Friday, January 17, 2020

Canada's Lisa Turbitt Named 1st Female WBC Umpire

When Lisa Turbitt (Canada) takes the field at the 2020 World Baseball Classic Qualifier in Arizona this March, she'll become the first woman to officiate a WBC game, according to Baseball Ontario, which reported MLB's selection for the upcoming tournament.

Turbitt was appointed to the World Baseball Softball Conferation (WBSC), Baseball Umpiring Commission in 2016, having served on the Baseball Ontario Umpires Committee since 1998.

Along the way, she received the 2004 Dick Willis Senior Umpire of the Year Award, which is given to Baseball Canada's top umpire for that year, and has officiated several Women's Baseball World Cup events, including serving as plate umpire during the 2014 IBAF World Cup's gold medal game.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Teachable - Runner's Interference Swipe

In this edition of Tmac's Teachable Moments, we visit the Northwoods League where HP Umpire Leo Cintron sticks with a play at the plate, calling a runner out even though the catcher appeared to drop the ball...or did he?

The Duluth Huskies bat in the bottom of the 5th inning with none out and runners at second and third. Batter Danny Zimmerman hits a line drive into left field, recovered by Eau Claire Express outfielder Zach Gilles and thrown to catcher Vincent Martinez as Huskies baserunner R2 Max Guzman arrives at home plate. Martinez receives the throw and puts a tag on Guzman as the ball pops free and Cintron signals an out.

With a third base coach in the dirt circle surrounding home plate as the play occurs at home plate, we have Official Baseball Rule 6.01(f) (Coach and Umpire Interference) in the back of our mind—just in case the out-of-position coach does anything to interfere with play, such as drawing a throw or tag—but in this situation, replays indicate that runner Guzman appeared to commit a little interference of his own, swiping at the catcher's mitt and knocking the ball loose.

Cintron properly invokes OBR 6.01(a) (Batter or Runner Interference), akin to Yankees batter-runner Alex Rodriguez swatting at Red Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo's glove in Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS.

Remember, swipe tags are fine, but two swipes don't make a right, and as always, per OBR's General Instructions to Umpires, "keep your eye everlastingly on the ball while it is in play." In this situation, knowing precisely why the ball fell to the ground was key to getting this play correct.

This Teachable sponsored by UMPCourse.com, which can place YOU in the Northwoods League.
Video as follows:

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Podcast - Scott Kennedy's Catcher Management

Former Minor League Baseball and current NCAA umpire Scott Kennedy joins The Plate Meeting Podcast to discuss his career and approach to game management through rapport with catchers and how to use that relationship with the only other person on the field to wear a mask to communicate with the dugout.

We discuss the importance of treating everyone with respect—not just team players and coaches, but clubhouse staff, bat/ball attendants, etc.—and the attitude conducive to a better experience on the field, while maintaining discipline through tools such as the informal (all levels) and official warning system (NFHS/NCAA).

Click the below play (▶) button to listen to "Episode 23 - Scott Kennedy's Catcher Management" or visit the show online at https://anchor.fm/the-plate-meeting. You can also access The Plate Meeting on Apple Podcasts/iTunes, Google, Castbox, Spotify, TuneIn, and other podcast services.

Alternate Link: Episode 23 - Scott Kennedy's Catcher Management

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 UMPCourse.com.

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Monday, January 13, 2020

Umpire Scapegoating - The Case of AJ Hinch

When MLB announced then-Astros manager AJ Hinch's 2020-season suspension for video sign stealing, it brought full circle an umpire scapegoating mystery we discussed in 2019, proving the point that when a manager, player, or coach gets personal and throws a tantrum during a game, it tends to be disproportionate to whatever call that participant is at odds with.

When I wrote the first MLB ejection report of 2019 on March 15 that year, I—and many commenters—found it very notable that Hinch was ejected for arguing a strike one call to the first batter in the bottom of the first inning. To be that worked up over the very first strike call to go against one's team in Spring Training was quite unusual, as were Hinch's postgame comments targeting the umpires.
Related PostMLB Ejection S-1 - Angel Hernandez (1; AJ Hinch) (3/15/19).

During a subsequent podcast, Tmac remarked on how obscenely disproportionate Hinch's on-field tantrum was to the surrounding an situation around him, including the officiating crew's calm demeanor.
Related PostPodcast - Episode 11 - Angel, AJ, and Umpire Futures (3/18/19).

This motif carried through to Hinch's ejection on April 3, 2019, after a strike one call by Ron Kulpa in the top of the 2nd inning—another mid-AB, early-inning dismissal. It was in the podcast following this game that Tmac alluded to potential off-the-field problems for Hinch, for his erratic behavior in habitually attacking umpires over what could best be described as perceptually minor offenses, simply didn't fit into the logic of a baseball game.
Related PostMLB Ejections 007-08 - Ron Kulpa (1-2; Cintron, Hinch) (4/3/19).
Related PostPodcast Minisode 13M - AJ Hinch's Mea Ron Kulpa (4/4/19).

With news of MLB's discipline of Hinch for cheating, our story now comes full circle: in his ejections with Hernandez and Kulpa, Hinch employed one of our oldest talking points—umpire scapegoating—that had little to do with either umpire, and as is the case many times, Hinch's personal comments had little to do with facts.
Related PostGil's Call: The Blame Game (Umpire Scapegoating) (8/8/14).
Related PostEjected Duffy Makes it Personal in KC vs Tumpane Claim (6/18/18).

The following video reminds officials across all sports that the more irate, personal, and vitriolic a player, coach, or manager's response to an official's call is, the less likely the participant's actions have anything to do with the umpire or referee who is the target of abuse.

Quite often, as appears to have been the case with Hinch's Houston Astros, it's a guilty-minded manager who projects personally unacceptable feelings onto a third party, if only to avoid having to confront unpleasant emotions—in this case, a severely dishonest scheme that cost Hinch his job...once he got caught.

Video as follows: