Saturday, July 20, 2019

Injury Scout Update - Greg Gibson's Triple-A Plate

Greg Gibson served as the home plate umpire for Saturday's minor league (Triple-A) Memphis-Omaha game. Just like injured players, umpires seeking to rejoin MLB's Third Team after a lengthy absence complete minor league rehab assignments on their way back to the Show, a sign that a return to big league baseball is near.

Gibson, whose last MLB game was in May, officiated the first game of the Redbirds-Storm Chasers series on Friday night as the first base umpire alongside Pacific Coast League umpires Jason Starkovich, Nate Tomlinson, and Alex Ziegler.

To really bring Gibby back to full speed, the teams even got into a bean ball war (presumably in Greg's honor) when Omaha's Heath Fillmyer hit batter Lane Thomas with a pitch, resulting in Fillmyer and Storm Chasers Manager Brian Poldberg's 9th inning ejections, care of HP Umpire Starkovich. Earlier in the game, Starkovich ejected Redbirds pitcher Harold Arauz for drilling opponent Nick Dini, resulting in automatic warnings.

Saturday's Lunar Lady Bobblehead Giveaway night celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing was less eventful from an officiating standpoint as Omaha walked off with the 6-5 victory on an Erick Mejia home-run, though photographic evidence indicates that Gibson issued a postgame warning to Storm Chasers outfielder Brett Phillips and a teammate, whose eyes appeared set on giving the MLB'er a Gatorade shower before Greg Gibson, the home plate umpire, motioning to both players, put an end to the idea of dumping a cooler full of liquid on him as the Storm Chasers celebrated in their dugout (and on the field).

Friday, July 19, 2019

MLB Ejection 128 - Sam Holbrook (1; Ketel Marte)

HP Umpire Sam Holbrook ejected Diamondbacks CF Ketel Marte (strike two call; QOCN) in the bottom of the 7th inning of the Brewers-Diamondbacks game. With two out and none on, Marte took a 2-1 changeup from Brewers pitcher Burch Smith for a called second strike before striking out on a subsequent foul tip. Replays indicate the pitch was located off the outer edge of home plate and thigh-high (px -0.97, pz 2.69), the call was incorrect.* At the time of the ejection, the Diamondbacks were leading, 10-7. The Diamondbacks ultimately won the contest, 10-7.

This is Sam Holbrook (34)'s first ejection of 2019.
Sam Holbrook now has 0 points in the UEFL Standings (2 Prev + 2 MLB - 4 Incorrect Call = 0).
Crew Chief Sam Holbrook now has 8 points in Crew Division (8 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = 8).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
This pitch was located 0.672 horizontal inches from being deemed a correct call.

This is the 128th ejection report of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 55th player ejection of 2019. Prior to ejection, Marte was 2-5 (2 SO) in the contest.
This is Arizona's 3rd ejection of 2019, 3rd in the NL West (SD 5; SF 4; ARI 3; COL, LAD 2).
This is Ketel Marte's 1st ejection since March 30, 2018 (Eric Cooper; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Sam Holbrook's 1st ejection since August 28, 2018 (Mark Reynolds; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Milwaukee Brewers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, 7/19/19 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejection 127 - Doug Eddings (3; Bud Black)

HP Umpire Doug Eddings ejected Rockies Manager Bud Black (check swing strike three call) in the top of the 9th inning of the Rockies-Yankees game. With none out and none on, Rockies batter Chris Ianetta attempted to check his swing on a 3-2 pitch from Yankees pitcher Stephen Tarpley, ruled a swinging third strike by Eddings. Play was reviewed and adjudicated by the UEFL Appeals Board (8-0), the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Yankees were leading, 8-2. The Yankees ultimately won the contest, 8-2.

This is Doug Eddings (88)'s third ejection of 2019.
Doug Eddings now has 11 points in the UEFL Standings (7 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 11).
Crew Chief Bill Miller now has 9 points in Crew Division (8 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 9).

This is the 127th ejection report of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 67th Manager ejection of 2019.
This is Colorado's 2nd ejection of 2019, T-3rd in the NL West (SD 5; SF 4; ARI, COL, LAD 2).
This is Bud Black's 1st ejection since Sept 7, 2018 (Andy Fletcher; QOC = Y [Balk]).
This is Doug Eddings' 3rd ejection of 2019, 1st since July 15 (Yacksel Rios; QOC = U [Throwing At]).

Wrap: Colorado Rockies vs. New York Yankees, 7/19/19 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejections 125-126 - Carlos Torres (2-3; CIN)

HP Umpire Carlos Torres ejected Reds 3B Eugenio Suarez and Manager David Bell (strike three call; QOCY) prior to the top of the 2nd inning of the Cardinals-Reds game. In the 1st, with one out and one on (R1), Suarez took a 0-2 fastball from Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright for called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the inner half of home plate and thigh-high (px -0.42, pz 2.23 [sz_bot 1.61, sz_top 3.44]), the call was correct.* At the time of the ejections, the game was tied, 0-0. The Cardinals ultimately won the contest, 12-11.

These are Carlos Torres (37)'s second and third ejections of 2019.
Carlos Torres now has 13 points in the UEFL Standings (5 Prev + 2*[2 MLB + 2 Correct Call] = 13).
Crew Chief Angel Hernandez now has 7 points in Crew Division (5 Previous + 2*[1 Correct Call] = 7).
*The pitch under QOC consideration is the 0-2 pitch ruled strike three. This is due to UEFL Rule 6-5-c-5-c, as approved by the UEFL membership during the 2013 UEFL Rules Summit concerning the rule's language of, "realistically resulted in a different outcome of the individual at-bat."
The 0-2 pitch was located 5.9 horizontal and 9.9 vertical inches from being deemed an incorrect call.

These are the 125th and 126th ejection reports of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 54th player ejection of 2019. Prior to ejection, Suarez was 0-1 (SO) in the contest.
This is the 66th Manager ejection of 2019.
This is Cincinnati's 14/15th ejection of 2019, 1st in the NL Central (CIN 15; MIL 6; PIT 5; CHC 4; STL 3).
This is Eugenio Suarez's 1st ejection since July 9, 2017 (Brian O'Nora; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is David Bell's 7th ejection of 2019, 1st since June 29 (Mark Wegner; QOC = U [Warnings]).

Wrap: St. Louis Cardinals vs. Cincinnati Reds, 7/19/19 | Video as follows:

Judgment Call - Podcast Mini with Gil & tmac

A busy week of baseball—with the Atlantic League's electronic strike zone debut (and ejection), more manager/umpire disputes, a brewing Angels-Astros disagreement, a player laughing as an injured umpire is helped off the field, and ongoing MLB-MLBUA contract negotiations—means it's time for a Judgment Call with Gil & tmac.

This Plate Meeting Podcast mini-episode (numbered as Episode 17M) is available as an audio-only podcast via Anchor, Apple Podcasts, and the others, as well as a video-enhanced edition on the CloseCallSports YouTube channel.

Video and Audio links as follows:

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Injury Scout - Wolcott Out on Foul to Mask

A foul ball knocked HP Umpire Quinn Wolcott out of Thursday's Athletics-Twins game in Minnesota.

With two out and one on in the bottom of the 4th inning, Twins batter CJ Cron fouled a 93-mph 2-1 fastball from A's pitcher Mike Fiers into the jaw portion of Wolcott's traditional-style facemask; he left the game immediately thereafter.

2B Umpire Bruce Dreckman took over for Wolcott behind home plate as 1B Umpire/Crew Chief Gary Cederstrom and 3B Umpire Adrian Johnson worked the field.

Relevant Injury History: There is no recent history of head trauma for Quinn Wolcott.
Related PostDid Detroit Throw at Umpire Wolcott? A Visual Analysis (9/14/17).

Last Game: July 18 | Return to Play: TBD | Time Absent: TBD | Video as follows:

MLB Ejection 124 - Adam Hamari (2; Rick Renteria)

HP Umpire Adam Hamari ejected White Sox Manager Rick Renteria (strike two call; QOCY) in the top of the 2nd inning of the White Sox-Royals game. With none out and none on, White Sox batter Yolmer Sanchez took a 0-1 fastball from Royals pitcher Keller for a called second strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer half of home plate and thigh-high (px -0.60, pz 2.62 [sz_bot 1.54, sz_top 3.22]), the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the White Sox were leading, 2-0. The Royals ultimately won the contest, 6-5.

This is Adam Hamari (78)'s second ejection of 2019.
Adam Hamari now has 2 points in the UEFL Standings (-2 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 2).
Crew Chief Tom Hallion now has 5 points in Crew Division (4 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 5).
*This pitch was located 3.8 horizontal and 9.7 vertical inches from being deemed an incorrect call.
HistoryMLB Ejection 095 - Adam Hamari (1; Rick Renteria) (6/14/18).

This is the 124th ejection report of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 65th Manager ejection of 2019.
This is Chicago's 7th ejection of 2019, T-2nd in the AL Central (DET 9; CWS, KC 7; CLE, MIN 1).
This is Rick Renteria's 5th ejection of 2019, 1st since June 15 (Phil Cuzzi; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Adam Hamari's 2nd ejection of 2019, 1st since May 6 (Charlie Montoyo; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Chicago White Sox vs. Kansas City Royals, 7/18/19 | Video as follows:

MLB Hires Chad Whitson to Full-Time Umpire Staff

Major League Baseball hired Chad Whitson to the full-time MLB umpire staff to replace the retired Mike DiMuro. Whitson's 391 games of big league experience as a call-up/fill-in at the time of promotion feature strong showings in 2017 (124 games) and 2018 (141 games), as well as the first half of 2019 (59 games).

Chad Whitson (Sleeve #62) Hired: A 2005 graduate of the Harry Wendelsedt Umpire School as its "Outstanding Student Runner-Up," Whitson officiated the Appalachian, South Atlantic, California, Arizona Instructional, Eastern, Arizona Fall, and International Leagues.

Whitson made his MLB debut on May 15, 2014 in Cincinnati and is the first umpire hired to the full-time staff since Stu Scheurwater during the 2017-2018 offseason.
Related PostMajor League Umpiring Debut: Chad Whitson (62) (5/15/14).
Related PostSource - Stu Scheurwater Hired to Full-Time MLB Staff (12/23/17).

The 37-year-old resident of Dublin, Ohio has accumulated three career MLB ejections as of his July 2019 promotion, including two ejections of catcher Matt Wieters and his first non-Wieters ejection (of Miguel Cabrera) in May 2019. He replaces retiree Mike DiMuro, whose 2019 crew was chiefed by Bill Miller. Whitson is presently paired with Chief Larry Vanover's crew.
Related PostMike DiMuro Retires After 20 Years (7/18/19).

Navas receives the Dale Ford Award in 2015.
Jose Navas, Matt Winter Promoted: With the vacancy created by Whitson's MLB hiring, Venezuela media reports that Jose Navas has been promoted to Triple-A from the Double-A Southern League, as has SL umpire Matt Winter.

Navas recently chiefed the MiLB All-Star Futures Game at 2019 MLB All-Star Weekend in Cleveland, and received the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League's Gualberto Acosta Award (Umpire of the Year) in January 2017. Navas Corzo also received the inaugural Dale Ford award, which recognizes the top umpire in MiLB's Appalachian League, in 2015.

Winter, who officiated the 2018 Southern League All-Star Game, served as a crew chief in the Southern League until his Triple-A promotion.

MLB Ejection 123 - Brennan Miller (1; Aaron Boone)

HP Umpire Brennan Miller ejected Yankees Manager Aaron Boone (strike one call; QOCN) in the bottom of the 2nd inning of the Rays-Yankees game. With two out and none on, Yankees batter DJ LeMahieu took a first-pitch strike from Rays pitcher Yonny Chirinos. Replays indicate the pitch was located off the outer edge of home plate and waist-high (px 1.2, pz 3.09 [sz_top 3.35]), the call was incorrect.* At the time of the ejection, the game was tied 2-2. The Yankees ultimately won the contest, 6-2.

This is Brennan Miller (55)'s first ejection of 2019.
Brennan Miller now has -2 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Prev + 2 AAA - 4 Incorrect Call = -2).
Crew Chief Gerry Davis now has -1 points in Crew Division (-1 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = -1).
*This pitch was located 4.38 horizontal inches from being deemed a correct call.

This is the 123rd ejection report of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 64th Manager ejection of 2019.
This is New York's 3rd ejection of 2019, 3rd in the AL East (BAL, TOR 4; NYY 3; BOS 2; TB 1).
This is Aaron Boone's 3rd ejection of 2019, 1st since May 1 (Paul Emmel; QOC = Y [HBP/Foul]).
This is Brennan Miller's first career MLB ejection.

Wrap: Tampa Bay Rays vs. New York Yankees (Game 1), 7/18/19 | Video as follows:

Mike DiMuro Retires After 20 Years

American and Major League umpire Mike DiMuro has retired after a 20-year AL and MLB career

Mike DiMuro (Sleeve #16) Retires: 20-year AL and MLB umpire Mike DiMuro retires after a 1,878-game big league career that included three Division Series and one All-Star Game.

After graduating from the Jim Evans Umpire Academy in 1991, DiMuro officiated in the Arizona, California, Texas, American Association, Arizona Fall, and Pacific Coast Leagues, in addition to a stint in Japan's Central League in 1997 before his appointment to the Major League (USA) staff in 1999.

Baseball 101 - Interference vs Obstruction

The terms "interference" and "obstruction" sometimes get confused on TV, but for an umpire, these two words carry very different definitions and the rules prescribe opposite penalties. In general, the offense interferes and the defense obstructs; the terms are not interchangeable.

We at the UEFL University have produced a short informational video on the most basic difference between offensive interference and defensive obstruction. This is part of our Baseball 101 series, so we won't be discussing much other than very simple concepts such as a baserunner who impedes a fielder attempting to make a play on a batted ball (interference) or a fielder without the ball who impedes a runner attempting to run the bases during a rundown or thrown ball (obstruction).

Advanced concepts such as choosing which fielder to protect during a batted ball, obstruction that occurs during a batted ball by a fielder not in the act of fielding, interference by a runner during a thrown ball, the running lane, catcher's interference (OBR/NCAA)/obstruction (NFHS), or differences amongst levels (OBR/NCAA/NFHS) aren't discussed in this rudimentary rules concept training.

Definition of Terms - Interference vs Obstruction
"Offensive interference is an act by the team at bat which interferes with, obstructs, impedes, hinders or confuses any fielder attempting to make a play."
"OBSTRUCTION is the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball and not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner."

Click here to visit the UEFL University - Video Rulebook Home Page.

Umpires should already know this, but do share this video with your favorite broadcaster or fanbase:

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

MLB Ejection 122 - Dan Iassogna (1; Marcus Stroman)

3B Umpire Dan Iassogna ejected Blue Jays bench player/pitcher Marcus Stroman (strike two call by HP Umpire Lance Barrett; QOCY) in the top of the 8th inning of the Blue Jays-Red Sox game. With two out and two on (R1, R2), Galvis took a 1-1 cutter from Red Sox pitcher Brandon Workman for a called second strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer edge of home plate and thigh-high (px -0.87, pz 2.73) and that all other pitches during the inning were properly officiated, the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Red Sox were leading, 4-3. The Red Sox ultimately won the contest, 5-4.

This is Dan Iassogna (58)'s first ejection of 2019.
Dan Iassogna now has 2 points in the UEFL Standings (-1 Prev + 2 MLB + 1 Correct-Crewmate = 2).
Crew Chief Dan Iassogna now has 1 point in Crew Division (0 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 1).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
This pitch was located 0.53 horizontal inches from being deemed an incorrect call.

This is the 122nd ejection report of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 53rd player ejection of 2019. Prior to ejection, Stroman did not appear in the game.
This is Toronto's 4th ejection of 2019, T-1st in the AL East (BAL, TOR 4; BOS, NYY 2; TB 1).
This is Marcus Stroman's 1st ejection since July 27, 2017 (Will Little; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Dan Iassogna's 1st ejection since May 5, 2018 (Archie Bradley; QOC = Y [Check Swing]).

Wrap: Toronto Blue Jays vs. Boston Red Sox, 7/18/19 | Video as follows:

Angels Drill Marisnick, Benches Clear

A Heads Up alert was issued as Los Angeles hit Astros batter Jake Marisnick between the shoulders during Tuesday night's game, just a week after Marisnick injured Angels catcher Jonathan Lucroy in Houston during an illegal slide in violation of Home Plate Collision Rule 6.01(i). This has the makings of a bench-clearing brawl at some point in the future, no?

Lucroy was carted off the field following the July 7 collision and is slated for surgery to repair a broken nose along with observation of concussion-like symptoms. MLB, for its part, suspended Marisnick two games for the injurious slide, which was very much illegal.
Related PostHP Collision Rule - Marisnick Illegally Hits Lucroy (7/8/19).

Marisnick injures Lucroy a week prior.
This makes Tuesday's HBP in the top of the 6th inning at Angel Stadium seem all the more intentional and retaliatory, and HP Umpire Stu Scheurwater apparently agreed enough to issue warnings to both teams as a result (Mets Manager Terry Collins probably would have wanted Stu in the infamous Syndergaard-Utley game in New York).

Marisnick took his lumps and jogged to first base and baseball nearly returned to business as usual until the Astros dugout's barking drew a reaction from Angels first baseman Albert Pujols, briefly clearing the benches (more-so the bullpens than the dugouts, really), as 1B Umpire and Crew Chief Mark Wegner (who has the plate for Wednesday's game) returned Pujols to his position as Marisnick told his own team to calm down.

Gil's Call: Yes, the slide was illegal, but I maintain it wasn't an intent to injure. What confirms my gut feeling is Marisnick's reaction to being hit by Noe Ramirez on Tuesday—Marisnick took his base without any fanfare—and his reaction to the impending bench-clearer—he motioned to his own team to knock it off. In a sense, he accepted his on-field punishment and wanted to keep playing afterward without objection. That's the reaction you'd like to see.

HP Umpire Scheurwater warns both teams.
In any case, despite video evidence clearly indicating that Scheurwater warned both teams, Astros Manager AJ Hinch nonetheless said in postgame comments, "They got a free shot at him with no warning, with no ejection. We'll see if there's discipline."

Not to be outdone, Angels Manager Brad Ausmus and pitcher Ramirez denied intent as well (likely in large part due to admitting fault = a larger suspension).

Video as follows:

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

MLB Ejection 121 - Tom Hallion (1; Jorge Soler)

HP Umpire Tom Hallion ejected Royals DH Jorge Soler (strike three call; QOCY) in the bottom of the 8th inning of the White Sox-Royals game. With two out and none on, Soler took a 3-2 cutter from White Sox pitcher Josh Osich for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the inner edge of home plate and knee-high (px -0.63, pz 1.89 [sz_bot 1.72]) and that all other pitches during the at-bat were properly officiated, the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Royals were leading, 11-0. The Royals ultimately won the contest, 11-0.

This is Tom Hallion (20)'s first ejection of 2019.
Tom Hallion now has 6 points in the UEFL Standings (2 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 6).
Crew Chief Tom Hallion now has 5 points in Crew Division (4 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 5).
*This pitch was located 3.4 horizontal and 4.5 vertical inches from being deemed an incorrect call.

This is the 121st ejection report of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 52nd player ejection of 2019. Prior to ejection, Soler was 0-4 (2 SO) in the contest.
This is Kansas City's 7th ejection of 2019, 2nd in the AL Central (DET 9; KC 7; CWS 6; CLE, MIN 1).
This is Jorge Soler's 2nd ejection of 2019, 1st since June 14 (H Wendelstedt; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Tom Hallion's 1st ejection since Sept 9, 2018 (Jacob Nottingham; QOC = U [Warnings]).

Wrap: Chicago White Sox vs. Kansas City Royals, 7/17/19 | Video as follows:

Injury Scout - O'Nora Hit by Backswing

After HP Umpire Brian O'Nora exited Tuesday's Mariners-Athletics game in Oakland following a backswing to the head, Seattle pitcher Marco Gonzales criticized the injured ump, calling it "unacceptable" that he remained in the ballgame based on the premise that he erred on a ball/strike call.

With two out and none on in the top of the 3rd inning, Mariners batter Domingo Santana fouled a 2-1 91-mph fastball from A's pitcher Daniel Mengden with Santana's bat striking the side of O'Nora's traditional-style facemask and traditional-style plate hat (e.g., not an Estabrook/Tumpane-style helmet) on the backswing.

O'Nora remained in the contest through the 5th inning, upon which time 2B Umpire James Hoye took over behind home plate with 1B Umpire Mark Ripperger and 3B Umpire Jeremie Rehak on the lines. O'Nora is the Jeff Kellogg crew's usual backup Crew Chief, meaning that on his absence, Umpire #3 Hoye assumed acting Crew Chief duties.

Relevant Injury History: There is a history of head trauma for Brian O'Nora.
> On September 7, 2018, O'Nora left a Boston game following a foul ball to the head.
Related PostInjury Scout - Foul Ball Prompts O'Nora's Early Exit (9/7/18).

> On September 18, 2016, O'Nora left a game in San Francisco due to a foul ball injury.
Related PostInjury - Brian O'Nora Out on Hit to Facemask (9/18/16).

Player Criticizes Injured Umpire: After losing to the Athletics 9-2, Mariners starting pitcher Marco Gonzales (6.0 IP, 6 ER, 2 HR, L) criticized O'Nora for remaining on the field in the aftermath of the traumatic event: "If you can't stay in the game to make calls, if you can't do that then you shouldn't be in the game...As far as I know I think he has blurry vision, concussion, and he had it for over an inning, and he knew he wasn't feeling good. So to me it's unacceptable."

Last Game: July 16 | Return to Play: July 18 | Time Absent: 1 Day | Video as follows:

MLB Ejections 119-120 - Chris Conroy (2-3; PHI)

HP Umpire Chris Conroy ejected Phillies pitcher Hector Neris (throwing at Dodgers batter David Freese) and Manager Gabe Kapler (arguing Neris' ejection/warnings) in the top of the 9th inning of the Dodgers-Phillies game. With none out and none on, Neris walked Dodgers batter Max Muncy and surrendered a single to AJ Pollock, struck out Corey Seager, and gave up a home run to Max Beaty. David Freese then took a first-pitch inside splitter followed by a 1-0 fastball, resulting in a hit-by-pitch. Replays indicate the pitch was located inside and struck Freese on his upper back as he attempted to duck out of the way; warnings had not previously been issued, the call was irrecusable.* At the time of the ejection, the Dodgers were leading, 8-6. The Phillies ultimately won the contest, 9-8.

These are Chris Conroy's second and third ejections of 2019.
Chris Conroy now has 1 point in the UEFL Standings (-3 Prev + 2*[2 MLB + 0 QOCU] = 1).
Crew Chief Bill Miller now has 11 points in Crew Division (9 Previous + 2*[1 QOCU] = 11).
*This is the second consecutive LAD-PHI game with an intent-HBP ejection.
Related PostMLB Ejection 117 - Doug Eddings (2; Yacksel Rios) (7/15/19).

These are the 119th and 120th ejection reports of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 51st player ejection of 2019. Prior to ejection, Neris' line was 0.1, 3 ER, HR.
This is the 63rd Manager ejection of 2019.
This is Philadelphia's 5/6th ejection of 2019, 1st in the NL East (PHI 6; ATL, NYM, WAS 5; MIA 3).
This is Hector Neris' first career MLB ejection.
This is Gabe Kapler's 3rd ejection of 2019, 1st since June 25 (Joe West; QOC = U [Warnings]).
This is Chris Conroy's 2/3rd ejection of 2019, 1st since June 21 (Gerardo Parra; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Philadelphia Phillies, 7/16/19 | Video as follows:

ALPB Bees-Pats Non-Steal Pact, Ejection Cycle

An umpire ejection cycle (all umpires had ejections) a New Britain batter refusing to steal first base, and Somerset's General Manager on the field during a dispute with the umpires featured in the Atlantic League's latest edition of screwy baseball, highlighting Sunday's modified doubleheader between New Britain and Somerset on the heels of the ALPB-ordered resumption of play following an overturned judgment call from the night before.

Sunday brought more Atlantic League fun.
A Resumed Game: To recap, HP Umpire Leonardo had called Patriots batter-runner Ramon Flores out at home plate with two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning of Saturday's Bees-Patriots game, with New Britain leading 7-6, thus ending the game. Somerset appealed to the league office based on the finding that New Britain catcher Logan Moore failed to tag Flores (Moore dropped the baseball during the tag attempt; Leonardo had ruled the runner out).

Despite Official Baseball Rule 7.04 which states, "No protest shall ever be permitted on judgment decisions by the umpire," Atlantic League President Rick White ordered the game restarted at the point of interruption (e.g., the game tied at seven with two outs in the ninth), having reversed Leonardo's judgment call of "out" to that of "safe."
Related PostAtlantic League Overturns Umpire's Judgment Call (7/14/19).

SIDEBAR: This is not a rules interpretation issue! It is a judgment call made by a home plate umpire who simply ruled the runner out on the tag and did not observe that the catcher dropped the ball. It's that simple and has nothing to do with the application or misapplication of OBR's definition of a tag. The teachable moment for umpires is to look for a possessed ball to confirm the validity of a tag, especially on a game-ending play, but do not confuse the umpire's apparent error with a rules interpretation issue; it is not!
Related PostReplay Rewind - Hollywood Magic at Dodger Stadium (9/5/18).

When play resumed Sunday, New Britain retired Somerset to end the ninth and, thanks to the Atlantic League's extra-inning tiebreaker rule wherein a runner starts the inning at second base, scored three runs in the top of the 10th, holding Somerset to one run in the bottom frame, to win the resumed game, 10-8.

Pats President/GM discusses the pre-game EJ.
3B Umpire Steve Leonardo's Ejection? During the plate meeting ahead of Game 2, 3B Umpire Leonardo motioned to the Patriots dugout and appeared to effect an ejection mechanic. It was unclear what this potential pregame ejection concerned, though the broadcasters noted the uniform number of the offending party ended in a 4 (C Yovan Gonzalez [4], IF Dario Pizzano [14], P David Kubiak [24], C Mike Ohlman [34], 1B Coach Fox Beyer [44]; all players were seen on the field or in the dugout during the game and it appeared Leonardo may have dispalyed a repeated digit by virtue of palm-out/palm-in, as in #44 Beyer).

Even stranger, Somerset Patriots President/General Manager Patrick McVerry appeared to join the conversation between the umpires and Patriots Field Manager Brett Jodie following this ejection signal before leaving the discussion with a phone to his ear.

Batter Ford refused to steal first base.
Bees Batter Refuses to Steal First Base: Despite a new Atlantic League rule that allows batters to "steal" first base during any uncaught pitch, New Britain leadoff hitter Darren Ford remained in the batter's box following a 1-2 pitch in the dirt that careened to the backstop, signaling to the Patriots dugout that he wouldn't be taking the base on such a wild pitch, to which the dugout broke out into applause. Somerset's broadcast speculated that there may have been a gentleman's agreement between the teams not to take advantage of the new rule.

A two-strike bunt preceded an ejection.
1B Umpire Derrick Brooks' Ejection: With two out and none on in the top of the 5th inning, Bees batter Bijan Rademacher bunted a 2-2 pitch (recall that one of ALPB's other new rules allows one foul bunt with two strikes) to catcher Patriots catcher Gonzalez, who threw to first baseman Edwin Espinal as Rademacher arrived at first base, ruled out by 1B Umpire Brooks. Rademacher was subsequently ejected arguing the out/safe call.

HP Umpire Criss ejects Pats' Ohlman
HP Umpire Matt Criss' Ejection: With none out and none on in the bottom of the 8th inning, Patriots batter Mike Ohlman took a 3-1 pitch from Bees pitcher Anthony Alicki for a called second strike, and was ejected arguing this ruling as broadcasters concluded, "he certainly got his money's worth."

The SPN.tv broadcast speculated it was Ohlman (#34) whom Leonardo addressed prior to the game, in which case the sequence would have resulted in an apparent rescinded ejection, which, if it was indeed an ejection that was revised to a warning, ultimately resulted in a delayed false-double-ejection later in the game.

With this ejection, the three-umpire crew completed the ejection cycle (or at least the ejection mechanic cycle) on another increasingly-business-as-usual day in the Atlantic League.

Video as follows:

Podcast - Dave Phillips (Part 1)

At long last, our Plate Meeting Podcast with Dave Phillips is here! Davey's three decades in the American and Major League Baseball spanning 3,933 regular season games, three ALDS, six ALCS, and four World Series (83 ejections) is the lore of all things umpire, and a master storyteller behind the mic.

This St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame inductee presided over some strange sequences, including Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park (inspiration for his book title, Center Field on Fire), the continuation of Royals vs Yankees following Kansas City's successful protest of the George Brett pine tar incident, and the confiscation of Albert Belle's corked bat (and theft of the bat from the umpires' locker room by Cleveland pitcher Jason Grimsley) that ended with a criminal investigation run by a former FBI agent.

In Part 1 of our interview with Davey, we talk about his journey to the big leagues and he recounts tales about his experience and working with storied umpires he worked with along the way.

Click the below play (▶) button to listen to "Episode 16 - Dave Phillips (Part 1)" or visit the show online at https://anchor.fm/the-plate-meeting. The Plate Meeting is also available on iTunes (Apple Podcasts), Google, Castbox, RadioPublic, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, and several other podcast apps.

Alternate Link: Episode 16 - Dave Phillips (Part 1).

Additional Links, Videos, and Other Media:

The Plate Meeting is brought to you by OSIP, where Outstanding Sportsmanship IParamount.

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Related VideoBaseball's Mission Impossible (Albert Belle Corked Bat/Grimsley Theft) (1:57:00).

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Monday, July 15, 2019

MLB Ejection 118 - Jordan Baker (1; Yasmani Grandal)

HP Umpire Jordan Baker ejected Brewers C Yasmani Grandal (strike three call; QOCY) in the bottom of the 6th inning of the Braves-Brewers game. With none out and none on, Grandal took a 3-2 cutter from Braves pitcher Josh Tomlin for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer half of home plate and at the knee (px -0.66, pz 1.64 [sz_bot 1.55]) and that all other pitches during the at-bat were properly officiated, the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Braves were leading, 3-1. The Braves ultimately won the contest, 4-2.

This is Jordan Baker (71)'s first ejection of 2019.
Jordan Baker now has -1 points in the UEFL Standings (-5 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = -1).
Crew Chief Marvin Hudson now has 1 point in Crew Division (0 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 1).
*This pitch was located 1.392 vertical inches from being deemed an incorrect call.

This is the 118th ejection report of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 50th player ejection of 2019. Prior to ejection, Grandal was 0-2 (2 SO) in the contest.
This is Milwaukee's 6th ejection of 2019, 2nd in the NL Central (CIN 13; MIL 6; PIT 5; CHC 4; STL 3).
This is Yasmani Grandal's 1st ejection since June 19, 2018 (Tripp Gibson; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Jordan Baker's 1st ejection since March 29, 2018 (Brian Snitker; QOC = Y [Check Swing]).

Wrap: Atlanta Braves vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 7/15/19 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejection 117 - Doug Eddings (2; Yacksel Rios)

HP Umpire Doug Eddings ejected Phillies pitcher Yacksel Rios (throwing at Dodgers batter Justin Turner; QOCU) in the top of the 8th inning of the Dodgers-Phillies game. With none out and none on, Rios gave up a double to Dodgers batter Matt Beaty, double to Joc Pederson, and home run to Alex Verdugo. Immediately thereafter, Dodgers batter Turner took a first-pitch slider for a hit-by-pitch. Replays indicate the pitch was located inside and struck Turner on the left thigh; warnings had not previously been issued, the call was irrecusable. At the time of the ejection, the Dodgers were leading, 12-1. The Dodgers ultimately won the contest, 16-2.

This is Doug Eddings (88)'s second ejection of 2019.
Doug Eddings now has 7 points in the UEFL Standings (5 Prev + 2 MLB + 0 Irrecusable Call = 7).
Crew Chief Bill Miller now has 9 points in Crew Division (8 Previous + 1 Irrecusable Call = 9).

This is the 117th ejection report of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 49th player ejection of 2019. Prior to ejection, Rios' line was 0.0 IP, 3 (4) ER, HR.
This is Philadelphia's 4th ejection of 2019, 4th in the NL East (ATL, NYM, WAS 5; PHI 4; MIA 3).
This is Yacksel Rios' first career MLB ejection.
This is Doug Eddings' 2nd ejection of 2019, 1st since June 20 (Asdrubal Cabrera; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Philadelphia Phillies, 7/15/19 | Video as follows:

ALPB TrackMan Follies - A Neck-High Strike

Long before the term "robot umpire" entered baseball's mainstream lexicon, I wrote that the electronic strike zone had a significant vertical blind spot. One day after the first Atlantic League TrackMan ejection, MLB/ALPB's computer called a neck-high strike on a batter squaring around to bunt in what nearly turned into the second TrackMan-related ejection in as many days.

Stop & Think: The computer-generated strike zone graphic placed this pitch well within the strike zone. This is yet another of dozens of examples of what we've seen based on less than a week's worth of the Atlantic League's automated ball/strike system (e.g., the All-Star Game had a 37.6% discrepancy rate, and the aforementioned neck-high called third strike isn't even part of the discrepancy group since the graphics & TrackMan call agreed that the neck-high pitch was a "strike").
Related PostReviewing Atlantic League's Automated Strike Zone (7/11/19).

Now extrapolate that to MLB's FoxTrax and K-Zone graphics, care of PitchCast...this failure or error rate is precisely why the technology is nowhere near ready for the big leagues and, as a consequence, precisely why casual observers routinely think umpires aren't great at plate calling while the league privately tells the umpires that they are doing a fine job (fans are influenced by broadcast graphics that are routinely incorrect).
Related PostCall for Umpire Accountability & the 97% Plate Score (4/19/19).

The 3rd strike.
The Play: With none out and one on (R2) in the top of the 6th inning of Rockers-Patriots, Rockers batter Giovanny Alfonzo showed bunt on a 0-2 pitch from Patriots pitcher Julio Perez before pulling the bat back as the ball sailed past Alfonzo, approximately neck-high.* After the customary TrackMan delay, HP Umpire Kyle Fecteau called Alfonzo out on strikes.

The Non-Ejection: As beleaguered batter Alfonzo flipped his bat and threw his arms in the air, a brief discussion ensued between the umpires and High Point coaching staff, including Frank Viola, who was ejected earlier in the series for arguing a TrackMan ball/strike call.
Related PostHistory - Baseball's First Ejection Due to TrackMan (7/12/19).

Pitcher: Throws neck-high. TrackMan: "Strike"
The Overrule Provision: An umpire is empowered to override the TrackMan decision on an overwhelmingly and clearly incorrect call: mainly the rather black-and-white issue of a pitch that bounces in front of home plate and crosses at a point above the hollow of the knee, where TrackMan's "strike" call is clearly wrong. Much less clear is a situation where the properties of the batter's stance obfuscates the lower and upper limits of the strike zone, as in a bunt attempt, juxtaposed alongside an electronic system the league wants to pass off as accurate and legitimate.

The look on umpire Detweiler's face says it all.
The Counterargument: Whereas High Point argued that umpire Fecteau could have overruled TrackMan (as Viola did with umpire Tim Detweiler on Friday night), had Fecteau disregarded TrackMan in favor of his own call, opposing Somerset would have entered the dispute with the counterargument of why the umpire overruled the technology, given ALPB and MLB's investment in its implementation—the "no win" proposition.

The Problem: As previously stated, vertical strike zone error with MLB's TrackMan (and StatCast/PitchCast) has been an ongoing problem. FiveThirtyEight caught on when MLB switched from Pitch f/x to StatCast in 2017, as have many other analytic outlets, and baseball academics have been aware of the issue ever since. As I wrote in another column, the mainstream has invested far too much in the technology to make much of it, at least not yet.
Related PostMLB Ejection 077 - Jeremie Rehak (4; Brad Ausmus) (6/9/19).
Related PostUEFL f/x vs K-Zone and the Player-Umpire Disconnect (10/4/18).
Related PostRob Manfred Talks Robot Umps - Tech is "Way Up" (5/30/18).
Related PostGil's Call - Best Practices and Avoiding Faulty Journalism (7/5/17).

Big League Example: When Ron Kulpa ejected Houston Astros coach Alex Cintron and Manager AJ Hinch in April, PitchCast, in real-time, indicated Kulpa's call was incorrect. The ejections generated much fanfare when Kulpa responded to Hinch's instruction not to look at the dugout with, "I can do anything I want" (for the future, PR-friendly response is, "I can look where I need to in order to do my job; if someone in the dugout is distracting me from my duties, I must look in their direction to warn and/or eject the offender"; make sure you say that over the span of about two seconds).
Related PostMLB Ejections 007-08 - Ron Kulpa (1-2; Cintron, Hinch) (4/3/19).

Kulpa was right, but Hinch didn't know it.
In any case, a day after the game ended, good old MLBAM processed the game's numbers and credited Kulpa with a correct call after all. This is a routine postgame process that ordinarily benefits umpires (because the humans adjust to vertical zones in real-time while computers do not), that the public rarely if ever hears about. We've known for awhile that the strike zone computers are generally unable to execute real-time vertical calculations, and those chickens are coming home to roost with the Atlantic League TrackMan experiment, which will continue its bumpy ride off into the dog days of summer.
Related PostBad Computer Umpire - Faulty Pitch Data Defames Kulpa (4/6/19).

Once the ALPB experiment proves problematic past a certain point, MLB may admit the error of the Atlantic League's ways and divest itself from the problem through a PR-laden campaign that instead of scapegoating an umpire, may very well end up scapegoating a computer. Who else could possibly be left to blame?

*SIDEBAR: Why was Alfonzo bunting with two strikes? Because one of the other Atlantic League rules changes allows a foul bunt with two strikes to be deemed a foul ball, instead of a third strike.
Related PostAtlantic League Debuts New Rules, E-Zone (7/10/19).

Video as follows:

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Atlantic League Overturns Umpire's Judgment Call

The Atlantic League made more baseball history by overturning an on-field judgment call, reversing HP Umpire Steve Leonardo's out call on a game-ending play at the plate following protest from the Somerset Patriots to the league office after the game. Despite Official Baseball Rule 7.04's prohibition of judgment call protests, the league ordered the Somerset Patriots and New Britain Bees to resume from the time of the reversed call.

The Patriots argue to no avail after the out call.
The Play: With two out and none on in the bottom of the 9th inning of Saturday's Bees-Patriots game in Somerset, Patriots batter Ramon Flores hit a fly ball off the wall and attempted to score on an inside-the-park home run as Bees catcher Logan Moore attempted to field second baseman Jonathan Galvez's throw. Ruled out for the third and final out of the night by HP Umpire Leonardo, replays indicate catcher Moore had dropped the ball.

Protest: With Replay Review not in use in the Atlantic League, the game ended and the Somerset Patriots appealed to the league office for intervention. Despite Official Baseball Rule 7.04, which plainly states, "No protest shall ever be permitted on judgment decisions by the umpire," the Atlantic League affirmed Somerset's complaint and ordered the game replayed from the point of interruption: Flores' run shall count and the game is resumed in the bottom of the 9th inning with the score tied at 7.

An umpire called an out on this play.
SIDEBAR: This should go without saying, but it's always good to say it. OBR's General Instructions to Umpires states, "Keep your eye everlastingly on the ball while it is in play." When it comes to an out call, the old adage of "show me the ball," although not always practical in the modern baseball environment, nonetheless carries a wise lesson. Patience is key on big plays such as a potential game-tying out/safe call at home plate with two outs in the ninth inning.

The final sentence of this instruction states it best: "Watch out for dropped balls after you have called a man out." For more on this lesson of glove-and-ball tricks—and this is where Todd Frazier's reputation precedes him, as Frazier duped 3B Umpire Mark Wegner into calling an out on a play wherein the batted ball fell into the stands—see the following related post.
Related PostReplay Rewind - Hollywood Magic at Dodger Stadium (9/5/18).

Loose ball on the ground after the out call.
Gil's Call: This is more publicity for the Atlantic League, although this too (and overruling an umpire's judgment is not one of the announced rules changes in the ALPB) opens the box to controversy. Although this out call was clearly erroneous as the catcher very clearly appeared to drop the baseball in his tag attempt, where do we draw the line in overturning on-field judgment?

HYPOTHETICAL: For instance, what if the umpire's call here was incidentally correct because the runner had actively swiped at the catcher's glove and committed interference in order to knock the ball loose? In other words, what if the umpire called the runner out on the tag—an objectively incorrect call—but nonetheless got the call correct because of interference that went undetected?

A-Rod swipes at Arroyo's glove in 2004.
In Game 6 of the 2004 American League Championship Series, Yankees batter Alex Rodriguez was ruled safe by 1B Umpire Randy Marsh on a play at first base. After consultation with HP Umpire Joe West, the call was changed to "out" due to interference, as replays indicate that Rodriguez appeared to swat at Red Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo's glove, causing the ball to come loose.

It's sometimes helpful to use extremely clear and extreme examples such as A-Rod's 2004 ALCS interfering swipe to illustrate concepts, as generally, most controversial decisions on a baseball field involve plays which are not so obvious and much more difficult to officiate.

High schools have learned their lessons.
With Replay Review, a lengthy list of regulations and procedures govern how plays are to be examined and adjudicated in real-time. In leagues without video instant replay, and in the case of post-game judgment call protests, the process becomes significantly muddier, especially with OBR 7.04's statement that prohibits judgment call reviews. How far is too far and what is and isn't reviewable via post-game league office intervention?

Real Life Example: High schools are finding out. Whereas the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) in 2018 declined to intervene in a basketball game following a protest of a scoring error, the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) made a name for itself after affirming a grainier judgment call protest in baseball.
Related PostNY State Federation Dismisses HS Basketball Protest (3/27/18).
Related PostDangerous Precedent - GHSA Overturns Judgment Call (5/22/17).

After GHSA opened the door to judgment call protests, member schools began calling the association with complaints, culminating in the GHSA Board's decision to amend its bylaws so as to bar future protests based on judgment calls, following an appeal filed by the Peach County HS football team regarding a side judge's alleged error.
Related PostGHSA Amends Bylaws to Exclude Judgment Calls (12/20/17).

The aforementioned portrays the potential complications for plays of this nature, and a league which violates the rules of professional baseball in OBR 7.04 in order to right an immediate wrong without thinking of greater implications and consequences places itself in jeopardy of going the way of GHSA.

SIDEBAR: For this reason alone, Bud Selig's decision in declining to overturn Jim Joyce's out call in the Armando Galarraga imperfect game was a procedurally proper ruling. MLB obviously put into place Replay Review afterward, but at the time, there was no rules-legal recourse for reviewing such an out/safe judgment call, and it is still illegal and in conflict with the Official Baseball Rules to entertainment a protest based on a judgment call after the game.

Video as follows: