Sunday, April 19, 2020

CPBL Fight - Illegal Bat, Bean Ball Prompt Bench Clearing

MLB isn't playing baseball, but Taiwan's fan-less CPBL just had its first bench-clearing brawl of the season as Fubon Guardians pitcher Henry Sosa threw at Rakuten Monkeys batter Guo Yanwen in retaliation for an illegal bat 'appeal,' HP Umpire Lin Jinda opting to issue warnings in lieu of ejections.

This is a more complex case than simple "FIGHT!" but if you'd like to simply see a melee, the video can be found at the end of this article.

In the top of the 4th inning of Sunday's Fubon-Rakuten game, with the bases loaded and one out, Guardians batter Lin Che-Hsuan hit a first-pitch fastball from Monkeys pitcher Weng Wei-Jun on the ground to third baseman Lin Li, who threw to catcher Lin Hongyu for the second out of the inning. After the play, Rakuen alerted HP Umpire Lin Jinda as to potential illegal use of pine tar in the bat just used during the groundout.

The veteran umpire—who began his Chinese Professional Baseball League career in 2000 and officiated his 2,000th CPBL game in 2019—walked over to Fubon's dugout, took the bat, consulted with league officials via walkie talkie, and simply acknowledged the illegality of the bat, ordering it out of play without further penalty to Fubon—no additional outs, no ejections (*jump down to see why).

In the bottom of the 4th, Guardians pitcher Sosa threw three straight inside fastballs at Rakuten batter Guo Yanwen, before drilling him in the hip with what would have otherwise been ball four, resulting in warnings—but not ejections—from the umpires.

Sosa remained in the game to strike out ensuing batter Yu-Xian Zhu—and pitch two additional innings—without further incident. At the time of the benches-clearing event, the game was tied, 1-1. The Monkeys ultimately won the contest, 3-1.

Rules analysis and video as follows:

The relevant rule is Official Baseball Rule 3.02(c), which states, "The bat handle, for not more than 18 inches from its end, may be covered or treated with any material or substance to improve the grip. Any such material or substance that extends past the 18-inch limitation shall cause the bat to be removed from the game."

Rule 3.02(c) [formerly known as OBR 1.10(c)] is known to most fans as the "pine tar rule" care of the infamous July 24, 1983 game between the Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees in which HP Umpire Tim McClelland declared Royals batter George Brett out for his use of an illegal bat (pine tar extended beyond 18 inches) in the 9th inning in the Bronx.

As we found out in Tmac's Retro Teachable of the Pine Tar Game, while the rule in use at the time of Brett's NY home run allowed a batter to be declared out for using an illegal bat (and thus, the HR nullified), the Playing Rules Committee subsequently changed the rule to disallow an illegal bat to be cause for declaring a batter out or to eject such a batsman from the game.
Related PostRetro Teachable - McClelland & Brett's Pine Tar Game (1/17/19).

The new Rule 3.02(c) NOTE states, "If the umpire discovers that the bat does not conform to (c) above until a time during or after which the bat has been used in play, it shall not be grounds for declaring the batter out, or ejected from the game."

That said, if an umpire orders a bat removed from play and a batter, in defiance of the umpire, continues to use the illegal substance-bearing bat despite warning not to, that is cause for ejection, for the batter is now defying an umpire's direct order to do or refrain from doing something.

3.02(c) Comment clarifies, "The batter may use the bat later in the game only if the excess substance is removed. If no objections are raised prior to a bat’s use, then a violation of Rule 3.02(c) on that play does not nullify any action or play on the field and no protests of such play shall be allowed."

And naturally, as the fight is concerned, Rule 6.02(c)(9) outlaws intentionally pitching 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."

In this case, HP Umpire Lin Jinda opted for option B, a warning to both teams.

Alternate Link: CPBL Brawl - Benches Clear in Taiwan After Pitcher Throws at Batter (11S/CCS)


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