Friday, March 19, 2021

2021 UEFL Draft and Registration Now Open

Close Call Sports welcomes you to the 2021 Umpire Ejection Fantasy League season. Our registration and draft form, which includes the UEFL Appeals Board election, is now open and is due prior to Opening Day. Pursuant to UEFL Rule 1 (Selection of Umpires), you may select umpires at once or in phases until the deadline. Stay tuned for the 2021 Draft Prospectus with stats and scouring information on MLB umpires eligible for selection.

Relevant Links for the 2021 UEFL Season
2021 UEFL Registration & Draft FormUEFL Digest
UEFL Rules Book | Umpire Roster & Profiles
Twitter 🐦: @CloseCallSports
Facebook 👍: /CloseCallSports.

Registration and Draft Process
The Umpire Ejection Fantasy League is a free-to-play league. All you have to do to participate is fill out the registration and draft form. The UEFL Appeals Board election is also included as part of the draft form; read candidate statements on the 2021 UEFL Appeals Board page via the UEFL Portal.

How to Fill Out the Form
Step 1) First, indicate your desired username and e-mail address (or other unique identifier). In the event you choose to draft your umpires in phases, this unique identifier will verify your selection. If you comment on Close Call Sports via our DISQUS commenting platform, your username must be the same as the username you use for DISQUS.

If you aren't yet registered with DISQUS, you should sign up so that you can comment. Pursuant to UEFL Rules 4-7 and 6-1, only DISQUS-registered users logged into their accounts may challenge UEFL rulings.

Step 2) Draft 1 Crew Chief, 2 Primary Umpires, and 2 Secondary Umpires. You may draft these umpires all at once or in phases. To draft in phases, simply submit a new draft/registration form every time you wish to select a new member of your five-umpire crew. See the accompanying graphics and UEFL Rules 3 and 4 for specific information on how points are allocated throughout the season.

Registration, Draft, and Roster Deadlines:
Wednesday, March 31, 2020: Draft picks due, Appeals Board election closed, roster locked, and MLB regular season begins.

*In the event of a delay or postponement to the season, the aforementioned deadline dates shall reflect the day prior to and the revised Opening Day (first regular season game played), respectively*

Any user who has not selected umpires by Opening Day will be subject to random assignment (to take the "Quick Pick" option voluntarily, submit your registration form leaving your umpire selections blank or [N/A]).

UEFL Appeals Board Election - UEFL 6-4-a:
The final part of the Registration and Draft form is the UEFL Appeals Board Election. One vacancy exists in Chair #9 and candidates are listed in random order on the ballot. To read candidate statements, visit the 2021 UEFL Appeals Board page on the UEFL Portal.

The 2021 UEFL Appeals Board, as selected during the 2020 Rules Summit, includes:
Executive Board (x4): Gil (Chair), tmac (Vice Chair), Jeremy (Deputy), RichMSN (Charter).
At Large (x5): Arik G, cyclone14, MarkCanada, jvick2017, [vacant].

Reply here with questions and submit draft picks/register via the following form:
(Click here if you cannot view the embedded form.)

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Teachable - Awarding Bases on Infielder's First Wild Throw

Mets batter-runner Brandon Nimmo's hustle in the bottom of the 6th inning against Houston Tuesday helped generate a run for New York when Astros 1B Alex De Goti fielded and threw Nimmo's ground ball into the dugout, care of obstruction at third base. How should umpires award bases on an infielder's first throw?

Play: With two out and JD Davis on first base (R1) during Spring Training action in Florida, Mets batter Nimmo hit a ground ball to Astros 1B De Goti, who momentarily booted it before recovering the ball between first and second base. Seeing Davis attempting to advance to third base, De Goti threw toward third, resulting in a misplay, collision, and obstruction call by 3B Umpire Andy Fletcher as the loose ball rolled into the third base dugout, ruled out of play by HP Umpire Ron Kulpa.

: Following the conclusion of play, the umpires awarded R1 Davis home plate and BR Nimmo third base.

Rule: Official Baseball Rule 5.06(b)(4)(G) governs base awards on balls thrown out of play: "Each runner including the batter-runner may, without liability to be put out, advance—two bases when, with no spectators on the playing field, a thrown ball goes into the stands, or into a bench..."

The question, then, is two bases from what point? The answer, regarding a batted ball, depends on whether the throw was the first play by an infielder and, if so, what the batter-runner's position was at the time of the throw. The following summary shall guide such base awards:

> 1st Play by Infielder and batter-runner has not yet reached first base: Time of Pitch.
> 1st Play by Infielder not all runners have not yet advanced at least one base: Time of Pitch.
> 1st Play by Infielder and all runners, including batter-runner have advanced 1+ bases: Time of Throw.
> 2nd Play by Infielder, all runners have advanced 1+ bases, or any play by Outfielder: Time of Throw.

Video as follows:

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Rules Review - Play on With a Broken Bat in Fair Territory

When Royals batter Jorge Soler's bat broke and traveled alongside a ground ball, causing Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager to make a fielding error, umpires correctly ruled no-called the broken bat's apparent interference pursuant to Official Baseball Rule 5.09(a)(8).

This quick review considers the various outcomes for the unique case of an unexpected object or equipment's interaction with a fielder as that fielder is attempting to field a batted ball.

OBR 5.09(a)(8) Comment states, "If a bat breaks and part of it is in fair territory and is hit by a batted ball or part of it hits a runner or fielder, play shall continue and no interference called. If a batted ball hits part of a broken bat in foul territory, it is a foul ball," meaning that for the purposes of this play wherein Kansas City's offensive player's bat shattered and the dismembered barrel careened toward a fielding defensive player from Los Angeles, the correct call is no call: the ball is live. If the batter somehow reverse Roger Clemens v Mike Piazza'd the situation and threw part of the broken bat at the fielder and caused a similar fielding error, the proper call likely would be interference.

Here are the following potential situations for odd object obtrusion and official outcomes.
Broken Bat (Fair): If batted ball hits broken bat in fair territory, the ball is live (no interference).
Broken Bat (Foul): If batted ball hits broken bat in foul territory, it is a foul ball.
Helmet (Fair): If batted ball hits fallen batting helmet in fair territory, the ball is live (no INT).
Helmet (Foul): If batted ball hits fallen batting helmet in foul territory, it is a foul ball.
Thrown Bat: If a whole bat thrown into fair territory interferes with a defensive player attempting to make a play, it is interference, whether the bat was thrown intentionally or accidentally.
Thrown Miscellaneous Equipment: If any other equipment is thrown and interferes with a defensive player attempting to make a play, it is interference. An intentional act to interfere, even with a broken bat (e.g., intentionally throwing a broken bat at a ball in fair territory) is also illegal.

Video as follows:

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Teachable - Two Runners One Base is a Rowdy Rundown

During Monday's Cubs-White Sox Spring Training game, Chicago-NL baserunner R1 Jake Marisnick and R2 Cameron Maybin occupied second base at the same time during a rundown, leading to a double-tag. Who is out and who is safe? What's the rule?

The play occurred with one out and two on (R1, R2) in the top of the fourth inning and began with R2 Maybin picked off between second and third base. During the ensuing rundown, Maybin retreated to second base as R1 Marisnick advanced from first base, both runners eventually standing on second base as the White Sox's Yoan Moncada arrived to apply tags.

The Official Baseball Rule governing two runners on a base at the same time is OBR 5.06(a)(2), which states, "Two runners may not occupy a base, but if, while the ball is alive, two runners are touching a base, the following runner shall be out when tagged and the preceding runner is entitled to the base, unless Rule 5.06(b)(2) applies," as well as OBR 5.06(b)(2) for the unique circumstance of a force play situation: "If a runner is forced to advance by reason of the batter becoming a runner and two runners are touching a base to which the following runner is forced, the following runner is entitled to the base and the preceding runner shall be out when tagged or when a fielder possesses the ball and touches the base to which such preceding runner was forced."

Back in Arizona, the key for 2B Umpire Gabe Morales is his pre-pitch read: knowing that on a pickoff play, Rule 5.06(a)(2) will apply (preceding runner safe / trailing runner out) while on a batted ball force such as a ground ball, Rule 5.06(b)(2) (preceding runner out / trailing runner safe) will apply.

Here, R2 Maybin is tagged while both runners are occupying the base, so as the preceding runner, Maybin is safe. Then, R1 Marisnick is tagged—but key to officiating this play is observing that at the time R1 Marisnick is tagged, Maybin has stepped off second base, so Marisnick is now safe when tagged for being the only runner in contact with the base.

Maybin, still safe, is ultimately thrown out at third (officially caught stealing), but had he slid into third base prior to being tagged, he would be safe and the proper call, by rule, would be safe all around on the double steal.

Although U2 Morales improperly signals Marisnick out (having believed that Maybin was still in contact with second base when Marisnick was tagged), he corrects his call, Marisnick stays on the base, and after crew consultation, the runners are placed appropriately: Maybin out on the tag as called by 3B Umpire Dan Bellino and Marisnick safe at second.

Video as follows:

Did An 11-Minute AB Just Justify MLB's Pitch Clock?

When Mets batter Luis Guillorme stepped to the plate against Cardinals pitcher Jordan Hicks over the weekend in Florida, he remained at-bat for over 11 minutes, walking after Hicks' 22nd pitch and an average of one pitch approximately every half-minute. Does that justify baseball's call for a pitch clock?

In 2014, Major League Baseball announced a set of experimental rules for that year's Arizona Fall League, including a pace-of-play minded provision entitled the 20-second rule. The concept was simple: all games played at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick would feature shot clocks, of sorts, that would begin when the pitcher would receive the ball or, under certain circumstances, after the umpire put the ball into play. If the pitcher failed to deliver the ball before the 20-second timer expired, the umpire would call an automatic ball and if the batter failed to remain in the box during the countdown, the pitcher could throw the ball for a called strike.

In the years since, MLB has tweaked its pitch clock with the goal of cutting down on time between pitches, toying with numbers ranging from 12-to-15-to-20 second pitch clocks.

How about that pitch clock?
That choice of 12 seconds with no runners on base is no accident: Official Baseball Rule 5.07(c) states, "When the bases are unoccupied, the pitcher shall deliver the ball to the batter within 12 seconds after he receives the ball. Each time the pitcher delays the game by violating this rule, the umpire shall call 'Ball.'"

Though the rule's purpose is to avoid unnecessary delays, enforcement comes with a price. In 2007, umpire Doug Eddings nearly ejected Indians Manager Eric Wedge for arguing a 12-second delay call made against pitcher Rafael Betancourt. In the end, the Wedge argument delay was much longer than 12 seconds.

Umpire supervisor Jim McKean said at the time, "It wastes more time if you call it than if you don't call it, because as soon as you call it you've got a full-scale argument...the clubs will complain."

And thus, MLB's goal of moving to a more automatic system via the pitch clock was born. With Guillorme's bases-empty, Spring Training at-bat having not one interval between pitches lasting less than 21 seconds (the high was 63 seconds), have pitch clocks inched closer to regular season reality?

Monday, March 15, 2021

Appeal Ends Spring Pirates Game - Mechanics Review

When 1B Umpire Roberto Ortiz ruled Pirates batter-runner Will Craig safe—then out—to end Sunday's Philadelphia-Pittsburgh Spring Training game, confusion reigned as Manager Derek Shelton briefly argued with Marty Foster. What was the call?

The play began with two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning of a game in which the Phillies led 6-5 when Craig hit a ground ball to Phillies third baseman Luke Williams, who threw high to first baseman Darick Hall as Craig arrived at first base, 1B Umpire Ortiz ruling the batter-runner safe as Craig tumbled past first base and up the right field foul line.

At this point, Phillies pitcher Jojo Romero motioned to Hall to tag Craig and, upon Hall's tag, Ortiz ruled Craig out to end the game, leading the broadcasters to speculate that "the umps said, had enough baseball for the day, basically...Reservations...Time to get out of here."

After all, what else could possess an umpire to rule a runner safe, only to call the runner out seconds later?

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Cleveland-Giants Play Without Umpires - Scrimmage ?

When Saturday's Cleveland-San Francisco game in Arizona's Spring Training officially ended with the home Giants leading 5-4 after the third out in the top of the ninth inning, Chief Doug Eddings and his umpire crew walked off the field as both teams stuck around to play the bottom of the ninth, despite the score. Was this the right call?

This philosophical discussion has nothing to do with an actual play, but concerns whether a sports official is obliged to give a team an extra half-inning, period, or quarter even if the game, technically, has ended. After we finish chuckling at Giants radio broadcaster Jon Miller trying to make heads or tails of a game officiated without umpires in which a batter walks after Ball 5, we can get down to business.

Although we don't know the specifics of the MLBUA-MLB agreement, for officials affiliated with the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO) or similar organization, the answer is technical, yet of potential legal consequence. The following, however, is not legal advice but simply an op-ed regarding the issue of officiating a non-sanctioned or non-rules compliant game or fraction thereof.

NASO's membership benefit guidebook published via Referee Magazine, as pertains to Insurance and the Sports Officials Security (SOS) Program presently provided through American Specialty Insurance & Risk Services, Inc., states on page 7 that general liability insurance coverage exists for claims of damages and injuries (including libel or slander) "during sporting activities that are organized by recognized sports organizations, leagues and associations or by another formally organized entity (i.e. local park department) where the rules of a recognized sanctioning body are followed..."

The key phrase, thus, is "where the rules of a recognized sanctioning body are followed."

And if the rules state that a regulation game ends when the home team is leading upon the visiting team's third out in the top of the ninth inning, if the rules are to be followed, the on-field officials' role is, generally, to leave the field without officiating any further unsanctioned play. For reference, Official Baseball Rule 7.01(1) states, "A regulation game consists of nine innings, unless extended because of a tie score, or shortened (1) because the home team needs none of its half of the ninth inning or only a fraction of it, or (2) because the umpire-in-chief calls the game."

If a player, coach, participant, or official were to get hurt during an unsanctioned event or an extra inning played in contravention of the rules, such as Cleveland-SF's bottom of the ninth inning with the home team ahead, the question of insurance coverage eligibility can get complicated and, for the sake of liability and personal security, is not a headache any official should have to experience.

Video as follows: