Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Interference in Boston? Laz Diaz's Astros-Red Sox No-Call

After HP Umpire Laz Diaz called strike three on Astros pitcher Cristian Javier's 3-2 fastball to Red Sox batter JD Martinez while catcher Martin Maldonado nearly tried to throw stealing runner Alex Verdugo out at second base, interference questions began popping up, as did both managers with Houston's Dusty Baker campaigning for an interference call on Martinez and Boston's Alex Cora more upset about the strike three call on a pitch off the outside corner.

As we always do, we begin with the rulebook for this play from the bottom of the 3rd inning of Game 4 of the 2021 American League Championship Series. Although Official Baseball Rule 6.03(a)(3) [batter out for illegal action] calls for an out when the batter "interferes with the catcher’s fielding or throwing by stepping out of the batter’s box or making any other movement that hinders the catcher’s play at home base," the relevant rule here is actually OBR 6.01(a)(5) because the batter was out due to the strike three call: "Any batter or runner who has just been put out, or any runner who has just scored, hinders or impedes any following play being made on a runner."

The high school equivalent is NFHS 7-3-5 ("interfere with the catcher's fielding or throwing by leaning over home plate, stepping out of the batter's box, or making any other movement...which hinders actions at home plate or the catcher's attempt to play on a runner") while college is NCAA 6-3-b (similar to OBR), the penalty for which states, "If the batter strikes out, the runner is also out."

While a throw to second is not required to call interference, it sure helps. The throw leaves no doubt as to the catcher's intention and quite clearly demonstrates a hindering act has occurred. By not throwing, Maldonado made Diaz's job more difficult. By not throwing, now the umpire must decide WHY the throw didn't happen. Was it because the catcher thought the pitch was ball four (the computer sure did)? Was it because the runner Verdugo would have slid in safely at second base? Or was it because retired batter Martinez interfered?

In only one of those scenarios would the proper call be interference. In the end, the judgment call rests with that question: what was Maldonado's intent here and why was no throw made? If the answer is because of retired batter Martinez's hindrance, the call is interference. If the answer is because of another reason other than Martinez's movement, the likely call is to make none at all.

Video as follows:

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Discussion of 2021 ALCS & NLCS

Join us for discussion of the 2021 American and National League Championship Series: As we have done in the past, 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.

 
- 10/15 BOS@HOU Gm 1: David Rackley. 118/119 Balls + 45/52 Strikes = 163/171 = 95.3%. +2 HOU.

- 10/16 BOS@HOU Gm 2: Rob Drake. 128/129 Balls + 43/44 Strikes = 171/173 = 98.8%. +2 HOU.
- 10/16 LAD@ATL Gm 1: Tripp Gibson. 71/72 Balls + 37/37 Strikes = 108/109 = 99.1%. +1 LAD.

- 10/17 LAD@ATL Gm 2: Jordan Baker. 101/104 Balls + 32/36 Strikes = 133/140 = 95.0%. +5 LAD.

- 10/18 HOU@BOS Gm 3: Bill Miller. 102/102 Balls + 42/48 Strikes = 144/150 = 96.0%. +0 Neutral.

- 10/19 ATL@LAD Gm 3: Jerry Meals. 133/135 Balls + 57/62 Strikes = 190/197 = 96.4%. +5 LAD.
- 10/19 HOU@BOS Gm 4: Laz Diaz. 120/124 Balls + 33/46 Strikes = 153/170 = 90.0%. +1 HOU.

- 10/20 HOU@BOS Gm 5: Dan Iassogna.
- 10/20 ATL@LAD Gm 4: James Hoye.

Note: The highest plate score during the 2020 ALCS/NLCS was John Tumpane's 99.3% (ALCS 2).
The highest overall plate score during the 2020 Postseason was Jordan Baker's 99.4% (ALWC 1).

Monday, October 18, 2021

Teachable - Baker's Barker on Braves' Safe Play at Home

In this postseason, teachable, Tmac spotlights the first part of Atlanta's NLCS Game 2 comeback win over Los Angeles as HP Umpire Jordan Baker rules Braves baserunner Eddie Rosario safe at home plate, having slid ahead of Dodgers catcher Will Smith's tag attempt, a called confirmed by Replay Review.

With one out and one on (R2) in the 8th inning, Braves batter Ozzie Albies hit a Julio Urias curveball on a line drive to right fielder Steven Souza, who fielded the batted ball on a bounce and threw home as runner R2 Rosario rounded third and charged toward the plate. 

We see HP Umpire Baker begin the play at the point of plate before moving toward his left for an intermediate starting position, and then finally sidestepping toward the first baseline in order to maintain the wedge or keyhole angle of daylight between the catcher and runner.

Video as follows:

Friday, October 15, 2021

2021 AL & NL Championship Series Umpire Roster

Major League Baseball assigned 14 umpires to the 2021 American and National League Championship Series round of MLB's postseason, with crew chief Bill Miller working the ALCS and Jerry Meals presiding over the NLCS. The 7th umpire assigned to each crew will serve in a reserve or standby capacity and not travel to/from Replay Review during the postseason. Instead, the umpire rotation shall be as follows: Game 1: HP; Game 2: RF; Game 3: LF; Game 4: 3B; Game 5: 2B; Game 6: 1B; Game 7: Reserve/Off.

Crew Chiefs are indicated in bold text and by the -cc suffix with regular season crew chiefs denoted by an asterisk (*) while those working their first League Championship Series will be noted with a ^ mark.

AL Lg Championship Series (Boston Red Sox @ Houston Astros) Umpires:
HP: David Rackley^
1B: Bill Miller* -cc [Game 3 Plate]
2B: Laz Diaz [Game 4 Plate]
3B: Dan Iassogna* [Game 5 Plate]
LF: Jim Wolf [Game 6 Plate]
RF: Alan Porter [Game 7 Plate]
Reserve/Off: Rob Drake [Game 2 Plate]

NL Lg Championship Series (Los Angeles Dodgers @ Atlanta Braves) Umpires:
HP: Tripp Gibson^
1B: Jerry Meals* -cc [Game 3 Plate]
2B: James Hoye [Game 4 Plate]
3B: Mark Carlson* [Game 5 Plate]
LF: Lance Barksdale [Game 6 Plate]
RF: Todd Tichenor [Game 7 Plate]
Reserve/Off: Jordan Baker^ [Game 2 Plate]

Replay Review: Cory Blaser, Marvin Hudson, Nic Lentz.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Discussion of 2021 AL and NL Division Series

Join us for discussion of the 2021 American and National League Division Series: As we have done in the past, 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.

 
- 10/7 CWS@HOU Gm 1: Adam Hamari. 112/114 Balls + 42/51 Strikes = 154/165 = 93.3%. +1 HOU.
- 10/7 BOS@TB Gm 1: Dan Bellino. 90/95 Balls + 44/45 Strikes = 134/140 = 95.7%. +2 TB.

- 10/8 CWS@HOU Gm 2: Chris Conroy. 100/101 Balls + 43/44 Strikes = 143/145 = 98.6%. +0 Neutral.
- 10/8 ATL@MIL Gm 1: Mike Estabrook. 87/90 Balls + 32/35 Strikes = 119/125 = 95.2%. +2 MIL.
- 10/8 BOS@TB Gm 2: DJ Reyburn. 108/108 Balls + 46/49 Strikes = 154/157 = 98.1%. +3 BOS.
- 10/8 LAD@SF Gm 1: Carlos Torres. 69/70 Balls + 37/41 Strikes = 106/111 = 95.5%. +5 SF.

- 10/9 ATL@MIL Gm 2: Mike Muchlinski. 92/93 Balls + 49/53 Strikes = 141/146 = 96.6%. +1 MIL.
- 10/9 LAD@SF Gm 2: Angel Hernandez. 87/88 Balls + 41/46 Strikes = 128/134 = 95.5%. +0 Neutral.

- 10/10 TB@BOS Gm 3: Sam Holbrook. 116/120 Balls + 49/54 Strikes = 165/174 = 94.8%. +1 BOS.
- 10/10 HOU@CWS Gm 3: Tom Hallion. 134/139 Balls + 42/51 Strikes = 176/190 = 92.6%. +4 CWS.

- 10/11 MIL@ATL Gm 3: Alfonso Marquez. 90/91 Balls + 37/40 Strikes = 127/131 = 96.9%. +4 MIL.
- 10/11 TB@BOS Gm 4: Ron Kulpa. 73/75 Balls + 31/35 Strikes = 104/110 = 94.5%. +2 BOS.
- 10/11 SF@LAD Gm 3: Ted Barrett. 84/85 Balls + 39/46 Strikes = 123/131 = 93.9%. +4 LAD.

- 10/12 CWS@HOU Gm 4: Vic Carapazza. 117/120 Balls + 57/59 Strikes = 174/179 = 97.2%. +1 CWS.
- 10/12 MIL@ATL Gm 4: Tony Randazzo. 94/98 Balls + 46/50 Strikes = 140/148 = 94.6%. +2 ATL.
- 10/12 SF@LAD Gm 4: Pat Hoberg. 101/103 Balls + 41/42 Strikes = 142/145 = 97.9%. +1 LAD.

- 10/14 LAD@SF Gm 5: Doug Eddings. 86/87 Balls + 43/45 Strikes = 129/132 = 97.7%. +1 LAD.

Note: The highest plate score during the 2020 Division Series was Todd Tichenor's 98.0% (ALDS 4).
The highest overall plate score during the 2020 Postseason was Hoberg/Hudson/Miller's 98.7% (WC/WS).

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Brewers-Braves NLDS & Replay's Infield Fly Limitation

In Game 4 of the #Brewers-#Braves National League Division Series, umpires conducted a rules check on Adam Duvall's foul fly ball to Milwaukee third baseman Luis Urias behind home plate, deflected by catcher Omar Narvaez. The only problem? The play was unreviewable thanks to MLB's long-standing replay rules.

Ever since baseball first released its Replay Review Regulations in 2014, the question of what is and isn't reviewable has been a point of contention. While certain plays—pitchers intentionally throwing at batters or certain interference/obstruction calls—wisely are excluded from replay eligibility, there are others that are a little more curious. One of those? Fly balls in the infield.

Accordingly, as soon as Duvall's foul fly resulted in a diving catch by the glove of Urias, we knew that HP Umpire Tony Randazzo's out call would be unreviewable. And although the play occurred in the general vicinity of the screen behind home plate, we also knew it was nowhere near close enough to trigger a stadium boundary review.

Based on Crew Chief Alfonso Marquez's mechanics (which was to give no signal after removing the headsets to NY), it is quite apparent this play was not formally reviewed: the rules check simply established that Braves manager Brian Snitker's attempt to challenge the catch/no catch call was not a reviewable element of the play, even if the pop fly itself was high enough in the air that it was not one of those catch/no catch bullets hit down the first or third base line that Bud Selig made reference to in 2012. As the game evolves so too must replay.

Which returns us to our 2017 instant replay argument: let's make more things reviewable.

Video as follows:

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Sorry, Stros - RLI Doesn't Apply on Plays FROM First Base

When Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel's thrown ball toward home plate hit White Sox batter-runner Yasmani Grandal on the infield grass, Houston sought a runner's lane interference call, but HP Umpire Tom Hallion said the 45-foot line didn't matter for this play. Why is that?

With none out and runners at the corners in the 4th inning of Sunday's Houston-Chicago ALDS Game 3, White Sox batter Grandal hit a 0-1 changeup from Astros pitcher Zack Greinke on the ground to first baseman Gurriel, who threw home to make a play on White Sox baserunner R3 Luis Robert. Gurriel's throw hit Grandal and deflected past catcher Martin Maldonado, allowing Robert to score and runner R1 Jose Abreu to advance to third base.

After the play, Houston campaigned for a call, but after conference, the umpires opted not to rule Grandal out for interference. There are two kinds of interference that came up in Hallion's subsequent discussion with Houston manager Dusty Baker.

The first is runner's lane interference, or Official Baseball Rule 5.09(a)(11), which states, in part, "In running the last half of the distance from home base to first base, while the ball is being fielded to first base," the runner isn't within the lane, etc. I stopped after the first phrase because we already have our answer as to why RLI doesn't apply: the ball was not "being field TO first base": it was being thrown FROM first base. That's how simple it is to explain why RLI, and thus the runner's lane itself, doesn't matter here. You'll recall every time we've discussed RLI, it's been on a play TO first base, and now you know why.

As for interference with a thrown ball, OBR 6.01(a)(10) states that a runner can be declared out for two reasons: "fails to avoid a fielder who is attempting to field a batted ball, or intentionally interferes with a thrown ball." Just like RLI, the rule gives us our answer. This is not a batted ball, but a thrown ball, which means the interference must be intentional. Simply running on the grass or otherwise is not on its own sufficient to establish this level of intent—Hallion gave an elbow/chicken wing gesture while talking with Baker to demonstrate what would signify intent—and for that reason, umpires declined to call interference.

Finally, as we have stated many times over the years, the baseline is irrelevant here and the base path three-foot rule also does not apply because the base path rule only applies when a fielder is attempting to tag the runner.

Video as follows:

Rays Lose Run, Game After Batted Ball Deflection Rule

Tampa Bay lost a run, then the game, in the 13th inning against Boston during Game 3 of the Rays-Red Sox ALDS when batter Kevin Kiermaier's fly ball to left-center field deflected off BoSox outfielder Hunter Renfroe and over the wall. Did umpires get the call right, by rule? Especially given that Rays baserunner R1 Yandy Diaz appeared poised to score as the ball left the playing field on the deflection...

To recap, with two out and one on (R1) in the top of the 13th, Rays batter Kiermaier hit a 3-2 slider from Red Sox pitcher Nick Pavetta to deep right-center field, where the batted ball hit the outfield wall and then the dirt warning track before bouncing into outfielder Renfroe, after which the ball deflected over the wall and out of play. Initially ruled a two-base award by RF Umpire DJ Reyburn, Crew Chief Sam Holbrook signaled affirmation of the call following a Replay Review.

The relevant rule is Official Baseball Rule 5.06(b)(4)(H) and its corresponding MLB Umpire Manual Interpretation, which describes this precise scenario: "If a fair ball not in flight is deflected by a fielder and then goes out of play, the award is two bases from the time of the pitch."

There you have it: it's a two-base award from time of pitch ("TOP")—no umpire discretion as to runner placement. As soon as the umpires determine the fair ball not in flight was deflected by a fielder out of play, the award must be two bases from TOP—R1 Diaz to third and BR Kiermaier to second. Tough break for Tampa Bay (especially when Boston's Christian Vazquez hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the frame).

A somewhat (but not exactly) similar play occurred at Fenway Park at the same short outfield wall in front of the left field bullpen back in 2019 as Boston defeated Cleveland. During that game, Boston batter JD Martinez hit a fly ball that first struck the wall before rebounding onto Indians outfielder Oscar Mercado, then deflecting out of play into the fair-territory bullpen.

And, for good measure, in July 2019, Rays left fielder Tommy Pham deflected Blue Jays batter Freddy Galvis' not-in-flight fly ball into the stands, resulting in a two bases-from-TOP award. The rule, which oddly enough affected both Boston and Tampa Bay in 2019, continues to prescribe a two-base award without further runner placement consideration.
Related PostFair Deflection Out of Play - 2 Bases from TOP (7/27/19).

Video as follows:

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Ask the UEFL - Laz Diaz's Postseason Base Touch Replay

When Cardinals batter Yadier Molina hit a fly ball to left field during the 2021 NL Wild Card Game, baserunner R1 Dylan Carlson rounded second base, only to retreat back to first base as Dodgers outfielder Chris Taylor caught the ball. Los Angeles then appealed Carlson's base touch/retouch with 2B Umpire Laz Diaz's safe call upheld following Replay Review.

Although the crowd boo'd as Crew Chief Joe West signaled the decision—as did many of you who sent us a note asking us to cover this play—this call was correct due to the very definition of call stands, which is a Replay Review outcome that occurs when video evidence fails to clearly and convincingly prove whether (in this case) a runner was safe or out—whether the runner touched or failed to touch second base on the last time by going back to first base.

For what it's worth, the official definition of Call Stands is: "No clear and convincing evidence to confirm or overturn the call."

Video as follows:

2021 AL & NL Division Series Umpire Roster

Major League Baseball assigned 24 umpires to the 2021 American and National League Division Series round of MLB's postseason, with crew chiefs Sam Holbrook and Tom Hallion in the ALDS. Ted Barrett and Alfonso Marquez head up the NLDS crews.

Crew Chiefs are indicated in bold text and by the -cc suffix with regular season crew chiefs denoted by an asterisk (*) while those working their first Division Series will be noted with a ^1st DS^ mark.

Notable regarding the ejections, tally, the Tampa Bay Rays (ALDS A) are the only team in baseball not to have experienced an ejection in 2021. This is the first time a team has gone ejection-less since Dusty Baker managed the Cincinnati Reds in 2013.

AL Division Series A (Boston Red Sox @ Tampa Bay Rays) Umpires:
HP: Dan Bellino
1B: DJ Reyburn [Game 2 Plate]
2B: Sam Holbrook* -cc [Game 3 Plate]
3B: Ron Kulpa [Game 4 Plate]
LF: Greg Gibson [Game 5 Plate]
RF: Brian Knight

AL Division Series B (Chicago White Sox @ Houston Astros) Umpires:
HP: Adam Hamari ^1st DS^
1B: Chris Conroy [Game 2 Plate]
2B: Tom Hallion* -cc [Game 3 Plate]
3B: Vic Carapazza [Game 4 Plate]
LF: Chad Fairchild [Game 5 Plate]
RF: Lance Barrett

NL Division Series A (Los Angeles Dodgers @ San Francisco Giants) Umpires:
HP: Carlos Torres ^1st DS^
1B: Angel Hernandez [Game 2 Plate]
2B: Ted Barrett* -cc [Game 3 Plate]
3B: Pat Hoberg [Game 4 Plate]
LF: Doug Eddings [Game 5 Plate]
RF: Gabe Morales ^1st DS^

NL Division Series B (Atlanta Braves @ Milwaukee Brewers) Umpires:
HP: Mike Estabrook
1B: Mike Muchlinski [Game 2 Plate]
2B: Alfonso Marquez* -cc [Game 3 Plate]
3B: Tony Randazzo [Game 4 Plate]
LF: Will Little [Game 5 Plate]
RF: Quinn Wolcott

Replay Review: Fieldin Culbreth*, CB Bucknor, Chris Guccione, Adrian Johnson.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Discussion of 2021 AL and NL Wild Card Games

Join us for discussion of the 2021 American and National League Wild Card Games: Any and everything that happens during these winner-take-all affairs 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.


- 10/5 NYY@BOS Gm 1: Mark Carlson. 90/91 Balls + 37/42 Strikes = 127/133 = 95.5%. +2 NYY.

- 10/6 STL@LAD Gm 1: Joe West. 117/117 Balls + 47/49 Strikes = 164/166 = 98.8%. +0 Neutral.

Note: The highest plate score during the 2020 Wild Card Series was Pat Hoberg's 98.7% (NLWC 1).
The highest overall plate score during the 2020 Postseason was Hoberg/Hudson/Miller's 98.7% (WC/WS).

Monday, October 4, 2021

2021 AL & NL Wild Card Game Umpire Roster

Major League Baseball assigned 12 umpires to the 2021 American and National League Wild Card Game round of the MLB postseason featuring Yankees-Red Sox (AL) and Cardinals-Dodgers (NL) matchups. Joe West works what possibly is his final career plate game at the major league level in Los Angeles while Jerry Meals will serve as crew chief in Boston.

Crew Chiefs are indicated in bold text and by the -cc suffix with regular season crew chiefs denoted by an asterisk (*) while those working their first postseason will be noted with a ^1st^ mark.

AL Wild Card (New York Yankees @ Boston Red Sox) Umpires:
HP: Mark Carlson*
1B: James Hoye
2B: Jerry Meals* -cc
3B: Jordan Baker
LF: Ryan Blakney ^1st^
RF: Jansen Visconti ^1st^

NL Wild Card (St Louis Cardinals @ Los Angeles Dodgers) Umpires:
HP: Joe West* -cc
1B: Alan Porter
2B: Laz Diaz
3B: Jim Wolf
LF: Chris Segal ^1st^
RF: Ramon De Jesus ^1st^

Replay Review: Stu Scheurwater, Larry Vanover.

Sept 2021 Call of the Month - Ben May is Safe at Second

Tmac
's September 2021 Call of the Month actually took place on October 1 as 2B Umpire Ben May called White Sox batter-runner Tim Anderson safe at second base while sliding away from Tigers infielder Willi Castro's lunging tag attempt.

With runners on second and third base and none out, White Sox batter Anderson hit a ground ball into left-center field and as Detroit threw toward home plate, Anderson ran toward second base. Upon the cut-off throw being redirected to Castro at second base, Anderson's swim-slide produced a series of close tag attempts and misses as Anderson tried to maintain contact with the bag.

Video as follows:

Sunday, October 3, 2021

MLB Ejection 189 - Manny Gonzalez (7; Derek Shelton)

1B Umpire Manny Gonzalez ejected Pirates manager Derek Shelton (Replay Review call that overturned 2B Umpire Randy Rosenberg's base touch call; QOCY) in the top of the 5th inning of the #Reds-#Pirates game. With one out and one on, Reds batter Max Schrock hit a 0-2 curveball from Pirate pitcher Cody Ponce on a line drive to Pirates right fielder Yoshi Tsutsugo as Reds baserunner R1 Jonathan India rounded second and advanced to third base while Schrock rounded first and advanced to second base. After the play, Pittsburgh appealed that runner R1 India failed to touch second base properly his last time by, affirmed as an out (failure to touch a base) by 2B Umpire Rosenberg. Following Replay Review as the result of a manager's challenge by Reds manager Bryan Price alleging India properly touched second base when passing it, Rosenberg's call was overturned to safe. Replays indicate the runner touched the base and was legal upon leaving the base to advance to third base, the overturned call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 1-1. The Reds ultimately won the contest, 6-3.

This is Manny Gonzalez (79)'s 7th ejection of 2021.
Manny Gonzalez now has 10 points in the UEFL Standings (6 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 10).
Crew Chief Manny Gonzalez now has 2 points in Crew Division (1 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 2).
*Passing a base is found in Official Baseball Rule 5.06(b)(1) and the MLB Umpire Manual: "A runner is considered to have passed a base if they have both feet on the ground beyond the back edge of the base or beyond the edge of the base in the direction in which they are advancing."

This is the 189th ejection report of the 2021 MLB regular season.
This is the 85th manager ejection of 2021.
This is Pittsburgh's 4th ejection of 2021, T-4th in the NL Central (MIL 16; CIN 12; CHC 8; PIT, STL 4).
This is Derek Shelton's 3rd ejection of 2021, 1st since June 1 (Dan Bellino; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Manny Gonzalez' 7th ejection of 2021, 1st since Sept 25 (Don Mattingly; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Angel Hernandez Flips Into Dugout on Final Day of Season

Assigned to home plate duties on the final day of the MLB regular season, umpire Angel Hernandez flipped into the Tampa Bay dugout while making a call on Yankees SS Gio Urshela's catch attempt of Rays batter Austin Meadow's 6th inning foul ball.

While looking for Call of the Month material for September (plus the three regular season games in October), tmac thought to highlight this humorous dedication to finding a position and angle to get the call right.

This isn't the first time Hernandez has gotten in the middle of the action off the playing field. Back in 2012, we spotlighted Hernandez's hustle to officiate a boundary play as Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher attempted to catch a foul fly ball in the right field stands (unfortunately video has since been pulled).
Related PostYankee Stadium Boundary Catch Part II: Hernandez Hustle (10/11/12).

Video as follows:

Gerry Davis Retires After Umpiring 5,000th Game

Gerry Davis, MLB's second senior-most umpire, retired after officiating his 5,000th career major league game during Sunday afternoon's Cubs-Cardinals regular season finale. Born in St Louis, Davis began his professional career in the National League on June 9, 1982, and 40 years later retires from baseball with the most all-time postseason games ever officiated.

Davis' postseason resume of 26 years includes three Wild Card Games, 13 Division Series, 11 League Championship Series, and six World Series. Davis has served as a major league umpire long enough to eject Brad Ausmus both as a player in 1994 and as a manager in 2015.

After opting out of MLB's COVID 2020 season, Davis delayed his 2021 debut, needing just 43 games to achieve the 5,000 milestone. After joining all-time games worked leader Joe West's crew to work one last time with the Blue Cowboy several days prior, Davis sat out Friday and Saturday's games, needing just one game to reach 5,000—Sunday's.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Injury Scout - Chris Guccione Leaves Game in Toronto

HP Umpire Chris Guccione exited Saturday's #Orioles-#BlueJays game in Toronto following the top of the 3rd inning. According to the Blue Jays broadcast, Guccione left the field due to an accelerated heart rate.

Guccione approached Blue Jays staff following the final out of Baltimore's 3rd inning and was taken to the home team's clubhouse for further evaluation and treatment. After a delay, 2B Umpire Chris Conroy replaced Guccione behind home plate with 1B Umpire and Crew Chief Mark Wegner staying at first base and 3B Umpire Alan Porter remaining at third base as the crew completed the game with three umpires.

Relevant Injury History: There is no relevant injury history.

Last Game: Oct 2 | Return to Play: 2022 | Time Absent: Rest of Season | Video as follows:

MLB Ejection 188 - Phil Cuzzi (4; Jordy Mercer)

HP Umpire Phil Cuzzi ejected Nationals 2B Jordy Mercer (strike three call; QOCY) in the bottom of the 7th inning of the #RedSox-#Nationals game. With two out and the bases loaded, Mercer took a 2-2 fastball from Red Sox pitcher Ryan Brasier for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the inner half of home plate and thigh-high (px 0.20, pz 1.71 [sz_bot 1.60 / RAD 1.48]) and that all other pitches were properly officiated, the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Red Sox were leading, 1-0. The Red Sox ultimately won the contest, 5-3.

This is Phil Cuzzi (10)'s 4th ejection of 2021.
Phil Cuzzi now has 10 points in the UEFL Standings (6 Previous + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 10).
Crew Chief Fieldin Culbreth now has 5 points in Crew Division (4 Previous + 1 QOCY = 5).
*This pitch was located 3.79 vertical inches from being deemed an incorrect call.

This is the 188th ejection report of the 2021 MLB regular season.
This is the 76th player ejection of 2021. Prior to ejection, Mercer was 0-3 (SO) in the contest.
This is Washington's 8th ejection of 2021, 3rd in the NL East (MIA 10; PHI 9; WAS 8; NYM 7; ATL 1).
This is Jordy Mercer's first career MLB ejection.
This is Phil Cuzzi's 4th ejection of 2021, 1st since Sept 18 (Jayce Tingler; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Boston Red Sox vs. Washington Nationals, 10/2/21 | Video as follows:

Friday, October 1, 2021

Brian Gorman Announces Retirement Prior to Final Game

30-year NL and MLB umpire Brian Gorman officiated his final regular season game in Los Angeles Thursday night vs San Diego. The veteran of more than 3,400 career games will retire at the end of 2021.

Gorman was born in New York and worked his first major league game in the National League on April 24, 1991. After opting out of MLB's modified 2020 season, Gorman returned in 2021 to complete his career. With one Wild Card Game, 10 Division Series, seven League Championship Series, and three World Series, Gorman's postseason experience could still land him a spot on a big league field during the 2021 postseason.

As stated on the Dodgers' broadcast, Gorman traveled to St Louis to watch Gerry Davis work his 5,000th career (regular + post-season) game during Sunday's Cubs-Cardinals 2021 regular season finale. Davis, the league's second senior-most umpire, and Joe West, who has officiated the most games in major league history, were placed on the same crew for the penultimate series of the regular season as they prepare for their own retirements from baseball. After Thursday's Brewers-Cardinals game, West traveled to San Francisco to close out the regular season with Padres-Giants.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Teachable - Hallion Hustle on Sliding Tag Play in Chicago

When Chicago walked off a day after umpire Tom Hallion ejected Cubs interim manager Andy Green in David Ross' absence, it was Hallion at first base who ruled batter-runner Frank Schwindel safe, having eluded Pirates first baseman Colin Moran's tag attempt. The call was upheld following Replay Review.

Tmac turns Hallion's hustle into a teachable moment as the crew chief demonstrates the principles of how getting into position to find the keyhole angle helps make for more accurate calls. In this situation, Hallion runs in toward first base, in fair territory roughly parallel to the right field foul line, and sells the safe call with repeated mechanics for this game-ending play.

Video as follows:

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Foul Ball vs HBP vs Swinging (Dead Ball) Strike - Herrera

When Phillies batter Odubel Herrera pulled his bat back from a bunt attempt as Mets pitcher Brad Hand's offering ran in, HP Umpire CB Bucknor faced one of baseball's most difficult calls: deciphering whether the result was a foul ball, hit-by-pitch, or dead ball strike due to the batter's attempt to strike the ball.

Tmac breaks down the play as it occurred, with Herrera dropping the bat as the pitch arrived, and the ball first contacting Herrera's person before then making contact with the discarded bat on its way to the ground, producing a distinct sound of a ball hitting a bat, but as Replay Review would show, the primary point of contact (the first point of contact) was the ball hitting Herrera's hand as Herrera attempted to avoid the pitch (as opposed to failing to check a swing or attempting to bunt it), meaning that Herrera was awarded first base with a hit-by-pitch.

Video as follows:

Monday, September 27, 2021

MLB Ejections 186-187 - Lance Barrett (5-6; CWS x2)

HP Umpire Lance Barrett ejected White Sox bench coach Miguel Cairo and bench player Tim Anderson (USC-NEC following Jose Abreu's HBP by Alex Lange and preceding a benches-clearing incident) in the top of the 9th inning of the #WhiteSox-#Tigers game. With one out and none on, Tigers batter Abreu took a 0-2 fastball from Tigers pitcher Lange for a hit-by-pitch. Replays indicate the pitch was located off inside and struck Abreu on the left elbow. Upon arriving at first base, Abreu attempted to steal second on a pitch in the dirt and while being thrown out by Tigers catcher Eric Haase, slid into shortstop Niko Goodrum, resulting in a benches-clearing incident during which 2B Umpire Tim Timmons appeared to restrain Abreu from fighting, the call was irrecusable. At the time of the ejections, the White Sox were leading, 8-7. The White Sox ultimately won the contest, 8-7.

These are is Lance Barrett (16)'s 5th and 6th ejections of 2021.
Lance Barrett now has 22 points in the UEFL Standings (18 Prev + 2*[2 MLB + 0 Irrecusable] = 22).
Crew Chief Alfonso Marquez now has 13 points in Crew Division (11 Previous + 2 QOCU = 13).

These are the 186th and 187th reports of the 2021 MLB regular season.
This is the 75th player ejection of 2021. Prior to ejection, Anderson did not participate in the contest.
This is Chicago's 9/10th ejection of 2021, 1st in the AL Central (CWS 10; KC, MIN 5; CLE, DET 2).
This is Miguel Cairo's 1st ejection since July 16, 2012 (Dan Bellino; QOC = Y [Fair/Foul]).
This is Tim Anderson's 2nd ejection of 2021, 1st since July 23 (John Libka; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Lance Barrett's 5th ejection of 2021, 1st since August 8 (Scott Servais; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Chicago White Sox vs. Detroit Tigers, 9/27/21 | Video as follows:

Sunday, September 26, 2021

MLB Ejection 185 - Bill Miller (4; Mike Shildt)

HP Umpire Bill Miller ejected Cardinals manager Mike Shildt (infield fly rule/changed out/safe/"Time" call by 2B Umpire Doug Eddings; QOCN) in the bottom of the 9th inning of the #Cardinals-#Cubs game. With one out and two on (R1, R2), Cubs batter Frank Schwindel hit a 1-0 slider from Cardinals pitcher Giovanny Gallegos in the air along the third-base line, dropped in fair territory and ruled an infield fly as Cubs baserunners R2 Austin Romine advanced to third base and R1 Rafael Ortega advanced to second base. Replays indicate the batted ball fit the criteria of an infield fly (less than two out, R1 & R2, fair fly ball that could have been caught by an infielder employing ordinary effort) and that the Cardinals fielders tagged the bases, as in a force play, instead of tagging the runners, but also tagged Cubs runner Ortega after Ortega stepped off second base; although 2B Umpire Eddings called "Time" prior to the tag out (and no runner may be tagged out in this fashion while the ball is dead), the play was not subject to being declared dead in accordance with OBR 5.12 (Calling "Time"), the call was incorrect. At the time of the ejection, the Cardinals were leading, 4-2. The Cardinals ultimately won the contest, 4-2.

This is Bill Miller (26)'s 4th ejection of 2021.
Bill Miller now has 8 points in the UEFL Standings (8 Prev + 2 MLB - 2 Incorrect-Crewmate = 8).
Crew Chief Bill Miller now has 7 points in Crew Division (7 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = 7).

This is the 185th ejection report of the 2021 MLB regular season.
This is the 84th manager ejection of 2021.
This is St Louis' 4th ejection of 2021, 4th in the NL Central (MIL 16; CIN 12; CHC 8; STL 4; PIT 3).
This is Mike Shildt's 5th ejection of 2021, 1st since July 25 (Ron Kulpa; QOC = N [Replay Review]).
This is Bill Miller's 4th ejection of 2021, 1st since July 20 (Joe Maddon; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: St Louis Cardinals vs Chicago Cubs, 9/26/21 | Video as follows:

Saturday, September 25, 2021

MLB Ejections 183-184 - Manny Gonzalez (5, 6; MIA x2)

HP Umpire Manny Gonzalez ejected Marlins 3B Eddy Alvarez and manager Don Mattingly (strike three call; QOCN) in the top of the 8th inning of the #Marlins-#Rays game. With two out and one on (R1), Marlins batter Alvarez took a 1-2 fastball from Rays pitcher JP Feyereisen for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the heart of home plate and above the upper midpoint (px 0.09, pz 3.69 [sz_top 3.05 / RAD 3.17 / MOE 3.26]), the call was incorrect.* At the time of the ejection, the Rays were leading, 5-3. The Rays ultimately won the contest, 7-3.


These are Manny Gonzalez (79)'s 5th and 6th ejections of 2021.
Manny Gonzalez now has 6 points in the UEFL Standings (10 Prev + 2*[2 MLB - 4 QOCN] = 6).
Crew Chief Jeff Nelson now has 3 points in Crew Division (3 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = 3).
*This pitch was located 5.16 vertical inches from being deemed a correct call.

These are the 183rd and 184th ejection reports of the 2021 MLB regular season.
This is the 74th player ejection of 2021. Prior to ejection, Alvarez was 0-4 (2 SO) in the contest.
This is the 83rd manager ejection of 2021.
This is Miami's 9/10th ejection of 2021, 1st in the NL East (MIA 10; PHI 9; NYM, WAS 7; ATL 1).
This is Eddy Alvarez's first career MLB ejection.
This is Don Mattingly's 3rd ejection of 2021, 1st since July 2 (Dan Iassogna; QOC = U [Throwing At]).
This is Manny Gonzalez's 5/6th ejection of 2021, 1st since July 31 (Jayce Tingler; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Miami Marlins vs. Tampa Bay Rays, 9/25/21 | Video as follows:

Friday, September 24, 2021

MLB Ejection 182 - John Libka (6; Bryan De La Cruz)

HP Umpire John Libka ejected Marlins CF Bryan De La Cruz (check swing strike three call by 1B Umpire Manny Gonzalez) in the top of the 1st inning of the #Marlins-#Rays game. With two out and none on, De La Cruz attempted to check his swing on a 3-2 knuckle curve from Rays pitcher David Robertson, ruled a ball by HP Umpire Libka and a swinging third strike on appeal by 1B Umpire Gonzalez. This play is under review by the UEFL Appeals Board, the call was *PENDING*. At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 0-0. The Rays ultimately won the contest, 8-0.

This is John Libka (84)'s 6th ejection of 2021.
John Libka now has ? points in the UEFL Standings (20 Previous + 2 AAA + ? Call-Crewmate = ?).
Crew Chief Jeff Nelson now has ? points in Crew Division (3 Previous + ? Call = ?).

This is the 182nd ejection report of the 2021 MLB regular season.
This is the 73rd player ejection of 2021. Prior to ejection, De La Cruz was 0-1 (SO) in the contest.
This is Miami's 8th ejection of 2021, 2nd in the NL East (PHI 9; MIA 8; NYM, WAS 7; ATL 1).
This is Bryan De La Cruz's first career MLB ejection.
This is John Libka's 6th ejection of 2021, 1st since July 23 (Tim Anderson; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Miami Marlins vs. Tampa Bay Rays, 9/24/21 | Video as follows:

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Passing Runners - When a Home Run Becomes a Single

In this passing runners Teachable Moment, tmac reviews 1B Umpire Sam Holbrook's out call on batter-runner Adam Duvall after an apparent home run when Braves baserunner R1 Austin Riley, by jogging back toward first base, enabled Duvall to inadvertently pass a preceding runner, comparing this play to Robin Ventura's grand slam single from Game 5 of the 1999 Braves-Mets National League Championship Series when Ventura was declared out for passing preceding New York runner Todd Pratt.

The relevant rule itself is Official Baseball Rule 5.09(b)(9), which states that a runner is out when "they pass a preceding runner before such runner is out." The rule's comment goes on to clarify that "A runner may be deemed to have passed a preceding (i.e., lead) runner based on their actions or the actions of a preceding runner."

The rule applies during any live ball period as well as any dead ball period in which ordinary base-running rules and responsibilities are in effect (e.g., during a home run or "ground rule" double base award, as opposed to during a foul ball, when the rule does not apply because no bases are being run and no runners are advancing once the ball is declared foul).

Because Duvall passed Riley after touching first base but before reaching second, Duvall is credited with a single. Had there been two outs when Duvall hit the not-quite-a-HR, the passing call for the inning's third out would result in a time play for any potential runs scoring.

For more information, refer to our previous series on passing runners.

Video as follows:

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

MLB Ejections 180-181 - Greg Gibson (6-7; OAK x2)

HP Umpire Greg Gibson ejected A's bench coach Ryan Christenson and manager Bob Melvin (foul ball no-call; QOCN) in the top of the 6th inning of the #Mariners-#Athletics game. With one out and one on (R1), Mariners batter Dylan Moore attempted to check his swing on a 0-2 sinker from A's pitcher Geolis Guerra as Mariners baserunner R1 Jared Kelenic attempted to steal second base, ruled ball two. Replays indicate that Moore's bat made contact with the pitched ball and that A's catcher Sean Murphy did not catch the ball (it was not a foul tip), the call was incorrect. At the time of the ejections, the Mariners were leading, 3-1. The Mariners ultimately won the contest, 4-1.

These are Greg Gibson (53)'s sixth and seventh ejections of 2021.
Greg Gibson now has 8 points in the UEFL Standings (12 Prev + 2*[2 MLB - 4 Incorrect Call] = 8).
Crew Chief Greg Gibson now has 4 points in Crew Division (4 Previous + 0 Incorrect Calls = 4).

These are the 180th and 181st ejection reports of the 2021 MLB regular season.
This is the 82nd manager ejection of 2021.
This is Oakland's 7/8th ejection of 2021, 1st in the AL West (OAK 8; SEA 5; HOU, TEX 4; LAA 3).
This is Ryan Christenson's first career MLB ejection.
This is Bob Melvin's 6th ejection of 2021, 1st since Sept 18 (James Hoye; QOC = Y-c [Replay Review]).
This is Greg Gibson's 6/7th ejection of 2021, 1st since Sept 11 (Vance Wilson; QOC = U [USC-NEC]).

MLB Ejections 178-179 - Joe West (3-4; TOR x2)

3B Umpire Joe West ejected Blue Jays pitcher Ryan Borucki and pitching coach Pete Walker (throwing at Rays batter Kevin Kiermaier) in the bottom of the 8th inning of the #BlueJays-#Rays game. With none out and none on, Rays batter Kiermaier took a first-pitch sinker from Borucki for a hit-by-pitch, resulting in a crew consultation and ejection for intentionally pitching at the batter. Replays indicate the pitch was located inside and struck Kiermaier in the mid-back, the call was irrecusable. At the time of the ejections, the Rays were leading, 7-1. The Rays ultimately won the contest, 7-1.

These are Joe West (22)'s 3rd and 4th ejections of 2021.
Joe West now has 5 points in the UEFL Standings (1 Previous + 2*[2 MLB + 0 QOCU] = 5).
Crew Chief Joe West now has 3 points in Crew Division (1 Previous + 2 Irrecusable Calls = 3).

These are the 178th and 179th ejection reports of the 2021 MLB regular season.
This is the 72nd player ejection of 2021. Prior to ejection, Borucki's line was 1.0 IP, H, HBP.
This is Toronto's 6/7th ejection of 2021, 2nd in the AL East (NYY 11; TOR 7; BOS 5; BAL 2; TB 0).
This is Ryan Borucki's first career MLB ejection.
This is Pete Walker's 3rd ejection of 2021, 1st since August 24 (Mark Carlson; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Joe West's 3rd ejection of 2021, 1st since May 26 (Mike Shildt; QOC = U [Foreign Substance]).

Baseball's Foul Tip Rules Change in Real Life

In this short video, we review professional baseball's 2020 rules change for foul tips at home plate using a real-life example from the Pacific League of Nippon Professional Baseball (Japan). The umpire's call on this foul tip would have been different had this 2021 play occurred just two years earlier.

Play: With two strikes, the batter hits a ball that goes sharp and direct from the bat to the catcher's armpit and is ultimately held with the hand and caught.

2019 OBR: The Official Baseball Rules definition of FOUL TIP in 2019 would have ruled this a foul ball (not a foul tip): "A batted ball that goes sharp and direct from the bat to the catcher's hands and is legally caught. It is not a foul tip unless caught and any foul tip that is caught is a strike, and the ball is in play. It is not a catch if it is a rebound, unless the ball has first touched the catcher's glove or hand."

2020 OBR: Baseball's Rules Committee changed the foul tip definition in 2020: "A batted ball that goes sharp and direct from the bat to the catcher and is legally caught. It is not a foul tip unless caught, and any foul tip that is caught is a strike, and the ball is in play."

In other words, the 2019 rule required the batted ball to first contact the catcher's hand (or mitt) before, eventually, being firmly held by the catcher, as in a catch. The 2020 rules change thus eliminated the first touch requirement while keeping the final requirement that the ball be legally caught. This rule is shared by NCAA (college), while NFHS (high school) opted not to change from the circa-2019 rule, at least not quite yet.

As for the precise example from Japan, the only question is whether or not this ball could be considered lodged or stuck. Recall in the case of Dan Bellino "catching" a pitch in the crook of his arm in 2018, the ball was considered dead because Bellino held the ball against his body, thus satisfying OBR 5.06(c)(7)'s requirement of a ball remaining out of play: "The ball becomes dead and runners advance one base, or return to their bases, without liability to be put out, when—A pitched ball lodges in the umpire’s or catcher’s mask or paraphernalia, and remains out of play, runners advance one base."

In Japan, the catcher released the ball from his armpit in a timely manner and, OBR 5.06(c)(7)'s "remains out of play" clause unsatisfied, the umpire declared the batter out on the caught third strike via foul tip.

This is an illustration of the importance of knowing rules changes. | Video as follows:

Monday, September 20, 2021

MLB Ejection 177 - Doug Eddings (8; Dave Martinez)

3B Umpire Doug Eddings ejected Nationals manager Dave Martinez (runner's lane interference call by HP Umpire Adam Beck; QOCY) in the top of the 10th inning of the #Nationals-#Marlins game. With two out and the bases loaded, Nationals batter Josh Bell hit a 3-2 changeup from Marlins pitcher Dylan Floro on the ground to first baseman Lewin Diaz, who threw to catcher Nick Fortes to retire Marlins baserunner R3 Luis Garcia, and back to Diaz at first base, ruled runner's lane interference as the throw hit Bell in the back as Bell hit Diaz's glove off of his hand. Replays indicate Bell failed to run within the 3-foot running lane at any point during his journey to first base, and, in doing so, interfered with the fielder taking the throw at first base, the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 7-7. The Marlins ultimately won the contest, 8-7, in 10 innings.

This is Doug Eddings (88)'s 8th ejection of 2021.
Doug Eddings now has 3 points in the UEFL Standings (1 Prev + 2 Correct-Crewmate = 3).
Crew Chief Bill Miller now has 7 points in the UEFL Standings (6 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 7).
*Official Baseball Rule 5.09(a)(11) states that a batters are out when—"In running the last half of the distance from home base to first base, while the ball is being fielded to first base, they run outside (to the right of) the three-foot line, or inside (to the left of) the foul line, and in the umpire’s judgment in so doing interfere with the fielder taking the throw at first base, in which case the ball is dead...The batter-runner is permitted to exit the three-foot lane by means of a step, stride, reach or slide in the immediate vicinity of first base for the sole purpose of touching first base."
Related EjectionMLB Ejection P1 - Sam Holbrook (3; Dave Martinez) (10/29/19).

This is the 177th ejection report of the 2021 MLB regular season.
This is the 81st manager ejection of 2021.
This is Washington's 7th ejection of 2021, T-2nd in the NL East (PHI 9; MIA, NYM, WAS 7; ATL 1).
This is Dave Martinez's 3rd ejection of 2021, 1st since Sept 4 (Ryan Wills; QOC = N [Check Swing]).
This is Doug Eddings' 8th ejection of 2021, 1st since Sept 12 (Matt Carpenter; QOC = N [Check Swing]).

Wrap: Washington Nationals vs. Miami Marlins, 9/20/21 | Video as follows:

Heave the Hawk? When a Broadcast Misinforms

What happens when a team's TV broadcast doesn't see a play or know a rule? Unfortunately, as was the case with a Chicago Cubs vs White Sox game featuring Hawk Harrelson in 2007, it often results in derision of the umpires, even when the umpires get the call right. Joe West may have ejected Ozzie Guillen after just such a play, but even after the game, both indicated a shared understanding about what had transpired.

With none out and runners on first and second base in the top of the 8th inning of the Cubs-White Sox June 24, 2007 matinee, Cubs batter Mark DeRosa hit a fly ball to deep right field. 

If you watched the White Sox broadcast, it went something like this: Hit to the outfield, yada yada yada, Sox tag out two Cubs runners with bad base-running for a double play. 2B Umpire Ed Rapuano called baserunner R1 Angel Pagan out and HP Umpire CB Bucknor called R2 Felix Pie out. Umpires discuss it, inexplicably load the bases and take the outs off the board, and Joe West ejects Ozzie Guillen because in a few year's time, Joe will become a joke to the umpiring profession.

In other words, the Sox were bewildered by the play in front of them, assured their TV audience that they saw everything and the umpires missed something, and that the call was incorrect and egregiously so. After all, replays shown on the Sox broadcast clearly indicated that two runners were tagged out.

If you watched the Cubs broadcast, on the other hand, it went something like this: Hit to the outfield, Cubs runner R1 Pagan runs into White Sox shortstop Juan Uribe who was standing on second base for some reason even though the ball was still in right field, Pagan gets up and runs to third, spurring lead baserunner R2 Pie to run toward home plate, all manners of rundowns ensue, and the White Sox tag two runners, but wait, the umpires will fix it after the play is over.

During their post-play analysis, the Cubs' cast identified the obstruction as well as 2B Umpire Rapuano calling it (and showed a second angle in which 3B Umpire Ed Hickox also called it). For the record, this was a case of Obstruction Type B / Type 2. Official Baseball Rule 6.01(h)(2) states: "If no play is being made on the obstructed runner, the play shall proceed until no further action is possible. The umpire shall then call 'Time' and impose such penalties, if any, as in his judgment will nullify the act of obstruction."

The umpires allowed play to conclude then ruled that had obstruction not occurred, the most likely outcome would be bases loaded, none out, as the obstruction impeded or disoriented the runner from seeing the base coach/lead runner or having the wherewithal to remain on second base.

After the game, ejected White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said of West's crew, "I think they got it right," while Crew Chief Joe West said of Guillen, "You can't blame him. It was a messed-up play that you don't see very often. Uribe is not known for trying to cheat or get in somebody's way, but it happens. He got two outs and he ended up getting no outs and that's why Ozzie said, 'You're just going to have to run me.'

In conclusion, sometimes the broadcast gets it right and sometimes it does not. The purpose of this video is to show how sometimes even a TV broadcast with all of its replays and cameras can miss the crucial element of an entire play and how sometimes the analysis broadcast to the public is therefore inaccurate or misleading.

Postscript: Perhaps most egregious of all is that the White Sox feed showed a replay featuring a camera angle (and maybe two) that would have shown the obstruction, but the replay was started from a point AFTER the obstruction had already occurred. Was this simple negligence or deliberate omission of a material fact?

Video as follows:

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Losing an Appeal - Astros Draw D-Backs Into a Play

After Astros batter Carlos Correa hit a sacrifice fly to score baserunner Yuli Gurriel from third base, the Arizona Diamondbacks began pointing toward third, seemingly convinced Gurriel had left early. If 3B Umpire Jeff Nelson were to agree, all the Diamondbacks would need to do is appeal the base-running infraction and Houston's game-tying run would come off the board.

What happened next suggests that Astros third base coach Omar Lopez and runner Kyle Tucker also knew that Houston's tying run was in jeopardy, so they devised a plan.

When D-Backs pitcher Bradyn Sittinger stepped off the rubber to throw the ball to third baseman Josh VanMeter for the appeal on Gurriel, Tucker suddenly took off for home. In doing so, he drew Sittinger's attention. Sittinger ran the runner back toward third base before throwing to third baseman VanMeter, who (without touching third base) pursued and tagged Tucker out in front of home plate.

By then, however, Houston's plan had worked and the Diamondbacks lost their opportunity to appeal Gurriel's early departure. Why?

Official Baseball Rule 5.09(c) governs appeals and states, "Any appeal under this rule must be made before the next pitch, or any play or attempted play." This time limitation meant that as soon as Arizona committed to retiring Tucker, their play on the runner closed the door on a potential appeal of Gurriel, and this is what HP Umpire Mike Estabrook likely explained to Arizona manager Torey Lovullo after the play.

To fix this, if you're the defense, you have two options. The first pertains to what we call a "real-time appeal," which is an appeal effected during the play in which the infraction allegedly occurred. For example, a real-time appeal here would consist of third baseman VanMeter stepping on third base and appealing to Nelson for a ruling directly after baserunner Tucker slid into third base on the sacrifice fly.

The point is a real-time appeal occurs prior to the ball becoming dead or prior to the ensuing batter entering the box following the play.

As our 2017 article linked above illustrates, the real-time appeal is preferable for many reasons, and the risk of the "play or attempted play" statute of limitations closing after-the-fact is one of the risks inherent with the traditional "delayed" appeal, as opposed to the real-time appeal. During the play itself, the MLB Umpire Manual relaxes the "play or attempted play" standard because, as the manual states, the real-time appeal occurs during "the continuous action created by and following the batted [or thrown, or pitched] ball."

By rule, until the ball is returned to the pitcher on the mound or time is called, the action of the play is continuous and thus appeals are unaffected by the "play or attempted play" clause. MLBUM looks for a "definite break in the original continues action" before starting the "play or attempted play" clock. Calling "Time" or a pitcher returning to the mound is a definite break. A fielder holding the ball after tagging a runner is not.

That said, if the D-Backs had to appeal in "delayed" fashion because the pitcher didn't realize the runner had left early until after "Time" was called or for some other reason, there is no rule that requires the pitcher to throw the ball to the base. The pitcher could have run the ball to the base or run to the foul line and chased the runner back to the base while making a point to tag the base first before tagging the runner or throwing to the catcher to retire the runner (if applicable). There is similarly no rule that would require the pitcher to run directly toward the base to effect the appeal. The pitcher's circuitous route is not a play or attempted play: tagging the base or throwing/attempting to retire a runner is.

Finally, in a level of baseball or softball that has dead ball appeals (e.g., NFHS has such a rule), the defense can avoid this headache simply by conducting its appeal during a dead ball. MLB, naturally, requires live ball appeals.

Video as follows:

Saturday, September 18, 2021

MLB Ejection 176 - Chad Whitson (2; Willson Contreras)

HP Umpire Chad Whitson ejected Cubs catcher Willson Contreras (strike three call; QOCY) in the top of the 9th inning of the #Cubs-#Brewers game. With one out and two on (R1, R2), Contreras took a 3-2 fastball from Brewers pitcher Josh Hader for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer half of home plate and thigh-high (px -0.60, pz 1.85 [sz_bot 1.54 / RAD 1.42 / MOE 1.33]), the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Brewers were leading, 6-4. The Brewers ultimately won the contest, 6-4.

This is Chad Whitson (62)'s 2nd ejection of 2021.
Chad Whitson now has 8 points in the UEFL Standings (4 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 8).
Crew Chief Tony Randazzo now has 5 points in Crew Division (4 Previous + 1 QOCY = 5).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
*This pitch was located 6.19 horizontal inches from being deemed an incorrect call.

This is the 176th ejection report of the 2021 MLB regular season.
This is the 71st player ejection of 2021. Prior to ejection, Contreras was 1-4 (SO) in the contest.
This is Chicago's 8th ejection of 2021, 3rd in the NL Central (MIL 16; CIN 12; CHC 8; STL 3; PIT 3).
This is Willson Contreras' 2nd ejection of 2021, 1st since July 24 (Pat Hoberg; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Chad Whitson's 2nd ejection of 2021, 1st since June 3 (Aaron Boone; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 9/18/21 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejection 175 - James Hoye (3; Bob Melvin)

HP Umpire James Hoye ejected Athletics manager Bob Melvin (Replay Review decision that overturned 1B Umpire Erich Bacchus' out call at first base) in the bottom of the 7th inning of the #Athletics-#Angels game. With one out and two on (R1, R2), Angels batter Luis Rengifo hit 2-2 changeup from A's pitcher Deolis Guerra on the ground to first baseman Matt Olson, who threw to shortstop Elvis Andrus to retire Angels baserunner R1 Jared Walsh, and onto first base as Rengifo arrived, originally ruled out. Upon Replay Review as the result of a manager's challenge by Angels manager Joe Maddon, Bacchus' out call was overturned to safe. Replays indicate A's pitcher Guerra did not maintain possession of the ball as necessary to establish a catch for the required tag of first base, the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the A's were leading, 3-0. The A's ultimately won the contest, 3-1.

This is James Hoye (92)'s 3rd ejection of 2021.
James Hoye now has 5 points in the UEFL Standings (2 Prev + 2 MLB + 1 Correct-Crewmate = 5).
Crew Chief Mark Carlson now has 4 points in Crew Division (3 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 4).

This is the 175th ejection report of the 2021 MLB regular season.
This is the 80th manager ejection of 2021.
This is Oakland's 6th ejection of 2021, 1st in the AL West (OAK 6; SEA 5; HOU, TEX 4; LAA 3).
This is Bob Melvin's 5th ejection of 2021, 1st since Aug 28 (Tony Randazzo; QOC = N [Replay Review]).
This is James Hoye's 3rd ejection of 2021, 1st since July 9 (Terry Francona; QOC = N [Out/Safe]).

Wrap: Oakland Athletics vs. Los Angeles Angels of Wasting Trout's Contract, 9/18/21 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejection 174 - Phil Cuzzi (3; Jayce Tingler)

HP Umpire Phil Cuzzi ejected Padres manager Jayce Tingler (strike three call; QOCY) in the top of the 5th inning of the #Padres-#Cardinals game. With none out and none on, Padres batter Fernando Tatis took a 3-2 fastball from Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the inner half of home plate and below the midpoint (px -0.24, pz 3.51 [sz_top 3.80 / RAD 3.92 / MOE 4.01]), the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Padres were leading, 2-0. The Cardinals ultimately won the contest, 3-2.

This is Phil Cuzzi (10)'s 3rd ejection of 2021.
Phil Cuzzi now has 6 points in the UEFL Standings (2 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 6).
Crew Chief Tom Hallion now has 4 points in Crew Division (3 Previous + 1 QOCY = 4).
This pitch was located 6.00 vertical inches from being deemed incorrect.

This is the 174th ejection report of the 2021 MLB regular season.
This is the 79th manager ejection of 2021.
This is San Diego's 17th ejection of 2021, 1st in the NL West (SD 17; ARI 5; LAD 4; COL 3; SF 2).
This is Jayce Tingler's 7th ejection of 2021, 1st since Aug 20 (Doug Eddings; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Phil Cuzzi's 3rd ejection of 2021, 1st since June 27 (Hector Santiago; QOC = U [Foreign Substance]).

Wrap: San Diego Padres vs. St Louis Cardinals, 9/18/21 | Video as follows:

Injury Scout - Brian O'Nora Exits Due to Health Issue

HP Umpire Brian O'Nora left Saturday's #Dodgers-#Reds game after an undisclosed health issue in the 4th inning. Los Angeles reported that O'Nora was feeling lightheaded.

After calling Dodgers batter Max Muncy out on strikes to end the top half of the 4th inning, O'Nora exited the field and, after a delay, was replaced behind home plate by 2B Umpire and Crew Chief Fieldin Culbreth. 1B Umpire Ryan Blakney remained at first base while 3B Umpire Dan Iassogna remained at third base.

Relevant Injury History: O'Nora previously left a game due to a medical emergency after an intestinal tear suffered during the April 26, 2013 Phillies-Mets game.

Last Game: Sept 18 | Return to Play: 2022 | Time Absent: Rest of Season | Video as follows:

Friday, September 17, 2021

MLB Ejection 173 - Carlos Torres (1; Joe Girardi)

3B Umpire Carlos Torres ejected Phillies manager Joe Girardi (check swing strike two call) in the top of the 7th inning of the #Phillies-#Mets game. With two out and two on (R1, R2), Phillies batter Matt Joyce attempted to check his swing on a 1-1 fastball from Mets pitcher Seth Lugo, ruled a ball by HP Umpire Roberto Ortiz and called a swinging strike on appeal by 3B Umpire Torres. This play is under review by the UEFL Appeals Board, the call was *PENDING*. At the time of the ejection, the Phillies were leading, 3-1. The Phillies ultimately won the contest, 3-1.

This is Carlos Torres (37)'s 1st ejection of 2021.
Carlos Torres now has ? points in the UEFL Standings (2 Prev + 2 MLB + ? Call = ?).
Crew Chief CB Bucknor now has ? points in Crew Division (1 Previous + ? Call = ?).

This is the 173rd ejection report of the 2021 MLB regular season.
This is the 78th manager ejection of 2021.
This is Philadelphia's 9th ejection of 2021, 1st in the NL East (PHI 9; MIA, NYM 7; WAS 6; ATL 1).
This is Joe Girardi's 4th ejection of 2021, 1st since Aug 12 (Alfonso Marquez; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Carlos Torres' 1st ejection since August 13, 2020 (Stephen Strasburg; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).