Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Hunter & Laz's Unusual Crew Consultation

After 2B Umpire Hunter Wendelstedt called Braves runner Charlie Culberson out at second base to end Atlanta's top of the 9th inning in Minnesota, Twins broadcasters noted that 3B Umpire and Crew Chief Laz Diaz had come over to consult with Hunter, ultimately resulting in a reversed ruling and safe call, keeping the inning alive and bringing Rocco Baldelli out from the home dugout to discuss the play.

This play is part of our "Ask the UEFL" series. Johnnyg08 saw this play in Minnesota and asked for a CCS analysis.

The Play: With two outs and one on (R1 Culberson), Braves batter Ronald Acuna hit a ground ball to Twins shortstop Luis Arraez, who threw to second baseman Jonathan Schoop as Culberson slid into the base, ruled an out by 2B Umpire Wendelstedt, as F4 Schoop threw onward to first baseman CJ Cron.

Replays indicate the runner was safe at 2B.
The Call: After Wendelstedt ruled Culberson out for the final out of the frame, Diaz came in from third base and after a brief discussion, the out call turned into that of "safe."

Analysis: Although the MLB Umpire Manual (and PBUC/MiLB Umpire Development book) allows for "Crew Consultation and Getting the Play Right," that section of MLBUM specifies a very narrow variety of plays subject to a non-calling umpire initiating a consultation to inform the calling umpire of information critical to the call at hand: those limited circumstances include HR/not HR (fair/foul or HR/in play) calls, foul tip vs foul ball, a dropped ball (catch/drop), spectator interference, and erroneous balk calls when the pitcher is off the rubber.

MLBUM specifically excludes force plays from this brand of crew conference in accordance with Official Baseball Rule 8.02(c), which states, "No umpire shall criticize, seek to reverse or interfere with another umpire's decision unless asked to do so by the umpire making it," so why did Diaz approach Wendelstedt?
An example of consult's purpose? This out call.

Here's a hint: In May 2012, 1B Umpire Tim Welke missed a call at first base, ruling Dodgers batter Jerry Hairston out on a play during which Rockies first baseman Todd Helton appeared to have never tagged first base.

Laz tells the Twins that F4 was off the base.
Thus, a narrow exception applies to MLBUM's force play exclusion. If a calling umpire misses a dropped ball or pulled foot situation, a non-calling umpire is permitted to provide this intel in a conference in order to get the call right. Per the manual, "When a partner is certain that the umpire making the call could benefit from [limited] additional information, the partner should alert the other umpire that there is additional, important information that should be shared...Nevertheless, the ultimate decision to change a call rests with the umpire who made the call."

That is what appears to have happened here: Diaz indicates the fielder was off the base, and this was the impetus for consultation based on the concept that "crucial, potential call-changing information should not be withheld on a play that has clearly been missed." Unfortunately, replays indicate the fielder did not appear to pull his foot, although oddly enough and fortuitously for the umps, video evidence indicates the runner was safe by virtue of beating the out by the slimmest of margins.

Deem it a correct call for a most unusual reason. | Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Out call turns safe after Hunter & Laz entertain a brief consult (CCS)


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