Friday, January 24, 2020

Teachable - Laz Diaz's Haywire First Base Slide

Tmac breaks down 1B Umpire Laz Diaz's journey during a wacky play culminating in Indians batter-runner Jason Kipnis sliding into first base after a booted ground ball and key backup by Twins second baseman Luis Arraez put Laz in a precarious position.

The Teachable Moment here is all about adjustment: 1B Umpire Diaz jogs into fair territory as Kipnis' ground ball bounds past Twins first baseman CJ Cron, with Diaz preparing for a continued roll into right field; however, it becomes quickly apparent that second baseman Arraez is backing up the play, and Diaz has to act.

At his present position, Diaz is likely standing in Arraez's throwing lane to first base—he can either backtrack into foul territory or continue further into fair territory to give the Twins fielders room to play. Wisely surmising that Arraez's momentum is taking him toward the foul line, Diaz instinctually expedites his move toward second base—or in the direction opposite that of Arraez.

By doing so, Diaz accomplishes two goals: First, he vacates the Twins' throwing lane, and second, he opens up a better angle with which to take the play at first base.

As batter-runner Kipnis slides headfirst, Diaz encounters the confounding variable of a throw in the dirt that Cron scoops with his glove hand facing away from Diaz. Based on the lobbed throw's trajectory, and the deceleration of Kipnis' sliding hands, Diaz correctly surmises that Kipnis is out, a call upheld via Replay Review.

Video as follows:

Thursday, January 23, 2020

MLBUA Defends Spring Human Ump Autonomy

Faced with Commissioner Rob Manfred's grandiose electronic strike zone claims in Davos, the MLB Umpires Association (MLBUA) issued a statement to ESPN, reiterating that the technology in Spring Training will remain behind the scenes and that human umpires will continue to call games as they have always done.

Yesterday's news report on this website indicated that home plate umpires would remain in command and the technology would debut in a "test only" mode.
Related PostManfred Decrees Computers More Accurate Than Human Umpires; MLB to Test Electronic Zone at Spring Training (1/22/20).

MLBUA's statement confirms this: "Reports that MLB will use 'robo-umps' to call balls and strikes in spring training games this year are completely inaccurate. ... Our understanding is that a camera-based tracking system will be running in the background during some spring training games for technology development and training purposes. But any game in which a Major League Baseball umpire is working will have a human calling balls and strikes...

We bargained hard for these protections, and the process we negotiated has not even started. Use of ... technology in spring training games this year would be premature and would violate our new agreement. We have received absolutely no word from the Office of the Commissioner that MLB intends to do that."

Yesterday's article and video addresses several of Manfred's claims that remain unsupported by years of public data and other evidence, such as the zone's 2D/3D problem, accuracy rating compared to human performance, and so-called fan experience.

Video as follows:

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Manfred Decrees Computers More Accurate Than Human Umpires; MLB to Test Electronic Zone at Spring Training

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred says computers are "more accurate" than human umpires, stating the automated ball/strike system (ABS) or similar technology will be used during Spring Training and MiLB's Florida State League season, though an anonymous source told ESPN that the home plate umpire would remain in command.

With the Atlantic League's test failing a significant percentage of the time through its failure to track pitches entirely, amongst others, it would make sense that MLB would walk back Manfred's statement as a "test only" mode, given that the technology appears not to be reliable nor accurate enough to be used on a consistent basis.

Despite Manfred's own previous position of "that technology has a larger margin of error than we see with human umpires," the MLB Commissioner completed an about-face on his prior computerized strike zone stance, telling FOX Business' Maria Bartiromo during an interview at the 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, "we think it's more accurate than a human being standing there."
Related PostManfred Vows Robo-Umps in 2020 MiLB as Players Complain (11/5/19).

Nonetheless, as recently as the 2019, minor league players complained about the ABS used during the Arizona Fall League, while multiple personnel were ejected for arguing about pitches called by the electronic system during 2019 AFL and Atlantic League games. Frank Viola, for instance, was angry that umpires failed to overrule the computer system while Jacob Heyward was frustrated that ABS called several close pitches strikes.
Related PostComputer Strike Call Prompts Navas' AFL Ejection (10/16/19).
Related PostAtlantic League ABS Robo-Ump Ejection Encore (9/28/19).
Related PostHistory - Baseball's First Ejection Due to TrackMan (7/12/19).

We at CloseCallSports routinely documented ABS' shortcomings; whether during the Atlantic League regular season, AFL season, or even the broadcast systems used during the 2019 MLB postseason.
Related PostFoxTrax (PitchCast) Strike Zone Box Fails in ALCS (10/18/19).
Related PostABS Playoff Highlights - Delayed Calls & System Errors (10/1/19).
Related PostAutomated Ball/Strike System Postseason Highlights (9/30/19).
Related PostALPB TrackMan Follies - A Neck-High Strike (7/15/19).

The e-zone continues to suffer errors.
As for Manfred's claim of a three-dimensional strike zone, that must be an allusion to new, untested technology–perhaps related to TrackMan's depreciation and Hawk-eye's impending introduction—for as recently as Fall 2019, ABS was decidedly two-dimensional in nature.

Throughout the 2019 season, we documented the habitual vertical strike zone problem, and even introduced UEFL ZoneCheck in an attempt to correct for the technology's real-time shortcomings. So if MLB was able to shore up all of the system's extensive shortcomings over the 2019-20 offseason, that deserves a kudos.
Related PostPostgame Processing Changes Gibson's Strike EJ QOC (9/21/19).
Related PostZoneCheck - Twins' Ump De Jesus' Ball 4 Call (7/24/19).

Meanwhile, MLB Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre most recently stated his opposition to a robotic strike zone in the major leagues.
Related PostTorre Doesn't Want Robot Umpires in MLB (7/26/19).

Video as follows:

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Postgame Encroachment - The Locker Room Invader

When a losing coach burst into the officials' room to berate the crew following a game in California, one of the referees hit "record" on his smart phone, capturing the incident on camera. We recap the action with "Postgame Abuse: What to do," a video pregame discussion for an unsportsmanlike event that hopefully will never befall you.

Despite umpire and referee locker rooms serving as safe havens for officials after a charged contest, there nonetheless exists the rare occasion upon which a frustrated person will invade the officials' space with the express intention of conveying some semblance of unsportsmanlike conduct.

Disclaimer: If the locker room invader is a coach or other team personnel fresh off the floor or field, these following guidelines will apply. If the intruder, however, is an unruly fan or other non-sports person, proceed straight to Step 4.

Technicals and ejections only go so far.
Step 1: Record video. The proliferation of smart phones and video technology has made documentation so much simpler. After all, video is extensively used in the stands, so take a page from this playbook and have accessible your video recording device, just in case.

Step 2: Tell the intruder, in no uncertain terms, to leave. It probably won't help much in the moment, but upon video review after the fact, your instruction will go a far way in establishing the malcontent's failure to comply.

Step 3: Don't argue. Because jurisdiction has ended, don't try and serve a technical foul or ejection; either would be non-binding. Although the defensive mechanism inherent within umpire scapegoating remains a psychologically logical outcome, its real-world manifestation of projection and blaming remains rather irrational. In other words, the intruder—having already broken rules and crossed lines—isn't up for measured discourse, and argument or discipline can only serve to inflame a negative situation.
Related PostGil's Call: The Blame Game (Umpire Scapegoating) (8/8/14).

On-field, it's a bump. Off-field, it's a crime.
Step 4: Call for help (security). If a crime is committed, call the police. For the most part, it is illegal for a person to touch another person without the victim's consent. During a game, implied consent exists when participants voluntarily elect to enter the playing surface, but afterward, there is little doubt that anyone other than an official (or official's invited guests) in an officials' room is unwanted and, thus, any potential touching would be unwanted. If unwanted touching follows Step 2, that only serves to further drive home the point.

Step 4a: File your report. If the police were involved, you'll have a police report. If not, you'll still have a report with the person who assigned the game, the league, conference, governing body, etc. The report should be factual as to what occurred and video evidence can prove quite beneficial as a supplement.

Not just acts, but VIDEO hurt Dusty Rhodes.
Step 5: Share the video if necessary. The reason Step 3 exists is because an official, despite having concluded the game and jurisdiction surrounding the game, is held to a high "always on duty" standard, and because a reasonable person would expect that the governing body will judiciously resolve the situation (e.g., by punishing the offender). By adhering to "silence cannot be misquoted," an official also can avoid charges or accusations that he or she aggravated the situation by talking or shouting.

However, sometimes supervisory staff can fail to respond adequately to a situation. Furthermore, as media coverage has demonstrated, sportsmanship deficiency remains a societal problem. In order to effect change, it sometimes is necessary to publicize instances of poor sportsmanship so as to decree its unacceptability.
Related LabelCCS - Umpire Abuse.

Video as follows:

Monday, January 20, 2020

ABL - Howard Ejects Lee on Bench-Clearing HBP

Benches cleared during Melbourne's 12-2 blowout victory over Geelong-Korea when HP Umpire Greg Howard ejected Chan-Seok Lee for hitting Aces batter Allan de San Miguel in the head with a pitch following a home run in the top of the 3rd inning of the Aces-GK game.

The inning began with a home run by Delmon Young, single by Nate Samson, home run by Colin Willis, groundout by Luke Hughes, and home run by Jarryd Dale. When the first pitch to ensuing batter Sam Miguel produced a HBP to the head, HP Umpire Howard ejected pitcher Chan-Seok Lee as benches cleared and umpires Howard, Brett Robson (1B) and Neil Medlin (3B) separated the teams; the only real fight appeared to occur between fans, in the stands along the Aces' third-base dugout; a uniformed member of the Aces appeared to leave the dugout to participate in the confrontation on the concourse. At the time of the ejection, Melbourne was leading 9-1. Melbourne ultimately won the contest, 12-2.

Wrap: Melbourne Aces vs. Geelong-Korea, 1/11/20 | Video as follows: