Friday, April 17, 2020

Teachable - Rack 'Em Up with Rackley's Plate Position

When HP Umpire David Rackley took a single read step to his left on a potential play at home plate, he stopped short of committing to a baseline extended and in doing so provided us with a Tmac's Teachable Moment as Rackley's positioning quickly turned into a crew effort featuring 1B Umpire Alfonso Marquez, 2B Umpire Dan Bellino, and 3B Umpire Jeremie Rehak.

We first notice 1B Umpire and Crew Chief Marquez respond to a ground ball to Cubs second baseman David Bote by jogging toward first base in foul territory, setting up for a potential play on the batter-runner.

Instead, the play will be at home plate, and 3B Umpire Rehak strolls toward the bag to watch for Pirates baserunner R2 Pablo Reyes' base touch. Finally, HP Umpire Rackley moves into an optimal spot with which to call the subsequent tag play, ruling via his keyhole angle or wedge that Cubs catcher Willson Contreras tagged out Reyes and did not illegally block home plate, a call affirmed upon Replay Review.

Video as follows:

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Case Play Solution 2020-2 - Pitcher's Hidden Ball Trick

Previously in Case Play 2020-2 - Pitcher's Hidden Ball Trick, we asked whether an usual delivery was legal or not. Now, having consulted the Official Baseball Rules, we have an answer also applicable to NCAA college and NFHS high school baseball, with a few caveats.

To solve this pitching puzzle, we went rule-by-rule for those listed on the Case Play. Here were the findings:

OBR 3.07(a): At the professional level, the glove crotch (or webbing)'s color may or may not be legal. Enforcement of the PANTONE 14-series rule is rather difficult without carrying an entire color swatch onto the playing field. Likewise, leave this alone at the lower levels, which have no such rule. All levels of baseball require the glove not be white or gray, which this glove does not appear to be (brown/yellow). This case play pertains to a college pitcher; his glove is legal.

OBR 5.07(a)(1) / NCAA 9-1-a / NFHS 6-1-2 / 6-4-2d: We turn to a compare-and-contrast example of an overseas professional pitcher attempting a similar hidden ball trick maneuver, but ultimately failing due to an interruption to his delivery while transferring the ball from pitching hand to gloved hand behind his back. For the purpose of our case play, there does not appear to be an interruption nor alteration (OBR/NCAA/NFHS) and the pitcher remains in continuous motion (NFHS). This is legal.

OBR 6.02(a)(10) / 6.02(b): Whereas an illegal pitch carries the penalty of a balk with runner(s), this balk rule (remove one hand from the ball) does not transform into an illegal pitch with no runners on base. This rule thus is not applicable.

OBR 6.04(c) / NCAA 5-15-a-3: The unsportsmanlike conduct/game misconduct rule is the thorniest since it is subject to the greatest degree of judgment. In college, this likely would not qualify as unsporting as it would at a lower level (e.g., Little League).

Video as follows:

Monday, April 13, 2020

Teachable - Reggie Brawls With Denny After HR

This edition of Tmac's Teachable Moments follows Reggie Jackson, whose home run off John Denny quickly devolves into a benches-clearing brawl between the Yankees and Indians on September 23, 1981.

HP Umpire Dale Ford and crewmates Derryl Cousins, Marty Springstead, and Joe Brinkman sort the aftermath of a late-season fight that featured a batter charging the mound...after getting a hit.

Earlier in the game, Denny had thrown a pitch up-and-in, causing Jackson to duck out of the way. When Jackson struck out to end the 2nd inning, his confrontation with Denny prompted benches to clear and Ford to issue a warning to both teams. New York coach Joe Altobelli was subsequently ejected for arguing Ford's warnings.

Jackson's fourth-inning at-bat resulted in a home run. Jackson lingered at home plate before trotting around the bases, removing his helmet in celebration as he neared home plate. More yelling ensued, at which time Jackson charged Denny and the benches cleared again.

What would you do if this was your game? Video as follows:

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Tmac's Thoughts as Taiwan Plays Baseball Again

As Taiwan's Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) becomes the first to resume play with COVID-19 social distancing measures while MLB remains shut down, Tmac ponders how umpiring could change post-isolation.

The CPBL, which has an easier task at managing its league of only five teams as opposed to MLB's 30 or MiLB's hundreds of clubs, began its regular season in April with robot fans/drummers and otherwise vacant stands. Should the coronavirus situation play any role in how an umpire goes about officiating or is business-as-usual the more appropriate response?

Video as follows: