Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Real Time Call - Quick Thinking in the KBO

Most umpires across the globe officiate in leagues without instant replay, and even for an umpire backed by video review, the original on-field ruling is of tantamount importance. In this Real Time Call, we look at a bang-bang play at first base involving two runners.

In a world where so much of officiating education is spent on You Make The Call type scenarios, complete with multiple replays from multiple angles and at multiple speeds, we've decided to place added emphasis on real-time gameplay: this is a play any umpire should be able to quickly decipher on slow-motion replay...but can you figure out what happened in game-speed, on the first viewing? This is a real time play.

To set the scene, this play occurs in the top of the 6th inning of a Korea Baseball Organization game between the SK Wyverns and Doosan Bears. There is one out and the bases are loaded. For the purposes of this play, there are two shoes we'd like you to wear. Keep in mind, runner R3 Choi Jeong is attempting to score from third base and batter-runner Choi Joon-woo is attempting to beat out a ground ball, with R1 Jeong Eui-yoon and R2 Jamie Romak filling in the gaps.

First, rule on this play as 1B Umpire Lee Min-ho. Who's out, when, why, and how?
Then, rule on this play as HP Umpire Lee Yong-hyuk. What's your call, if any?

Video as follows:

Sunday, May 24, 2020

CPBL Ejection, Bench-Clear - Deciphering HBP Intent

Chinese Professional Baseball League HP Umpire Ji Huawen ejected Brothers pitcher Ariel Miranda for throwing at Guardians batter Lin Yiquan in retaliation for a prior HBP, resulting in a benches-clearing incident and learning opportunity for umpires on how to read body language as clues toward deciphering pitcher intent during throwing-at events.

Taiwan's CPBL beanball war cleared benches.
The story began in the bottom of the 3rd inning, when, with two outs Brothers batter Zhang Zhihao took a first-pitch fastball from Fubon Guardians pitcher Henry Sosa for a hit-by-pitch, resulting in a game-ending leg injury and immediate substitution of pinch-runner Chen Zihao.

In the top of the 6th, Guardians leadoff batter Lin Yiquan took a first-pitch fastball from Miranda for a hit-by-pitch, resulting in a game-ending leg injury and Miranda's immediate ejection for intentionally throwing at a batter, care of HP Umpire Ji Huawen; warnings had not been previously issued. At the time of the ejection, Fubon was leading, 4-1. Fubon ultimately won the contest, 7-3.

Reactions sometime confirm an ump's call.
Gil's Call: Watch both pitchers—Sosa in the 3rd and Miranda in the 6th—and note their body language and facial expressions. In the 3rd, Sosa clearly looks distraught and upset about his having injured an opponent with a mistake pitch. In the 6th, Miranda has a blank expression and shows no contrition or other emotion to indicate the expected empathetic response. This should communicate to an umpire or referee that the player either intended to harm the opposition or intended to cause a disruption to the game via HBP or other similar pitch. Player response or micro-expression should not be the only factor in an umpire's decision-making, but can help guide the process.

In April 2020, Sosa threw at Rakuten Monkeys batter Guo Yanwen in retaliation for an illegal bat appeal, resulting in warnings from HP Umpire Lin Jinda.
Related PostCPBL Fight - Illegal Bat, Bean Ball Prompt Bench Clearing (4/19/20).

On May 14, Wu Jiawei ejected Brothers Manager Chiu Chang-Jung and pitcher Esmil Rogers over a runner's lane interference dispute.
Related PostCPBL Ejection - Wu Jiawei (CTBC Brothers) (5/14/20).

Wrap: Fubon Guardians vs CTBC Brothers (CPBL), 5/24/20 | Video as follows: