Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Ask UEFL - Forfeit When Ejected Mgr Refuses to Leave

After Mark Carlson's ejection of Chicago's Rick Renteria when the White Sox manager refused to leave until the umpire forced him out, we received an Ask the UEFL question, "Can an ump forfeit a game when an ejected player, coach, or manager refuses to leave the field/dugout?"

While the short answer is "yes" (an ump can also forfeit a game if an ejected athletic trainer refuses to leave!) the more detailed response is more nuanced.

Whether the call leading to ejection was correct or not is of little consequence: this article pertains solely to an ejected person who refuses to leave as prescribed by Official Baseball Rule 6.04(d), which states, "When a manager, player, coach or trainer is ejected from a game, he shall leave the field immediately and take no further part in that game. He shall remain in the Club house or change to street clothes and either leave the park or take a seat in the grandstand well removed from the vicinity of his team’s bench or bullpen."

As long as it gets you to leave...
The relevant rule for forfeiture is OBR 7.03(a) and in this situation, 7.03(a)(5) and (6) may apply. Provision (5) states, "A game may be forfeited to the opposing team when a team—After warning by the umpire, willfully and persistently violates any rules of the game," whereas 7.03(a)(6) states, "A game may be forfeited to the opposing team when a team—Fails to obey within a reasonable time the umpire’s order for removal of a player from the game."

In other words, a manager who is ejected but remains in the dugout after an umpire orders him/her to leave may cause a forfeit. Only the umpire-in-chief has the authority to forfeit a game (OBR 8.03(a)(6)). The MLB Umpire Manual, for instance, requires the UIC consult with—and receive approval from—the Crew Chief prior to declaring a forfeit (so, in Chicago, if things deteriorated that much, Carlson as UIC and CC would be empowered to declare the forfeit).

That may not be reasonable...or is it?
What is a "reasonable time"? Baseball's other forfeit provisions carry certain time limits—(1)'s five-minute start-of-game grace period, (4)'s resumption of play within one minute after a certain suspension of play, and (7)'s 20-minute break between games of a straight double-header...but (6)'s refusing to leave after an ejection simply states, "within a reasonable time."

In the Australian Baseball League, Geelong-Korea Manager Dae-Sung Koo pulled his team off the field after HP Umpire Ben Nash ejected him in November 2018. The umpires waited five minutes before the offending team returned to the field, upon which time play was resumed. In this situation, umpire patience prevented a forfeit, which is likely a key goal at the professional level.
Related PostABL - Korea Pulls Team off Field After Manager Ejection (11/16/18).

I included OBR 7.03(a)(5) [willful and persistent violation of a rule] for the benefit of the rulebook lawyers amongst us who are quick to point out that 7.03(a)(6) says "player" but not explicitly "coach" or "manager." Willful and persistent violation of ejection rule 6.04(d) occurs when an ejected person—which includes managers, as in 6.04(d)—fails to "leave the field immediately and take no further part in that game."

Decide which forfeit rule may apply.
For the rulebook lawyer that notes that "leave the field" doesn't explicitly state, "dugout" or "bench," I included the following sentence of 6.04(d), which gives the ejectee several options: 1) Go and stay in the clubhouse, 2) leave the ballpark, or 3) sit in the stands well removed from the vicinity of the team's bench/bullpen area. That should establish the spirit of this rule.

Gil's Call: Although we might have gotten a Jim Wolf-Frank Robinson-esque stare-down had Carlson not entertained Renteria's request to visit the dugout, this is the right move to make—to swallow pride and ego in order to get the ejected party to leave.

Let the ejected person have the last word, it's a Pyrrhic victory, after all. Of course, an umpire should feel free to be all ears, seeking to pepper the ejection report with more source material.

The goal at this point is to get the ejected person to leave and play to continue, and if an umpire is able to do so by walking over and listening to a post-ejection rant while, as Carlson does, not inflaming matters, this should be considered a win: the umpire completes the ejection and the ejected skipper gets to save face (in their mind, anyway...as long as they're leaving).

How rare is a forfeit? The last MLB forfeit occurred in 1995 for baseballs thrown on the field from the stands. Our own Bob Davidson discussed this event in his podcast interview.
Related PostMLB's Last Forfeit - Bob's Baseball Story (8/10/19).

Bob Davidson had the last NL forfeit in LA.
In the major leagues, the MLB Umpire Manual states, "Announcements shall be made over the P.A. system that a game may be forfeited and again when the game is declared forfeited. Announcement of the possibility of a forfeit must be made to both Clubs and the fans prior to a forfeit." The aforementioned 1995 Cardinals-Dodgers forfeit is what the MLBUM interpretation is primarily designed to address, but the time and resources involved in making such a public announcement just might serve to highlight the absurdity of an ejected person refusing to leave. This is not a National Anthem standoff (although the anthem-off is another topic for another day).

In NFHS (high school), the rule is more direct. NFHS 6-3-1f (Unsportsmanlike Conduct) is rather explicit: "PENALTY: The umpire shall eject the offender from the game. Failure to comply shall result in game being forfeited."

NCAA (college) Rule 5-12 states a forfeit shall only be called as "a last resort." 5-12-f indicates, "If the order for the removal of a player, coach or team personnel is not obeyed, the game is suspended until the order of removal is corrected (see 3-6-d)." In other words, umpires will call the game if it gets to that point, and NCAA likes the conference involved in issues of severe discipline. That said, NCAA shares OBR's provision for forfeiture: "If, after warning by the umpire, any one of the rules of the game is willfully and persistently violated" (NCAA 5-12-e). As in pro ball, the Umpire-in-Chief carries forfeiture authority.

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: When to Forfeit if an Ejected Manager Refuses to Leave (CCS)


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