Friday, October 2, 2020

Tmac's Teachable Postseason - HBP Conflict in Chicago

With pitcher Yimi Garcia's Miami Marlins on the cusp of eliminating Willson Contreras' Chicago Cubs from the 2020 postseason, HP Umpire Will Little found himself officiating a hit-by-pitch that gave rise to conflict between two players late at Wrigley Field on Friday afternoon.

With one out and none on in the top of the 8th inning, with Miami holding a 2-0 lead, Contreras took a first-pitch fastball from Garcia for a hit-by-pitch...or did he?

Replays indicate the pitch struck Contreras on the elbow, which he appeared to move directly toward and into the path of the pitched ball, effectively causing the HBP.

Did Contreras lean in?
Accordingly, HP Umpire Little enforced Official Baseball Rule 5.05(b)(2)—"The batter becomes a runner and is entitled to first base without liability to be put out 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; (2) If the ball is in the strike zone when it touches the batter, it shall be called a strike, whether or not the batter tries to avoid 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"—by calling "Time" and ordering Contreras back to home plate to resume his at-bat, for failure to attempt to avoid being touched by the ball (even more-so, he appeared to lean into the pitch).

After a brief discussion with Cubs Manager David Ross, Contreras' at-bat continued, with Contreras squaring to bunt the 1-0 pitch before taking his bat back for a called strike on a pitch over the heart of home plate. Contreras, seeing Garcia charging in toward the plate (perhaps in response to a potential bunt), yelled in Garcia's direction.

Little noticed this brewing conflict and subtly stepped in between the two players, and the next pitch from Garcia hit Contreras on the upper arm for a legitimate hit-by-pitch.

Umps tend to both players.
This time, as Contreras walked toward first base, 1B Umpire and Crew Chief Dan Iassogna helped manage the situation by escorting a visible perturbed Contreras to first base as HP Umpire Little headed to the mound and Garcia. 2B Umpire Bill Welke also started toward the middle of the infield, just in case.

In the end, cooler heads prevailed (after further yelling) and the Marlins completed a sweep of the Cubs without incident.

Question: Was the hit-by-pitch intentional? After a so-called fake HBP and yelling toward the pitcher, one could easily surmise that Garcia may have been tempted to intentionally hit Contreras with a pitch, such as the 1-1 fastball into Contreras' bicep—and that's a fair question.

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However, context is key, and consider the situation: Miami leads the game 2-0 in the 8th inning of a postseason elimination game during a best-of-three series. Chances are, given this context, the pitcher was not attempting to bring the tying run to the plate and, thus, warnings and ejections likely would not be warranted...nonetheless, it behooves umpires to sense the conflict and prepare to react accordingly, as Iassogna and Little did upon the bona fide hit-by-pitch.

Video as follows:

Discussion of 2020 AL and NL Wild Card Series

Join us for discussion of the 2020 American and National League Wild Card Series: Any and everything that happens during these eight best-of-three series is fair game, and, of course, we will post UEFL f/x plate scores for every home plate umpire this postseason.

Performance plate scores are listed following the completion of each contest according to UEFL f/x (StatCast data and application of UEFL Rules 6-2-b-a [horizontal bound, "Kulpa Rule"] and 6-2-b-b [vertical strike zone, "Miller Rule"]) for called strikes and balls. Foul balls, swinging strikes, balls put in play, automatic balls, pitchouts, and hit-by-pitches are excluded from the analysis. Click here to learn how UEFL f/x 3.0 plate scores work.

- 9/29 HOU@MIN Gm 1: DJ Reyburn. 120/122 Balls + 59/62 Strikes = 179/184 = 97.3%. +1 MIN.
Final (Post-game processed) for Reyburn: 122/122 + 58/62 = 180/184 = 97.8%. Effect: +1 / 0.5%.
- 9/29 CWS@OAK Gm 1: Adam Hamari: 89/90 Balls + 44/46 Strikes = 133/136 = 97.8%. +1 OAK.
Final (Post-game processed) for Hamari: 89/90 + 45/46 = 134/136 = 98.5%. Effect: +1 / 0.7%.
- 9/29 TOR@TB Gm 1: Carlos Torres. 96/97 Balls + 44/45 Strikes = 140/142 = 98.6%. +0 Neutral.
Final (Post-game processed) for Torres: 97/97 + 43/45 = 140/142 = 98.6%. Effect: +0 / 0.0%.
- 9/29 NYY@CLE Gm 1: Jordan Baker. 107/110 Balls + 56/56 Strikes = 163/166 = 98.2%. +1 CLE.
Final (Post-game processed) for Baker: 109/110 + 56/56 = 165/166 = 99.4%. Effect: +2 / 1.2%.

- 9/30 CIN@ATL Gm 1: Stu Scheurwater. 121/126 Balls + 44/50 Strikes = 165/176 = 93.8%. +3 ATL.
Final (Post-game processed) for Scheurwater: 124/126 + 44/50 = 168/176 = 95.5%. Effect: +3 / +1.7%.
- 9/30 HOU@MIN Gm 2: Manny Gonzalez. 100/104 Balls + 53/55 Strikes = 153/159 = 96.2%. +4 MIN.
Final (Post-game processed) for Gonzalez: 101/104 + 52/55 = 153/159 = 96.2%. Effect: +0 / +0.0%.
- 9/30 MIA@CHC Gm 1: Pat Hoberg. 108/110 Balls + 46/46 Strikes = 154/156 = 98.7%. +0 Neutral.
Final (Post-game processed) for Hoberg: 108/110 + 45/46 = 153/156 = 98.1%. Effect: -1 / -0.6%.
- 9/30 CWS@OAK Gm 2: Mike Muchlinski. 86/89 Balls + 44/47 Strikes = 130/136 = 95.6%. +4 OAK.
Final (Post-game processed) for Muchlinski: 87/89 + 43/47 = 130/136 = 95.6%Effect: +0 / +0.0%.
- 9/30 TOR@TB Gm 2: Chris Conroy. 97/99 Balls + 48/51 Strikes = 145/150 = 96.7%. +1 TOR.
Final (Post-game processed) for Conroy: 98/99 + 47/51 = 145/150 = 96.7%. Effect: +0 / +0.0%.
- 9/30 STL@SD Gm 1: Gabe Morales. 120/124 Balls + 51/58 Strikes = 171/182 = 94.0%. +3 STL.
Final (Post-game processed) for Morales: 117/124 + 51/58 = 168/182 = 92.3%. Effect: -3 / -1.7%.
- 9/30 NYY@CLE Gm 2: John Tumpane. 156/163 Balls + 61/67 Strikes = 217/230 = 94.3%. +7 NYY.
Final (Post-game processed) for Tumpane: 158/163 + 60/67 = 218/230 = 94.8%. Effect: +1 / +0.5%.
- 9/30 MIL@LAD Gm 1: Mark Ripperger. 108/109 Balls + 41/46 Strikes = 149/155 = 96.1%. +0 Neutral.
Final (Post-game processed) for Ripperger: 109/109 + 42/46 = 151/155 = 97.4%. Effect: +2 / +1.3%.

- 10/1 CIN@ATL Gm 2: Marty Foster: 91/93 Balls + 53/55 Strikes = 144/148 = 97.3%. +2 CIN.
Final (Post-game processed) for Foster: 91/93 + 52/55 = 143/148 = 96.6%. Effect: -1 / -0.7%.
- 10/1 CWS@OAK Gm 3: Ted Barrett. 124/126 Balls + 52/58 Strikes = 176/184 = 95.7%. +2 OAK.
Final (Post-game processed) for Barrett: 125/126 + 52/58 = 177/184 = 96.2%. Effect: +1 / +0.5%.
- 10/1 STL@SD Gm 2: Cory Blaser: 124/129 Balls + 68/76 Strikes = 192/205 = 93.7%. +7 SD.
Final (Post-game processed) for Blaser: 127/129 + 67/76 = 194/205 = 94.6%. Effect: +2 / +0.9%.
- 10/1 MIL@LAD Gm 2: Quinn Wolcott. 85/85 Balls + 41/44 Strikes = 126/129 = 97.7%. +1 LAD.
Final (Post-game processed) for Wolcott: 85/85 + 41/44 = 126/129 = 97.7%. Effect: +0 / +0.0%.

- 10/2 MIA@CHC Gm 2: Will Little. 86/89 Balls + 52/53 Strikes = 138/142 = 97.2%. +2 MIA.
Final (Post-game processed) for Little: 87/89 + 50/53 = 137/142 = 96.5%. Effect: -1 / -0.7%.
- 10/2 STL@SD Gm 3: James Hoye. 120/121 Balls + 47/52 Strikes = 167/173 = 96.5%. +0 Neutral.
Final (Post-game processed) for Hoye: 119/121 + 45/52 = 164/173 = 94.8%. Effect: -3 / -1.7%.

Note: The highest plate score during the 2019 Wild Card Games was Mike Everitt's 96.5% (NL WC).
The highest overall plate score during the 2019 Postseason was James Hoye's 99.3% (NLDS Gm 4).

Thursday, October 1, 2020

MLB Ejection P2 - Quinn Wolcott (1; Brandon Woodruff)

HP Umpire Quinn Wolcott ejected Brewers pitcher Brandon Woodruff (balls/strikes; QOCY) in the bottom of the 5th inning of the #Brewers-#Dodgers game. With one out and two on, Dodgers batter Austin Barnes took a 1-2 fastball from Woodruff for a called ball before hitting an RBI single on a subsequent pitch, after which batter Mookie Betts took consecutive sinkers from Woodruff for called first and second balls, before hitting a two-RBI double; Woodruff was ejected during a pitching change. Replays indicate that of the 12 callable pitches thrown in the bottom of the 5th inning prior to Woodruff's ejection, including the called balls to Barnes and Betts, Wolcott officiated all 12 correctly (12/12 = 100% accuracy), the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Dodgers were leading, 3-0. The Dodgers ultimately won the contest, 3-0, eliminating the Brewers from the 2020 postseason.

This is Quinn Wolcott (81)'s second ejection of 2020.
Quinn Wolcott now has 11 points in the UEFL Standings (6 Prev + 3 MLB-Post + 2 Correct Call = 11).
Crew Chief Jim Reynolds now has 11 points in Crew Division (10 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 11).
*A mound visit/pitching change exemption was applied and QOC determined accordingly.

This is the 83rd ejection report of 2020 and second of the 2020 MLB postseason.
This is the 38th player ejection of 2020. Prior to ejection, Woodruff's line was 4.2 IP, 3 ER, 9 SO.
This is Milwaukee's 5th ejection of 2020, T-2nd in the NL Central (CIN 8; MIL, PIT 5; CHC 3; STL 1).
This is Brandon Woodruff's first career MLB ejection.
This is Quinn Wolcott's 2nd ejection of 2020, 1st since Sept 5 (Eric Hosmer; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Milwaukee Brewers vs. Los Angeles Dodgers, 10/1/20 | Video as follows:

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

MLB Ejection P1 - Manny Gonzalez (2; Eddie Rosario)

HP Umpire Manny Gonzalez ejected Twins LF Eddie Rosario (strike two call; QOCN) in the bottom of the 6th inning of the #Astros-#Twins game. With none out and none on, Rosario took a 3-1 fastball from Astros pitcher Cristian Javier for a called second strike before striking out swinging on a subsequent foul tip. Replays indicate the 3-1 pitch was located over the inner half of home plate and above the midpoint (px 0.40, pz 3.37 [sz_top 3.05 / RAD 3.17 / MOE 3.24]) (px -0.4, pz 3.37 [sz_top 3.15 / RAD 3.27 / MOE 3.34]), the call was incorrect.* At the time of the ejection, the game was tied. The Astros ultimately won the contest, 3-1, eliminating the Twins from the 2020 postseason.

This is Manny Gonzalez (79)'s second ejection of 2020.
Manny Gonzalez now has 1 point in the UEFL Standings (4 Prev + 3 MLB-Post - 6 QOCN-Post = 1).
Crew Chief Ron Kulpa now has 6 points in Crew Division (6 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = 6).
*This pitch was located 1.56 vertical inches from being deemed correct.

This is the 82nd ejection report of 2020 and first of the 2020 MLB postseason.
This is the 37th player ejection of 2020. Prior to ejection, Rosario was 0-3 (SO) in the contest.
This is Minnesota's 5th ejection of 2020, 2nd in the AL Central (CWS 6; MIN 5; DET 2; KC 1; CLE 0).
This is Eddie Rosario's first career MLB ejection.
This is Manny Gonzalez's 2nd ejection of 2020, 1st since Sept 22 (Mike Matheny; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Umpire Jordan Baker Nearly Called a Perfect Game and the World Will Never Know

On Day 1 of UEFL f/x—in which we introduced preliminary/day-of vs final/day-after plate score reporting—we discovered that umpire Jordan Baker nearly called a perfect game in Cleveland (one pitch shy), but thanks to the MLB computer's vertical strike zone blind spot, the world may never know.

During Game 1 of the Yankees-Indians AL Wild Card Series, HP Umpire Baker saw 166 callable pitches and, according to baseball's real-time pitch tracking computer, officiated 163 of those 166 pitches correctly for a plate score of 98.2%.

As we discussed in our UEFL f/x 3.0 Plate Score primer, baseball's computer quietly changes its grading system overnight, after the computer essentially double-checks itself to account for errors caused by the computer's inability to see certain vertical strike zone attributes in real-time.

Baker's game in Cleveland was no exception: While the computer scored Baker as 163/166 = 98.2% on the day of his game, MLB's computer went to work overnight re-processing and re-grading Baker's work, ultimately returning a result we hypothesized would likely occur: it increased Baker's score from 163/166 = 98.2% to 165/166 = 99.4%, an increase of +2 pitches and +1.2% accuracy.
Jordan Baker's preliminary (pre-processed) plate score for NYY-CLE WC Game 1 was 98.2%.
Perhaps a more convincing way of putting it would be the inverse of accuracy, or what Mark Williams at Boston University would call, the "Bad Call Rate" (BCR). Thus, Baker's preliminary, day-of BCR was 100-98.2= 1.8%, a strong performance in its own right.

However, after post-game processing, MLB's morning-after BCR for Baker decreased from 1.8% to just 0.6%. And, thanks to the lack of fanfare surrounding the post-game processing procedure, fans who saw Baker's game in real-time will never know what he called a better game than what ESPN K-Zone initially showed.
Baker's final (post-game processed) plate score for NYY-CLE WC Game 1 was 99.4%.

Put differently, the computer preliminarily charged Baker with three incorrect calls (163/166), but after processing changed its grade to just one incorrect call (165/166). For the computer, to decrease its red marks on Baker's game by two-of-three pitches or 66.7%, constitutes an incredibly statistically significant adjustment.

And this adjustment rate of 66.7%—which would be known as a failure rate had the computer made these calls in real-time, as would be the case with a robot umpire or computerized strike zone proposal, such as Automated Ball/Strike System (ABS)—is a blatant Achilles heel in the ABS experiment and one reason why, despite sign-off from the umpires' union and Commissioner Rob Manfred's vow to put computers in baseball games, MLB has, as of yet, been unable to assign a RoboUmp to call balls and strikes.

Video as follows:

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

About UEFL f/x 3.0 Plate Scores for Postseason
 will once again provide plate scores for every HP umpire during MLB's postseason through our UEFL f/x tool, upgraded and improved for 2020 by balancing transparency, accuracy, timeliness, and thoroughness to produce the fairest accounting for ball/strike performance following each playoff game.

In 2018, we introduced UEFL f/x 1.0, a pitch tracking device that, unlike Baseball Savant StatCast, Brooks Baseball, K-Zone, and nearly every purported umpire tracker in the field, accounts for a margin of error MLB quietly admits exists and which many baseball analysts have measured.

A full primer on UEFL f/x exists here, but in summary, UEFL f/x considers only callable pitches (ball/called strike), as measured upon arrival at the front edge of home plate, with the incorporation of a one-inch margin-of-error, pursuant to MLB's prior admission as to the technology's error. Pitches receive Quality of Correctness (QOC) designations based on boundary criteria, including Miller/Kulpa Rules (see UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1), and are assigned a status as Correct (QOCY) or Incorrect (QOCN).

Furthermore, while most trackers, such as Boston University's famous umpire study, lazily rely on MLB/Baseball Savant StatCast's determination of whether a pitch is located inside or outside of the strike zone (with a margin-of-error of zero), and while some even deliberately deceive by failing to acknowledge that a baseball is more than just a minuscule dot (pursuant to Official Baseball Rule 3.01, its circumference is between nine and 9.25 inches), or that by rule any portion of the ball passing through any portion of the strike zone results in a strike (see Definition of Terms: Strike), UEFL f/x goes straight to the source—the raw data including horizontal location aka px, vertical location aka pz, and bottom/top of the batter's strike zone aka sz_bot and sz_top, respectively.

In 2019, we added two additional scores to postgame reports for the sake of transparency and fairness: ML Private (aka Zone Evaluation Equivalent Estimate) and ML Public (aka zero-error), to accompany the existing UEFL f/x figure.

For example, Mike Estabrook's plate on September 26, 2020 (Milwakee/St Louis) is pictured as a product of UEFL f/x 3.0, featuring three scores: ML Private's 98.3%, UEFL f/x's 97.5%, and ML Public's 95.0%.

When we discussed the player-umpire disconnect on balls/strikes and, namely, how MLB's public-facing technology (ML Public) portrayed umpires as, on average, 91% accurate behind home plate while MLB, behind the scenes (ML Private) told umpires they were actually 97% accurate, this is precisely what the three-score report was meant to address.

Accordingly, a wholly average triple-score would read as ML Public: 91%, UEFL f/x: 94%, ML Private: 97%.

For 2020, we've taken it a step further. Over the past year, we've observed a huge flaw with real-time strike zone graphics called post-game processing. Succinctly, during a game, in real-time, MLB through its PitchCast application (branded by ESPN as K-Zone, by FOX as FoxTrax, etc.) feeds broadcasters as well as its own Gameday application (MLB dot com) px, pz, sz_bot, and sz_top variables based on placeholder strike zones for batters.

In other words, one incredibly significant reason MLB cannot afford to try real-game RoboUmp experiments at present is because RoboUmp simply cannot accurately adjust to individual batter heights and stances, and thus, zone heights sz_bot and sz_top...thus MLB feeds placeholder values which may or may not be accurate.

This is why during a game it may look like an umpire has missed a call while hours after a game, if one were to follow up, it would appear that the umpire made the correct call: this usually has the effect of improving the umpire's plate score.

We've observed this effect during ejections: The player or coach sees what appears to be an incorrect call upon watching a replay in the dugout-adjacent video room, ventures out to argue the call, and gets ejected. Broadcast shows the replay purporting to indicate an incorrect ball/strike call, and fans are left believing the umpire has erred. Hours later—after all attention regarding the pitch has shifted and the placeholder real-time strike zone box accepted as the real deal—MLB quietly goes back to the game data and changes sz_bot and sz_top

In this linked 2019 example, Dave Roberts argues a strike call by Greg Gibson at the batter's hollow-of-the-knee, only the computerized box, in real-time, indicated the pitch was located beneath the strike zone. Gibson ejects Roberts, replays ad nauseam convince Los Angeles the call was wrong. Hours after the game, MLB changes sz_bot to a value that has the consequence of changing Gibson's UEFL f/x Quality of Correctness from Incorrect to Correct. Similar stories exist for ejections by Ron Kulpa (Houston), Ramon De Jesus (Minnesota) and Jeremie Rehak (Anaheim).

For this reason, in 2020, we will report two sets of three-scores ML Private, UEFL f/x, and ML Public. On the night of every game, we will report preliminary/unprocessed scores and on the day after, we will report final scores. This should effectively illustrate pre-processing error, real-time computer vertical blind spot error, inflexible robot error, Altuve is shorter than Judge error, or whatever other label you wish to assign.

The compulsion, naturally, is to run with the first numbers that exist—the preliminary/unprocessed scores proven to routinely and consistently undervalue umpire accuracy figures—yet these are the same figures that the baseball world presents as static fact, and final. Our goal, is through follow-up reporting of final scores, is to illustrate baseball's unspoken zone problem relative to vertical ball/strike calls, and how this known piece of persistent real-time inaccuracy influences and impacts perceptions of umpire plate performance.

2020 Wild Card Series Umpire Roster

Major League Baseball's umpire roster for the 2020 American and National League Wild Card Series features crews of six umpires for the first round of the MLB postseason, supported by Replay Officials who do not join on-field umpires for their best-of-three WC series.

Crew Chiefs are indicated in bold text and by the -cc suffix, regular season crew chiefs with an asterisk (*), interim crew chiefs with a degree (°), and first postseason assignments by the tag (^1st postseason^). The following crews are presented in their Game 1 rotation, such that umpires assigned to the plate in Game 1 move to right field for Game 2 and left field for Game 3.

Umpires assigned to 1B and 2B have home plate duties in games two and three (if necessary), respectively, indicating that MLB holds these umpires in high regard for their plate work. Due to baseball's unique 2020 postseason format, MLB has assigned an unprecedented number of umpires to the postseason. The Wild Card Series is the first round of four.

AL Wild Card A (Houston Astros @ Minnesota Twins) Umpires:
HP: DJ Reyburn
1B: Manny Gonzalez [Game 2 Plate]
2B: Tim Timmons° [Game 3 Plate]
3B: Ron Kulpa° -cc
LF: Laz Diaz°
RF: Todd Tichenor

AL Wild Card B (Chicago White Sox @ Oakland Athletics) Umpires:
HP: Adam Hamari
1B: Mike Muchlinski [Game 2 Plate]
2B: Ted Barrett* -cc [Game 3 Plate]
3B: Marvin Hudson°
LF: Adrian Johnson
RF: Brian Knight

AL Wild Card C (Toronto Blue Jays @ Tampa Bay Rays) Umpires:
HP: Carlos Torres
1B: Chris Conroy [Game 2 Plate]
2B: Lance Barksdale [Game 3 Plate]
3B: Larry Vanover* -cc
LF: Paul Nauert°
RF: David Rackley

AL Wild Card D (New York Yankees vs Cleveland Indians) Umpires:
HP: Jordan Baker
1B: John Tumpane [Game 2 Plate]
2B: Jeff Nelson* -cc [Game 3 Plate]
3B: Jerry Meals*
LF: CB Bucknor
RF: Tripp Gibson

NL Wild Card A (Cincinnati Reds vs Atlanta Braves) Umpires:
HP: Stu Scheurwater ^1st postseason^
1B: Marty Foster [Game 2 Plate]
2B: Alan Porter [Game 3 Plate]
3B: Joe West* -cc
LF: Mark Wegner*
RF: Vic Carapazza

NL Wild Card B (Miami Marlins vs Chicago Cubs) Umpires:
HP: Pat Hoberg
1B: Will Little [Game 2 Plate]
2B: Dan Iassogna* -cc [Game 3 Plate]
3B: Bill Welke°
LF: Dan Bellino
RF: Andy Fletcher

NL Wild Card C (St Louis Cardinals @ San Diego Padres) Umpires:
HP: Gabe Morales
1B: Cory Blaser [Game 2 Plate]
2B: James Hoye [Game 3 Plate]
3B: Bill Miller* -cc
LF: Doug Eddings
RF: Rob Drake

NL Wild Card D (Milwaukee Brewers @ Los Angeles Dodgers) Umpires:
HP: Mark Ripperger ^1st postseason^
1B: Quinn Wolcott [Game 2 Plate]
2B: Jim Reynolds* -cc [Game 3 Plate]
3B: Alfonso Marquez*
LF: Chris Guccione
RF: Lance Barrett

AL and NL Wild Card Replay Officials: Ryan Blakney, Ramon De Jesus, Chad Fairchild, Greg Gibson, Nic Lentz, Chris Segal, Jansen Visconti, Chad Whitson.

Pursuant to UEFL Rule 4-3-c, umpires selected to appear in the Wild Card games receive one bonus point for this appearance, while postseason crew chiefs receive an additional bonus point, but replay officials who do not appear on the field (e.g., Wild Card & Division Series replay personnel) do not receive points for this role.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

MLB Names Rookie MLBU Crew Chief for Season Finale

MLB will shuttle postseason-bound umpires to first-round cities in advance of baseball's expanded playoffs, leaving young umpires on their own for regular season finales. Enter Chris Segal, named a Crew Chief in his rookie season on Major League Baseball's full-time umpiring staff.

Some teams name players as interim managers for the final day of the regular season. MLB names Birdman a Crew Chief.

With 16 teams set to advance to the postseason, many ballparks on Sunday aren't in need of personnel movement—either because one of the two teams will play postseason games or because the stadiums happen to be fairly close to another venue which will host postseason games—but in Kansas City, both the home Royals and visiting Tigers were eliminated from playoff contention, meaning that the umpiring crew of Ron Kulpa, Manny Gonzalez, Todd Tichenor, and Chris Segal could be reallocated.

Accordingly, Sunday's crew in KC saw the subtraction of Kulpa, Gonzalez, and Tichenor, leaving first-year full-timer Segal in charge of a crew of Triple-A triple digits: Erich Bacchus, Alex MacKay, and Paul Clemons. First-year full-time staffers generally are not eligible for postseason assignments, allowing the crew's more veteran members in MLB's more spread-out Central Division (e.g., many teams on the east coast are in relatively close proximity to each-other) a head-start on commuting to their October destinations.