Saturday, September 21, 2019

MLB Ejections 213-14 - Jeremie Rehak, Joe West (NYY)

3B Umpire Joe West ejected Yankees Manager Aaron Boone and HP Umpire Jeremie Rehak ejected NYY Hitting Coach Marcus Thames (strike two/three calls; QOCY) in the bottom of the 1st inning of the #BlueJays-#Yankees game. With two out and one on, Yankees batter Giancarlo Stanton took a 0-0 sinker from Blue Jays pitcher TJ Zeuch for a called first strike, 0-1 changeup for a called second strike, and 1-2 changeup for a called third strike. Replays indicate the 0-0 pitch was located over the inner half of home plate and above the knees (px -0.26, pz 1.74), the 0-1 pitch was located over the inner half of home plate and at the hollow of the knee (px -0.65, pz 1.59 [sz_bot 1.76 / RAD 1.64 / MOE 1.55]), and the 1-2 pitch was located over the inner edge of home plate and at the hollow of the knee (px -0.81, pz 1.65 [sz_bot 1.76 / RAD 1.64]), the call was correct.* At the time of the ejections, the game was tied, 0-0. The Yankees ultimately won the contest, 7-2.

This is Jeremie Rehak (35)'s seventh ejection of 2019.
This is Joe West (22)'s seventh ejection of 2019.
Jeremie Rehak now has 13 points in the UEFL Standings (9 Prev + 2 AAA + 2 QOCY = 13).
Joe West now has 13 points in the UEFL Standings (9 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 13).
Crew Chief Joe West now has -4 points in Crew Division (-6 Previous + 2*[1 QOCY] = -4).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
The 0-1 pitch was located 0.48 vertical inches from being deemed an incorrect call.
The 1-2 pitch was located 1.25 horizontal & 1.20 vertical inches from being deemed an incorrect call.
Both pitches are subject to MLBAM's postgame processing for vertical strike zone boundaries.

These are the 213th and 214th ejections of 2019.
This is the 96th Manager ejection of 2019.
This is New York's 8/9th ejection of 2019, 1st in the AL East (NYY 9; BAL, TOR 6; BOS 5; TB 2).
This is Aaron Boone's 5th ejection of 2019, 1st since August 17 (Ben May; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Marcus Thames' 1st ejection since June 25, 2008 (Wally Bell; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Jeremie Rehak's 7th ejection of 2019, 1st since July 28 (Dave Martinez; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Joe West's 7th ejection of 2019, 1st since July 4 (Joe Maddon; QOC = U [USC-NEC]).

Wrap: Toronto Blue Jays vs. New York Yankees, 9/21/19 | Video as follows:

Postgame Processing Changes Gibson's Strike EJ QOC

Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts became the sixth person ejected in 2019 arguing an umpire's ball/strike call that looked incorrect in real-time, but was later changed to 'correct' when MLB's postgame pitch processing changed computer zone numbers to flip Greg Gibson's QOC from N to Y. When Gibson ejected Roberts Friday night in Los Angeles, I cautioned this exact scenario might happen (as it has happened many times before), which is precisely what occurred as MLBAM's vertical StatCast/PitchCast problem struck again and transmogrified yet another big league ejection well after the game's final out.

To recap, Gibson tossed Roberts following a 2-0 pitch ruled a strike that passed over the center of home plate and vertically near the hollow of LA batter Gavin Lux's knee.

At the time, the computer (that'd be TrackMan near what could become the final phase of its Major League Baseball existence) deemed the pitch an unequivocal ball, low: sz_bot 1.6 and pz 1.35. Accounting for margin-of-error, the pitch was less than half an inch away from borderline "call stands" territory: QOC = Incorrect. In fact, the preceding ball call was located higher off the ground than the subsequent strike (ball: pz 1.41, strike: pz 1.35).
Related PostMLB Ejection 212 - Greg Gibson (2; Dave Roberts) (9/20/19).

Watch out for inaccurate real-time FoxTrax.
Postgame Processing Changes Strike Zone: Hours after all the fans and players at Dodger Stadium had cleared out, MLB's secretive postgame processing went to work to calibrate each player's strike zone for each individual semi-borderline pitch the hitter faced.

For Gavin Lux in the 4th inning, the numbers were changed thusly: sz_bot for the ball call increased to 1.69 ft, while sz_bot for the strike call decreased to 1.56 ft—a difference of 0.13 feet, or 1.56 inches.

The vertical phenomena happened before, too.
Notice that the ball thrown higher off the ground than the strike (pz 1.41 vs 1.35) was captured at a point 0.06 feet, or 0.72 inches higher than the strike. Upon normalizing the strike zone (e.g., accounting for the 1.56 inch-difference in sz_bot), we see that, in relative units, the pitch ruled "ball" was actually located lower than the pitch ruled "strike," relative to Lux's hollow-of-knees.

Lessons: The robot umpire concept simply doesn't work if we have to wait for overnight processing to conclude before knowing whether a given pitch was a ball or a strike. It's not good enough to have an automated system call "strike three," only to find out several hours later that, "sorry, it should have been ball four."

Second, this isn't even the first time this season that postgame processing has exposed the vertical strike zone blind spot of the pitch-tracking computer. Earlier in 2019, it happened to Ron Kulpa in Houston, it happened to Ramon DeJesus in Minnesota, it happened to Jeremie Rehak in Anaheim, and now it has happened to Greg Gibson in LA. All four times, it took until the next day for the umpire to be vindicated by revised pitch tracking numbers.
Related PostMLB Ejections 130-131 - Ramon De Jesus (1-2; MIN) (7/23/19).
Related PostMLB Ejection 077 - Jeremie Rehak (4; Brad Ausmus) (6/9/19).
Related PostMLB Ejections 007-08 - Ron Kulpa (1-2; Cintron, Hinch) (4/3/19).

Third, post-game processing solely goes to work, generally, on sz_bot and sz_top, meaning it tackles the vertical zone problem but not other sources of error, including calibration or tracking. For instance, postgame processing does not account for the three-dimensional strike zone problem posed by a tracking system that sees things in two dimensions (at the front edge of home plate).

For more information about UEFL ZoneCheck and MLB's habitual vertical strike zone problem, see the following related articles.
Related PostZoneCheck - Twins' Ump De Jesus' Ball 4 Call (7/24/19).
Related PostBad Computer Umpire - Faulty Pitch Data Defames Kulpa (4/6/19).

Video as follows:

Friday, September 20, 2019

MLB Ejection 212 - Greg Gibson (2; Dave Roberts)

HP Umpire Greg Gibson ejected Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts (strike one call; QOCN) in the bottom of the 4th inning of the #Rockies-#Dodgers game. With none out and one on (R1), Dodgers batter Gavin Lux took a 2-0 slider from Rockies pitcher Peter Lambert for a called first strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the heart of home plate and below the hollow of the knee (px -0.19, pz 1.35 [sz_bot 1.60 / RAD 1.48 / MOE 1.39] [sz_bot 1.56 / RAD 1.44 / MOE 1.35]) and the ball two call immediately preceding was located over the outer half of home plate and below the hollow of the knee (px -0.39, pz 1.41 [sz_bot 1.69]), the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Rockies were leading, 4-2. The Dodgers ultimately won the contest, 12-5.

This is Greg Gibson (53)'s second ejection of 2019.
Greg Gibson now has 13 points in the UEFL Standings (9 Prev + 2 MLB +2 Correct Call = 13).
Crew Chief Greg Gibson now has 1 point in Crew Division (0 Previous + 1 QOCY = 1).
*This pitch was located 0.48 vertical inches from being deemed a correct call 0.01 vertical inches from being deemed an incorrect call.
The original ejection report stated, "If MLBAM postgame processing decreases sz_bot to a value of 1.56 or less, this call will be deemed correct."
After overnight processing, MLBAM changed sz_bot from 1.60 to 1.56. QOC is now Y.

This is the 212th ejection report of 2019.
This is the 95th Manager ejection of 2019.
This is Los Angeles' 4th ejection of 2019, 5th in the NL West (SD 8; COL 6; ARI, SF 5; LAD 4).
This is Dave Roberts' 1st ejection since June 19, 2018 (Tripp Gibson; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Greg Gibson's 2nd ejection of 2019, 1st since August 13 (Ned Yost; QOC = Y-c [RLI]).

Wrap: Colorado Rockies vs. Los Angeles Dodgers, 9/20/19 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejection 211 - Todd Tichenor (3; Eric Hinske)

HP Umpire Todd Tichenor ejected Diamondbacks Assistant Hitting Coach Eric Hinske (strike three call; QOCY) in the top of the 7th inning of the #Dbacks-#Padres game. With two out and two on (R2, R3), Diamondbacks batter Eduardo Escobar took a 2-2 splitter from Padres pitcher David Bednar. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer edge of home plate and at the midpoint (px -0.74, pz 3.24 [sz_top 3.14 / RAD 3.26]) and that all other pitches during the at-bat were properly officiated, the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Diamondbacks were leading, 2-0. The Diamondbacks ultimately won the contest, 9-0.

This is Todd Tichenor (13)'s third ejection of 2019.
Todd Tichenor now has 12 points in the UEFL Standings (8 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 12).
Crew Chief Gary Cederstrom now has 18 points in Crew Division (17 Previous + 1 QOCY = 18).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
This pitch was located 2.09 horizontal and 1.24 vertical inches from being deemed an incorrect call.

This is the 211th ejection report of 2019.
This is Arizona's 5th ejection of 2019, T-3rd in the NL West (SD 8; COL 6; ARI, SF 5; LAD 3).
This is Eric Hinske's 1st ejection since May 11, 2012 (Mike Muchlinski; QOC = N [Check Swing]).
This is Todd Tichenor's 3rd ejection of 2019, 1st since May 21 (Clint Hurdle; QOC = N-c [Replay Review]).

Wrap: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Diego Padres, 9/20/19 | Video as follows:

Montgomery Slams Ump Manny, Alleges Personal Bias

Kansas City Royals pitcher Mike Montgomery trashed umpire Manny Gonzalez following Thursday's ejection, calling for automated strike zones while claiming bias. Unfortunately for KC's allegation, a Fact Check doesn't support the bias charge & a 100% balls/strikes accuracy rating in the bottom of the 5th inning for the home run-producing at-bat of Twins slugger Mitch Garver doesn't exactly favor Montgomery's robot umpire invocation. As far as Montgomery's statement accusing Gonzalez of unethical motives, Gonzalez has one of the lowest ejection rates of all umpires in the history of AL, NL, and MLB baseball.

To recap, Gonzalez ejected Montgomery over a pair of ball calls during the at-bat. Specifically, MLB's own numbers charted ball two at a pz value 1.2 inches lower than its charted sz_bot value, with the third ball located 0.60 inches below the second, values that held through to press time. Following a subsequent swinging strike, Garver hit a home run. Montgomery and Royals pitching coach Cal Eldred exhausted the pace-of-play mandated 30-second mound visit timer, which pursuant to standard umpiring procedure saw Gonzalez walk to the mound to break up the meeting.

Montgomery was ejected after the meeting broke up for unsporting, profane, and personal comments to the umpire after warning to stop, in a lip-reading that FOX Sports Kansas City either accidentally or intentionally omitted from its broadcast.
Related PostMLB Ejection 210 - Manny Gonzalez (3; Mike Montgomery) (9/19/19).

After the game, Montgomery blamed Gonzalez and called for computer strike zone automation:
I've said something earlier in the game. You could tell. He was giving me that look like, "I'm going to screw you." I don't think umpires should have that right. I think they need to be objective, and if they can't be, I hate to say it: we've got to go to automated zones. I've never been one that wants or advocated for that, but after seeing it, I think it's definitely something that the league should consider.
Montgomery's rant only appeared in MIN.
Fortunately, objectivity is a Close Call Sports hallmark—it's in our mission statement.

Ejection Rate: Though EJ rate isn't directly related to Montgomery's accusation of bias, Gonzalez's stat here is an outlier that we wanted to address.

Gonzalez holds a historically low ejection rate of one ejection for every 122+ games officiated (2010-present)—note the following related article for comparison to historical rates. Ejection rates rarer than once-every-100+ games are nearly unheard of. Ted Barrett ejects more often, Jeff Kellogg ejects more often...Jim Joyce, Al Barlick, Doug Harvey, Tom Connolly, and Jocko Conlan are some others who eject more often.
Related PostPolls: He Gone (8/1/11).
UEFL f/x game score for Manny Gonzalez was 97.7% with a skew of +1 pitch in favor of the Kansas City Royals.
Gonzalez's 9/19/19 Performance: Since Montgomery sought to directly target Gonzalez's integrity or bias, we decided to look at the actual figures from MLB's game log. Here's what we found.

> Gonzalez's plate score for the entire game was 97.7% (209/214 [missed five pitches]).
> Gonzalez's game skew was + 1 KC. This means his errors favored Kansas City by one pitch.
> Gonzalez plate score for Montgomery as pitcher was 94.3% (50/53 [missed three pitches]).
> Gonzalez's skew for Montgomery was +1 KC. That means his errors favored Mike by one pitch.

Montgomery addresses Gonzalez at the mound.
Conclusion: With MLB's league average Zone Evaluation figure in the mid-97% range—and Zone Eval is much more generous to umpires than our UEFL f/x method—we can conclude Gonzalez likely called an above-average game. However, for Montgomery as a pitcher specifically, Gonzalez was below average—though we caution that a sample size of 53 is too low for meaningful analysis (e.g., if he missed one less pitch, the 94.3% accuracy figure would tick up to 96.2%; if he missed two fewer pitches, it would be 98.1%).

Prior fact checking has broken apart stories.
That said, of the five veritable errors across the 214-pitch sample size, three occurred with Montgomery on the mound, which would indicate that Montgomery was disproportionately affected by errors—but not at a statistically significant rate, and a clip that actually favored Kansas City.

However, seeing as Gonzalez's skew with Montgomery on the mound was +1 KC (and +1 KC for the entire game), the statistics do not support Montgomery's allegation of bias against him personally as Gonzalez missed just one pitch with Montgomery on the mound that hurt Kansas City.

This is similar to findings related to Todd Frazier in 2018 (facts didn't support his allegations against the umpires) and Paul LoDuca's accusation against Joe West earlier in 2019.
Related PostAnalysis - Catching Up With Todd Frazier 5 Days Later (5/7/18).
Related PostPants on Fire - Paul Lo Duca's Joe West Accusation (5/10/19).

Insert obligatory link to umpire scapegoating article here.
Related PostGil's Call: The Blame Game (Umpire Scapegoating) (8/8/14).

Video as follows:

Perils of Unreviewable - Foul Ball Triple Play Ends Game

In 2017, Tmac wrote that more plays should be reviewable. This is a devastating example of why as Friday's WBSC Italy-South Africa game ended on a triple play following what should have been a foul ball call, instead ruled fair by a HP Umpire who didn't see that a batted ball hit the batter in the batter's box.

With none out and two on (R1, R2) in the bottom of the 10th inning of the WBSC Europe/Africa Olympic Qualifier game between Italy and South Africa at Parma's Nino Cavalli Stadium, RSA batter Rowan Ebersohn hit a pitch into the dirt around home plate. Although the ball bounced off the ground and subsequently struck Ebersohn's left hip before settling on fair territory in front of home plate, HP Umpire Serge Makouchetchev ruled the ball fair, setting into motion the game-ending triple play, propelling Italy into a first-place tie with Israel for first place and plunging South Africa into sole possession of last place in the standings.

For those wondering, WBSC uses the Official Baseball Rules—same as Major League Baseball—and the rule making this a foul ball is 5.09(a)(7) regarding a batted ball touching the batter in the box: "a batted ball that strikes the batter or his bat [a second time] shall be ruled a foul ball."

Rule 5.09(a)(7) cases*
1. Batted ball touches batter (or bat a second time) while batter is in box = foul ball.
2. Batted ball touches batter/bat while batter is out of box, ball is over foul territory = foul ball.
3. Batted ball touches batter/bat while batter is out of box, ball over fair territory = out.
*Interference (incl potential multiple outs if runner(s)) can be called if intentional to deprive.

We're back in Parma, Italy.
Tmac Said So: In January 2017, Tmac proposed five items MLB and baseball as a whole could incorporate to fix replay. We most recently discussed #1, Give the Crew Chief a microphone, following a confusing double-challenge in St. Louis, and MLB has taken some steps to address points #2 (two challenges, must be immediate [MLB added a second challenge to postseason games & instituted a 30-second time limit to challenge]), #3 (give the manager a beanbag [MLB ordered managers to remain in the dugout and simply signal the umpire]), and #5 (90-second limit once headsets are put on [MLB instituted a two-minute 'guideline']), but MLB has largely ignored Tmac's fourth suggestion.
Related PostTmac's Teachable Moments - Let's Fix Replay (1/19/17).
Related PostChallenge of Overturned Call Voids 30-Second Limit (9/18/19).

Umpires are told the bad news: Unreviewable.
Idea #4 is Let's replay more things, which very prominently states as its second item, "batted balls off batters," which Tmac called "some of the disasters that are not reviewable."

Well, you probably can't get more disastrous than a game-ending triple play on a clearly incorrect call and because WBSC uses instant replay rules similar to MLB's Replay Review regulations, this play is not currently reviewable.

Because of this fact, and despite the umpires' having consulted the Replay Official, the call unfortunately could not be changed because this obvious incorrect call is not subject to correction via replay review.

Gil's Call: MLB & WBSC—the World Baseball and Softball Confederation decides which teams go to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan through its "Road to Tokyo" qualifier tournament—please listen to Tmac and make this (and other) play reviewable.

Jeff Kellogg explains why umpires confer.
Precedent / Tangent Teachable: Also, Gil's Tangent Teachable here harkens back to an Ask the UEFL feature article from 2017 about umpires getting together for a crew conference before going to the replay headsets to review a play. Joe Maddon, for instance, criticized Jeff Kellogg when his crew had a get-together before going to replay on a fair/foul decision, saying the umpires "neutered instant replay by the way it was handled tonight."

Unfortunately for Maddon, not only does umpire manual documentation state the importance of Crew Consultation and Getting the Call Right, it spells out why the ump-chat is so vital, with or without replay: "An umpire is urged to seek help when that umpire's view is blocked or positioning prevents such umpire from seeing crucial elements of a play. An umpire is also encouraged to seek help in instances when that umpire has doubt and a partner has additional information that could lead to a proper ruling."
Related PostCrew Consultation - Importance of the Call on the Field (6/22/17).

Back to Parma, the Italy-South Africa play sure could have benefited had an umpire seen the foul ball and been able to relay it to the rest of the crew—because MLB/WBSC still disallows the ball-hitting-batter play from being reviewed. As for MiLB/NCAA/NFHS/Little League or any game without Replay Review, post-play crew consultation here is all but required.

This Quasi-Teachable Nanosecond is brought to you by our sponsor, Umpire Placement Course.

Video as follows:

Thursday, September 19, 2019

MLB Ejection 210 - Manny Gonzalez (3; Mike Montgomery)

HP Umpire Manny Gonzalez ejected Royals pitcher Mike Montgomery (ball two/three calls; QOCY) in the bottom of the 5th inning of the #Royals-#Twins game. With none out and none on, Twins batter Mitch Garver hit a home run after taking a 1-1 curveball and 2-1 changeup from Montgomery for called second and third balls. Replays indicate the 1-1 pitch was located over the inner half of home plate and below the hollow of the knee (px 0.26, pz 1.49 [sz_bot 1.59]) and the 2-1 pitch was located over the heart of home plate and below the hollow of the knee (px -0.02, pz 1.44 [sz_bot 1.59]), the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 5-5. The Twins ultimately won the contest, 8-5.

This is Manny Gonzalez (79)'s third ejection of 2019.
Manny Gonzalez now has 15 points in the UEFL Standings (11 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 15).
Crew Chief Sam Holbrook now has 17 points in Crew Division (16 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 17).
*The 1-1 pitch was located 0.72 vertical inches from being deemed an incorrect call.

This is the 210th ejection report of 2019.
This is the 103rd player ejection of 2019. Prior to ejection, Montgomery's line was 4.0 IP, 5 ER.
This is Kansas City's 12th ejection of 2019, 1st in the AL Central (KC 12; CWS, DET 11; MIN 4; CLE 1).
This is Mike Montgomery's first career MLB ejection.
This is Manny Gonzalez's 3rd ejection of 2019, 1st since August 26 (Keon Broxton; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Kansas City Royals vs. Minnesota Twins, 9/19/19 | Video as follows:

Appeal Play Statute of Limitations - When to Deny

When Pirates pitcher Michael Feliz threw wildly to third base during an appeal play in Chicago, 3B Umpire Alfonso Marquez consulted his crew before ruling all Cubs safe (base touch), filling up our mailbag with questions about appeals.

Rule 5.09(c) governs Pittsburgh's wild faux paus at Wrigley Field and the most common query we received about this odd play is whether Marquez should have granted the appeal at all.

Play: With two out and the bases loaded (R1 Jason Heyward, R2 Ben Zobrist, R3 Kyle Schwarber) during 9/15/19's Pirates-Cubs game, Chicago batter Tony Kemp hit a three-RBI triple to right field. After returning the ball to the pitcher and requesting "Time," Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle called over HP Umpire Dan Bellino, who in turn went to discuss something with 3B Umpire/Crew Chief Marquez (most likely to inform him that Hurdle intended to appeal the base touches of both Cubs runners—Heyward and Zobrist).

Upon the ball becoming live, Pirates pitcher Feliz stepped off the rubber and threw to third base—or rather, threw well past third base, allowing Cubs baserunner R3 Kemp to score easily as the Pirates retrieved the ball and stepped on third base—at Hurdle's direction—for the original appeal play on Cubs runners Heyward and/or Zobrist.

Umpires convene on the appeal's admissibility.
Call: After crew consultation, Marquez ruled Heyward and/or Zobrist had legally touched third base ("safe"), thus honoring Pittsburgh's appeal request.

Appeal Play Statute of Limitations: OBR 5.09(c) regarding proper appeal procedure states, "Any appeal under this rule must be made before the next pitch, or any play or attempted play." It also says, "If the defensive team on its first appeal errs, a request for a second appeal on the same runner at the same base shall not be allowed by the umpire."

Analysis: The question, thus, is simple: Does F1 Feliz's wild throw past third base during his appeal attempt qualify as a "play or attempted play"? If the answer is yes, the umpires should not allow the appeal. If the answer is no, the umpires should allow the appeal.

Bellino speaks with Marquez.
OBR 5.09(c) includes the following sentence, "An appeal is not to be interpreted as a play or an attempted play."

Legal (allow the appeal): Even if botched due to an overthrown ball that stays on the playing field, an appeal attempt is decisively not a play. As long as the defense retrieves the loose ball and—without any intervening action or play—immediately seeks to continue their previously scheduled appeal, this interrupted appeal should be allowed.

Late/Failed (deny the appeal): However, if during an appeal attempt, the pitcher accidentally throws the ball into the stands or otherwise out of play (or if he balks while appealing), this is to be considered an act that closes the appeal's statute of limitations window. In other words, "Intended meaning of the word 'err' is that the defensive team in making an appeal threw the ball out of play. For example, if the pitcher threw to first base to appeal and threw the ball into the stands, no second appeal would be allowed." Appeals also cannot be made after a pitch is thrown to the next batter, after a pickoff attempt or equivalent play on a runner, etc.

Accordingly, Pittsburgh's unorthodox appeal was legal | Video as follows:

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Challenge of Overturned Call Voids 30-Second Limit

With managers subject to a 30-second time limit to challenge after the conclusion of play, why did Crew Chief/2B Umpire Sam Holbrook honor Cardinals manager Mike Shildt's replay request a minute later? Let's review the exception to this rule: The overturned call false double manager's challenge.

Play: With one out and two on (R1, R2) in the top of the 6th inning of Wednesday's Nationals-Cardinals game, Nationals batter Howie Kendrick hit a ground ball to Cardinals third baseman Tommy Edman, who threw to second baseman Kolten Wong (R1 Juan Soto out at second), onto first base as Kendrick arrived (ruled out for an inning-ending double play).

Background: Earlier this month, Cubs skipper Joe Maddon was shut down by Paul Emmel when he attempted to challenge a time play in Chicago after Mariners Manager Scott Servais' unsuccessful challenge of an out call at second base. At the time, we wrote that Maddon failed to notify the umpires of his challenge within 30 seconds after the conclusion of play, and this is why he was denied.
Related PostJoe Maddon's Untimely Challenge Costs Cubs (9/4/19).

Washington requests a Replay Review.
So why was Shildt's seemingly-tardy request honored when Joe's wasn't? The following analysis bookends the exception-to-rule example posed during the Chicago play.

WAS & STL Challenge: The answer is the overturned call exception to the 30-second rule. With the top of the 6th inning over due to St. Louis' double play, Shildt had no reason to challenge any aspect of the play. Washington, however, did challenge the play at first base regarding Kendrick, resulting in an overturned call.

With the call in the process of being overturned from out to safe, the inning continued (two outs as opposed to three), meaning that Shildt now had reason to review Soto's slide at second base on the basis of potential slide rule interference, which he explained to HP Umpire John Tumpane, who alerted his crew chief.

Shildt questions the slide violation no-call.
The Replay Review regulations, in place since 2014, allow a delayed challenge only if a call is overturned, for the challenge consideration period for the revised call technically doesn't begin until the call is actually overturned. So in this case, Shildt's challenge was legal and timely because the Kendrick play at first base was overturned.

Had—for instance—there been zero outs in the inning and no runner on second base prior to the play (0 outs, R1 only), Shildt's challenge would still be deemed timely in the event of an overturned call (since, again he'd have no reason to challenge for slide interference if it was called a double play).

Can MLB mic up the Crew Chief or UIC?
If, like Maddon in Chicago, the play in St. Louis (assume 0 outs, R1 and R2) was confirmed or if the outcome was call stands, Shildt's challenge would be deemed untimely if not filed within 30 seconds or prior to Holbrook speaking to New York via the headsets. The rationale is that the call on the field should be treated as that basis for decision up and until the point at which that call is changed (upon which new considerations may be made).

Finally, the Cardinals TV broadcast said what may of us were thinking in the midst of the confusing scene: MLB umpires providing audio explanations to fans via the stadium public address a la NFL or NHL referee microphones could be very useful and clear up potential rules miscommunications that occur when fans and broadcasters attempt to sort through odd situations on their own. In January 2017, Tmac wrote as bullet point number on a how to fix instant replay article: Give the Crew Chief a microphone. Still waiting...
Related PostTmac's Teachable Moments - Let's Fix Replay (1/19/17).

Video as follows:

Ask UEFL - Runner's Lane INT No-Call in STL

When Cardinals pitcher Genesis Cabrera fielded Nationals batter Adam Eaton's weak ground ball up the first base line, his throw to first base hit Eaton in the back as HP Umpire Jim Wolf considered whether to invoke runner's lane interference Rule 5.09(a)(11).

This Ask the UEFL analysis is an exercise in the four criteria umpires should weigh in determining whether or not to call runner's lane interference (RLI) when a batter-runner going to first base potentially impedes the defense's ability to record an out.

Rule: To recap, Official Baseball Rule 5.09(a)(11) states that any runner is out when, "In running the last half of the distance from home base to first base, while the ball is being fielded to first base, he runs outside (to the right of ) the three-foot line, or inside (to the left of ) the foul line, and in the umpire’s judgment in so doing interferes with the fielder taking the throw at first base, in which case the ball is dead; except that he may run outside (to the right of ) the three-foot line or inside (to the left of ) the foul line to avoid a fielder attempting to field a batted ball."

Four Criteria: The shortcut for umpires in taking the rulebook and applying words and sentences to a real-life, on-field situation is to consider whether or not four criteria have been satisfied. They are:

1) Is the ball being fielded to first base? For instance, yes, the St. Louis play was going to first base.
2) Is the batter-runner not within the lane? Yes, Eaton has both feet to the left of the line prematurely.*
3) Does BR hinder/impede the fielder taking the throw at first base? Yes, the ball hits Eaton's back.
4) Could the throw reasonably retire the runner? Maybe...this is the toughest litmus test of the bunch.

The runner is clearly not within the lane.
*A runner is permitted to exit the lane during the final step/stride to first base, but this exemption does not apply to a runner who has prematurely exited the lane (or never entered the lane whatsoever; that is a Jim Evans interpretation since adopted).

Analysis & Gil's Call: On first glance from the press box camera angle, I had runner's lane interference—largely because of criterion two: Eaton was plainly not within the lane. Yet the more I watched this play on replay, the more I questioned whether the throw could have reasonably retired the runner—not just whether the throw is true per se, but whether it could have "reasonably retired the runner" (that is a Wendelstedt interpretation).
Related PostRunning Lane Interference and Advancing to 1st Base (9/6/15).

RLI falls within a plate umpire's domain.
Was the quality of Cabrera's throw such that the ball was sailing into foul territory? Would the runner have beat the play regardless of where the throw did or did not wind up?

In the end, fittingly enough, I'm missing a conclusive camera angle, one that would have solved the former of my two questions and turned the tide of my opinion on the matter.

That camera angle just happens to coincide with precisely where Wolf was standing: a point behind the runner within the runner's lane extended back toward home plate—which also confirms exactly why umpiring mechanics routinely designate RLI for the plate umpire and not the first base umpire (e.g., U1 John Tumpane has other things to worry about in this situation, such as an actual out/safe call [timing/tag] at first base).

Call Stands, you mileage may vary | Video as follows:

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Injury Scout - Jeremie Rehak Jogs Off in BAL

1B Umpire Jeremie Rehak jogged toward the Camden Yards umpires' entrance/exit during play in Baltimore for an unknown reason, ultimately leaving the field through the Orioles dugout during Blue Jays batter Teoscar Hernandez's at-bat in the top of the 2nd innings.

No apparent in-game injury occurred prior to Rehak's departure, though he did not appear entirely comfortable in the field during a check swing call earlier in the inning.

2B Umpire Alfonso Marquez moved to the first base position for the remainder of the game, with 3B Umpire Dan Bellino and HP Umpire and Crew Chief Larry Vanover rounding out the three-person crew.

Relevant Injury History: N/A (Undisclosed Injury or Illness).

Last Game: September 17 | Return to Play: Sept 20 | Time Absent: 2 Days | Video as follows:

Monday, September 16, 2019

Replay Error Costs Chicago in Loss to Seattle

MLB admitted a Replay Review miscommunication between 2B Umpire & Crew Chief Marvin Hudson and White Sox Manager Rick Renteria during Mariners batter Omar Narvaez's walk-off home run hurt Chicago and sealed Seattle's victory, all while the HR never actually left the playing field in flight.

Had the play been reviewed, the Replay Official would have likely overturned 2B Umpire Hudson's on-field ruling of "home run" to "in play" based on the batted ball's caroming off the top of the outfield wall and back into play, likely placing batter-runner Narvaez at second base. Instead, Seattle walked off the White Sox.

Major League Baseball released a statement after Saturday's game, attempting to explain why the controversial walk-off homer wasn't reviewed:
In last night's game there was conversation between the umpires and the White Sox as to the procedure for potentially reviewing two different aspects of the game-ending play. There was then a misinterpretation regarding Chicago's desire to have any aspect of the play reviewed. We regret that this miscommunication resulted in not reviewing the home run call on the field.
HR is signaled without a replay decision.
Pursuant to Replay Review regulations, a manager must specify which part(s) of a play the team wishes to challenge, a provision called, appropriately enough, "Specificity of the Challenge" (which also applies to Crew Chief Reviews).

The Specificity of Challenge regulation states:
When invoking a Manager's Challenge or otherwise requesting a Crew Chief review, it is the Manager's responsibility to ensure that the Umpire knows the specific calls for which he is seeking Replay Review, but the Manager need not state the reason for his belief that the call was incorrect.
Replays indicate that Narvaez's batted ball did not clear the wall—it likely would have been reversed to a double had it been reviewed—and that Renteria timely sought out the umpires to seek a review.

Because it was a home run-related boundary call, the play would fall under "Crew Chief Review" rather than a Manager's Challenge, and at some point, the concept of a challenge on Narvaez's base touch at home plate entered the picture and HP Umpire Adrian Johnson prepared for a possible appeal play as well. The code allows for a manager to challenge a second aspect of a play already subject to Crew Chief Review.

Johnson anticipates an appeal play at home.
Instead, Hudson apparently asked Renteria if he still wanted to challenge the call (he only can challenge one call [base touch], while the other [HR/Not HR] is a Crew Chief Review), Renteria said no (reportedly under a mistaken assumption that the HR/Not HR issue had already been decided), and Hudson took this to mean he didn't even want the home run reviewed, thus ending the game.

Gil's Call: For all officials: slow down. This communication error may have been averted by taking more time to glean precisely what Renteria wanted reviewed, as opposed to a walk-and-talk from several yards away (with an excited crowd cheering a walk-off win). Pursuant to Specificity of the Challenge, it's important to know exactly what the manager does and doesn't want reviewed, so double checking before finalizing the HR and declaring the game over could have helped. It's a failure to communicate mistake that could benefit from taking extra time to make sure everyone's on the same page—pace of play be darned.

Postscript: Watch Adrian Johnson on the replay and notice how he signals to his crewmates that Renteria wants a Replay Review prior to Narvaez arriving at home plate. Because this hold occurs during Narvaez's home run trot and prior to the celebration, it logically follows that Renteria wants something reviewed that occurred prior to Narvaez touching (or failing to touch) home plate. I believe that *something* was whether the wall-scraper in the outfield was indeed a home run or not.

Video as follows:

Sunday, September 15, 2019

MLB Ejection 209 - Bill Welke (5; Matt Joyce)

HP Umpire Bill Welke ejected Braves RF Matt Joyce (strike three call; QOCY) in the top of the 5th inning of the #Braves-#Nationals game. With none out and none on, Joyce took a 1-0 curveball from Nationals pitcher Anibal Sanchez for a called first strike and 3-2 fastball for a called third strike. Replays indicate the 1-0 pitch was located over the heart of home plate and knee-high (px -0.05, pz 1.60 [sz_bot 1.56]) and the 3-2 pitch was located over the outer edge of home plate and thigh-high (px -0.73, pz 1.91), the call was correct by 2.21 horizontal inches. At the time of the ejection, the Nationals were leading, 5-0. The Nationals ultimately won the contest, 7-0.

This is Bill Welke (3)'s fifth ejection of 2019.
Bill Welke now has 6 points in the UEFL Standings (2 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 6).
Crew Chief Tim Timmons now has 6 points in Crew Division (5 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 6).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.

This is the 209th ejection report of 2019.
This is the 102nd player ejection of 2019. Prior to ejection, Joyce was 0-2 (SO) in the contest.
This is Atlanta's 8th ejection of 2019, 3rd in the NL East (WAS 10; PHI 9; ATL 8; MIA, NYM 5).
This is Matt Joyce's 1st ejection since June 8, 2016 (Alan Porter; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Bill Welke's 5th ejection of 2019, 1st since Sept 14 (Brian Snitker; QOC = x [Check Swing]).

Wrap: Atlanta Braves vs. Washington Nationals, 9/15/19 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejections 207-208 - Gabe Morales (Harper, Kapler)

HP Umpire Gabe Morales ejected Phillies RF Bryce Harper and Manager Gabe Kapler (strike three call; QOCN) in the bottom of the 4th inning of the #RedSox-#Phillies game. With none out and one on (R1), Harper took a 1-2 fastball from Red Sox pitcher Rick Porcello for a called third strike; he was not ejected until arguing during subsequent batter Rhys Hoskins' plate appearance. Replays indicate the pitch was located off the inner edge of home plate and thigh-high (px 0.98, pz 2.06), the call was incorrect by 0.79 horizontal inches.* At the time of the ejections, the Red Sox were leading, 5-1. The Red Sox ultimately won the contest, 6-3.

These are Gabe Morales (47)'s second and third ejections of 2019.
Gabe Morales now has 0 points in the UEFL Standings (2 Prev + 2 MLB - 4 Incorrect Call = 0).
Crew Chief Jerry Meals now has -2 points in Crew Division (-2 Previous + 0 QOCN = -2).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.

These are the 207th and 208th ejection reports of 2019.
This is the 101st player ejection of 2019. Prior to ejection, Harper was 0-2 (2 SO) in the contest.
This is the 94th Manager ejection of 2019.
This is Philadelphia's 8/9th ejection of 2019, 2nd in the NL East (WAS 10; PHI 9; ATL 7; MIA, NYM 5).
This is Bryce Harper's 2nd ejection of 2019, 1st since April 22 (Mark Carlson; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Gabe Krapler's 4th ejection of 2019, 1st since July 16 (Chris Conroy; QOC = U [Warnings]).
This is Gabe Morales' 2/3rd ejection of 2019, 1st since April 13 (Kyle Schwarber; QOC = Y [Check Swing]).

Wrap: Boston Red Sox vs. Philadelphia Phillies, 9/15/19 | Video as follows: