Friday, July 31, 2020

Analysis of Mets-Red Sox Time Double Play, Errors

Tuesday's Mets-Red Sox game featured an inning-ending bases loaded double time play wherein umpires had to adjust to both teams making key mistakes: Boston ran itself into an out while New York surrendered an unnecessary run. This is a fascinating video to analyze. So what happened?

Play: With one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the 3rd inning, Red Sox batter Rafael Devers hit a 2-1 slider from Mets pitcher David Peterson on a line drive to second baseman Robinson Cano, who either caught or trapped the batted ball. 2B Umpire Chad Whitson observed the slightest of changes of directions in the ball's flight and ruled a trap/no catch ("safe" mechanic). After Cano threw the ball to shortstop Amed Rosario, Rosario stepped on second base to force out Boston baserunner R1 Jose Peraza.

Boston ran itself out of an inning.
At that time, Red Sox baserunner R2 Andrew Benintendi started to run toward third base, baserunner R3 Kevin Plawecki ran and touched home plate, and the Metsultimately tagged Benintendi out to end the inning. HP Umpire James Hoye in turn signaled to count the run, that Plawecki had scored prior to the third out.

Analysis: For the umpires, it comes down to understanding the situation before the play occurs. While crews might enjoy a pre-game before first stepping onto the field, each official can do him or herself a world of good by pre-playing potential situations before they occur.

MLB Adopts 7-Inning Doubleheader as STL Tests Positive

Although Minor League Baseball cancelled its season for 2020, MLB has adopted MiLB's Rule 7.01(a) Exception, allowing the major leagues to play seven-inning doubleheaders. The news comes as positive coronavirus test results invaded St. Louis and the Central Division barely one week into the season.

MLB's seven-inning doubleheader movement came about in response to a virus outbreak in the Miami Marlins organization, which caused an indefinite suspension of that club's activities and scheduled games. With Miami having played Philadelphia before news of the positive tests results, the Phillies also found their games suspended, with further news that members of its organization have also tested positive.

Meanwhile, in the Central Division, Friday's Cardinals-Brewers game in Milwaukee was postponed after two St. Louis players tested positive for coronavirus.

That leaves MLB's West Division as the only remaining faction of baseball yet to record a publicly-announced positive test. 

With three teams infected, Thursday's original schedule of 12 games was slashed to nine, with baseball losing 25% of its scheduled games to health and safety protocols related to positive test results. As such, MLB will rely on heavy use of postponements and doubleheader makeup games, bringing about the league's push to adopt a seven-inning regulation game for doubleheaders.

Pursuant to rule, "In such games, any of these rules applying to the ninth inning shall apply to the seventh inning," and the extra-inning tiebreaker will begin in the eighth inning for these games. Video as follows:

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Injury Scout - Joe West Bloodied by Bat, Returns to Game

HP Umpire Joe West left, then returned to, Thursday's game in Washington, DC after being bloodied by a flying bat early on.

In the bottom of the 1st inning of the Nationals-Blue Jays game (Toronto as the home team), Jays batter Bo Bichette swung and fouled a first-pitch fastball from Nationals pitcher Erick Fedde, releasing his bat on the follow-through, whereupon it clipped West in the left temple, causing the senior-most MLB umpire to bleed and receive medical attention. After a short delay, West left the game and walked off the field under his own power.

2B Umpire Vic Carapazza replaced West behind home plate for the remainder of the contest, with 1B Umpire Hunter Wendelstedt serving as acting crew chief and 3B Umpire Stu Scheurwater remaining at the hot corner in a three-person alignment.

The Blue Cowboy Came Back: West returned to the field to begin the top of the 3rd inning, and Scheurwater assumed the 2B Umpire position for the remaining innings.

Relevant Injury History: There is no relevant injury history. Updates will be forthcoming.

Last Game: July 30 | Return to Play: July 30 | Time Absent: 1.5 innings | Video as follows:

Unreviewable Line Drive Call Leads to Triple Play

The Chicago Cubs turned the first triple play of this 2020 season against Cincinnati thanks in part to MLB Replay Review rules that rendered 3B Umpire Larry Vanover's out call on a trapped line drive to third base unreviewable.

With none out and the bases loaded, Reds batter Shogo Akiyama hit a 0-2 fastball from Cubs pitcher Duane Underwood on a line drive to third baseman Kris Bryant, who dove in an attempt to catch the ball, resulting in an air out call, before stepping on third base to double up Reds baserunner R3 Nick Senzel for failing to tag up, and throwing to first base to triple up baserunner R1 Tucker Barnhart, also as a result of what is technically known as a live appeal play for failure to retouch a base after a batted ball caught in flight.

One problem: Akiyama's liner toward Bryant actually touched the ground before entering the Cubs third baseman's glove, meaning Senzel and Barnhart should have been under no obligation to tag up.

U3 Vanover signaled an out.
Another problem: Despite its introduction of expanded replay—including expansion to include reviews for catcher's interference in 2020—MLB replay has yet to allow video review for catch/trap plays that occur within the infield.

That left umpires with Official Baseball Rule 8.02(c), stating, "If the umpires consult after a play and change a call that had been made, then they have the authority to take all steps that they may deem necessary, in their discretion, to eliminate the results and consequences of the earlier call that they are reversing, including placing runners where they think those runners would have been after the play, had the ultimate call been made as the initial call," but in this case, the umpires stood by the initial call, Vanover informing Reds Manager David Bell of the crew's decision after talking it over with HP Umpire Lance Barksdale.

High home gives a full-field overview.
Had the safe/no catch call been Vanover's initial call, it is likely that R3 Senzel would have scored and R2 Freddy Galvis likely would have been out at third base on a force play. As for R1 Barnhart and BR least video review would have allowed Replay HQ to consult the wide-angle "high home" camera.

In 2017, tmac discussed replay's shortcomings and specifically referred to a similar play to that seen Wednesday in Cincinnati, writing, "Let's replay more things: Fair/fouls in the infield, batted balls off batters, and full swings that turn into HBPs are some of the disasters that are not reviewable...let's get it right." Catch/trap in the infield, indeed.

A 2012 triple play also was confusing.
At one point, former MLB Commissioner Bud Selig envisioned replay being used for "bullets down the line" such as that which, eventually, entered Bryant's glove on Wednesday, but thus far under Rob Manfred, the screeching line drive to the hot corner is not yet a reviewable play.

In 2016, we wrote of the perils of attempting to "unring the bell" in reversing an erroneous decision. Part of that discussion referred back to a play at Dodger Stadium in 2012 (pre-replay) when Dale Scott ejected Padres Manager Bud Black after Los Angeles turned a triple play when, with none out and two on (R1, R2), San Diego's runners didn't run on a botched bunt attempt by batter Jesus Guzman, claiming that plate umpire Scott gestured "foul ball" on a batted ball that Dodgers catcher AJ Ellis retrieved in fair territory.

In writing for the majority in the UEFL Appeals Board's decision on the Dale School mechanics/triple play call, tmac opined, "It's my belief that from a mechanical standpoint you can not kill a play like that and change your mind," and most pertinent to the Cubs-Reds play, "It's [akin to] calling a guy out on a catch in the outfield getting guys to go back to their bases and switching to a no catch call."
Related PostEjection 006: Dale Scott (1) (4/15/12).

Or, in this case, vice versa. | Video as follows:

More History as Moscoso is First Triple-Digit MLB Ump

Edwin Moscoso made history of a different sort Wednesday night in Anaheim as he wore a triple-digit sleeve number, signifying the first MLB umpire in modern history to wear three digits on his uniform. 

#109 served as home plate umpire for the Mariners-Angels game with Bill Miller's crew, and, according to Uni-Watch's accurate observation, might have looked like he was wearing Phil Cuzzi's number 10 or Brian Gorman's 9 (but with an extra zero in front of it) depending on the camera angle.

Given that both Cuzzi and Gorman have opted out of 2020, that might not be too confusing...until another one of the rookie fill in umpires to debut during this modified season also wears a triple-digit number in the 100-108 range...or until 2021 rolls around, unless MLB's plan is to only use triple digits (and their associated umpires) for 2020, signifying the umpiring shortage due to opt-outs and necessitated overflow pool of minor league call-ups.

Moscoso made his big league debut July 23 in Los Angeles. Holding true to baseball's goal of regional crews and limited travel, he made it all the way to Anaheim in the span of a week. Or, depending on which MLB owner you ask, he might not have even left LA.
Related PostMLB Debut of Umpire Edwin Moscoso (7/23/20).

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

MLB Ejections 03-4 - Stu Scheurwater (1-2; TOR x2)

Stu Scheurwater ejected Blue Jays DH Rowdy Tellez and Coach Dante Bichette (strike three call; QOCY) in the bottom of the 10th inning of the #Nationals-#BlueJays game. With none out and none on, Tellez took a 3-2 fastball from Nationals pitcher Tanner Rainey for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the inner half of home plate and above the hollow of the knee (px 0.46, pz 1.69 [sz_bot 1.63]) and that all other callable pitches during the at-bat were properly officiated, the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Nationals were leading, 4-0. The Nationals ultimately won the contest, 4-0, in 10 innings.

These are Stu Scheurwater (85)'s first and second ejections of 2020.
Stu Scheurwater now has 9 points in the UEFL Standings (1 Prev + 2*[2 MLB + 2 Correct] = 9).
Crew Chief Joe West now has 2 points in Crew Division (0 Previous + 2*[1 Correct Call] = 2).
*This pitch was located 3.19 vertical inches from being deemed an incorrect call.
^This ejection was originally reported in the box score as Bo Bichette (see UEFL Rule 7-2).

These are the third and fourth ejection reports of the 2020 MLB regular season.
This is the second player ejection of 2020. Prior to ejection, Tellez was 1-4 (SO) in the contest.
These are Toronto's 1/2nd ejections of 2020, 1st in the AL East (TOR 2; BAL, BOS, NYY, TB 0).
This is Rowdy Tellez's first career MLB ejection.
This is Dante Bichette's 1st ejection since August 28, 1998 (Mike Winters; QOC = U [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Stu Scheurwater's 1st ejection since April 14, 2019 (Doug Brocail; QOC = Y [Check Swing]).

Wrap: Washington Nationals vs. Toronto Blue Jays (in DC), 7/29/20 | Video as follows:

Dodgers-Astros Bench Clearing - Was it Retaliation?

Prior to 2020's originally scheduled MLB season, the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal surrounding their World Series win made the rounds with baseball suspending GM Jeff Luhnow and Manager AJ Hinch, but refusing to vacate their title.

The Los Angeles Dodgers—the 2017 World Series runners up—joined a large swath of the baseball community in taking umbrage with Houston's misconduct, and many preseason opinions swirled around an eventual Dodgers-Astros rematch, knowing what we know now edition.

In February, we discussed potential retaliation (generally via hit-by-pitch or intentionally throwing at a batter) and how an umpire should respond.

LA pitcher Kelly appears to taunt Houston.
The COVID-19 delayed season meant the Dodgers-Astros rematch was delayed, too, until late July 2020. On Tuesday, July 28, Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly had himself an inning.

With crew chief Alfonso Marquez serving as the home plate umpire, Kelly threw a 3-0 fastball above Astros batter Alex Bregman's head to start the bottom of Tuesday's 6th inning, placed his foot in front of first base during an unsuccessful double play attempt, resulting in Houston batter-runner Michael Brantley stepping on Kelly's foot at the bag, threw multiple inside pitches to Yuli Gurriel during a four-pitch walk, and nearly beaned Carlos Correa with a head-high pitch before striking Correa out to end the inning.

At no point did Kelly's actions produce a warning or ejection, but after Correa struck out, Kelly was pictured making faces and exchanging unsporting words and taunts with Houston, resulting in a benches-clearing incident.

Kelly threw several pitches near Astro heads.
Gil's Call: The analysis is two-fold. First, should there have been warnings or ejections for the pitches or gameplay-related conduct? Second, what about Major League Baseball's 2020 coronavirus-related health and safety protocols.

Prior to resuming its COVID-paused season, MLB issued a directive to teams, writing "prohibitions against unsportsmanlike conduct will be strictly enforced to prevent unnecessary physical contact and support physical distancing between individuals on the playing field.

"Players or managers who leave their positions to argue with umpires, come within six feet of an umpire or opposing player or manager for the purpose of argument, or engage in altercations on the field are subject to immediate ejection and discipline, including fines and suspensions."

Accordingly, every person who left his position to interact negatively with the other team—in other words, Astros coach Omar Lopez and Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts, both seen at the front of the skirmish line facing their own clubs trying to calm the situation, would be exempt—should be "subject to immediate ejection and discipline," pursuant to MLB's own written policy.

Dare MLB ban bullpens from participating?
Yet no one was ejected. Primarily because had the umpires enforced MLB's policy, nearly every eligible player on both teams would have been removed from the game, leaving baseball in the most unenviable situation of a double-forfeit.

