points).
Presently: Baker, Conroy, Culbreth, Davis, Fairchild, Guccione, Hernandez, Hickox, Knight, Morales [PRM only], Rehak [PRM only], Timmons, Whitson [PRM only], Wendelstedt (-1); Additon [PRM only], Barber, T Barrett, Welke (-2); Cooper (-4).

To effect a midseason replacement, post a comment to this announcement indicating your username, classification to be changed (Crew Chief, Primary, or Secondary), and proposed replacement name.

Friday, May 3, 2019

MLB Ejection 046 - Mike Estabrook (3; Justin Smoak)

HP Umpire Mike Estabrook ejected Blue Jays DH Justin Smoak (strike three call; QOCY) in the top of the 12th inning of the Blue Jays-Rangers game. With two out and the bases loaded, Smoak took a 3-2 curveball from Rangers pitcher Ariel Jurado for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the heart of home plate and at the midpoint (px 0.18, pz 3.49 [sz_top 3.44 / RAD 3.563]), the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Blue Jays were leading, 1-0. The Blue Jays ultimately won the contest, 1-0, in 12 innings.

This is Mike Estabrook (83)'s third ejection of 2019.
Mike Estabrook now has 12 points in the UEFL Standings (8 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 12).
Crew Chief Paul Emmel now has -1 points in Crew Division (-2 Previous + 1 Correct Call = -1).
*This pitch was located 2.472 vertical inches from being deemed an incorrect call.

This is the 46th ejection report of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 21st player ejection of 2019. Prior to ejection, Smoak was 0-5 (3 SO) in the contest.
This is Toronto's 2nd ejection of 2019, T-2nd in the AL East (BAL 3; NYY, TOR 2; BOS, TB 0).
This is Justin Smoak's first career MLB ejection.
This is Mike Estabrook's 3rd ejection of 2019, 1st since April 15 (Rocco Baldelli; QOC = Y [HBP/Foul]).

Wrap: Toronto Blue Jays vs. Texas Rangers, 5/3/19 | Video as follows: