Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Bench Clearing - Contreras HR Begets Bad Blood

Atlanta catcher Tyler Flowers confronted Chicago's Willson Contreras after the latter's 2nd inning home run during Monday's Braves-Cubs game, leading to a benches-clearing incident in front of HP Umpire John Tumpane and Chief Ted Barrett's crew. Tumpane warned both teams during the unsportsmanlike event, but no ejections were effected.

The Play: With none out and none on in the bottom of the 2nd inning, Contreras hit a home run off Braves pitcher Julio Teherán. Replays indicate that after hitting the home run, Conteras turned back toward home plate and made a comment in that direction.

Impending Trash Talk: While rounding third base, Contreras appeared to gesture toward the crowd, after which Flowers animatedly addressed Contreras, leading to further confrontation as Tumpane, ready with his mask and helmet in hand while placing his arm between the two combatants, ordered Contreras to continue onto his dugout. Tumpane then indicated warnings to both teams, and a bench-clearing incident ensued during which Tumpane physically restrained pitcher Teheran along the foul line while crewmates Lance Barksdale, Nic Lentz, and Barrett helped contain the situation.

Ignition: The trouble appeared to begin after Tumpane called a strike on the preceding pitch to Contreras, a fastball located over the inner half of home plate and at the hollow of the knee (px -0.25, pz 1.42 [sz_bot 1.53 / RAD 1.41]), the call was correct. As Contreras complained to Tumpane, Flowers appeared to address Contreras, leading to further disagreement as the at-bat culminated in Contreras' home run, resulting in a benches-clearing incident as Contreras scored the run.

Gil's Call: This situation was helped by Tumpane's situational awareness in understand the impending dispute between the two players as Contreras hit his home run. Following Contreras' comments after hitting the home run, Tumpane's game management skill clued him into the possibility that an explosive interaction could take place as Contreras crossed home plate, so he was ready to step between the players upon that event. The remainder of Ted Barrett's crew helped contain the Cubs dugout pursuant to the Division of Halves concept we previously discussed during a Dodgers-Giants fight in 2017, leading to a deescalation of further conflict as Tumpane restrained Teheran, having warned both sides. In this situation, the division line (neutral zone as it were) roughly corresponded with the painted foul line between home plate and third base.
Related PostDodger vs Giants Bench-Clearer and Division of Halves (5/17/17).

Similar Ball/Strike Dispute: In April 2018, HP Umpire Tim Timmons ejected Diamondbacks Manager Torey Lovullo for arguing called strikes in St. Louis. The dispute devolved into a physical confrontation involving Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina after Molina apparently took offense at comments made by Lovullo about Molina's actions in receiving the baseball. As a bonus, the video of the Timmons/Lovullo ejection features an example of the broadcasters' inaccurate interpretation of the on-screen electronic strike zone. In other words, this was yet another instance of FoxTrax/PitchCast causing problems through inaccuracy in StatCast/pitch location reporting: refer to the px/pz values for greater detail.
Related PostMLB Ejection 010 - Tim Timmons (1; Torey Lovullo) (4/8/18).

Video as follows:
Alternate Link: Chicago dustup follows early HR by Contreras (CHC/ATL)
Second Video: UEFL Analysis of plate umpire John Tumpane's strategic play (CCS)


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