It's a difficult situation for an umpiring crew, and to Marquez's crew's credit, no further incidents occurred for the remainder of the game. However, one only need ask the Miami Marlins about the importance of adhering to MLB's health and safety protocols during this 2020 coronavirus season, lest risking an outbreak like the one that has sidelined Miami and Philadelphia for the next week of the modified baseball schedule.

Video as follows:

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

MLB Debut of Umpire Jeremy Riggs

Umpire Jeremy Riggs made his MLB debut during Tuesday's White Sox-Indians doubleheader alongside Chief Dan Iassogna and his crew of Ben May and Tripp Gibson.

Riggs, who officiated Game 1 of the double-dip at first base before shifting to third for the nightcap, began his Minor League career in 2009, officiating the Gulf Coast, Appalachian, South Atlantic, Arizona Instructional, Carolina, Southern, and International Leagues, in addition to the Arizona Fall League.

Riggs officiated the 2010 Southern League All-Star Game and 2017 Triple-A All-Star Game.

Riggs is the third rookie umpire to make his MLB debut during the 2020 regular season.
Related PostMLB Debut of Umpire Jose Navas (7/24/20)
Related PostMLB Debut of Umpire Edwin Moscoso (7/23/20).

Monday, July 27, 2020

Podcast - MLB Postpones Marlins Games Due to COVID Outbreak, Deploys Contract Tracing

Gil, Tmac, and Bob Davidson get together for a news podcast episode as Major League Baseball postponed games after at least 14 Marlins players and coaches tested positive for COVID-19, following the team during its road trip in Philadelphia.

Umpires found themselves under COVID protocol, too.

As Marlins catcher Jorge Alfaro was placed on Miami's injured list prior to the team's opening series against Philadelphia, umpire Marvin Hudson, who officiated behind home plate in Atlanta on July 22 when Jorge Alfaro and Chad Wallach served as Miami's catchers for the preseason exhibition vs Braves, similarly was kept off the field prior to his opening series between the Angels and Athletics in Oakland (Carlos Torres came in for Hudson in the middle of the 5th inning of that July 22 game and also officiated behind Alfaro for a frame before Alfaro was substituted out in the bottom of the 6th; Tom Woodring worked in place of Hudson on Opening Day in Oakland).

Marvin Hudson had a delayed 2020 debut.
If one were to also contact trace symptom-showing Braves catchers Tyler Flowers and Travis d'Arnaud, it would be wise to visit July 21's Marlins-Braves game with Dan Iassogna as plate umpire for part of the game, Paul Nauert for the remainder, and a field crew of umpires Mike Estabrook, Hudson, and Torres.

Conversely, if one traced Hudson's contacts, we'd find the same group of umpires from the Atlanta exhibitions.

As coronavirus spread through Miami's clubhouse during an opening series in Philadelphia, MLB opted to postpone both the Marlins' and Phillies' games Monday night. The umpires assigned to the Marlins-Phillies opening series were Ryan Blakney, Roberto Ortiz, DJ Reyburn, and Tim Timmons.

MIA Manager Don Mattingly "wears" a mask.
With coronavirus reportedly possessing an incubation period anywhere from two to 14 days, we'd find that a flurry of positive Marlins tests on July 26/27 could put contraction anywhere from July 11 to July 25, which would include the July 21 and 22 Marlins-Braves games, and explain Hudson's delayed opener in Oakland (Hudson sat out the first two games of the series, but did return to work).

In addition to Hudson in Oakland (with Adam Hamari, Brian Knight, and Mike Muchlinski), Iassogna served as crew chief during the Royals-Indians series (with Andy Fletcher, Tripp Gibson, and Ben May), Torres and Nauert were in New York-NL (Additon, Fairchild), and Estabrook did not officiate on the field until Monday, July 27, in Boston, with Mark Carlson, James Hoye, and Chad Whitson.

In addition to the Timmons crew, that's 14 umpires to trace, and potentially 21 if Estabrook was in Replay HQ over opening weekend.

 Video as follows:

Ask UEFL - Can a Pitcher Pinch Run for DH?

During Sunday's Tigers-Reds game, Chief Larry Vanover's crew made quick work of a substitution issue that turned into an Ask the UEFL question: can a pitcher pinch run for the designated hitter?

HP Umpire Chris Conroy presided over the sequence in the bottom of the 9th inning in Cincinnati when Reds DH Jesse Winker was hit by a pitch to put runners at the corners. Reds Manager David Bell elected to employ the services of a pinch runner, and not just any pinch runner. He selected Michael Lorenzen, a pitcher who pitched the top of the inning for Cincinnati.

As Conroy convened umpires Vanover, David Rackley, and Lance Barksdale, the crew expertly invoked Official Baseball Rule 5.11(a)(10) to determine that such a substitution is, indeed, legal: "Once the game pitcher bats or runs for the Designated Hitter, such move shall terminate the Designated Hitter for that Club for the remainder of the game. The game pitcher may pinch-hit or pinch-run only for the Designated Hitter."

Bell, a National League skipper operating in a year of universal DH, likely would have found no downside to terminating the DH if it would have given Cincinnati a chance to tie the game and go to extras. Alas, Joey Votto then grounded into a game-ending double play.

Sidebar: Compare and contrast Winker's HBP to Diamondbacks batter Kevin Cron's Sunday non-base award that led to the ejection of Arizona's Torey Lovullo.
RelatedMLB Ejection 02 - Mark Ripperger (1; Torey Lovullo) (7/26/20).

Video as follows:

Sunday, July 26, 2020

MLB Ejection 02 - Mark Ripperger (1; Torey Lovullo)

HP Umpire Mark Ripperger ejected Diamondbacks Manager Torey Lovullo (dead ball/batter made no attempt to avoid being touched by pitch call; QOCY) in the top of the 5th inning of the #Dbacks-#Padres game. With one out and none on, Dbacks batter Kevin Cron took a 0-2 curveball from Padres pitcher Garrett Richards for a called ball (dead ball hit by pitch without a base award pursuant to Rule 5.05(b)(2)). Replays indicate the pitch was located off the inner edge of home plate and struck Cron, who appeared not to have made any attempt to avoid being touched by the ball in contravention of OBR 5.05(b)(2), the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Padres were leading, 1-0. The Diamondbacks ultimately won the contest, 4-3.

This is Mark Ripperger (90)'s first ejection of 2020.
Mark Ripperger now has 4 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 4).
Crew Chief Ted Barrett now has 1 point in Crew Division (0 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 1).
*Official Baseball Rule 5.05(b)(2) states, "The batter becomes a runner and is entitled to first base without liability to be put out (provided he advances to and touches first base) when—He is touched by a pitched ball which he is not attempting to hit unless (A) The ball is in the strike zone when it touches the batter, or (B) The batter makes no attempt to avoid being touched by the ball...If the ball is outside the strike zone when it touches the batter, it shall be called a ball if he makes no attempt to avoid being touched."

This is the second ejection report of the 2020 MLB regular season.
This is the first Manager ejection of 2020.
This is Arizona's 1st ejection of 2020, 1st in the NL West (ARI 1; COL, LAD, SD, SF 0).
This is Torey Lovullo's 1st ejection since June 30, 2019 (Mike Muchlinski; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Mark Ripperger's 1st ejection since July 21, 2019 (Kevin Pillar; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Diego Padres, 7/26/20 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejection 01 - Jordan Baker (1; Derek Holland)

HP Umpire Jordan Baker ejected Pirates pitcher/bench player Derek Holland (ball three call; QOCY) in the bottom of the 3rd inning of the #Pirates-#Cardinals game. With one out and none on, Cardinals batter Lane Thomas took a 2-1 fastball from Pirates pitcher Mitch Keller for a called third ball. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer half of home plate and below the hollow of the knee (px 0.51, pz 1.07 [sz_bot 1.53]) and that all other callable pitches during the half inning preceding ejection were properly officiated, the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 0-0. The Pirates ultimately won the contest, 5-1.

This is Jordan Baker (71)'s first ejection of the 2020 MLB regular season.
Jordan Baker now has 4 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 4).
Crew Chief Jerry Meals now has 0 points in Crew Division (-1 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 0).
*This pitch was located 6.52 vertical inches from being deemed an incorrect call.

This is the first ejection report of 2020.
This is the 1st player ejection of 2020. Prior to ejection, Holland did not appear in the game.
This is Pittsburgh's 1st ejection of 2020, 1st in the NL Central (PIT 1; CHC, CIN, MIL, STL 0).
This is Derek Holland's first career MLB ejection.
This is Jordan Baker's 1st ejection since August 29, 2019 (Josh Reddick; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Pittsburgh Pirates vs. St. Louis Cardinals, 7/26/20 | Video as follows: