Saturday, August 24, 2019

Morales' Mercy - Dodgers' Key Time Call Against NY

As New York's Gleyber Torres arrived at home plate with the tying run after Yankees runner Brett Gardner slid into Dodgers infielder Max Muncy, HP Umpire Gabe Morales called "Time" and waved off the score, having declared the play dead at Los Angeles pitcher Kenley Jansen's request prior to Torres' feverish sprint home.

With Muncy rolling on the ground in an apparent injury after Gardner's slide—a legal slide confirmed as bona fide following Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts' unsuccesful challenge for slide rule interference—Morales granted Jansen's timeout request to load the bases for New York (after Replay Review determined that Gardner was safe at second, that is).

But with baserunner Torres careening toward home plate prior to Morales raising his arms to announce "Time," why did the plate umpire (referred to by rule as the umpire-in-chief) kill a play that appeared to be alive, and what do the rules say about calling "Time"?

Morales explains his call to Aaron Boone.
The Rule: Official Baseball Rule 5.12(b) governs this scenario, states, "The ball becomes dead when an umpire calls 'Time.' The umpire-in-chief shall call 'Time':", and is followed by a list of possible reasons for timeouts.

Relevant to this play is OBR 5.12(b)(3)—"When an accident incapacitates a player or umpire." For the purpose of this analysis, we interpret what happened to Muncy (getting hurt as a result of the video-affirmed legal collision with Gardner) as an accident that incapacitated a player.

OK, fine, but how about timing: WHEN is an umpire allowed to call "Time" for this reason?

Morales waits to call "Time" in LA.
The answer is embedded further in the rulebook's 5.12(b)(8): "Except in the cases stated in paragraph (2) and (3)(A) of this rule, no umpire shall call 'Time' while a play is in progress."

Paragraph two pertains to light failure that makes it difficult or impossible for an umpire to see the ball (that provision doesn't apply here), while (3)(A) as a subsection of the accident/incapacitation rule specifies precisely who is entitled to an immediate "Time" call under the rule: "If an accident to a runner is such as to prevent him from proceeding to a base to which he is entitled, as on a home run hit out of the playing field, or an award of one or more bases, a substitute runner shall be permitted to complete the play."

In other words, calling "Time" during play in the event of a severe injury is reserved for a hurt runner—not a fielder.

Time can be called during a runner's HR trot.
Equally important is to understand that live ball/dead ball is a separate concept from what constitutes a "play." We can have a "play" during a live ball or during a dead ball, and when the ball is live there may or may not be a play in progress (also true for dead balls...recall that the bases are usually run during live balls, but under certain circumstances [HR, dead ball base awards], can also be run when time is out, as in the OBR 5.12(b)(3)(A) exception).

In this situation, what most likely occurred is that HP Umpire Morales saw Jansen requesting "Time." At this point, he noticed that all Yankees baserunners—Torres at third, Gardner at second, and batter-runner Gio Urshela at first—appeared to be at or near their bases, with no physical indication of any intent to advance. Torres, specifically, had his back to home plate and was walking back toward third base.

This, for Morales, signaled that the play was over: everyone was where they wanted to be. With the play naturally concluded, in his estimation, Morales granted Jansen's request for "Time" which allowed Los Angeles to attend to the injured Muncy.

Like a hockey ref, Morales had prior intent.
What Morales did not count on was that Torres started breaking for home plate just as he made his decision to declare the ball dead. By the time Morales raised his arms to signal his call, Torres was already well down the third base line, such that—much like a hockey referee who intends to blow the whistle to signify a frozen puck, but hasn't yet put the whistle to his lips as the puck is jarred loose and poked into the net (the officials' intent to blow rule)—it appeared Morales was calling "Time" while a play was in progress when, in fact, Morales had already determined that the play was over before he had the opportunity to raise his arms and communicate as much.

Unfortunately for New York, LA won the game by one run, making Morales' call a significant sequence as Jansen worked out of the ninth-inning, bases-loaded jam. | Video as follows:

MLB Ejection 171 - Paul Emmel (3; Yonathan Daza)

HP Umpire Paul Emmel ejected Rockies CF Yonathan Daza (strike three call; QOCN) in the top of the 7th inning of the #Rockies-#Cardinals game. With two out and two on (R1, R3), Daza took a 1-2 fastball from Cardinals pitcher Giovanny Gallegos for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located off the outer edge of home plate and thigh-high (px 0.95, pz 2.96 [sz_top 3.54]), the call was incorrect.* At the time of the ejection, the Cardinals were leading, 5-0. The Cardinals ultimately won the contest, 6-0.

This is Paul Emmel (50)'s third ejection of 2019.
Paul Emmel now has -1 points in the UEFL Standings (1 Prev + 2 MLB - 4 Incorrect Call = -1).
Crew Chief Paul Emmel now has 6 points in Crew Division (6 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = 6).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
This pitch was located 0.43 horizontal inches from being deemed a correct call.

This is the 171st ejection report of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 83rd player ejection of 2019. Prior to ejection, Daza was 0-3 (SO) in the contest.
This is Colorado's 4th ejection of 2019, T-3rd in the NL West (SD, SF 5; ARI, COL 4; LAD 3).
This is Yonathan Daza's first career MLB ejection.
This is Paul Emmel's 3rd ejection of 2019, 1st since May 1 (Aaron Boone; QOC = Y [HBP/Ball]).

Wrap: Colorado Rockies vs. St. Louis Cardinals, 8/24/19 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejections 169-170 - Carapazza, Wendelstedt (CHC)

HP Umpire Vic Carapazza ejected Cubs PH Ian Happ (strike three call; QOCN) and 2B Umpire Hunter Wendelstedt ejected bench player Willson Contreras (USC-NEC) in the bottom of the 4th inning of the #Nationals-#Cubs game. With two out and the bases loaded, Happ took a 3-2 sinker from Nationals pitcher Joe Ross for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located off the outer edge of home plate and belt-high (px -1.08, pz 2.93 [sz_top 3.64]), the call was incorrect. Due to his status on the injured list, Contreras' call was irrecusable.^ At the time of the ejections, the Nationals were leading, 5-1. The Nationals ultimately won the contest, 7-2.

This is Vic Carapazza (19)'s fifth ejection of 2019.
This is Hunter Wendelstedt (21)'s fourth ejection of 2019.
Vic Carapazza now has 5 points in the UEFL Standings (7 Prev + 2 MLB - 4 Incorrect Call = 5).
Hunter Wendelstedt now has 13 points in the UEFL Standings (11 Prev + 2 MLB + 0 QOCU = 13).
Crew Chief Dan Iassogna now has 0 points in Crew Division (-1 Previous + 0 QOCN + 1 QOCU = 0).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
This pitch was located 1.99 horizontal inches from being deemed a correct call.
^UEFL Rule 6-2-b-5-a states that ejections of non-active players shall be irrecusable.

These are the 169th and 170th ejection reports of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 81st player ejection of 2019. Prior to ejection, Happ was 0-1 (SO) in the contest.
This is the 82nd player ejection of 2019. Prior to ejection, Contreras was on the injured list.
This is Chicago's 6/7th ejection of 2019, T-3rd in the NL Central (CIN 21; PIT 10; CHC, MIL 7; STL 3).
This is Ian Happ's first career MLB ejection.
This is Willson Contreras' first ejection since Sept 15, 2017 (Jordan Baker; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Vic Carapazza's 5th ejection of 2019, 1st since August 1 (Josh Reddick; QOC = Y [Strike/Foul]).
This is Hunter Wendelstedt's 4th ejection of 2019, 1st since July 27 (Clint Hurdle; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Washington Nationals vs. Chicago Cubs, 8/24/19 | Video as follows:

Alex Rodriguez Offers Umpire Praise in LA

In an era of umpire scrutiny, Alex Rodriguez sounded off when asked about robot umpires during Friday's Yankees-Dodgers game. A-Rod appeared alongside Michael Kay for New York's television broadcast and analyzed Ron Kulpa's strike three call to Los Angeles batter Jedd Gyorko, surmising that catcher Gary Sanchez may have blocked out the umpire on a pitch that looked to be off the inner edge of home plate.

But it didn't end there, as Kay pressed on with a very simple question: "Robot Ump—yay or nea?", prompting Rodriguez to share his thoughts on the modern state of officiating in baseball. | Video as follows:

Friday, August 23, 2019

MLB Ejection 168 - Ryan Blakney (1; Lorenzo Cain)

HP Umpire Ryan Blakney ejected Brewers CF Lorenzo Cain (strike three call; QOCN) in the bottom of the 6th inning of the #Dbacks-#Brewers game. With two out and two on (R1, R2), Cain took a 2-2 changeup from Diamondbacks pitcher Matt Andriese for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located off the inner edge of home plate and waist-high (px -1.01, pz 3.06 [sz_top 3.65]), the call was incorrect.* At the time of the ejection, the Brewers were leading, 6-0. The Brewers ultimately won the contest, 6-1.

This is Ryan Blakney (36)'s first ejection of 2019.
Ryan Blakney now has -2 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Prev + 2 AAA - 4 Incorrect Call = -2).
Crew Chief Mike Everitt now has 0 points in Crew Division (0 Previous + 0 QOCN = 0).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
This pitch was located 1.15 horizontal inches from being deemed a correct call.

This is the 168th ejection report of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 80th player ejection of 2019. Prior to ejection, Cain was 1-4 (2 SO) in the contest.
This is Milwaukee's 7th ejection of 2019, 3rd in the NL Central (CIN 21; PIT 10; MIL 7; CHC 5; STL 3).
This is Lorenzo Cain's 1st ejection since July 8, 2017 (Bill Miller; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Ryan Blakney's 1st ejection since March 20, 2017 (Nick Franklin; QOC = U [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 8/23/19 | Video as follows:

Rare History - Plate Umpire's Back-to-Back No-Hitters

One of umpiring's rarest feats passed by without much fanfare this season as an umpire worked no-hitters in consecutive plate jobs. Takahito "Taka" Matsuda of MiLB Double-A's Eastern League accomplished the rare feat on April 25 and 29, 2019, when he called two no-hitters that happened to fall across back-to-back assignments as a home plate umpire, thanks in part to inclement weather in New York.

The fun for Matsuda began in Binghamton as Taka called the Portland Seadogs' 2-0 victory and combined no-hitter over the host Rumble Ponies on Thursday, April 25, with crewmates Derek Thomas and Mike Raines in the field.

Stormy weather postponed Sunday's scheduled game between Portland and Binghamton, which pushed Matsuda's next plate assignment back a day to Monday, April 29th in Altoona, where Erie Seawolves pitcher Casey Mize spun nine innings of no-hit ball to defeat the host Curve 1-0, and cap off the rarest of rare umpiring feats.

To illustrate how rare the back-to-back umpiring no-hitter is, we looked at the Retrosheet.org record books for Major League Baseball, where such records are kept.

Bill Dinneen umpired from 1909 to 1937.
Many umpires have called two no-hitters in a season, but you'd have to go back nearly a century, to 1923, in order to find the last no-hitters on back-to-back plate assignments in the major leagues. American League Umpire Bill Dinneen called the September 4 New York (AL) no-no over Philadelphia from behind home plate and returned three days later to preside as umpire-in-chief over Boston's no-hitter over Philadelphia (poor Philly) on September 7. Dinneen, tangentially, is also the only person in AL, NL, or MLB history to have both pitched and officiated a no-hitter (he threw a no-hitter as a pitcher for the Boston Americans on September 27, 1905 and called six no-hitters as an umpire).

Before that, it was Dick Nallin benefiting from a two-person umpire crew to call the St. Louis Browns' no-hitters on May 5 and 6, 1917, both against the Chicago White Sox; the clubs played a doubleheader on May 6, which afforded Nallin the pleasure of working the plate on consecutive days, such that Nallin holds the distinction of being the only major league umpire to have called two no-hitters from behind the plate on back-to-back calendar days.

You'd have to fast forward to April 30 and May 1, 1969 to find a crew that had back-to-back no-hitters on consecutive days again, as Cincinnati no-hit Houston on April 30th (Crew Chief Frank Secory as plate umpire), while Houston returned the favor and no-hit Cincinnati on May 1 (David "Satch" Davidson as plate umpire). Paul Pryor and Tony Venzon were the other two umpires on that crew.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Tmac's Teachable Tripp - Tricky Plays at 2B

This video episode of Tmac's Teachable Moments finds 2B Umpire Tripp Gibson officiating a complex play at second base with Houston's ball-bobbling infielder Alex Bregman, who nearly collides with sliding Oakland runner Mark Canha as he flips to teammate Carlos Correa, who throws onto first baseman Yuli Gurriel just as batter Corban Joseph arrives at first base.

Quite often an umpire will clear a player by adjusting his position so that he can see around the player to make a call; this can occur with any infielder, such as a second baseman or shortstop who runs in front of an umpire just as the play occurs at the base.

In this case, Gibson in a Deep B alignment allows Bregman to clear him, as he recognizes that the infielder's momentum will open up an angle up the middle, such that Gibson moves to his left as the play develops at second base, locking into the play and sticking with the action as the Athletics throw onto first base to complete the double play on 1B Umpire Ryan Blakney's out call, which is challenged by Oakland Manager Bob Melvin and upheld via Replay Review.

Video as follows:

Case Play 2019-7 - Chicken Little Strike Zone [Solved]

You can't get much more Little League than this. Team Venezuela batter Deivis OrdoƱez, nickname Chicken Little, deployed a unique batting stance, crouching down so low that his knee-hollow and upper midpoint are just inches apart vertically.

So what is an umpire to do when such tomfoolery takes place at home plate?

Question: This Case Play has two parts. The first posits that the batter stands this way only for the first pitch of his at-bat and then reverts to a more traditional batting stance for the remainder of the game. How should an umpire officiate the first pitch of the plate appearance?

The second scenario is a bit more tricky. If the batter assumes this batting stance throughout the game, consistently entering a crouch this low for every pitch and remaining in this stance through swings and takes alike, how should an umpire call this batsman's strike zone? What would a computer K-Zone even look like here?

Answer: For part one, this is not the batter's usual stance for the batter is not prepared to swing at a pitched ball. As a result, the plate umpire shall best estimate where the batter's vertical strike zone would be if the batter were standing in a more natural manner. A more liberal interpretation of the zone may be appropriate.

For the second case, if the batter truly swings and hits from this severe crouching position, then this is indeed the batter's strike zone; perhaps a rules loophole, a batter may legally assume such a severe stance and have a strike zone adjudged based on this stance as long as it is in consistent use for every pitch and the batter legitimately swings and hits from this position. Don't punish an individual batter because that one person doesn't conform to the league average stance, but by the same token, that hitting stance best be consistent.

Gil's Call: I've never seen a batter successfully hit from this position (much less use that stance), but if someone comes along who can do it on a consistent basis, more power to that player. That said, if a plate umpire has ever seen this hypothetical batter swing or hit before, that'll make it quite simple to know whether the batter is attempting to manipulate the strike zone. Other opportunities to observe the batter's "true" strike zone include: batting practice, the on-deck circle, practice swings as the batter prepares to enter the box.

In Little League, if an umpire says in jest to a batter during a dead ball, "show me your home run swing," more than likely, the batter will revert to their "actual" hitting stance, at which point it will be evident whether the severe crouch is legitimate or not.

Official Baseball Rules Library
Definition of Terms: "The STRIKE ZONE is that area over home plate the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants, and the lower level is a line at the hollow beneath the kneecap. The Strike Zone shall be determined from the batter’s stance as the batter is prepared to swing at a pitched ball."

Video as follows:

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

MLB Ejection 167 - John Libka (2; Jesus Aguilar)

HP Umpire John Libka ejected Rays 1B Jesus Aguilar (strike three call; QOCY) in the bottom of the 6th inning of the #Mariners-#Rays game. With none out and two on (R1, R3), Aguilar took a 0-2 fastball from Mariners pitcher Wade LeBlanc for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the inner edge of home plate and waist-high (px -0.81, pz 3.02 [sz_top 3.59]) and that all other pitches during the at-bat were properly officiated, the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Rays were leading, 4-3. The Rays ultimately won the contest, 7-6.

This is John Libka (84)'s second ejection of 2019.
John Libka now has 7 points in the UEFL Standings (3 Prev + 2 AAA + 2 Correct Call = 7).
Crew Chief Fieldin Culbreth now has 13 points in Crew Division (12 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 13).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
This pitch was located 1.20 horizontal inches from being deemed an incorrect call.

This is the 167th ejection report of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 79th player ejection of 2019. Prior to ejection, Aguilar was 1-3 (2 SO) in the contest.
This is Tampa Bay's 2nd of 2019, 5th in the AL East (NYY 7; BOS 5; BAL, TOR 4; TB 2).
This is Jesus Aguilar's first career MLB ejection.
This is John Libka's 2nd ejection of 2019, 1st since July 24 (Kyle Freeland; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Seattle Mariners vs. Tampa Bay Rays, 8/21/19 | Video as follows:

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:

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

MLB Ejection 166 - Mark Wegner (4; Brian Snitker)

1B Umpire Mark Wegner ejected Braves Manager Brian Snitker (warnings) in the bottom of the 1st inning of the #Marlins-#Braves game. With none out and none on, Braves batter Ronald Acuna took a first-pitch fastball from Marlins pitcher Elieser Hernandez for a hit-by-pitch. Replays indicate the HBP was located inside and struck Acuna in the lower back, resulting in warnings issued by HP Umpire Alan Porter (see asterisk for related history), the call was irrecusable.* At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 0-0. The Braves ultimately won the contest, 5-1.

This is Mark Wegner (14)'s fourth ejection of 2019.
Mark Wegner now has 8 points in the UEFL Standings (6 Prev + 2 MLB + 0 Irrecusable Call = 8).
Crew Chief Mark Wegner now has 2 points in Crew Division (1 Previous + 1 QOCU = 2).
*Heads Up: Related PostMLB Ejections 044-45 - Jeff Nelson (3-4; ATL-MIA) (5/3/19).
Related PostMLB Ejections 123-124 - Nauert, Fairchild (2, 2; MIA-ATL) (8/15/18).

This is the 166th ejection report of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 79th Manager ejection of 2019.
This is Atlanta's 6th ejection of 2019, T-2nd in the NL East (WAS 7; ATL, PHI 6; NYM 5; MIA 4).
This is Brian Snitker's 3rd ejection of 2019, 1st since June 13 (Tripp Gibson; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Mark Wegner's 4th ejection of 2019, 1st since August 6 (Daniel Vogelbach; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Miami Marlins vs. Atlanta Braves, 8/20/19 | Video as follows:

Monday, August 19, 2019

MLB Ejections 164-165 - Alfonso Marquez (3-4; DET)

HP Umpire Alfonso Marquez ejected Tigers DH Miguel Cabrera and Manager Ron Gardenhire (pace of play/batter's box rule; QOCU) in the top of the 5th inning of the #Tigers-#Astros game. With one out and none on in the top of the 5th inning, Cabrera flied out against Astros pitcher Wade Miley, having been instructed by Marquez to promptly enter the batter's box, as in Rule 5.04(b)(1), before being ejected one inning later for arguing that Astros batter Yordan Alvarez was purportedly not receiving a similar instruction, the call was irrecusable.* At the time of the ejections, the Astros were leading, 4-2. The Astros ultimately won the contest, 5-4.

These are Alfonso Marquez (72)'s third and fourth ejections of 2019.
Alfonso Marquez now has 8 points in the UEFL Standings (4 Prev + 2*[2 MLB + 0 QOCU] = 8).
Crew Chief Alfonso Marquez now has 7 points in Crew Division (5 Previous + 2 Irrecusable Call = 7).
*Official Baseball Rule 5.04(b)(1), the Batter's Box Rule, states: "The batter shall take his position in the batter’s box promptly when it is his time at bat."

These are the 164th and 165th ejection reports of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 78th player ejection of 2019. Prior to ejection, Cabrera was 2-3 in the contest.
This is the 78th Manager ejection of 2019.
This is Detroit's 10/11th ejection of 2019, 1st in the AL Central (DET 11; CWS, KC 8; MIN 3; CLE 1).
This is Miguel Cabrera's 3rd ejection of 2019, 1st since July 7 (Will Little; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Ron Gardenhire's 8th ejection of 2019, 1st since June 29 (Mark Ripperger; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Alfonso Marquez's 3/4th  ejection of 2019, 1st since April 28 (Pete Walker; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Detroit Tigers vs. Houston Astros, 8/19/19 | Video as follows:

Citing Atlantic Lg, Manfred Ready for Robo-Zone

Two MLB executives appear to have made conflicting calls—and they're not even umpires.

Just weeks after Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre soured on the robot strike zone concept, Commissioner Rob Manfred told ESPN he is ready and "very comfortable" with the technology, pointing to the Atlantic League automated ball/strike system experiment—yes, the same one where the umpire ejected a coach during the first inning of the first day of the first game for arguing a computer-aided ball/strike call—as a success to support his view.

The Commissioner also discussed his desire to tweak the game's offense by automating the strike zone: "I think an automated strike zone puts you in a position to manage that strike zone. Where should it be exactly to produce the amount of offense that you want?"

"Manage that strike zone?" It's already happened. The Atlantic League in late July put conceptual strike zone management into action by changing the definition of the electronic-defined zone, effectively shortening the strike zone's verticality by approximately three inches at the top and bottom of the zone.
Related PostALPB's Strike Zone Change & 1st ABS Call (7/26/19).

Manfred's comments marks a stark contrast to Torre's own statements on The Dan Patrick Show in July, during which Torre said, "I don't see the robotic strike zone happening."
Related PostTorre Doesn't Want Robot Umpires in MLB (7/26/19).

Meanwhile, it might just be this strike zone issue that brings National League West rivals Madison Bumgarner of the San Francisco Giants and Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers together: both ace pitchers recently referred to the electronic and robot strike system as "stupid."

Listen to Manfred, Torre, and MadBum's quotes, as well as a clue for what could happen to TrackMan at season's end (hint: Hawk-eye's coming). | Video as follows:

Alan Porter's Little League 'Argument'

MLB umpire Alan Porter officiated a few innings during Sunday's Little League World Series in Williamsport, even entertaining a coach's question as 2B Umpire when a batter-runner wound up at second base following a wild throw during a sacrifice bunt attempt.

Porter saw action in the bottom of the 2nd inning of the afternoon's New Jersey-Hawaii game, ruling a Wailuku, HI runner safe at second base on a throw that pulled the middle fielder's foot off the base.

Later in the inning, with runners on first and second, a bunt attempt turned into a wild throw that caromed off the wall in foul territory along right field as Hawaii's baserunners scored and the batter-runner jogged into second base.

That brought out Elizabeth, New Jersey manager Jairo Labrador, who questioned Porter: "Why's he at second base?...On a time out he went over there?" as the ESPN crew quipped, "If you're going to go argue, that's not the guy to go argue with...might want to pick someone else."

Which also quite possibly explains precisely why Labrador took a beeline from the home plate umpire to Porter: less of an argument per se and more of a chance to speak with the only major leaguer on the field. | Video as follows:

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Commentary Critique - Broadcast Fed Up with Umps

Mets broadcaster Keith Hernandez took issue with MLB umpires ("Awful!") for a missed HR call (correctly overturned via Replay Review) despite Keith himself having missed the same call during his first (and second) viewing of the play.

With the bases loaded during Friday's Mets-Royals game, 1B Umpire John Libka ruled a home run on a fly ball (line drive) into the right field corner, deeming that the batted ball had left the playing field in fair territory.

Hernandez initially agreed that the ball was fair, explaining upon consulting a slow-motion replay from a press box camera angle, "it disappeared behind the foul pole." Yet moments later upon viewing the play for a third time, the second slow-motion review, from a second camera angle in the spectator area along the right field concourse, Hernandez acknowledged that the ball was foul ("my mistake").
Broadcaster's thought process during Replay.

This is generally germane and not too notable, but what makes this commentary stand out and subject to critique is the veteran New York analyst's following comments regarding officiating in the major leagues: "What's with these umpires? Geez! My God! Awful!"