Saturday, June 26, 2021

MLB Ejection 081 - Lance Barrett (2; Bob Melvin)

HP Umpire Lance Barrett ejected Athletics manager Bob Melvin (ball three call; QOCY) in the bottom of the 8th inning of the #Athletics-#Giants game. With one out and none on, Giants batter Steven Duggar took a 2-2 fastball from A's pitcher Jake Diekman for a called third ball. Replays indicate the pitch was located off the outer edge of home plate and thigh-high (px -0.81, pz 2.7) and that all other pitches during the at-bat were properly officiated, the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 4-4. The Giants ultimately won the contest, 6-5.

This is Lance Barrett (94)'s 2nd ejection of 2021.
Lance Barrett now has 10 points in the UEFL Standings (6 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 10).
Crew Chief Alfonso Marquez now has 9 points in Crew Division (8 Previous + 1 QOCY = 9).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
This pitch was located 0.74 horizontal inches from being deemed an incorrect call.

This is the 81st ejection report of the 2021 MLB regular season.
This is the 43rd manager ejection of 2021.
This is Oakland's 4th ejection of 2021, 1st in the AL West (OAK 4; LAA, TEX 2; HOU, SEA 1).
This is Bob Melvin's 3rd ejection of 2021, 1st since May 20 (Alan Porter; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Lance Barrett's 2nd ejection of 2021, 1st since June 3 (Alex Cora; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Oakland Athletics vs. San Francisco Giants, 6/26/21 | Video as follows:

MiLB Ejection - Taka Matsuda (Pat Kelly & A Broken Belt)

For HP Umpire Taka Matsuda, Friday's Triple-A matchup between Indianapolis and Louisville featured a most bizarre ejection as Bats manager Pat Kelly was ejected while yelling at the umpire as he attempted to fix a broken belt by replacing it with that of Crew Chief Alex MacKay.

Kelly's 6th inning ejection followed the prior ejection of Bats shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez, after Kelly had already returned to the dugout having argued Rodriguez's ejection, and occurred after Matsuda's belt broke while the umpire reached down to clean home plate.

As crewmates MacKay and Dave Martinez assisted in replacing the faulty belt—a requirement to hold the plate umpire's ball bags—Kelly shouted from the dugout and was ejected as Matsuda adjusted his new belt, the skipper quickly turning his ire to MacKay and Martinez before leaving the field.

Video as follows:

Friday, June 25, 2021

A Tale of Two Touches - Last Time By in TB

Thursday's Red Sox-Rays game featured two retouch mistakes on the bases, resulting in a successful appeal for the first, while the second error was fixed thanks to the runner returning to the missed base and touching it.

In the bottom of the 4th inning, Rays batter Randy Arozarena, with runner R1 Brandon Lowe on first base, flied out to right fielder Hunter Renfroe as Lowe ran to, past, and back from second base. The Red Sox appealed that Lowe had failed to retouch second base after passing it and while retreating toward first base, resulting in an inning-ending double play as the appeal was affirmed by 2B Umpire Phil Cuzzi.

In the top of the 9th inning, the play nearly repeated itself with Boston batter Hunter Renfroe's fly out to center field and baserunner R1 Rafael Devers failing to retouch second base on his way back to first to tag up, but unfortunately for Tampa Bay, center fielder Kevin Kiermaier threw wildly to first base, the overthrow allowing Devers to advance to second base and, in doing so, legally touch second, effectively erasing his prior touch error under baseball's last time by principle.

For more information about base touching and retouching rule OBR 5.09(c)(2), as well as the MLB Umpire Manual's official interpretation for passing a base, see our June 13 article on Rangers runner Adolis Garcia's improper base running in Los Angeles that resulted in an appealed out.

Video as follows:

Thursday, June 24, 2021

2021 No-Hitter 7, Brian O'Nora (1; CHC Combined)

HP Umpire Brian O'Nora called Chicago Cubs pitchers Zach Davies, Ryan Tepera, Andrew Chafin, and Craig Kimbrel's combined no-hitter against the Dodgers in Los Angeles Thursday night, joined by 1B Umpire DJ Reyburn, 2B Umpire Jeremy Riggs, and 3B Umpire Ryan Blakney. O'Nora served as crew chief.

In accordance with UEFL tradition, the following are umpire O'Nora's three plate scores, including a 98.2% (162/165) performance under ML Private/Zone Evaluation Equivalent conditions, 95.2% (157/165) UEFL f/x score, and 92.1% (152/165) value for ML Public / the broadcast-facing zero error system.

The UEFL f/x look:
Balls: 101 called balls outside strike zone / 2 called balls within strike zone = 101/103 = 98.1% accuracy.
Strikes: 56 called strikes within strike zone / 6 called strikes outside strike zone = 56/62 = 90.3% accuracy.
Total Raw Accuracy Score for O'Nora = 157/165 = 95.2% accuracy (+0 Neutral/no favorable skew).

Non-Foreign Substance - Pitcher Glove Color Legality

With all the recent emphasis on inspecting pitchers for foreign substances, HP Umpire Jeremy Riggs reminded us of existing Rule 3.07(a) in Arizona relative to legal and illegal pitcher glove colors when Brewers starter Freddy Peralta's gray glove was removed from play pursuant to baseball's colour rules, a different kind of inspection-related scrutiny.

According to Official Baseball Rule 3.07(a), "The pitcher’s glove may not, exclusive of piping, be white, gray, nor, in the judgment of an umpire, distracting in any manner. No fielder, regardless of position, may use a fielding glove that falls within a PANTONE® color set lighter than the current 14-series."

Thus, when Peralta ascended the mound with a gray glove, he ran afoul of OBR 3.07, the penalty for which is rather simple, as in 3.07(c): "The umpire-in-chief shall cause a glove that violates Rules 3.07(a) or (b) to be removed from the game, either on their own initiative, at the recommendation of another umpire or upon complaint of the opposing manager that the umpire-in-chief agrees has merit."

Unlike an illegal substance, the glove is simply removed from play, no ejection, no suspension, and the pitcher permitted to continue participating in the game, which is what happened here as Peralta substituted in a blue glove, which is a legal color.

This wouldn't be the first time MLB has seen glove or uniform color issues. For instance, during Players Weekend in 2019, the league-provided all-white uniforms for home teams saw pitchers wearing white hats, which is illegal pursuant to Rule 3.03(g). When then-Cubs manager Joe Maddon complained and had his team wear their traditional Chicago blue caps instead, the League chastised Maddon, instructing teams to "follow the rules," which was rather ironic given Maddon's complaint that by ordering pitchers to wear white hats, MLB had violated Rule 3.03.

MLB then ordered pitchers to wear black hats instead, but this in turn violated Rule 3.03(a) which states that "all players on a team shall wear uniforms identical in color, trim, and style"—all hats must be the same—while 3.03(c) declares, "No player whose uniform does not conform to that of their team-mates shall be permitted to participate in a game." Oops.
Related PostThe Players Weekend Uniform Hiccup (8/26/19).

Video as follows:

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Elbow of Kiermaier and Obviously Malicious Interference

As Crew Chief Tom Hallion ruled runner Kevin Kiermaier out following a Replay Review in Tampa Bay after a collision with Red Sox fielder Enrique Hernandez, resulting in 2B Umpire Mark Ripperger's interference no-call, Boston manager Alex Cora emerged to seek an explanation for the decision, appearing satisfied with the outcome.

The question we were asked is why was Kiermaier not ruled out for interference after appearing to knock the baseball out of Hernandez's glove during a tag attempt.

To guide us through Rule 6.01(a) regarding interference, we turn directly to the MLB Umpire Manual, which states, "While contact may occur between a fielder and runner during a tag attempt, a runner is not allowed to use his hands or arms to commit an obviously malicious or unsportsmanlike act—such as grabbing, tackling, intentionally slapping at the baseball, punching, kicking, flagrantly using his arms or forearms, etc.—to commit an intentional act of interference unrelated to running the bases. Further, if in the judgment of the umpire such intentional act was to prevent a double play, the umpire would rule the batter-runner out as well."

The MLBUM interp starts with a very key phrase—"contact may occur between a fielder and runner during a tag attempt"—and continues with the bread and butter of this rule: "obviously malicious and unsportsmanlike act."

Gil's Call: Whether malicious, unsportsmanlike, intentional, or willful/deliberate, all of these acts describe a similar non-baseball play. In order to determine whether such malfeasance occurred, I generally look for three elements, borrowed from basketball. Your mileage may vary.

Windup: Did the potential offender indicate a pre-contact intent or premeditation to commit such an act?
Impact: Did contact actually occur or, in the absence of contact, was the defense actually impeded?
Follow-Through: Did the offensive player complete the illegal act, even after contact terminated?

For the Kiermaier play, much is made about the runner's right elbow or "chicken wing" in the aftermath of contact with Hernandez, but I see this as a reaction to his contact with Hernandez. Sure, there may have been a moment during the contact in which Kiermaier threw his arm upward, but I don't see the requisite pre-contact preparatory act that would otherwise suggest an intentional and obviously malicious act.

I compare and contrast this play with Yankees batter-runner Alex Rodriguez's interaction with Red Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo during a tag attempt in Game 6 of the 2004 American League Championship Series, originally no-called by 1B Umpire Randy Marsh and eventually reversed to interference after crew consultation with, amongst others, the umpire most likely to have seen the offending act, HP Umpire Joe West.

In the A-Rod scenario, the offending player clearly and obviously winds up with his left arm, turns his head to look at the fielder, swings downward at Arroyo's glove, and intentionally slaps the ball out of the glove with his hand, following through with his arm swing.

Thus, Kiermaier's after-the-fact elbow, for me, isn't adequate to suggest what may have happened before. In my estimation, this ex post facto event is inadmissible relative to what occurred prior to the dropped ball when Kiermaier and Hernandez made legally permissable contact as Kiermaier ran from first to second base after Hernandez had already fielded the batted ball and had moved on to a tag attempt.

In my estimation (as well as, apparently, 2B Umpire Ripperger's estimation, as well), if the rule/interpretation seeks something to be obvious, a 50-50 call likely will err on the side of the alleged misconduct having not occurred, for lack of it being obvious.

What does "obviously malicious" mean to you? Video as follows:

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

MLB Ejection 080 - Tim Timmons (1; Joe Girardi)

HP Umpire Tim Timmons ejected Phillies manager Joe Girardi (unsportsmanlike/challenging Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer to a fight after a foreign substance dispute) in the bottom of the 5th inning of the #Nationals-#Phillies game. In the 4th, with none out and one on (R1), Phillies batter Alec Bohm struck out swinging. Following the at-bat, Girardi requested the umpires inspect Scherzer for an illegal substance. Upon crew consultation, the umpires checked Scherzer and did not appear to find an illegal substance; at the time of inspection, Scherzer had already been checked twice before pursuant to MLB's June 2021 between-inning inspection protocol. The game proceeded without incident until the bottom of the 5th inning, when, with two out and none on, Phillies batter JP Realmuto struck out swinging. As Scherzer walked off the mound toward Washington's dugout, he looked at Philadelphia's dugout but did not say anything. In response, Girardi exited Philadelphia's dugout and yelled in the direction of the Nationals dugout, resulting in an ejection for unsportsmanlike conduct, the call was irrecusable. At the time of the ejection, the Nationals were leading, 3-1. The Nationals ultimately won the contest, 3-2.

This is Tim Timmons (95)'s 2nd ejection of 2021.
Tim Timmons now has 4 points in the UEFL Standings (2 Prev + 2 MLB + 0 Irrecusable Call = 4).
Crew Chief Alfonso Marquez now has 3 points in Crew Division (2 Previous + 1 QOCU = 3).

This is the 80th ejection report of the 2021 MLB regular season.
This is the 42nd manager ejection of 2021.
This is Philadelphia's 5th ejection of 2021, 1st in the NL East (PHI 5; NYM 4; MIA, WAS 2; ATL 0).
This is Joe Girardi's 2nd ejection of 2021, 1st since April 28 (Chris Segal; QOC = U [Warnings]).
This is Tim Timmons' 2nd ejection of 2021, 1st since April 12 (Don Mattingly; QOC = N-c [Replay Review]).

Wrap: Washington Nationals vs. Philadelphia Phillies, 6/22/21 | Video as follows:

Monday, June 21, 2021

Runner's Lane Interference Rules Differ by Level of Play

When umpires no-called a runner's lane interference play after batter-runner Ryan Jeffers failed to run within the 45-foot line as a ball was fielded to first base, causing the pitcher to alter his throw, we were asked why RLI was not called.

The answer depends on the level of baseball being played.

Play: With one out and the bases loaded in Texas, Twins batter Ryan Jeffers hit a 1-0 curveball from Rangers pitcher Mike Foltynewicz weakly on the ground up the first base line, fielded by Folynewicz who threw high to first baseman Nate Lowe as Jeffers arrived at first base. Replays indicate Jeffers failed to run within the 45-foot runner's lane.

Call: 1B Umpire Cory Blaser ruled Jeffers safe at first for having beaten the throw while HP Umpire Tom Hallion no-called the potential runner's lane interference infraction.

: This is the correct call: the batter-runner is safe at first and this is not runner's lane interference. Remember, as we wrote regarding a similar play in 2016, RLI only applies to the fielder taking the throw at first base and not the fielder making the throw to first base.

In 2016, HP Umpire Dana DeMuth no-called a very similar play in New York when Astros batter Carlos Correa hit a short ground ball to Yankees pitcher Dellin Betances, who threw wildly over first baseman Mark Teixeira's head for an error. Despite argument from manager Joe Girardi, DeMuth properly stuck to his original no-call and Correa was permitted to reach base safely.

Official Baseball Rule 5.09(a)(11) confirms this interpretation (note the added underlined/bold emphasis): "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 interferes with the fielder taking the throw at first base, in which case the ball is dead."

Wendelstedt's interpretation is "not whether the throw is true, but whether it could still reasonably retire the runner." When a thrower (pitcher Foltynewicz in this case) makes a poor throw, it precludes consideration of RLI. Had Foltynewicz hit Jeffers in the back with his throw, then the proper call would be to declare Jeffers out for runner's lane interference by virtue of interfering with first baseman Lowe's opportunity to receive the throw. But a throw that forces the first baseman to jump, pulling him off the base as the batter-runner touches first base, does not fit the "reasonably retire" criterion.

Compare and contrast this to HP Umpire Sam Holbrook's RLI call against Nationals batter-runner Trea Turner during the 2019 World Series (that resulted in skipper Dave Martinez's ejection) in which Turner knocked the glove off Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel's hand as Gurriel reached to catch Brad Peacock's throw to first base.

Important Rules Difference, College: In college, runner's lane interference can be called if a batter-runner's failure to run within the runner's lane interferes with the thrower: "If the batter-runner is running illegally to first base and his being outside the lane alters the throw of a fielder, hinders or alters a fielder’s opportunity to field the throw, or the batter-runner is hit by the throw that has been made in an attempt to make a play, it shall be called interference and the batter-runner is to be called out" (NCAA 7-11-p AR 1).

Another Different Rule, High School: The National Federation takes it a step further: It doesn't matter whether or not the umpire judges that interference with the throw or catch occurred. NFHS Rule 8-4-1g states a batter-runner is out simply by running outside the three-foot running lane while the ball is being fielded or thrown to first base.

As NFHS Rule 8-4-1g.2 states, "the batter runner is considered outside the running lane lines if either foot is outside either line."

Video as follows:

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Intent to Advance - When Overrun Protection Terminates

During Friday's Mets-Nationals game, New York batter-runner Billy McKinney reached on a fielder's choice, running safely past first base as Washington shortstop Trea Turner's throw sailed over Erick Fedde's head, 1B Umpire Adam Hamari watching the ball as Josh Harrison, backing up the play, retrieved it.

Harrison then tagged McKinney, alleging the runner attempted to advance to second base and, in doing so, lost the overrun protection ordinarily afforded to batter-runners at first base.

Official Baseball Rule 5.09(b)(4) is brief: "Any runner is out when they are tagged, when the ball is alive, while off their base. EXCEPTION: A batter-runner cannot be tagged out after overrunning or oversliding first base if they return immediately to the base."

OBR 5.09(b)(11) expands on the premise: "Fails to return at once to first base after overrunning or oversliding that base. If [the batter-runner] attempts to run to second they are out when tagged. If, after overrunning or oversliding first base they start toward the dugout, or toward their position, and fails to return to first base at once, they are out, on appeal, when they or the base is tagged."

This can also be an appeal play, as in OBR 5.09(c)(3): "Any runner shall be called out, on appeal, when—they overrun or overslide first base and fail to return to the base immediately, and they or the base is tagged prior to the runner returning to first base."

In Washington, it appeared that 1B Umpire Hamari was watching the ball to make sure it didn't go out of play at the time of McKinney's attempt to advance to second, HP Umpire/Crew Chief Kerwin Danley likely saw the same thing (remember Rule 8.00's General Instruction to Umpires: "Keep your eye everlastingly on the ball while it is in play. It is more vital to know just where a fly ball fell or a thrown ball finished up than whether or not a runner missed a base"), 3B Umpire Chad Fairchild may not have had a proper angle, and 2B Umpire CB Bucknor was still engaged with the sliding runner/fielder interaction at second base to make sure it wasn't a bona fide slide violation.

Nonetheless, if the umpires had seen McKinney's actions and interpreted those movements as an attempt to advance, McKinney would have been declared out upon Harrison's tag.

Video as follows:

NCAA CWS Game Ends on Force Play Slide Rule DP

NC State vs Stanford's Opening Round College World Series game ended on an interference-aided double play thanks to NCAA's force play slide rule when baserunner Tommy Troy committed a Cardinal sin by not sliding into second base on a ground ball, ruled by 2B Umpire Billy Van Raaphorst as a game-ending double play.

This was the correct call thanks to college baseball's force-play-slide-rule (FPSR), NCAA Rule 8-4, which states, "On any force play, the runner, in the vicinity of the base, must slide on the ground before the base and in a direct line between the two bases. It is permissible for the slider’s momentum to carry him through the base in the baseline extended."

Unfortunately for Troy, North Carolina second baseman JT Jarrett ran into the direct line between first and second base in order to field batter Grant Burton's ground ball, meaning Troy altered his base path by running to the outside (to his right) of the baseline in order to avoid interfering with Burton fielding a batted ball, as the fielder has the right of way in a batted ball situation.

Doing so complicated matters for Troy, as he no longer would be able to slide in a direct line between first and second base. Fortunately, the FPSR provides an exception for such cases: "A runner need not slide directly into a base as long as the runner slides or runs in a direction away from the fielder to avoid making contact or altering the play of the fielder," but this does not absolve the runner of the need to slide, for the sake of safety, when a different fielder is covering second base.

As the rule states, "This is a safety and an interference rule. Whether the defense could have completed the double play has no bearing on the applicability of this rule."

Thus both runner R1 Troy and batter-runner Burton were declared out for violation of this safety and interference rule. It is important to note this is a college rule, but the professional level (MLB/MiLB) does not have a force play slide rule. Instead, OBR's "bona fide slide" rule 6.01(j) simply states that a runner who engages in a bona fide slide should not be called for interference, but nonetheless does not require that a runner slide as the lower levels do ("A runner who engages in a “bona fide slide” shall not be called for interference under this Rule 6.01").

High School's rulebook (NFHS), meanwhile, states as a 2020 Point of Emphasis, "Simply stated, the runner never has to slide. However, on a force play when he does slide, it must be legal and in a direct line between the two bases."

Video as follows: