Friday, April 26, 2019

MLB Umpire Camps Visit Dallas - 4/27

The Major League Baseball Umpire Camps (@MLBUmpCamps) will offer the first free clinic of 2019 at the Rangers MLB Urban Youth Academy in Dallas, Texas on Saturday, April 27. The clinics feed into the MLBUC Professional Mini-Camp held in December via tuition-free invitations, which in turn feed into the January umpire schools via a handful of scholarships.

According to MLB's figures, over 150 MLB Umpire Camps alumni have entered professional baseball since 2006.

The Dallas camp takes place Saturday, April 27 from 9am-1pm with registration opening onsite at 8am, walk-ups welcome. MLB Umpiring Department personnel in attendance include Cris Jones, Ed Montague, Charlie Reliford, and Rich Rieker.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Expect Anything - Angels Turn DP on NY's Weight Shift

In today's world of expanded instant replay, umpires are learning to expect anything such that the unexpected becomes just another baseball play. Wednesday night in Anaheim, the Angels challenged 2B Umpire Mike Everitt's ruling that a runner was safe at second base, finding on review that Yankees baserunner R2 Tyler Wade momentarily broke contact with the base while Angels infielder Andrelton Simmons applied a tag, resulting in an inning-ending double play.

Fielder Simmons tags runner Wade.
The Play: With one out and two on (R1, R2), Yankees batter Brett Gardner flew out to Angels center fielder Mike Trout, who threw back to the infield as New York's baserunners returned to their bases. As fielder Simmons walked the ball back toward his pitcher, he tagged NYY baserunner R2 Wade as Wade shifted his weight at second base, momentarily breaking contact with the base such that he found himself susceptible to Rule 5.09(b)(4)'s "Any runner is out when—He is tagged, when the ball is alive, while off his base."

Replay Review: After a four-minute review (remember, reviews are generally supposed to take no more than two minutes), the call was overturned and the runner declared out.
Related Post2017 Rules Mods, Including IBB Change, Announced (3/2/17).

Everitt checks the ball and runners.
Lesson: Be prepared for anything, "BE IN POSITION TO SEE EVERY PLAY" and "Keep your eye everlastingly on the ball while it is in play" (Rule 8.00 [General Instructions to Umpires]). In this situation, 2B Umpire Everitt was in position to observe the play—see how he moves at the 35-second mark, constantly checking the runners, his positioning, and, possibly, whether "Time" has been called (it has not; the ball is still live).

However, as we saw from the first-base mid camera angle, Simmons' tag was on the left field/opposite side of the base, such that, as the broadcasters surmised, it required the Replay Official to stitch together another camera so as to see the tag on the runner at the moment that the runner shifted his left foot off of second base.

For more on the philosophy of this literal game of inches on the bases, see the following article.
Related PostReplay Rewind - Technically Correct or Spiritual Travesty? (6/9/18).

Video as follows:

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Angel's Batter Interference Out & AJ Explanation

HP Umpire Angel Hernandez called Astros batter Carlos Correa out for interference with Twins catcher Mitch Garver, drawing Houston Manager AJ Hinch out of the dugout to seek an explanation from Crew Chief Dana DeMuth, who explained why an illegal act at home plate had terminated Houston's two-out rally while stranding two baserunners in the 7th inning of Tuesday's game.

Tmac's Teachable Moment: As most of you know, I love great umpiring, but sometimes there's a play we might not see and a manager or in most cases a head coach comes out reasonably and asks us to get help. Today's Teachable has Angel, AJ, and a batter swatting a ball out of midair. 

Angel, Ed, Carlos & Dana rehash the play.
I love how this is handled by all accounts. When we're not sure on a rule or what we saw/didn't see, it's imperative that ego doesn't get in the way and that we get the RULE right. This is where, no matter what level of baseball you are doing, it's imperative to know the rules. Get into the book. Not knowing the rules is like doing 75 in a 50... sooner or later you're going to get caught and you'll have nobody to blame but yourself. The crew consultation for Angel Hernandez, Ed Hickox, Carlos Torres, and Chief Dana DeMuth lasts a minute or so and they ultimately get the rule right that the ball was intentionally touched by the batter, which is interference that puts the batter out.

Once you break from a huddle it's important to know who has what responsibility.  How are you going to handle it? Will you just signal, which I think is the right call here, or will you call out the aggrieved manager. Surely you'll be having a discussion with him in a moment considering in this case you're flipping the call. I like how college does it—NCAA gets the manager who requested help back to the dugout. There will be no second discussion if the ruling isn't changed, but we can't do this at all levels.

Gil's Sidebar: In hockey, we have a referee's crease—a ten-foot radius semicircle painted red and positioned below the ice adjacent to the scorer's bench where the crew can go to discuss plays while players must remain outside the crease. If a player encroaches upon the crease during a stoppage of play uninvited, it's a misconduct penalty. We can translate that concept to all sports—in baseball, form your own crease in the middle-infield, in basketball, use the center jump circle, etc.

Correa intentionally acts to interfere with play.
Knowing who has what after the huddle can be as important as flipping the call.  This is a textbook situation on how to handle a play like this.  Would we have liked to get the call right initially? Sure, but crazy and unexpected stuff does happen that can catch us off guard.

In summary, know the rules, expect the unexpected and have fun! Happy Umpiring!!

The Rule: Correa was ruled out pursuant to Official Baseball Rule 6.03(a)(3), which states, "A batter is out for illegal action when—He interferes with the catcher’s fielding or throwing by stepping out of the batter’s box or making any other movement that hinders the catcher’s play at home base."

For good measure, 6.03(a)(3) Comment states, "If the batter interferes with the catcher, the plate umpire shall call 'interference.' The batter is out and the ball dead. No player may advance on such interference (offensive interference) and all runners must return to the last base that was, in the judgment of the umpire, legally touched at the time of the interference."

If the catcher makes a play on the runner despite the interference and successfully retires said runner, the interference is nullified and the runner is declared out. Because two runners were on base (R1, R2), if the catcher were to have thrown out R2, R1's advancement to second base would stand because the official ruling would be that no interference took place.

Dale Scott had a similar play in 2015.
Similar Yet Different: It's important to point out that a batter ordinarily is legal and not liable for being hit with a catcher's throw, or a wild pitch, if he stays within the box and makes no attempt to interfere. The relevant play to compare this to is HP Umpire Dale Scott's interference no-call on Rangers batter Shin-Soo Choo during Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS against Toronto when Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin, after receiving a pitch, threw the ball off Choo's bat while Choo was in the batter's box, allowing baserunner R3 Rougned Odor to score.

The play was legal because Choo did not intend to interfere and was in the batter's box when his bat was struck, accidentally, with the throw. By contrast, Tuesday's Twins-Astros play was illegal because Houston batter Correa intentionally interfered by virtue of reaching out to touch a live baseball, thus hindering the catcher's play.
Related PostCarefree Throw, Extended Bat, and Blue Jays Protest (10/14/15).

Video as follows:

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Out of It - Calculating a 3-Foot Base Path on the Fly

In lieu of tonight's regularly scheduled ejection, we review Cubs batter-runner Javier Baez's infield single care of a base path consideration no-call, as 1B Umpire Chad Whitson answered Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts’ quest for an out with a conclusion that Chicago's athletic shortstop did not violate baseball's first-and-foremost criterion for declaring a runner out during his journey to first base.

The Play: With one out and none on, Cubs batter Baez hit a 0-2 slider from Dodgers pitcher Kenta Maeda up the first base line, where the ball was fielded by LA first baseman David Freese. Upon retrieving the batted ball, Freese turned his attention to Baez, who slammed on the breaks and juked to avoid Freese's tag, diving head-first into first base as Freese unsuccessfully attempted to tag his runner.

Call & Question: 1B Umpire Whitson ruled batter-runner Baez safe at first, eliciting a brief argument from Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts, who sought, to no avail, a pronouncement that Baez had illegally exited his base path in order to avoid Freese's tag.

Let's review the rule and the criteria for declaring a runner out pursuant to Rule 5.09(b)(1).

The Rule: OBR 5.09(b)(1) states that a runner is out when: "He runs more than three feet away from his base path to avoid being tagged unless his action is to avoid interference with a fielder fielding a batted ball. A runner’s base path is established when the tag attempt occurs and is a straight line from the runner to the base he is attempting to reach safely."

Baez was called out of his base path in 2016.
Precedent: Baez was previously declared out for leaving his base path to avoid a tag by 1B Umpire Dana DeMuth in 2016. During the May 22, 2016 Cubs-Giants game, Baez hit a ground ball to Giants first baseman Brandon Belt, who attempted a tag as Baez run to his right to avoid the tag.

DeMuth noted that Baez's starting point at the time of Belt's tag attempt was to the left of the fair line, while his point of farthest avoidance was the to the right of the 45-foot runner's lane that appears in foul territory parallel to the foul line.

Because the 45-foot runner's lane is exactly three feet from the foul line, by rule, DeMuth figured that Baez deviated from his base path by at least three feet in avoiding Belt's tag and declared him out of the base path.
Related PostBaez Out of Base Path in Rare Runner's Lane Appearance (5/23/16).

Baez dives to avoid fielder Belt.
SIDEBAR: Remember, the 45-foot runner's lane is, itself, irrelevant here. The only bearing this lane has is that we know, by rule, that it is a three-foot wide space. Therefore, by using a little imagery transposition, we can estimate what three feet may look like. Baez would never be declared out for a runner's lane violation in this situation, but the three-foot space is relevant solely as far as it helps an umpire establish that the runner may have ran more than three feet away from his base path.

SECOND SIDEBAR: From home to first base, the foul line is also known as the "baseline." Note that the proper call here refers to a base path, not a base line. The runner establishes his own base path.

Part 1: Freese fields the batted ball.
Analysis: We're going to use the following color-coding for our analysis. Green represents batter-runner Baez's base path, red represents the straight line from Baez to first base, and yellow represents the distance between the lines, drawn perpendicularly to the green line. As the accompanying graphic, captured at the moment Freese retrieves the ball, indicates, Baez's base path is, essentially, even with the fair foul line (painted white line aka the colloquial "chalk line").

Part 2: Freese attempts to tag Baez.
Here's Our Problem: OBR 5.09(b)(1) doesn't want us establishing the runner's base path when the fielder gains possession of the baseball. The rule wants us to consider "when the tag attempt occurs." Thus, we advance a few frames and find that Freese appears rather unsure of what to do. Upon realizing that Baez is cutting back toward the inside of the line, Freese changes his momentum and appears to initiate a tag attempt.

Freese initiates his attempted tag as Baez leaves the ground in his juking maneuver.

Part 3: Baez jumps to avoid Freese.
To Determine if This is Out of the Base Path: Thus, the answer to the out of the base path question can be solved thusly: If Baez jumped more than three feet laterally to avoid Freese's tag, whose attempt occurred as Baez left the ground on his left-ward leap, then Baez may be declared out for running more than three feet away from his base path. Otherwise, he is safe for having remained legal pursuant to 5.09(b)(1) in avoiding Freese's tag. You make the call.

Video as follows:

2019 UMPS CARE Online Action Live on MLB

Major League Baseball hosts the 11th annual online @UmpsCare Charities auction, running through Monday, April 29, 2019 at 10 PM Eastern. As in years past, the UMPS CARE auction provides unique experiences, signed memorabilia, apparel, and more with the goal of fundraising for UMPS CARE Charities' Build-A-Bear children's hospital events, on-field opportunities such as Blue for Kids, and college scholarships.

This year's Umpire Gift Baskets were donated by Chad Fairchild, Ted Barrett, and Cory Blaser.

The Chad Fairchild basket features several Ohio State University items and several MLB-branded items as well, including a blue long-sleeve plate shirt, hats, and a few 2018 World Series items.

The Ted Barrett basket also contains 2018 World Series memorabilia, mini boxing gloves, Calling for Christ wristbands, and a toy motorcycle.

The Cory Blaser basket comes with 2018 All-Star Game and 2017 World Baseball Classic items, a few MLB umpire shirts, and a few items for the outdoors.

Even The SABR Book of Umpires and Umpiring—which features a chapter entitled "A History of Umpire Ejections by Gil Imber"—is up for bids, as is an apparel package from the NHL Officials Association.

And then there's this bobblehead....

Click here to visit MLB's UMPS CARE Charities Online Auction website | Video as follows:

Monday, April 22, 2019

MLB Ejection 036 - Mark Carlson (1; Bryce Harper)

HP Umpire Mark Carlson ejected Phillies RF Bryce Harper (strike three call; QOCY) in the top of the 4th inning of the Phillies-Mets game. With none out and none on, Harber took two consecutive 2-1 sinkers from Mets pitcher Steven Matz for called second and third strikes. Replays indicate the pitch ruled strike two was located over the outer edge of home plate and at the midpoint (px -0.80, pz 3.23 [sz_top 3.14 / RAD 3.263] [0.396 inches of overlap prior to MOE]) and the pitch ruled strike three was located over the outer edge of home plate and waist-high (px -0.78, pz 2.50), the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Mets were leading, 2-1. The Mets ultimately won the contest, 5-1.

This is Mark Carlson (6)'s first ejection of 2019.
Mark Carlson now has 4 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 4).
Crew Chief Brian Gorman now has 4 points in Crew Division (3 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 4).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
*The 2-1 pitch was located 1.368 horizontal and 1.392 vertical inches from being deemed incorrect.
Related PostTop 10 MLB Hothead Players by Ejection Frequency (2/28/19).

This is the 36th ejection report of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 17th player ejection of 2019. Prior to ejection, Harper was 0-2 (2 SO) in the contest.
This is Philadelphia's 1st ejection of 2019, T-3rd in the NL East (ATL, NYM 2; PHI, WAS 1; MIA 0).
This is Bryce Harper's first ejection since Sept 20, 2018 (DJ Reyburn; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Mark Carlson's first ejection since September 11, 2018 (Kevin Cash; QOC = Y-C [Balk]).

Wrap: Philadelphia Phillies vs. New York Mets, 4/22/19 | Video as follows:

Pizza Delivery Car Drives on Field During Game

Sure, the umpire can eject a player or coach from a ballgame. Umpires can even throw out bad fans, but does the umpire have the authority to eject a mid-sized sedan that drives onto the field during a game?

This play comes to us from New Hampshire's Seacoast Online, where a Winnacunnet vs Alvirne High School baseball game was briefly interrupted when a pizza delivery that the Alvirne Broncos had ordered made its way onto the field in the fifth inning.

Said Winnacunnet coach and athletic director Aaron Abood, "Alvirne coach Mike Lee likes to try exotic pickoff plays and even though we were in the field, I thought it was some sort of play he set up."

Order was quickly restored when the home plate umpire persuaded the delivery driver to leave the field.

For what it's worth, yes, the umpire can eject a car. The relevant rules are as follows:
Professional Baseball OBR 8.01(e): "Each umpire has authority at his discretion to eject from the playing field (1) any person whose duties permit his presence on the field, such as ground crew members, ushers, photographers, newsmen, broadcasting crew members, etc., and (2) any spectator or other person not authorized to be on the playing field."
College NCAA 4-7: "Only the following people shall be allowed on the playing field: players, coaches in uniform, athletic trainers, umpires, team managers, bat persons, authorized news media (at the discretion of the home team) and authorized home-field attendants."
And NCAA 3-6-b: "Each umpire is an approved official of the institution, league or conference
and is authorized and required to enforce each SECTION of these rules."
High School NFHS 10-1-6: "No umpire may be replaced during a game unless he becomes ill or is
injured. His right to disqualify players or to remove non-players for objecting to decisions or for
unsportsmanlike conduct is absolute. Ejections will be made at the end of playing action."
And NFHS 5-1-1l: "The umpire has the authority to remove any member of the media for not staying in or keeping their equipment in the designated dead ball area."

As for spectator interference by a car not authorized to be on the field, refer to the following video:

Sunday, April 21, 2019

MLB Ejection 035 - Paul Emmel (1; Mickey Callaway)

3B Umpire Paul Emmel ejected Mets Manager Mickey Callaway (check swing dead ball strike two call) in the top of the 7th inning of the Mets-Cardinals game. With one out and none on, Mets batter Robinson Cano attempted to check his swing on a 0-1 fastball from Cardinals pitcher Andrew Miller, ruled a hit-by-pitch by HP Umpire Bruce Dreckman and a dead ball strike (pitched ball hitting the batter as he swings) on appeal by 3B Umpire Emmel. Play was reviewed and adjudicated by the UEFL Appeals Board (0-8-1), the call was incorrect.* At the time of the ejection, the Cardinals were leading, 6-3. The Cardinals ultimately won the contest, 6-4.

This is Paul Emmel (50)'s first ejection of 2019.
Paul Emmel now has -4 points in the UEFL Standings (-2 Prev + 2 MLB - 4 Incorrect Call = -4).
Crew Chief Paul Emmel now has -1 points in Crew Division (-1 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = -1).
*OBR Definition of Terms: "A STRIKE is a legal pitch when so called by the umpire, which: (e) Touches the batter as he strikes at it."

This is the 35th ejection report of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 15th Manager ejection of 2019.
This is New York's 2nd ejection of 2019, T-1st in the NL East (ATL, NYM 2; WAS 1; MIA, PHI 0).
This is Mickey Callaway's 2nd ejection of 2019, 1st since April 13 (Alfonso Marquez; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Paul Emmel's first ejection since August 24, 2017 (Clint Hurdle; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: New York Mets vs. St. Louis Cardinals, 4/21/19 | Video as follows:

Tumpane, Hudson Weather Easter Eggs to Head

HP Umpires John Tumpane (Pittsburgh) and Marvin Hudson (Baltimore) absorbed foul balls to the mask Sunday, remaining in their respective games after brief medical attention. Tumpane's head-hit highlighted his recent adoption of the umpiring helmet, joining umpire Mike Estabrook as the first MLB full-timers to wear a protective vented base coach's helmet made of the thermoplastic polymer known as acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) underneath the traditional-style facemask, in lieu of a fabric-based short-billed plate hat.

Tumpane's foul ball injury delay in Pittsburgh came during a Brandon Crawford at-bat against Richard Rodriguez in the top of the 6th inning of the Giants-Pirates game. Crawford fouled a first-pitch fastball into the center-jaw portion of Tumpane's mask, bringing Pirates training staff and chief Ted Barrett's crew to home plate to evaluate the plate umpire. Tumpane finished the game.

Hudson's foul ball injury delay in Baltimore came during a Nelson Cruz at-bat against Dylan Bundy in the top of the 4th inning of the Twins-Orioles game. Cruz fouled a 1-2 pitch into the center-jaw portion of Hudson's mask, similarly bringing out attention from the Orioles training staff and chief Gary Cederstrom's crew. Hudson also finished the game.

Video as follows: