Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Why Porter Warned & Didn't Eject for Acuna HBP

When HP Umpire Alan Porter issued warnings and no ejection in Atlanta Tuesday, it was in response to Braves batter Ronald Acuna's reaction to a HBP resulting from Marlins pitcher Elieser Hernandez's first pitched ball of the game, not a warning on the pitch itself. Crew Chief Mark Wegner then ejected Braves Manager Brian Snitker for disputing the warnings.

Official Baseball Rule 6.02(c)(9) governs warnings and ejections for intentionally pitching at the batter with one significant disclaimer: in general, the pitch best be intentional for an umpire to act in response to the pitch itself, but the rule actually allows the umpire a little more leeway to address any situation on the field through the issuance of a warning. More on that later.
Related PostMLB Ejection 166 - Mark Wegner (4; Brian Snitker) (8/20/19).

Here's Rule 6.02(c)(9): "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."
Related PostContext is Key - Intent Matters in HBP Ejections (7/7/19).

And here's Wegner's reason for ejecting Snitker, pursuant to OBR 6.02(c)(9) Comment: "Team personnel may not come onto the playing surface to argue or dispute a warning issued under Rule 6.02(c)(9). If a manager, coach or player leaves the dugout or his position to dispute a warning, he should be warned to stop. If he continues, he is subject to ejection."

Porter warned for what came after the HBP.
To recap the play, Porter deemed Hernandez's did not intentionally pitch at Acuna to leadoff Atlanta's 1st inning. Then, after Acuna reacted as demonstrative as he did, Porter felt compelled to act to ward off future animosity; by rule, the only way Porter could respond would be to issue warnings to Miami and Atlanta under OBR 6.02(c)(9), which additionally states, "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."

That's right, a warning can be issued at any time during a game, and it doesn't have to be tied to a pitch thrown at a batter intentionally. It can be issued after a bench-clearing incident, a hard tag or slide, or at any other time the umpire judges that "circumstances warrant" it, such as a batter's strong reaction to a first-inning hit-by-pitch.

Bob Davidson spoke about ejecting Lackey.
In Episode 1 of The Plate Meeting Podcast, we asked Bob Davidson about his ejection of Angels starter John Lackey just two pitches into a game in 2009 after Lackey hit Rangers batsman Ian Kinsler with a fastball. One of the things Davidson mentioned was that umpires aren't fans of pre-game warnings because the in-game warning is one of the few disciplinary tools umpires have available to them.

Furthermore, as we found out earlier this year in New York, umpires sometimes must issue warnings to both teams that are not in response to a pitch, but in response to how a player or team reacts to a pitch, and context such as a "Heads Up" report plays a role in decision-making. Remember than Rule 6.02(c)(9) allows umpires to issue warnings "at any time during the game."
Related PostPlate Meeting Podcast Episode 1 - Bob Davidson (7/17/18).

The difference is slight, but the distinction is key: Hernandez's pitch did not itself directly result in Porter's issuance of warnings; Acuna's reaction to the first-pitch HBP did. And when warnings are issued, they always apply to both teams equally; there is no such thing as a one-team warning. Tangentially, this also explains why Hernandez's fourth-inning HBP of Adeiny Hechavarria did not result in ejections (of Hernandez & Manager Don Mattingly): it was because the pitch was not intentionally thrown at the batter, a key component for ejections that may or may not also exist when warnings are issued.

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Sequence, history, and precedent explaining when and why umpires warn (CCS)


Post a Comment