Saturday, May 28, 2022

Ask the UEFL - Obstruction Caused by Downed Fielder

This Ask the UEFL takes us to St Louis, where 1B Umpire Dan Bellino's obstruction call when Brewers baserunner Victor Caratini and Cardinals first baseman Brendan Donovan run into each other during an overthrow, resulting in Caratini being awarded second base.

This is an example of Obstruction Type 2 (Type B) since fielder Donovan had already attempted to catch a a thrown baseball from third baseman Nolan Arenado and missed. Pursuant to baseball's base path right-of-way rules, recall that the fielder has the right to field a batted ball and the runner has the right to run the bases at any other time. The exception is when a fielder is imminently fielding a ball and when a fielder already is possessing the baseball (e.g., a catcher can legally block the runner's path to the plate if the catcher has the ball well before the runner's arrival).

In this play, because the fielder was not in the act of fielding, and had already missed the ball, the fielder was guilty of obstruction by impeding the runner's progress: it does not matter whether it was intentional or not, it is obstruction all the same.

Relevant Rule: Official Baseball Rule 6.01(h)(2) describes this brand of obstruction: "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."

OBR 6.01(h)(2) Comment further illustrates this concept: "After a fielder has made an attempt to field a ball and missed, he can no longer be in the “act of fielding” the ball. For example: An infielder dives at a ground ball and the ball passes him and he continues to lie on the ground and delays the progress of the runner, he very likely has obstructed the runner."

Related: During Game 3 of the 2013 World Series, 3B Umpire Jim Joyce called obstruction B on Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks after a similarly overthrown ball, with Middlebrooks impeding Cardinals baserunner Allen Craig from running the bases.

Video as follows:

MLB Debut of Umpire Brock Ballou

Umpire Brock Ballou made his MLB debut during Saturday's Rockies-Nationals doubleheader in Washington, DC alongside Crew Chief Larry Vanover, Junior Valentine, and Sean Barber. Ballou served as the first base umpire for Game 1 of the doubleheader and as the third base umpire for Game 2. Vanover worked the first game as HP Umpire with David Rackley serving as plate umpire for the second.

His first taste of professional baseball came in 2013 in the American Association under Kevin Winn. From there, Ballou began a minor league journey in the Appalachian League in 2014, since working in the Midwest League (2015), Carolina League (2016), Southern League (2017-19), Pacific Coast (2020), and Triple-A East [International] League (2021). Ballou has also officiated the Arizona Instructional League. He graduated from the Wendelstedt Umpire School.

Ballou wears sleeve number 119 and is the first umpire to make his MLB debut in 2022 (Ballou is the only umpire that has been added to the MiLB call-up list since 2020).

Friday, May 27, 2022

Injury Scout - Jeff Nelson Exits in San Diego

HP Umpire Jeff Nelson left Friday's #Pirates-#Padres game in San Diego due to a back injury.

In the top of the 7th inning, following the first out, Nelson and crew convened, with 2B Umpire CB Bucknor leaving the field for the umpires' room while Nelson, 1B Umpire Manny Gonzalez, and 3B Umpire Charlie Ramos remained on the field to officiate in a three-umpire mechanics alignment.

Following the half inning's third out, the three on-field umpires met and Nelson waited for Bucknor to return in full plate gear before leaving, the game resuming with three umpires as 2B Umpire Bucknor took over behind home plate and assumed acting crew chief duties while 1B Umpire Gonzalez and 3B Umpire Ramos remained on the foul lines.

Relevant Injury History: There is no prior recorded game-ending back injury.

Last Game: May 27 | Return to Play: TBD | Time Absent: TBD | Video as follows:

Thursday, May 26, 2022

MLB Ejection 049 - Will Little (2; David Ross)

HP Umpire Will Little ejected Cubs manager David Ross (warnings/ejection no-call for potential throwing at HBP) in the top of the 7th inning of the #Cubs-#Reds game. With none out and none on, Cubs batter Willson Contreras took a first-pitch fastball from Reds pitcher Joel Kuhnel for a hit-by-pitch. Replays indicate the pitch was located inside and struck Contreras in the left arm; no warnings had previously been issued and Contreras was the first (and only) hit batter of the game, the call was irrecusable. At the time of the ejection, the Reds were leading, 13-5. The Reds ultimately won the contest, 20-5.

This is Will Little (93)'s 2nd ejection of 2022.
Will Little now has 7 points in the UEFL Standings (5 Previous + 2 MLB + 0 Irrecusable Call = 7).
Crew Chief Chris Conroy now has 1 point in Crew Division (0 Prev + 1 Irrecusable Call = 1).
Related Ejection: MLB Ejection 048 - Dan Merzel (1; David Ross), 5/25/22.

This is the 49th ejection report of the 2022 MLB regular season.
This is the 23rd manager ejection of 2022.
This is Chicago's 4th ejection of 2022, 1st in the NL Central (CHC 4; PIT, STL 2; CIN, MIL 0).
This is David Ross' 2nd ejection of 2022, 1st since May 25 (Dan Merzel; QOC = U [Warnings NC]).
This is Will Little's 2nd ejection of 2022, 1st since May 7 (Andrew Knapp; QOC = Y-c [Check Swing]).

Wrap: Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds, 5/26/22 | Video as follows:

Ask UEFL - Batter-Runner's 1B Miss Can Be Covert Appeal

After Athletics batter Chad Pinder grounded out to Mariners first baseman Ty France, we were asked to further examine 1B Umpire John Libka's out call as the runner missed first base, turning this into an appeal play that may have appeared so subtle it looked like a standard out at first.

This Ask the UEFL is a follow-up of sorts to the April 14, 2022 Teachable "Missed Base Appeal at First, Tosi's Tally," in which we reviewed what happens when the batter-runner misses first base and the fielder misses their attempted tag.

Briefly, an appeal is "the act of a fielder in claiming violation of the rules by the offensive team" while Official Baseball Rule 5.09(c)(2) puts the runner who misses the base out when the fielder appeals by tagging either the runner or the base they missed. Note that if the batter-runner's failure to touch first base (e.g., is put out, declared out, or appealed out) is the third out of the inning, no run will score regardless of timing: no play in which the third out is a force out or a batter-runner out before touching first base is a time play, meaning no run may score in those situations.

When the batter-runner returns to touch first base, it is too late to appeal | Video as follows:

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

MLB Ejection 048 - Dan Merzel (1; David Ross)

HP Umpire Dan Merzel ejected Cubs manager David Ross (warnings/ejection no-call for potential throwing at HBP) in the top of the 9th inning of the #Cubs-#Reds game. In the bottom of the 8th inning, with one out and one on (R1), Reds batter Joey Votto took a first-pitch fastball from Cubs pitcher Rowan Wick for a called ball, located near Votto's head. Upon walking on four pitches, Wick and Votto exchanged words. In the 9th, with one out and none on, Cubs batter Patrick Wisdom took a first-pitch fastball from Reds pitcher Hunter Strickland for a hit-by-pitch. Replays indicate the pitch was located inside and struck Wisdom on the hand. The crew did not convene to determine intentionality and no warnings were issued, the call was irrecusable. At the time of the ejection, the Reds were leading, 4-2. The Reds ultimately won the contest, 4-3.

This is Dan Merzel (107)'s 1st ejection of 2022.
Dan Merzel now has 2 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Previous + 2 AAA + 0 Irrecusable Call = 2).
Crew Chief Chris Conroy now has 0 points in the UEFL Standings (-1 Previous + 1 Irrecusable = 0).

This is the 48th ejection report of the 2022 MLB regular season.
This is the 22nd manager ejection of 2022.
This is Chicago's 3rd ejection of 2022, 1st in teh NL Central (CHC 3; PIT, STL 2; CIN, MIL 0).
This is David Ross' 1st ejection since August 3, 2021 (Adam Hamari; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Dan Merzel's first career MLB ejection.

Wrap: Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds, 5/25/22 | Video as follows:

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Ask UEFL - NCAA Loss After Runner-Umpire Collision

Saturday's Henderson State-Northeastern State NCAA DII Tournament game ended on a play in which RiverHawks batter-runner Blaze Brothers collided with the first base umpire while running the bases before getting up and being tagged out sliding into second base.

By the end of the Reddies-RiverHawks NCAA Central Regional game, Northeastern State had cut into Henderson State University's 11-5 lead to begin the 9th inning, tallying five times before the final out at second base.

The rally was cut short thanks to a baseball (and basketball, and football, and hockey) rule common across all levels of play that prescribe no penalty in the event of a runner-umpire collision.

We (very recently) published an Ask the UEFL entitled "Player/Ump Collsions & Umpire Interference" and encourage you to refer to that article and instructional video for an in-depth analysis of the two types of umpire interference.

As for the Reddies-RiverHawks game-ending play, knowing that absent these two circumstances the umpire is considered part of the field—alive and in play—the umpire's task is simple: to do the best job possible in avoiding a runner or fielder. Head on a swivel and try to maintain situational awareness to know where the players are.

If an accident does occur, knowing the rules—that there's nothing that can be done—makes moving on easy, at least by rule. Emotionally, it becomes much harder as game management becomes paramount. Although objectively it is quite obvious what the rule is, this does little to appease a coach who possibly just lost an out or a run.

If this occurs earlier in the game then the final out, offer an explanation. Allow a vent if you will, eject if necessary, and move on with it.

However, if like this game, this results in the final out. The game is indeed over, so there is little value in remaining on the field to confer or discuss the matter with the coach other than to explain what happened, what the rule is, and then to leave.

Video as follows:

Monday, May 23, 2022

Teachable - Expect the Unexpected on Texas Torpedo

After wild throws flew into both the right and left field walls in foul territory behind first and third base during Corpus Cristi's Friday night victory over Frisco in Double-A's Texas League, we revisited the umpire crew of three's task to officiate such a broken play.

Play: Leading off the bottom of the 1st inning, Frisco RoughRiders batter Jonathan Ornelas hit a line drive to left field, where CC Hooks left fielder Wilyer Abreu fielded the ball on a bounce. Abreu then threw to...second base?...in an attempt to hold Ornelas to a single, but overthrew his target, Abreu's throw launching itself all the way to the right field wall in foul territory near the field's tarp. First baseman Luke Berryhill retrieved the ball and then threw wildly past third base and to the left field wall in foul territory as Ornelas circled the bases for a single + three-base pair of errors.

In this quick Teachable, tmac reminds umpires to expect the unexpected and follows the paths and calls of 1B Umpire Harrison Silverman and 3B Umpire Willie Traynor, who both rule their respective overthrows alive and in play by giving the safe mechanic, signaling that the ball remained on the playing field and did not fall out of play (note that HP Umpire Tanner Dobson was likely screened from seeing the overthrow beyond the bases).

Video as follows:

Sunday, May 22, 2022

MLB Ejection 047 - Greg Gibson (2; Matt Blake)

HP Umpire Greg Gibson ejected Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake (fair ball call; QOCN) in the top of the 3rd inning of the #WhiteSox-#Yankees game. With one out and one on (R1), White Sox batter Tim Anderson hit a 1-1 changeup from Yankees pitcher Luis Severino on the ground, fielded along the third baseline by Severino and ruled a fair ball by HP Umpire Gibson. Replays indicate the batted ball appeared to strike Anderson's foot in the batter's box (this is not a reviewable play), the call was incorrect. At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 0-0. The White Sox ultimately won the contest, 5-0.

This is Greg Gibson (53)'s 2nd ejection of 2022.
Greg Gibson now has -2 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Previous + 2 MLB - 4 Incorrect Call = -2).
Crew Chief Greg Gibson now has 2 points in Crew Division (2 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = 2).
RelatedTmac's Teachable Moments - Let's Fix Replay (1/19/17).

This is the 47th ejection report of the 2022 MLB regular season.
This is New York's 4th ejection of 2022, 2nd in the AL East (TOR 5; NYY 4; BOS 3; BAL, TB 2).
This is Matt Blake's 1st ejection since Sept 8, 2021 (Edwin Moscoso; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Greg Gibson's 2nd ejection of 2022, 1st since April 12 (Antoan Richardson; QOC = U [NEC]).

Wrap: Chicago White Sox vs. New York Yankees, 5/23/22 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejection 046 - Bill Welke (2; Kevin Cash)

HP Umpire Bill Welke ejected Rays manager Kevin Cash (strike three call; QOCY) in the top of the 5th inning of the #Rays-#Orioles game. With none out and none on, Rays batter Ji-Man Choi took a 3-2 fastball from Orioles pitcher Bryan Baker for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the inner half of home plate and below the midpoint (px -0.50, pz 3.23 [sz_top 3.25 / RAD 3.37]) and that all other pitches during the at-bat were properly officiated the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Orioles were leading, 2-1. The Orioles ultimately won the contest, 7-6.

This is Bill Welke (3)'s 2nd ejection of 2022.
Bill Welke now has 2 points in the UEFL Standings (-2 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 2).
Crew Chief Bill Welke now has 2 points in Crew Division (1 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 2).
*This pitch was located 2.68 vertical inches from being deemed incorrect.

This is the 46th ejection report of the 2022 MLB regular season.
This is the 21st manager ejection of 2022.
This is Tampa Bay's 2nd ejection of 2022, T-4th in the AL East (TOR 5; BOS, NYY 3; BAL, TB 2).
This is Kevin Cash's 1st ejection since Sept 1, 2020 (Chad Fairchild; QOC = U [Warnings]).
This is Bill Welke's 2nd ejection of 2022, 1st since May 14 (Marcus Thames; QOC = N [Check Swing]).

Wrap: Tampa Bay Rays vs. Baltimore Orioles, 5/22/22 | Video as follows:

Same Pitch Nets Different RoboUmp Calls by Feed

TV's home and away broadcast feeds disagreed with each other over whether HP Umpire Gabe Morales' ball four call during Eduardo Escobar's at-bat during Tuesday's Cardinals-Mets game was correct as one broadcast showed ball while the other had strike. Determining QOC from the visual strike zone box alone, thus, depends on whether one watched St Louis or New York's broadcast, as the TV called the same pitch two different ways depending on which feed was being used.

Although alarmingly common, RoboUmp's mostly-hidden secret of occasionally displaying two different strike zone and pitch representations for the same exact pitch took center stage during Game 1 of STL-NYM's doubleheader, but only to an esoteric few who actually watched both broadcast feeds and noticed the ambiguous absurdity on a ball four call that produced very little fanfare.

If you were to have watched the home Mets feed, you would have seen an apparent strike but if you were to have watched the visiting Cardinals feed, you would have seen an apparent ball. Video analysis indicates the two broadcasts used different on-screen graphic strike zone boxes for the same batter, on the same pitch.

The pitch data, however, is direct from MLB and confirms that Cardinals pitcher Miles Mikolas 3-2 sinker to Mets batter Escobar was correctly ruled ball four: With a px value of 0.25, pz 3.47, sz_bot 3.14 and RAD 3.26, the pitch missed high by 2.52 vertical inches, well outside of both UEFL f/x and Zone Evaluation's respective margins of error—the pitch was a ball, though if you were to have watched the wrong broadcast, you'd never know it.

Video as follows: