Saturday, April 23, 2022

MLB Ejection 012 - Brian Knight (1; Mark Kotsay)

HP Umpire Brian Knight ejected Athletics manager Mark Kotsay (Replay Review decision/home plate collision call; QOCY) in the top of the 8th inning of the #Rangers-#Athletics game. With two out and two on (R2, R3), Rangers batter Brad Miller hit a 1-1 slider from A's pitcher Domingo Acevedo on the ground to left fielder Tony Kemp, who threw to catcher Sean Murphy as Rangers baserunner R2 Eli White slid toward home plate, ruled an out by HP Umpire Knight. After Crew Chief Review, the out call was overturned and White awarded home on catcher Murphy's violation of Official Baseball Rule 6.01(i)(2)—the home plate collision rule. Replays indicate Murphy, without possession of the ball, blocked the pathway of the runner prior to making a tag at home plate, the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Rangers were leading, 2-0. The Rangers ultimately won the contest, 2-0.

This is Brian Knight (91)'s 1st ejection of 2022.
Brian Knight now has 4 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 4).
Crew Chief Doug Eddings now has 2 points in Crew Division (1 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 2).
*OBR 6.01(i)(2) states: "Unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is attempting to score. If, in the judgment of the umpire, the catcher without possession of the ball blocks the pathway of the runner, the umpire shall call or signal the runner safe. Not withstanding the above, it shall not be considered a violation of this Rule 6.01(i)(2) if the catcher blocks the pathway of the runner in a legitimate attempt to field the throw (e.g., in reaction to the direction, trajectory or the hop of the incoming throw, or in reaction to a throw that originates from a pitcher or drawn-in infielder)."

This is the 12th ejection report of the 2022 MLB regular season.
This is the 5th manager ejection of 2022.
This is Oakland's 1st ejection of 2022, T-1st in the AL West (LAA, OAK 1; HOU, SEA, TEX 0).
This is Mark Kotsay's 1st ejection since June 14, 2015 (Adrian Johnson; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Brian Knight's 1st ejection since August 30, 2019 (Rick Renteria; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Texas Rangers vs. Oakland Athletics, 4/23/22 | Video as follows:

Friday, April 22, 2022

Eastern League (MiLB) Rumble Ponies & Sea Dogs Fight

The usually-family friendly confines of Hadlock Field in Portland, Maine turned into Fight Night at Fenway as Boston's Double-A Eastern League affiliate Sea Dogs squared off against New York (Mets) MiLB Binghamton Rumble Ponies following a hit-by-pitch in the bottom of the 3rd inning.

With two out and the bases loaded, Binghamton pitcher Marcel Renteria hit Sea Dogs batter Tyreque Reed with a 1-2 pitch to force in a run. Immediately after HP Umpire Tyler Witte called "Time" and signaled the hit-by-pitch, Renteria began arguing and gesturing at Witte, perhaps claiming the pitch hit the bat instead.

While all of this was happening, hit batsman Reed became embroiled in a confrontation with the Ponies' bench, resulting in a benches-clearing brawl, with punches thrown from both sides and at least one uniformed person appearing to kick an opponent who was on the ground.

After the dust cleared, DH Reed was ejected and P Renteria was replaced; the box score does not indicate an ejection for Renteria, but that wouldn't exactly have been out of the question, either. Earlier in the inning, Rumble Ponies batter Brett Baty had been ejected for arguing a called third strike.

Remember, as umpires our job is to back away once a massive melee breaks out and observe the fight for potential aggressors. Whereas at lower levels, for instance, any player leaving the bench during a fight (whether or not they actually participate) should be ejected as an automatic rule, at the professional level, only primary aggressors as well as those who are observed battering an opponent by throwing a punch or, in this brawl, kicking a downed foe, should be tossed as well. | Video as follows:

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Ask UEFL - Interference No-Call As CWS-CLE Collide

This Ask the UEFL comes to us from Thursday afternoon's White Sox-Guardians game in Cleveland as umpires no-called a sequence in which Cleveland runner Josh Naylor and Chicago fielder Tim Anderson collided on a batted ball. Interference or incidental?

We've discussed right-of-way issues on the base paths before (see "Comparison - Infield Interference or Only Obstruction?", 7/30/18). and to give a brief and simplistic recap, in general, the following tenets describe who has the right of way when:

On a batted ball, the fielder has the right to field it.*
At any other time, the runner has the right to run.

*Only one fielder is entitled to right-of-way protection.

What this means is that during a batted ball, the fielder has the right to attempt to field the baseball. If the runner impedes or hinders the fielder's ability to field the ball, the runner has interfered with the fielder.

Conversely, at any other time, the runner has the right to run the bases. If the fielder impedes or hinders the runner's ability to run the bases, the fielder has obstructed the runner.

Official Baseball Rule 6.01(a)(10) puts the runner out (dead ball, no advance, batter awarded first base if applicable) for interfering with a fielder in this way: "Any runner is out when—they fail to avoid a fielder who is attempting to field a batted ball, or intentionally interfere with a thrown ball."

The MLB Umpire Manual states, "A fielder is protected while in the act of fielding a batted ball. If, after a player has fielded a batted ball but before he is able to throw the ball, a runner hinders or impedes such fielder, the runner shall be called out for interference."

Finally, MLBUM drives the point home with Approved Ruling 4 in its Obstruction and Interference Plays interpretation: "After the ball deflects off the shortstop, if the ball is within the fielder’s immediate reach, the runner must avoid the fielder, and if contact occurs under those circumstances, interference shall be called and the runner declared out. (In this situation the fielder is still considered “in the act of fielding” the ball and has not “missed” as described in the Comment to Official Baseball Rule 6.01(h).)"

As is always the case, interference need not be (and usually is not) an intentional act.

In this situation, it appears Guardians runner R2 Naylor failed to avoid White Sox shortstop Anderson while Anderson attempted to field a batted ball, which—if you want to get very technical—was still in his immediate reach, having touched his glove just prior to the contact with Naylor. Chicago manager Tony La Russa briefly argued the no-call with 3B Umpire Brian O'Nora and 2B Umpire/Crew Chief Laz Diaz, but to no avail.

Conclusion: This is interference and should have been called.

Video as follows:

MLB Ejections 010-11 - Rob Drake (1-2; BAL x2)

1B Umpire Rob Drake ejected Orioles DH Trey Mancini and manager Brandon Hyde (out call; QOCY) in the top of the 4th inning of the #Orioles-#Athletics game. With two out and none on, Mancini hit a 0-0 sinker from A's pitcher Paul Blackburn on the ground to second baseman Nick Allen, who threw wildly past first base, where it was picked up by catcher Sean Murphy, who tagged Mancini as Mancini was off the base, having passed first base, alleging that Mancini had made an attempt toward second base and, thus, was no longer entitled, to baseball's first base overrun protection, resulting in an out. Replays indicate Mancini, after passing first base, continued up the foul line while looking at the overthrown ball and very slightly moved to his left, such that Mancini passed first base in foul territory and ended up stepping into fair territory. Play was reviewed and OVERTURNED by the UEFL Appeals Board (7-0), the call was incorrect. At the time of the ejections, the A's were leading, 2-0. The A's ultimately won the contest, 6-4.

These are Rob Drake (30)'s 1st and 2nd ejections of 2022.
Rob Drake now has -4 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Prev + 2*[2 MLB -4 Incorrect Call] = -4).
Crew Chief Greg Gibson now has 0 points in Crew Division (0 Previous + 0 Incorrect Calls = 0).
*OBR 5.09(b)(4): Any runner is out when—"tagged, when the ball is alive, while off the base."
"EXCEPTION: A batter-runner cannot be tagged out after overrunning or oversliding first base if he returns immediately to the base."
OBR 5.09(b)(11): "Any runner is out when—"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."

NOTE: We previously analyzed the issue of batter-runner overrun/overslide protection at first base, relative to what an attempt to run to second actually means, several times over the years. This includes analysis of professional baseball's interpretation for the rulebook term, "Play or Attempted Play."

These are the 10th and 11th ejection reports of the 2022 MLB regular season.
This is the 4th player ejection of 2022. Prior to ejection, Mancini was 0-2 in the contest.
This is the 4th manager ejection of 2022.
This is Baltimore's 1/2nd ejection of 2022, 1st in the AL East (BAL 2; NYY, TB, TOR 1; BOS 0).
This is Trey Mancini's first career MLB ejection.
This is Brandon Hyde's 1st ejection since June 14, 2021 (Nestor Ceja; QOC = Y [Check Swing]).

Angel's Devil in the Details on Ball Four Hand-Mouth Award

When Angel Hernandez, arguably the most scrutinized umpire in Major League Baseball these days, called Toronto's Yusei Kikuchi for an automatic ball after the Blue Jays pitcher licked his fingers while on the rubber, he correctly awarded Red Sox batter JD Martinez first base on ball four, a move that drew widespread attention and criticism for a "technical" call.

With none out and none on in the bottom of the 2nd inning, Kikuchi stepped onto the pitcher's plate as he waited for Martinez to become ready in the batter's box. While still in contact with the rubber, Kikuchi then put his hand to his mouth and returned his hand to the baseball resting in his glove, before quickly attempting to disengage the rubber.

But 1B Umpire Angel Hernandez recognized an infraction of the rules and accordingly called a ball—the fourth of Martinez's at-bat—resulting in a 3-2 walk without ball four physically being thrown in Boston. The penalty for a first offense is a warning, and any subsequent violations result in an automatic ball. Replays indicate Kikuchi was warned for this same infraction an inning earlier; thus, the subsequent violation resulted in a ball added to the count.

Hernandez enforced Official Baseball Rule 6.02(c)(1)—the first of MLB's nine "pitching prohibitions"—which states that a pitcher shall not, "While in the 18-foot circle surrounding the pitcher’s plate, touch the ball after touching their mouth or lips, or touch their mouth or lips while in contact with the pitcher’s plate. The pitcher must clearly wipe the fingers of their pitching hand dry before touching the ball or the pitcher’s plate."

The exception to this rule is that a pitcher may blow on a cold hand if both teams agree to it prior to the game, but this exception does not extend to the licking of fingers. Accordingly, this rule was properly enforced. It is not often seen because pitchers will often either 1) go to their mouth while not on the rubber (legal), and/or 2) clearly wipe their free hand on their pants leg or other part of the uniform in accordance with OBR 6.02(c)(1). Hernandez is serving as interim crew chief while Sam Holbrook is absent.

Video as follows:

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Teachable - Blakney's Back-Tag & HP Umpire Fill

As 1B Umpire Marvin Hudson ran along the foul line into shallow right field, going out to follow a trouble fly ball, HP Umpire Ryan Blakney hustled to first base, providing key coverage when Rangers batter-runner Marcus Semien slid safely back to first on a close tag play. In this Teachable, tmac discusses this rotation wherein the first base umpire goes out and there may later be a play at first base.

Just as John Tumpane did during a 2019 game in Miami of Anaheim, Florida (see Tumpane's Late-Inning Rotation, 8/11/19), HP Umpire Blakney rotated to first base to fill Hudson's vacated position when the first base umpire left to pursue a potential play on the none out, none on batted ball to shallow right field. Succinctly, here are the relevant umpires' responsibilities for this play:

1B Umpire: The first base umpire's primary coverage area with the bases empty includes, roughly, the entirety of the outfield portion from the right field foul line to the right fielder (again, this is variable as player movement after the ball is hit may dictate actual primary calling responsibility).

When U1 Hudson detected the fly ball could be trouble into shallow right (catch/trap between Angels outgoing first baseman Jared Walsh and incoming right fielder Jo Adell)—along with a (slim) potential for a fair/foul decision, Hudson properly vacated the infield and moved into right field, parallel to the foul line. Once Hudson went out, he stayed out for the entire play (once you're out, don't come back in).

HP Umpire: Blakney's responsibility shifted to include first base safe/out and tags as soon as Hudson left the infield. Remember: once out, stay out, so once U1 went out, that removed U1 from the infield/baserunner side of things for the remainder of the play. This is thus the plate umpire's responsibility to back-fill or rotate to first base while U2 stays at second base and U3 at third. Blakney's safe call was upheld via Replay Review as LAA manager Joe Maddon lost his challenge.

Important Note: This is the mechanic when the bases are empty. With runner(s), the first base umpire going out will result in the second base umpire assuming responsibilities at first base, as the 2B Umpire is either working inside at the start of the play, or is working in a shallow position on the infield dirt or fringe. When the bases are empty, the 2B Umpire is too far in shallow center field to help at first base.

Video as follows:

Monday, April 18, 2022

Ask UEFL - Bona Fide Slide DP Ends Rockies-Rangers

 fields your Ask the UEFL questions regarding a bona fide slide rule interference play that wound up ending last week's Rockies-Rangers game in Texas, with HP Umpire Bill Miller signaling the Replay Review-decided double play much to the chagrin of Rangers manager Chris Woodward, whose team just lost to Colorado.

Play: With one out and one on (R1), Rangers batter Adolis Garcia hit a ground ball from Rockies pitcher Ashton Goudeau on the ground to third baseman Ryan McMahon, who threw to second baseman Brendan Rodgers as Rangers baserunner R1 Mitch Garver slid into second base, before Rodgers then threw wildly to first baseman CJ Cron.

Original Ruling
: 2B Umpire Brian Knight initially ruled Garver out on the force play, but did not make an on-field slide rule interference call.

Challenge & Review: Instead, Rockies manager Bud Black elected to file a manager's challenge for slide rule interference, alleging that Garver, in sliding into and making contact with middle infielder Rodgers, failed to engage in a bona fide slide and thus should be called for interference (rendering the batter-runner Garcia out as well).

Rule: Official Baseball Rule 6.01(j) describes bona fide slide criteria, specifying four main requirements:
1) Runner begins his slide and makes contact with the ground before reaching the base;
2) He is able and attempts to reach the base with his hand or foot;
3) He is able and attempts to remain on the base (except home) after completing the slide; and
4) He slides within reach without changing his path for the purpose of initiating contact with a fielder.
Related Label: Bona Fide Slide

If the runner fails to satisfy even one of those four requirements, and in doing so impedes the defense from completing a potential play, the umpire shall declare the ball dead and rule interference for an illegal (non-bona fide) slide.

Result: Because Colorado was unable to complete its attempted double play as a result of R1 Garver's illegal slide, the Replay Official ruled BR Garcia out for the interfering actions of his teammate, resulting in a game-ending double play.

Video as follows:

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Kenley Jansen Denied Late Warmup Pitches Due to Clock

MLB's pace of play rules generated a disagreement in San Diego as HP Umpire Bill Miller denied Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Kenley Jansen's attempt to throw extra warmup pitches after the mid-inning timing clock expired ahead of the bottom of the 9th inning at Petco Park.

Play: At the conclusion of the top of the 9th inning, with Atlanta leading San Diego 5-2, Braves manager Brian Snitker substituted pitcher Jansen into the game to close, and Jansen began his journey to the pitcher's mound from Atlanta's bullpen beyond the center field wall. Jansen eventually arrived at the mound and began throwing warmup pitches, completing two or three tosses before HP Umpire Miller called for the final warmup pitch and, after it had been thrown, motioned for due-up batter Manny Machado to approach home plate.

Call to Deny: Despite Jansen's attempt to continue warming up, Miller disallowed future practice pitches, generating an argument from Jansen and visit from Snitker.

The Rule
: Major League Baseball's pace of play initiatives regarding between-inning and pitching change timing were instituted in 2015, with timing clocks installed in all stadiums throughout the league: the introductory time limits for between-inning and pitching change breaks were 2 minutes and 5 seconds for local broadcasts (2:25 for nationally televised games) beginning in 2016, eventually lowering both times to two-minutes, flat, in 2019.

According to this rule, pitchers can throw as many or as few pitches as they like in their allotted time, but shall not be entitled to additional pitches if time expires, even if they only threw one or two warmups prior to that expiration of time (e.g., no guarantee or minimum of warmup throws). The timing protocol is as follows:

> At 25 seconds remaining on the clock, the umpire shall signal for the final warmup pitch.
> By 20 seconds, the pitcher shall throw the final warmup toss.
> At 20 seconds, the public address announcer shall announce the lead-off batter.
> At 5 seconds, the pitcher shall begin a windup to the batter, who must be in the box and alert.
Sidebar: San Diego's broadcast referred to an entitlement of eight warmup pitches. Note that this is the old, pre-2016 inning break/pitching change rule. The new rule is fully time clock-based.

: The between-inning timer starts when the final out is recorded or finalized by Replay Review (whichever is later), or, if there is an extended inning break (e.g., Stand Up to Cancer, playing of God Bless America, etc.), the timer begins at the conclusion of the special event.

The pitching change clock begins when the relief pitcher crosses the warning track en route to the mound, or, in the case of on-field bullpens, crosses the foul line.

What Happened: As evidenced by Padres public address announcer Alex Miniak's "now batting Manny Machado" announcement, Jansen threw his final warmup pitch with 20- or fewer seconds remaining on the timing clock. Thus, by convention, HP Umpire Miller was obliged to prevent Jansen from throwing additional warmup pitches because his time to do so had expired, pursuant to MLB's pace of play initiatives that have become a point of emphasis under Commissioner Rob Manfred.

Video as follows: