Friday, November 22, 2019

Podcast - AL Umpire Drew Coble

Longtime American League umpire Drew Coble joins The Plate Meeting Podcast in an interview featuring stories ranging from an organist playing Three Blind Mice, Billy Martin interactions, ejecting Cal Ripken (both Sr and Jr), correcting Lou Piniella on a grammatically incorrect balls/strikes argument (Coble was an English major at Elon College), the famous Kent Hrbek/Ron Gant play during the 1991 World Series, and other notable events from Drew's time in baseball.

Coble's MLB career spanned 18 years, 2303 AL games, two Division Series, 3 ALCS, and the '91 World Series. Coble ejected 71 players, coaches, and managers during his big league career

Click the below play (▶) button to listen to "Episode 22 - AL Umpire Drew Coble" or visit the show online at You can also access The Plate Meeting on Apple Podcasts/iTunes, Google, Castbox, Spotify, TuneIn, and other podcast services.

Alternate Link: Episode 22 - AL Umpire Drew Coble

Additional Links, Videos, and Other Media:
The Plate Meeting is brought to you by OSIP, where Outstanding Sportsmanship Is Paramount.

And by Umpire Placement Course. Continue your career at

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Related Video #1: Pine Tar Incident with George Brett & Tim McClelland (14:00)

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Umpire Walks off Field After Fan Abuse at Youth Game

An umpire officiating a youth baseball game in Newport Beach, California walked off the field following abuse from parents, having warned that he would forfeit the game if the unsportsmanlike conduct continued. It did, and he followed through by leaving the Newport Harbor field.

The 13u or 14u game, reportedly, between the Nomar Garciaparra-infused GPG (Garciaparra Baseball Group) and a team called Riptide, took place on the campus of Newport Harbor High School over the weekend, and is just the latest example of poor sportsmanship at sporting events.

The event captured on video likely had been brewing far ahead of the recording, given that the coaches were on the field when the umpire called the game and the umpire's first comments on the video were an issuance of an ultimatum: "Enough. I'm not hearing another word out of anyone."

The problem started prior to the video.
The parents protested the umpire's warning ("then be fair!"), to which the umpire clarified the solemnity of the situation: "Did you hear me? If you want to have a game here, quiet down."

Though a parent quipped, "stay professional for the kids and do your job, that's it," what caused the umpire to terminate the game was one final taunt: "Are you mad 'cause the kids are taller than you?"

True to his word, the umpire stopped the game and walks off the field.

Gil's Call: At the MLB, NCAA level or equivalent, this probably doesn't turn into a forfeited game simply because the working conditions for umpires are superior to that of youth travel ball.

Here, the two youth teams playing on a Sunday are using a rented-out high school facility with likely little-to-no game management in attendance. Whereas Bob Davidson in 2016 could call for Phillies security to remove an abuse fan in Philadelphia, there is no such recourse here. The youth umpire is in a precarious position in a crew of one, with no administrative support, and little-to-no incentive to continue the game.
Related PostUnofficial Ejection - Bob Davidson Requests Fan Removal (11/21/19).

Codes of Conduct prohibit poor behavior.
Sportsmanship is a problem in modern sports, despite code of conducts imploring parents and others to maintain such decorum. For instance, the Little League Baseball Sport Parent Code of Conduct lists, amongst others, "I (and my guests) will not engage in any kind of unsportsmanlike conduct with any official, coach, player, or parent such as booing and taunting; refusing to shake hands; or using profane language or gestures."

Earlier this year, 13-year-old umpire Josh Cordova game between seven-year-old teams in Lakewood, Colorado ended due to a massive stands-clearing brawl amongst parents, garnering national attention and a big league experience with Chris Guccione's crew during a Rockies game.
Related PostWorkplace Violence - Parents Brawl at Youth Game (6/20/19).
Related PostUmpires Host Cordova in Colorado (7/1/19).

If you have experienced issues of poor sportsmanship, bullying, abuse, anxiety, or depression in connection with officiating, visit our sponsor, The OSIP Foundation, where Outstanding Sportsmanship is Paramount.

Video as follows:

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Teachable - Preparing for a Potential Plate Play

This Tmac's Teachable Moment highlights HP Umpire Alfonso Marquez officiating a play at the plate during a pickoff sequence with runners at first and third base. Fonzie's movements highlight the importance of preparing for a potential play at the next base, even if the throw starts somewhere else.

During this play from a Cardinals vs Diamondbacks game, runners are at the corners with one out in the top of the 4th inning. A pickoff throw on the runner at first base falls to the ground as the runner from third base breaks for home. D-Backs first baseman Kevin Cron retrieves the ball and throws home, with Cards baserunner R3 Randy Arozarena sliding headfirst as Arizona catcher Caleb Joseph attempts to apply a tag.

While 1B Umpire Dan Bellino prepares to rule on the pickoff play (which never truly materializes as the ball is dropped), HP Umpire Marquez moves into position by scrambling to his right and away from the point-of-plate, attaining a keyhole angle to see the potential tag on the runner.

Every umpire on the field has a potential play.
In this play, there are two runners and accordingly two immediate potential plays based on the pickoff throw to first base, which involve all four umpires. They are:
R1 into first base (1B Umpire).
R1 into second base (2B Umpire).
R1 in rundown (1st & 2nd base umpires).
R3 into third base (3B Umpire).
R3 into home plate (HP Umpire).
R3 in rundown (3rd and home plate umpires).

As Marquez demonstrates here, anytime the ball is in play, any umpire on the field should be prepared to receive some sort of a play. Here, Marquez simply takes R3 into home plate, but even 3B Umpire Larry Vanover or 2B Umpire David Rackley had potential plays at their bases—or in the areas in front of their bases. The lesson is be prepared so that when the time comes, there's no surprise and desperate attempt to get into position.

This Tmac's Teachable Moment was sponsored by Umpire Placement Course (

Video as follows:

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

By Rule - Analysis of Joe West v Paul Lo Duca

With MLB umpire Joe West suing former catcher Paul Lo Duca for defamation following purportedly false comments made during a podcast on The Action Network, we asked sports lawyer and former MiLB ump Brandon Leopoldus for his expert analysis in By Rule, our legal discussion segment.

In October, West filed suit against LoDuca and The Action Network alleging that the defendants defamed West's character through spreading of false allegations after Lo Duca, in May, said on the air that West purportedly gave Mets pitcher Billy Wagner favorable ball/strike calls in exchange for Wagner giving West the use of his classic car.

MLB's stringent rules prohibiting bribery and the umpiring profession's reputation of neutrality and integrity would reasonably suggest that such an imagined quid pro quo bribe runs afoul of baseball's policies, and, according to West's complaint, have caused West to suffer harm, including but not limited to his professional relationships and impugnment of his integrity, honesty, and professional fitness.
Related PostJoe West Sues Paul LoDuca Over Bribery Claim (10/22/19).

In May, we fact checked Lo Duca's podcast claims and found they were largely false; similar fact-checking is included by West's legal team in his complaint filed in New York court.
Related PostPants on Fire - Paul Lo Duca's Joe West Accusation (5/10/19).

West is represented in his lawsuit by Nicholas J. Zaita of Lewis Dibiasi Zaita & Higgens and Kevin L. Murphy of Murphy Landen Jones, PLLC, both of whom are also representing Angel Hernandez in his discrimination suit against Major League Baseball.

Video as follows:

Monday, November 18, 2019

Abuse of Technology - Umpire's Role in Sign Stealing

In the wake of allegations that the Houston Astros used technology to steal signs in 2017, we looked at the umpire's role in enforcing electronic device rules...if such rules exist in the first place.

It turns out that OBR doesn't address the issue, NCAA has an explicit rule prohibiting electronic devices being used in this manner, and the NFHS book's only reference to video states that an umpire cannot use video to review a call.

In short, sign stealing is 100% legal at all levels. Although the rules book does contain various prohibitions on movements or other actions that are not baseball-related (e.g., OBR 6.01(a)(9)'s interference if "with a runner on third base, the base coach leaves his box and acts in any manner to draw a throw by a fielder" or 6.04(b)'s Unsportsmanlike Conduct "Call 'Time' or employ any other word or phrase or commit any act while the ball is alive and in play for the obvious purpose of trying to make the pitcher commit a balk" and 6.04(c)'s "No fielder shall take a position in the batter’s line of vision, and with deliberate unsportsmanlike intent, act in a manner to distract the batter"), these apply to a member of Team A doing something to distract a member of Team B: Teammates can communicate visually or otherwise, as long as they're not using language to refer or reflect upon opposing players.

Banging on a trash can or pointing that a pitch may be a fastball located inside doesn't fit the bill.

College specifically outlines the electric rule.
NCAA is the only level that explicitly prohibits communication between video personnel and the dugout, as in Rule 5-2-f: "Video and communication equipment used to transmit information between coaches, coaches and players, scouts or other team personnel shall not be allowed for intercollegiate competition. Video for scouting, training or teaching purposes may be recorded from any unmanned camera location. No video from manned or unmanned sources may be transmitted for scouting, training or coaching purposes during the contest."

Robot catchers could benefit from encryption.
In college, the penalty is a warning followed by removal and/or post-participation ejection.

Although the Minor League Baseball Umpire Manual states, "The use of electronic equipment during a game is restricted...such equipment may not be used for the purpose of stealing signs or conveying information designed to give a club an advantage" (the MLBUM has no such text), there are no explicit penalties for violating this policy.

So, what's an umpire to do? Unless that umpire is working under the NCAA code...largely, nothing. As the MiLB/PBUC manual goes on to say regarding video or audio guidelines, "Umpires are to inform the league office of details concerning any violation."

Video as follows:

2019 Rules Summit Discussion

The Umpire Ejection Fantasy League announces its 2019 UEFL Rules Summit, our annual forum for discussion of controversial issues which may have surfaced during the past season, setting forth a framework for rectifying these issues by amending the existing UEFL Rules Book ahead of the 2020 UEFL season.
Related Link: UEFL Rules Book (UEFL Portal).

This discussion thread is an open colloquium for proposal, discussion and debate of potential rules changes. This thread will remain open through Friday, November 22 and voting will begin Saturday, November 23—voting will not occur prior to that date. This will provide ample time for proposal and subsequent discussion of possible rules changes for next year's UEFL. If necessitated by certain below decisions, a Summit runoff ballot may be presented after the initial voting closes.

You may propose a rules change by replying in a comment to this post and the following list, accordingly, will be routinely updated to reflect such proposals. Nonmaterial proposed modifications and cascading editorial changes are underlined, deletions are printed in strikethrough and material additions are bold faced. Comments/rationale not part of the actual book are indicated by italics. Individual propositions are preceded by the ">>" bullet point symbol.

Rule 1 (Selection of Umpires).
>> 1-4-b: Eliminates entire "Live Secondary Draft" rule.
Rationale: The UEFL operates its Draft over an extended time period such that this rule no longer is applicable (Submitted by: UEFL Guest).

Rule 2 (The Season).

Rule 3 (Crew Division).
>> 3-6: An umpire shall receive the following bonus points applicable to Crew Division for postseason assignments, in addition to any other points applications in this code: +1 for Wild Card Game Crew Chief, +2 for Division Series Crew Chief, +3 for League Championship Series Crew Chief, +4 for World Series Crew Chief.
Rationale: they are being chosen to be a crew chief so it makes sense that the receive points in the crew chief division (Znyhusmoen).

Rule 4 (League Scoring).
>> 4-2-b: +1 points for an ejection occurring as a result of a player/coach arguing a correctly ruled call by a crewmate / -2 points for an ejection occuring as a result of a player/coach arguing an incorrect ruled call by a crewmate.
Rationale: I believe that an ejection by a non-calling umpire should not be assigned a point value in the standings. The reason for this is that in the vast majority of cases, the ejecting umpire is not responsible in any way for either a correct/incorrect call by another umpire, and for them to be penalized (or rewarded) for an incorrect call someone else made is unfair, in my opinion (JakeUmp).

>> 4-2-b-1: 2 points for an ejection occurring as a result of a player/coach arguing a correctly ruled call by the ejector correct call that would be confirmed by replay.
4-2-b-2: 1 point for an ejection occurring as a result of a player/coach arguing a call that would stand or is inconclusive by the ejecting umpire or for a correct call by a crewmate.
4-2-b-5: 0 points for an ejection occurring as a result of a player/coach arguing a crewmate's call that is inconclusive or would stand after replay.
Rationale: An Ejection call that is 100% correct should be rewarded with a higher point reward than a call that some may logically view as incorrect (Lstaben).
>> 4-7-a-1: A call confirmed will result in the addition of two (2) points.
4-7-a: A call that stands will result in the addition of one (1) point.
Rationale: A Replay Review call that is 100% correct should be rewarded with a higher point reward than a call that some may logically view as incorrect (Lstaben).

>> 4-3-b-4: During the Post-season, ejections as a result of an incorrect call by a crewmate will result in the application of minus two (-2) minus three (-3) points.
Rationale: During the regular season, QOCN by another ump reduces the points from that ejection down to zero for a primary ump. This is just making it the same in the postseason [since postseason base points are +3 instead of +2]. It's a minor change, but I feel like it would be more symmetric, especially because [calling] QOCN drops to -6 for the postseason (Kieros).

>> 4-4: any of several characteristics throughout the season. An individual umpire's season begins with that umpire's first on-field appearance during the preseason and concludes with that individual umpire's final on-field appearance during the regular or postseason. 
Rationale: This makes it clear when off field actions may be used as a basis for awards for a specific season. These awards should be judge based solely on an umpire's performance and actions during their season, not the MLB season (Garrett Webster).

>> 4-4-AR: Fill-In umpires that work a minimum of 115 games over the course of the season shall be eligible to receive awards a-e, and h. All umpires with an ejection shall be eligible to receive the Best Ejection of the Year award.
Rationale: Formally establishes that all umpires, including call-ups, are eligible for Ejection of the Year (Michael).

Rule 5 (Statistics).

Rule 6 (Challenges and Appeals).
>> 6-2-a and -b: Eliminates all references to Margin of Error.
Rationale: By using a MOE, you're unfairly giving more credit to the calling umpire, leading to a larger percentage of "correct" calls as it relates to ball/strike ejections. If MLB is using a system that allows the adjustment of pitch locations after the game is complete, then no MOE should be used to determine the accuracy of the pitch location - the "adjusted" location (probably better defined as "final location" or "reviewed location", as there's a chance it's not moved after review) should be considered the most-accurate rendering of a pitch's location (yawetag).

>> 6-2-b: QOC for Ball/Strikes shall be determined at the earlier of the following:
1) Adjusted numbers are released, or;
2) 24 hours after the end of the game.
Rationale: The delay allows time for more-accurate numbers to be posted. This delay will prevent adjustment of points earned and less confusion to members who may not see updates to the original posts (yawetag).

Rule 7 (Unresolved Classifications and References).

Rule 8 (Umpire Odds & Ends and Community Issues).

Rule 9 (Unaddressed and Authorized Provisions).

The final portion of the Rules Summit ballot will feature 2019 UEFL Appeals Board members seeking re-election for 2020, as afforded by the process delineated by UEFL Rule 6-4-a-4. Click here to view the Board's 28 decisions in 2019.

Following the 2019 Rules Summit's discussion phase, voting will occur. No voting shall take place prior to 11/23, until the discussion phase has ended and all proposals become part of the finalized ballot.