Saturday, September 3, 2022

Injury - Mark Ripperger Exits in 9th Inning of Marlins-Braves

HP Umpire Mark Ripperger left Saturday's #Marlins-#Braves game in Atlanta after a foul ball to the forehead.

In the top of the 9th inning, with two out and two on, Marlins batter Miguel Rojas fouled a 2-2 cutter from Braves pitcher Kenley Jansen into Ripperger's traditional-style facemask.

2B Umpire and Crew Chief Dan Bellino replaced Ripperger behind home plate for the remainder of the game, with 1B Umpire Junior Valentine and 3B Umpire Cory Blaser remaining in the field as the umpires completed the game with a crew of three.

Relevant Injury History: There is no recent history of head trauma for Mark Ripperger.

Last Game: September 3 | Return to Play: TBD | Time Absent: TBD | Video as follows:

Friday, September 2, 2022

MLB Ejection 151 - Ron Kulpa (3; Miguel Cairo)

3B Umpire Ron Kulpa ejected White Sox interim manager Miguel Cairo (warnings/fight) in the bottom of the 9th inning of the #Twins-#WhiteSox game. With one out and two on (R1, R2), White Sox batter Andrew Vaughn took a first-pitch sinker from Twins pitcher Jorge Lopez for a hit-by-pitch, resulting in a benches-clearing incident after which warnings were issued to both teams. Replays indicate the pitch was located inside and struck Vaughn on the shoulder, the call was irrecusable. At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 3-3. The White Sox ultimately won the contest, 4-3.

This is Ron Kulpa (46)'s 3rd ejection of 2022.
Official Baseball Rule 6.02(c)(9): "If, in the umpire’s judgment, circumstances warrant, both teams may be officially 'warned' prior to the game or at any time during the game."
OBR 6.02(c)(9) Comment: "Team personnel may not come onto the playing surface to argue or dispute a warning issued under Rule 6.02(c)(9). If a manager, coach or player leaves the dugout or their position to dispute a warning, they should be warned to stop. If they continue, they are subject to ejection."

This the 151st ejection report of the 2022 MLB regular season.
This is the 81st manager ejection of 2022.
This is Chicago's 6th ejection of 2022, 1st in the AL Central (CWS 6; DET, MIN 4; CLE, KC 3).
This is Miguel Cairo's 2nd ejection of 2022, 1st since April 29 (David Rackley; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Ron Kulpa's 3rd ejection of 2022, 1st since August 7 (Brandon Hyde; QOC = Y [Replay Review]).

Wrap: Minnesota Twins vs Chicago White Sox, 9/2/22 | Video as follows:

Teachable - A Fourth Out Time Play in Chattanooga

For this Teachable Moment, we find ourselves in Chattanooga as the Double-A Lookouts host the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. We're following umpires James Jean, Raul Moreno, and Macon Hammond as they officiate baseball's vaunted "fourth out" appeal play during the top of the 8th inning of a 5-3 ballgame.

Play: With one out and runners at the corners (R1, R3), Blue Wahoos batter Bubba Hollins hits a fly ball to Lookouts center fielder Mike Siani for out #2, who throws home to catcher Daniel Vellojin well after Blue Wahoos baserunner R3 Cobie Fletcher-Vance has crossed home plate as runner R1 Davis Bradshaw tags up from first base and attempts to advance to second. Catcher Vellojin then throws to shortstop Matt McLain, who tags R1 Bradshaw for the third out of the inning.

After the third out, Chattanooga's fielders initially start to jog toward their dugout, but then stop while still in the infield. Shortstop Matt McLain then throws the ball to third baseman Christian Encarnacion-Strand, who steps on third base to appeal that Pensacola R3 Fletcher-Vance left early. HP Umpire Raul Moreno agrees and emphatically calls Fletcher-Vance out on appeal, thus applying the fourth out to the inning and wiping the run off the board.

Analysis: Because leaving a base early on a caught fly ball (technically "failure to retouch a base" in a timely manner [e.g., after the fielder's first touch of the batted fly ball on a catch]) is an appeal play, it can occur after all the action for the play has already transpired. For instance, we usually see appeals occur after the play in question (but before the next pitch is thrown), and this situation is no different. Baserunner R3 Fletcher-Vance is still on the hook for leaving early (failing to timely retouch).

Fourth Out
 potential also means we're dealing with a Time Play scenario. Time plays—which are plays in which umpires may be called upon to determine whether or not a leading runner touched home plate before a trailing runner was declared out for the third out of the inning (that is not a force out)—are possible whenever a third out can be recorded on a play wherein there exists any number of baserunners, which, when added to the number outs to start the play, equal three or greater. In this situation, play began with one out and two runners aboard. One plus two equals three and, accordingly, this is a potential time play. Time play situations are also possible fourth outs, and this possibility manifested here.

Official Baseball Rule 5.09(c): "Appeal plays may require an umpire to recognize an apparent “fourth out.” If the third out is made during a play in which an appeal play is sustained on another runner, the appeal play decision takes precedence in determining the out. If there is more than one appeal during a play that ends a half-inning, the defense may elect to take the out that gives it the advantage."

Accordingly, the out on Fletcher-Vance (via appeal) thus became the true third out of the inning and, pursuant to OBR 5.09(c), R1 Bradshaw's out at second base is disregarded.

Video as follows:

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Ask UEFL - When a Catcher Can Legally Block Home

Replay Review confirmed HP Umpire Dan Bellino's out call, ruling that Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina legally blocked Reds runner Colin Moran's path at home plate when St Louis prevented Cincinnati from walking off with an extra inning win Wednesday night.

The two-fold review, a failed challenge by Reds manager David Bell that saw Bellino's home plate collision violation no-call confirmed and resulted in an out (tag) call that stood, brought into focus the main points of Official Baseball Rule 6.01(i)(2), MLB's Collisions at Home Plate regulation: "Unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as they are 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."

Accordingly, Molina's plate blocking action was ruled legal because he came into possession of the baseball prior to blocking baserunner R3 Moran's pathway to home plate during the runner's slide. Because Cardinals shortstop Tommy Edman's throw took Molina from his initial positioning with a foot on the foul line that may or may not have otherwise been a blocking violation away from home plate to field the ball before spinning back around (now with possession of the baseball) to block the runner, it effectively "reset" the plate blocking calculus: Molina's final act of blocking the plate was legal, and, due to the timing of the runner's arrival, was the only instance of plate blocking considered by Replay.

Video as follows:

Call of the Month - August 2022

In August 2022, Ramon De Jesus earned Call of the Month honors as the 1B Umpire for Cleveland-Seattle hustled and adamantly signaled a foul ball on Guardians first baseman Owen Miller's attempted catch of Mariners batter Dylan Moore's pop fly toward the protective netting along the first base-side grandstand.

As the fly ball approached the stadium in play-out of play boundary on the right field side, 1B Umpire De Jesus ran parallel to player Miller's pursuit of the baseball (or at least as close as the dugout and camera well jut-out would allow), putting himself into a position to best officiate this play.

From that angle, De Jesus saw the ball initially enter Miller's mitt, but before Miller had secure possession of the ball, it made substantial contact with the netting, leading to a passionate call of foul ball/no catch.

Video as follows:

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

MLB Ejection 150 - Ryan Blakney (1; Brandon Crawford)

3B Umpire Ryan Blakney ejected Giants SS Brandon Crawford (check swing strike three call) in the bottom of the 2nd inning of the #Padres-#Giants game. With one out and none on, Giants batter Crawford attempted to check his swing on a 1-2 slider from Padres pitcher Joe Musgrove, ruled a ball by HP Umpire Adrian Johnson and called a swinging strike on appeal to 3B Umpire Blakney. Play was reviewed and adjudicated by the UEFL Appeals Board as a swinging strike (5-0), the call was CORRECT. At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 0-0. The Padres ultimately won the contest, 5-4.

This is Ryan Blakney (36)'s 1st ejection of 2022.

This is the 150th ejection report of the 2022 MLB regular season.
This is the 49th player ejection of 2022. Prior to ejection, Crawford was 0-1 (SO) in the contest.
This is San Francisco's 5th ejection of 2022, T-2nd in the NL West (SD 6; ARI, SF 5; COL 2; LAD 1).
This is Brandon Crawford's 1st ejection since May 17, 2018 (Chris Segal; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Ryan Blakney's 1st ejection since August 13, 2021 (Franmil Reyes; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: San Diego Padres vs San Francisco Giants, 8/31/22 | Video as follows:

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Injury Scout - Jim Reynolds Leaves After Foul to Jaw

HP Umpire Jim Reynolds left Tuesday's #Rays-#Marlins game in Miami after a foul ball to the jaw.

In the bottom of the 8th inning, with none out and none on, Marlins batter Miguel Rojas fouled a 100.1-mph 0-1 fastball from Rays pitcher Pete Fairbanks into the lower portion of Reynolds' traditional-style facemask, necessitating an injury delay.

2B Umpire Shane Livensparger replaced Reynolds behind home plate for the remainder of the contest, with 1B Umpire Mike Muchlinski staying at first base and assuming acting crew chief duties in Reynolds' absence. 3B Umpire John Libka remained at third base.

Relevant Injury History: Jim Reynolds has a significant history of head trauma.
> On August 24, 2021, Reynolds exited a Royals-Astros game after a foul ball to the mask.

Last Game: August 30 | Return to Play: TBD | Time Absent: TBD | Video as follows:

MiLB Ejection - Umpire's Safe Call Sparks Dispute

A Minor League ejection in Jersey Shore led to the ejection of BlueClaws manager Keith Werman, courtesy 1B Umpire Jacob McConnell after a safe call during Brooklyn Cyclones batter JT Schwartz's infield single.

Play: With one out and one on (R3), batter Schwartz hit a 1-2 pitch on the ground back to BlueClaws pitcher Dominic Pipkin, who lunged in an attempt to tag a diving Schwartz, ruled safe by 1B Umpire McConnell, who was positioned inside, toward the middle infield, which is where the field umpire ordinarily will stand in a two-person umpire crew with a runner on third base and one out.

Questions: After speaking with Werman, McConnell met with HP Umpire Trevor Mathews to discuss the play, as Mathews by virtue of his position at home plate may have possessed new information relative to Schwartz's baserunning.

Consideration 1, Runner's Lane Interference: The first by rule question to ask is whether batter-runner Schwartz could have been guilty of a runner's lane interference violation, as replays indicate a foot may have exited the lane prematurely. However, seeing as no throw was made to first base, and Official Baseball Rule 5.09(a)(11) [RLI] requires as a prerequisite, a "throw at first base," we have no RLI simply because there was no throw to make RLI a possibility for this play.

Consideration 2, Out of Base Path
: The second question is whether batter-runner Schwartz ran/slid more than three feet away from his base path to avoid being tagged. OBR 5.09(b)(1) states "a runner's base path is established when the tag attempt occurs and is a straight line from the runner to the base they are attempting to reach safely," so under this criterion, it would appear Schwartz did not violate the three-foot out of the base path rule. This part of the play, for what it's worth, is where HP Umpire Mathews' input is most valid, as Mathews' angle up the line provides a wonderful view for a potential deviation (had this play been eligible for RLI, Mathews would have responsibility for that call, as well).

Consideration 3, Tag Attempt: That leaves us with the question of whether the fielder actually tagged the runner. Replays suggest this did not occur, leaving the umpires to keep their original ruling of "safe" which led to the ejection of BlueClaws skipper Werman.

Video as follows:

Monday, August 29, 2022

After Marvin Hudson Gets Hurt, the Lights Fail

San Diego defeated San Francisco Monday night, but not after two delays due to an injury to original HP Umpire Marvin Hudson, followed by a light failure at Oracle Park in the 3rd inning. What are the rules for called, paused and suspended games, anyway?

Injury: With none out and none on in the bottom of the 1st inning, HP Umpire Hudson slipped on the infield grass behind home plate on a first-pitch pop fly from Giants batter Tommy La Stella that fell to the ground in foul territory. Crew Chief Hudson was replaced behind home plate by 2B Umpire John Tumpane, while 1B Umpire Ryan Blakney remained at first base and 3B Umpire Adrian Johnson remained at third, additionally assuming acting crew chief duties, which would come into play when...

...Light Failure: At the conclusion of the 2nd inning, as California and the Pacific Time Zone bid adieu to sunlight, Oracle Park became darker and a reportedly pre-existing problem with the stadium lights became hazardous to continued play. 

As a result, the umpires called "Time" (well, it was an inning break anyway) pursuant to Official Baseball Rule 5.12 (a combination of provision (b)(1): "darkness...makes immediate further play impossible" and (b)(2): "light failure makes it difficult or impossible for umpires to follow the play").

As operations staff worked on the light malfunction issue, the umpires pondered whether it would be possible to resume play. Although play did eventually resume after a lengthy delay, the umpires considered Rule 7.02(a) for how to proceed if play were to be impossible for the remainder of the night: "A game shall become a suspended game that must be completed at a future date if the game is terminated for any of the following reasons...(3) light failure."

Although OBR 7.02(a) lists several different possibilities for suspending play—curfew, time limit, darkness unrelated to light failure, inclement weather (rain)—only light failures, equipment malfunctions (e.g., tarp failures), and non-light failure darkness result in a suspended game no matter when they occur. Whether a game gets called due to light failure in the 1st inning or the 8th, it becomes a suspended game to be made up at a future date.

This is different than inclement weather (rain) or a curfew/time limit, which either become a suspended game if it has not yet reached regulation game status (e.g., five innings completed or four-and-a-half innings if the home team is ahead; this rule was changed in 2020 due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols [prior to 2020, non-regulation terminated games were wiped off the books and started from scratch at a later date]), or become a called game in which case the score is final (e.g., 4-3, F/7, signifying the game is final but only seven innings were played).

Finally, because the rulebook is always simple, MLB has decreed that the suspended game rule/decision tree does not apply to postseason games. The Commissioner's Office makes all decisions relative to postseason games and, if worst comes to worst, will suspend even a rain-stopped game, so as to ensure all games are played to the full nine innings (or extra innings if tied).

Video as follows:

Ask UEFL - Livensparger Withholds Time Out Request by Ohtani

Several minutes before HP Umpire Shane Livensparger ejected Blue Jays interim manager John Schneider, the pair met near home plate to discuss a late "Time" out request by Angels batter Shohei Ohtani, a request Livensparger ignored before adjudicating the pitch as thrown by Toronto's Yimi Garcia.

Unfortunately for Toronto, Garcia's 3-2 pitch to Ohtani resulted in a ball four call, further allowing Angels baserunner R1 David Fletcher to advance to second base without liability to be put out.

The relevant rule for this play is baseball's famed batter's box rule, Official Baseball Rule 5.04(b)(2) Comment: "Umpires will not call 'Time' at the request of the batter or any member of their team once the pitcher has started their windup or has come to a set position even though the batter claims 'dust in their eyes,' 'steamed glasses,' 'didn’t get the sign' or for any other cause."

The penalty for an untimely/late "Time" request by the batter is the same as the penalty for a batter leaving the batter's box after the pitcher comes set or starts their windup: "If the pitcher pitches, the umpire shall call 'Ball' or 'Strike,' as the case may be."

Garcia's pitch was high, and thus batter Ohtani walked on ball four with runner R1 Fletcher safely forced to second base without liability to be put out. The interesting part of the rulebook is that the defense—effectively, but not in so many words—has the option to stop play and reset: "If after the pitcher starts their windup or comes to a 'set position' with a runner on, they do not go through with his pitch because the batter has inadvertently caused the pitcher to interrupt their delivery, it shall not be called a balk. Both the pitcher and batter have violated a rule and the umpire shall call time and both the batter and pitcher start over from 'scratch.'"

But if the pitcher does complete their pitch, the delivery counts and the umpire shall call 'ball' or 'strike' without reference to the batter's violation of the batter's box (or "Time" request) rule. In no event should an umpire grant a batter's "Time" request if the pitcher has already begun their pitching motion before the batter's request is made.

Video as follows: