Saturday, September 10, 2022

MLB Ejection 158 - Jeff Nelson (3; David Bell)

HP Umpire Jeff Nelson ejected Reds manager David Bell (check swing strike three call by 1B Umpire Manny Gonzalez) in the top of the 8th inning of the #Reds-#Brewers game. With one out and none on, Reds batter Jose Barrero attempted to check his swing on a 0-2 curveball from Brewers pitcher Matt Bush, ruled a ball by HP Umpire Nelson and called a swinging strike on appeal by 1B Umpire Gonzalez. Play was reviewed and adjudicated by the UEFL Appeals Board, the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Brewers were leading, 3-1. The Brewers ultimately won the contest, 5-1.

This is Jeff Nelson (45)'s 3rd ejection of 2022.

This is the 158th ejection report of the 2022 MLB regular season.
This is the 86th manager ejection of 2022.
This is Cincinnati's 4th ejection of 2022, T-4th in the NL Central (CHC 9; STL 6; PIT 5; CIN, MIL 4).
This is David Bell's 4th ejection of 2022, 1st since Sept 6 (Carlos Torres; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Jeff Nelson's 3rd ejection of 2022, 1st since Sept 6 (John Schneider; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Cincinnati Reds vs Milwaukee Brewers, 9/10/22 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejections 156-157 - H Wendelstedt (2-3; ARI x2)

HP Umpire Hunter Wendelstedt ejected Diamondbacks DH Ketel Marte and manager Torey Lovullo (strike one call; QOCY) in the top of the 7th inning of the #Dbacks-Rockies game. With none out and none on, Diamondbacks batter Marte took a 0-0 sinker from Rockies pitcher Justin Lawrence for a called first strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer half of home plate and at the hollow of the knee (px -0.54, pz 1.53 [sz_bot 1.72 / RAD 1.60 / MOE 1.52]), the call was correct.* At the time of the ejections, the Rockies were leading, 4-1. The Rockies ultimately won the contest, 4-1.

These are Hunter Wendelestedt (21)'s 2nd and 3rd ejections of 2022.
*This pitch was located 0.12 vertical inches from being deemed incorrect.

These are the 156th and 157th ejection reports of the 2022 MLB regular season.
This is the 51st player ejection of 2022. Prior to ejection, Marte was 1-2 (SO) in the contest.
This is the 85th manager ejection of 2022.
This is Arizona's 6/7th ejection of 2022, 1st in the NL West (ARI 7; SD 6; SF 5; COL 3; LAD 1).
This is Ketel Marte's 1st ejection since July 19, 2019 (Sam Holbrook; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Torey Lovullo's 4th ejection of 2022, 1st since August 16 (Cory Blaser; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is H Wendelstedt's 2/3rd ejection of 2022, 1st since Sept 9 (Brendan Rodgers; QOC = ? [Check Swing]).

Wrap: Arizona Diamondbacks vs Colorado Rockies, 9/10/22 | Video as follows:

Ask - Hair Check and the Pitcher Foreign Substance Rule

HP Umpire Ted Barrett took the unusual step of checking Guardians pitcher James Karinchak's hair for foreign substances, after Twins manager Rocco Baldelli filed a request to inspect the Cleveland reliever. Official Baseball Rule 6.02(c)(7) prohibits a pitcher from having "on their person, or in their possession, any foreign substance." The penalty for violation is immediate ejection and automatic suspension.

Pursuant to a directive from the MLB Commissioner's Office in June 2021, umpires already pursue enhanced illegal substance checks for every pitcher when they are removed from the game or at the conclusion of the inning after coming into the game (starting pitchers are checked multiple times at the end of their half-innings of work).

This makes Bald-elli's hirsute request somewhat rare for the post-2021 edict era, but nonetheless a legal one. There is no penalty for requesting an inspection and the umpire declaring the opposing pitcher to be legal.

Contrast this to the National Hockey League's stick measurement rule, which states that if the referee finds the complainant's allegation is with merit, the opposing player shall be assessed a penalty, but if the complaint is unsuccessful and the referee deems no violation has occurred, the complaining club receives a bench minor penalty for delay of game.

Video as follows:

Friday, September 9, 2022

MLB Ejection 155 - H Wendelstedt (1; Brendan Rodgers)

3B Umpire Hunter Wendelstedt ejected Rockies 2B Brendan Rodgers (check swing strike three call) in the bottom of the 5th inning of the #Diamondbacks-#Rockies game. With none out and none on, Rockies batter Rodgers attempted to check his swing on a 3-2 fastball from Diamondbacks pitcher Kevin Ginkel, ruled a ball by HP Umpire Adam Hamari and called a swinging strike on appeal by 1B Umpire Wendelstedt. This play is under review by the UEFL Appeals Board, the call was *PENDING*. At the time of the ejection, the Diamondbacks were leading, 10-8. The Rockies ultimately won the contest, 13-10.

This is Hunter Wendelstedt (21)'s 1st ejection of 2022.

This is the 155th ejection report of the 2022 MLB regular season.
This is the 50th player ejection of 2022. Prior to ejection, Rodgers was 0-3 (2 SO) in the contest.
This is Colorado's 3rd ejection of 2022, 4th in the NL West (SD 6; ARI, SF 5; COL 3; LAD 1).
This is Brendan Rodgers' first career MLB ejection.
This is Hunter Wendelstedt's 1st ejection since August 19, 2021 (AJ Hinch; QOC = Y [Replay Review]).

Wrap: Arizona Diamondbacks vs Colorado Rockies, 9/9/22 | Video as follows:

MLB Announces Rules Changes for 2023 - A Review

Major League Baseball announced the following rules changes for its 2023 season, including a ban on infield shifts, bigger bases, pitch clocks, and pickoff/disengagement limits. MiLB has been used as a testing ground for several of these new rules, and Baseball now believes it is time to bring them to the MLB level.

(Effective) Ban on Infield Shifts: This rule requires that all four infielders—defined as the first baseman, second baseman, shortstop, and third baseman, for the purpose of this rule—begin play with both feet within the infield and on their proper side of the infield. This effectively eliminates a shortstop's ability to begin play on the second base side of the field, or on the outfield grass, etc.

Bigger Bases: MLB's 15 inches square bases will increase in size to 18 inches square (home plate retains the same dimensions), which should assist in both offense (stolen bases) and safety, giving batter-runners and first basemen more room to peacefully co-exist without stepping on each-other's feet...Manny.

Pitch Clocks: The pitch clocks are finally a Major League reality starting in 2023. Even though stadiums have had clocks ever since Replay Review time limits and Inning-Break timers were introduced, the pitch clock will introduce a 30-second timer between batters, 20-second timer with runners on base, and 15-second timer with the bases empty.

The batter must be in the box and alert to the pitcher by the eight-second mark on the clock (penalty: automatic strike) while the pitcher must begin a motion to deliver the pitch (or pickoff attempt) by the zero-second expiration of time (penalty: automatic ball). There is also a limit of two "free" disengagements (pickoff attempts/step-offs) during each plate appearance, with a penalty for the third disengagement a one-base award for any baserunners (exception: if the pickoff throw retires the runner, then the out shall prevail and there is no penalty).

What do you think of these new rules for MLB? | Video as follows:

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Marlins-Phillies Crash Play on a Legal Base Block

After Marlins pitcher Richard Bleier fielded a soft ground ball and dove on first base ahead of Phillies batter-runner Brandon Marsh's arrival, ruled an out by 1B Umpire Angel Hernandez with no obstruction (or interference) violation for blocking the runner's access to first base, Philadelphia manager Rob Thomson challenged the call, which was confirmed via Replay Review as an out.

In an extension of our prior analyses on the home plate collision rule, we again find that a fielder has the right to block the runner's path to a base if the fielder already has possession of the ball when they begin their blocking action, and are attempting to retire that runner.

In this case, pitcher Bleier fielded and maintained possession of the baseball while falling on top of first base, meaning that his low block on runner Marsh was legal: Bleier, with possession of the ball, attempted to retire the runner by legally tagging first base. Despite the significant contact between the opposing players, this is a legal play that also adheres to the "Angel is Everywhere" rule.

Video as follows:

Reds-Cubs Batter Interference - Benefit of Doubt to Defense

After HP Umpire Lew Williams ruled Cubs baserunner R1 Alfonso Rivas out for teammate and retired batter Nelson Velazquez's interference at home plate by stepping out of the batter's box and hindering Reds catcher Austin Romine's throw to second base, we were asked to review the batter interference rule.

An important distinction to note is that the Official Baseball Rules contain two potentially relevant provisions—one which applies to a batter who has not been retired or become a runner, and another which applies to a batter or runner who has been retired and nonetheless impedes a fielder attempting to play on a teammate.

OBR 6.03(a)(3) pertains to a still-active batter (e.g., batter has not struck out): "A batter is out for illegal action when—they interfere with the catcher’s fielding or throwing by stepping out of the batter’s box or making any other movement that hinders the catcher’s play at home base."

OBR 6.01(a)(5) pertains to a batter or runner who has been put out (including a batter that just struck out): "Any batter or runner who has just been put out, or any runner who has just scored, hinders or impedes any following play being made on a runner. Such runner shall be declared out for the interference of their teammate."

Thus, with Velazquez swinging and missing at a 3-2 pitch, we have a recently retired batter.

Because Velazquez seemed to step in front of Cincinnati catcher Romine after swinging and missing for a strikeout, the benefit of the doubt goes to the defense. Thus, it is logical to conclude that Velazquez, by stumbling to his right and in front of catcher Romine's left side, hindered or impeded Romine by causing the catcher to adjust by veering or throwing to his right more than he otherwise would have had Velazquez not stepped onto home plate. Because the throw was wild and to the right of its intended destination as well, we can conclude that interference—which does NOT require contact—likely occurred.

Video as follows:

Ejection Criteria - Baseball's Standards for Removal

In continuation of our educational series, we review baseball's criteria for ejection, also known as the Standards for Removal from the Game. The following list comprises a majority of reasons an umpire may eject a player, coach, or manager from a ballgame ranging from physical abuse, battery, and assault, to personal, profane, and prolonged complaining.

Several of these Standards may be found via the UEFL Baseball Video Rulebook.

Standard 1) Profanity or Vulgar Insults Directed at/of Umpire: This criterion comprises statements of obscenity and unsporting personal insults of an umpire.

Standard 2) Physical Contact with an Umpire: This includes so-called bumping an umpire and other instances of improperly touching an umpire.

Standard 3) Refusal to Stop Arguing / Delaying the Game: Also known as prolonged or continued complaining, this standard includes an on-field argument that the player/coach/manager continues even after being instructed/warned by an umpire to stop, as well as continued complaining from the field or from the dugout. Continued Complaining ejections also apply to arguing a call from a prior game or prior inning.

Standard 4
) Leaving Position to Argue Balls and Strikes (Including Half Swings): Leaving one's position to argue ball/strike calls, which include check swings *and balks* is ground for ejection from the game.

Standard 5) Arguing a Replay Review or Any Changed Call: Arguing a Replay Official's decision to confirm/stand/overturn a call or arguing an on-field umpiring crew's decision to change a call is ground for ejection. This provision also includes citing video evidence to contradict an on-field ruling.

Standard 6
) Use of Histrionic Gestures or Gesturing Toward an Umpire: Using exaggerated body movements or gestures to dispute an umpire's action is ground for ejection. Throwing objects from the dugout or bullpen is also included under this provision.

Standard 7) Actions Intended to Ridicule: This includes actions such as a player drawing a line with their bat to indicate where they thought a pitch was located, or a manager mimicking an umpire's calls/signals or covering home plate with dirt.

Standard 8
) Throwing Equipment in Disgust: This includes throwing equipment as well as a uniform item in reaction to a call or during the course of an argument. A batter throwing a helmet or manager throwing a hat is covered by this provision.
- - S8: Intermediate Warning) Umpires may issue an equipment violation as an intermediary step in lieu of ejection for throwing equipment in disgust for less severe infractions of this provision. For instance, a batter who throws a bat after striking out may be warned (and fined) via an equipment violation instead of ejected outright, if the umpire judges the infraction of minor severity. However, severe violations as well as any violation of this provision after being warned (via equipment violation) shall result in ejection.

Standard 9
) Failure to Comply with an Umpire's Order: If a game participant refuses to comply with an umpire's order to do or refrain from doing something that affects the administration of the Official Baseball Rules (including pace of play initiatives), the offender may be ejected for such failure to comply. This includes ejections for refusing to enter the batter's box (MLB only — some lower levels have intermediary penalties, such as automatic strikes).

Standard 10
) Arguing or Disputing a Warning or Ejection (or Lack Thereof): A player, coach, or manager shall be ejected for disputing an umpire or umpiring crew's decision to warn or eject a participant, or decision to refrain from issuing such warning or ejection. An umpire's decision relative to a participant's game status (warning/ejection) is final and may not be argued.

Standard 11) Intentionally Throwing at Batter: A pitcher or pitcher and their manager may be ejected for intentionally throwing at an opposing batter. In lieu of ejection, the umpire may issue warnings to both teams that the next such infraction will result in the ejection of the offending pitcher and their manager.

Standard 12
) Unsporting NEC and Fighting: Participating or being charged with fighting shall result in automatic ejection of the offender(s) (lower levels, e.g., NCAA & NFHS, may have more strict rules regarding unsporting situations, than professional baseball). Unsporting actions not elsewhere specified—which includes the provisions referred to in Official Baseball Rule 6.04(a) [Unsportsmanlike Conduct] [incitement, language, calling "Time" to try and induce a balk or movement to distract the batter]—are included here, as well as foreign substance ejections (e.g., pine tar on pitcher or corked bat).

Video as follows:

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Analysis of Blue Jays Plate Blocking Violation in Baltimore

Replay Review's decision to overturn HP Umpire Jeff Nelson's out call on Blue Jays catcher Alejandro Kirk's attempted tag of Orioles baserunner Adley Rutschman based on MLB's home plate collision/blocking rule, thus deeming Baltimore's runner safe, scoring a run, brought the catcher blocking criteria to light nary one month since Toronto benefited from the same overturned call in Minnesota.

To review, Official Baseball Rule 6.01(i)(2) states: "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. 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)."

Accordingly, Replay determined that Jays catcher Kirk moved into the runner's pathway when it was not necessary—this was deemed a non-legitimate attempt to field the throw as New York judged that the catcher did not need to block the pathway of the runner in order to field the throw. As we saw in Minnesota, it appears the league office desires for catchers to wait until the last possible moment—or at least later than the movements we are seeing in these recent plays—before veering into the runner's path to field the throw.

On first glance, this appears to put catchers in a difficult position—especially as was the case with Kirk—because Rutschman was barely at the edge of the dirt circle at the time Kirk first took possession of the ball.

Video as follows:

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

MLB Ejection 154 - Jeff Nelson (2; John Schneider)

HP Umpire Jeff Nelson ejected Blue Jays interim manager John Schneider (ball three call; QOCY) in the bottom of the 7th inning of the #BlueJays-#Orioles game. With one out and none on, Orioles batter Ryan Mountcastle took a 2-0 slider from Blue Jays pitcher Yimi Garcia for a called third ball. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer edge of home plate and below the hollow of the knee (px 0.80, pz 1.40 [sz_bot 1.76 / RAD 1.64]), the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Orioles were leading, 6-5. The Orioles ultimately won the contest, 9-6.

This is Jeff Nelson (45)'s 2nd ejection of 2022.
*Warnings were issued after a mid-7th benches-clearing incident.
This pitch was located 3.88 vertical inches from being deemed incorrect.
Related PlayBlue Jays Pitcher Gausman Called for Balk on 1st Pitch with Runners (9/5/22).

This is the 154th ejection report of the 2022 MLB regular season.
This is the 84th manager ejection of 2022.
This is Toronto's 10th ejection of 2022, 2nd in the AL East (NYY 11; TOR 10; BOS 6; BAL 4; TB 3).
This is John Schneider's 2nd ejection of 2022, 1st since August 27 (Shane Livensparger; QOC = Y [B/S]).
This is Jeff Nelson's 2nd ejection of 2022, 1st since April 16 (Charlie Montoyo; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Toronto Blue Jays vs Baltimore Orioles, 9/6/22 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejection 153 - Carlos Torres (2; David Bell)

HP Umpire Carlos Torres ejected Reds manager David Bell (strike two call; QOCY) in the top of the 9th inning of the #Reds-#Cubs game. With two out and two on (R1, R2), Reds batter Jose Barrero took a 1-1 curveball from Cubs pitcher Hayden Wesneski for a called second strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer edge of home plate and above the hollow of the knee (px 0.81, pz 1.96 [sz_bot 1.63]) and that all other pitches during the at-bat were properly officiated. At the time of the ejection, the Cubs were leading, 9-3. The Cubs ultimately won the contest, 9-3.

This is Carlos Torres (37)'s 2nd ejection of 2022.
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
This pitch was located 1.25 horizontal inches from being deemed incorrect.

This is the 153rd ejection report of the 2022 MLB regular season.
This is the 83rd manager ejection of 2022.
This is Cincinnati's 3rd ejection of 2022, 5th in the NL Central (CHC 9; STL 6; PIT 5; MIL 4; CIN 3).
This is David Bell's 3rd ejection of 2022, 1st since July 2 (Tripp Gibson; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Carlos Torres' 2nd ejection of 2022, 1st since May 7 (Alex Cora; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Cincinnati Reds vs Chicago Cubs, 9/6/22 | Video as follows:

Tracking Umpires During Runner's Lane Interference Play

Thanks to Staten Island (Atlantic League)'s press box wide camera angle and field overview, we were able to keep tabs on all three umpires during a recent runner's lane interference sequence vs Lancaster.

Play: With a runner on first base and less than two out, the umpiring crew of three is configured such that the third base umpire is working inside, on the infield grass. The batter bunts a ball in front of home plate, where it is fielded by the catcher and thrown to the first baseman. The thrown ball hits the batter-runner in the back and bounces away from first base.

Rule: A brief reminder is that RLI is listed in Official Baseball Rule 5.09(a)(11): The batter is out if—"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 interfere with the fielder taking the throw at first base, in which case the ball is dead." There are further provisions and exceptions, but none apply here.

HP Umpire
: After the batter bunts the ball, the plate umpire signals the ball fair while stepping onto the foul line between home plate and first base. Upon observing the thrown ball strike the runner, the plate umpire calls "Time" and rules the batter-runner out for runner's lane interference.
Analysis: This is a textbook case of runner's lane interference and the mechanics for such a play.

1B Umpire
: After the ball is bunted, the first base umpire moves into position to officiate a potential out/safe play at first base—on the tag, the throw, etc. When the plate umpire signals "Time", the first base umpire mirrors the "Time" mechanic in order to amplify the plate umpire's declaration of a dead ball. 
Analysis: The first base umpire properly signals "Time" to mirror his crew-mate while withholding any "out" call, as runner's lane interference is the plate umpire's call to make, given that the plate umpire was in position and called "Time" to make it.

3B Umpire
: Starting inside, this third base umpire has opted to work in Deep B position—a few meters to the first base side of second base, and physically closer to home plate, on the edge of the infield grass.
Analysis: The peril of starting in the Deep B position in a crew of three is that the third base umpire has responsibility for the existing baserunner R1's potential advancement to third base, in addition to a play at second. Thus, starting on the right field side of second base, as opposed to the left field side as in Deep C position, could potentially threaten the umpire's ability to attain an optimal angle to officiate a potential play at third base. This is a personal preference, as even prior to the batted ball, U3 working inside will take all stolen base attempts/tags at second.

Other than this, the primary responsibility for this call lies with the home plate umpire, who puts on a clinic for how to officiate this type of a play.

Video as follows:

Monday, September 5, 2022

Blue Jays Pitcher Gausman Called for Balk on 1st Pitch with Runners

Called for a no-stop balk by 2B Umpire Jeff Nelson, Blue Jays pitcher Kevin Gausman strode toward the umpire before being restrained by Toronto teammate Bo Bichette, buying time for manager John Schneider to get an explanation for why Gausman was called for a balk on his very first pitch from Set Position with runners on base during Monday's Jays-Orioles game in Baltimore.

With none out and none on in the bottom of the 4th inning, Orioles batter Adley Rutschman singled on a fly ball to the shallow outfield for Baltimore's first base hit of the game. Immediately thereafter, during the first pitch to ensuing batter Anthony Santander, Gausman was called for a balk by Nelson.

Official Baseball Rule 6.02(a)(13) states, "If there is a runner, or runners, it is a balk when—The pitcher delivers the pitch from Set Position without coming to a stop."

Thus, Gausman's balk occurred at the first opportunity for a balk to be called on him, meaning that in Nelson's judgment, Gausman's habitual delivery when using Set Position and/or the very first time Gausman worked from Set Position on Monday was illegal.

What's your call? | Video as follows:

Umpire Warnings After Yankees-Rays Bench Clearing

In this Ask the UEFL, we were asked to take a quick look at the umpires' decision to issue warnings to the Yankees and Rays after benches cleared and teams met on the field when New York batter Josh Donaldson took a 3-0 fastball from Tampa Bay pitcher Shawn Armstrong up-and-inside.

The umpires (and both teams' broadcasts for that matter) deemed that the pitch was not an intentional throwing at act and thus did not meet the criterion pursuant to Official Baseball Rule 6.02(c)(9) for an intentional pitch at the batter.

Instead, once the benches cleared, umpires opted to issue warnings to the teams because even when a pitch isn't intentionally thrown at the batter, warnings may nonetheless be issued at any time: "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."

The warning establishes that any pitch deemed to have been intentionally thrown at a batter in the future will result in an immediate ejection of both the pitcher and the defensive manager. 

It is important to note that an inside pitch (even a HBP) deemed to be unintentional shall not result in ejections. It is therefore a misconception that all inside "mistakes" will result in an ejection after warnings are issued.

Video as follows:

Sunday, September 4, 2022

MLB Ejection 152 - Vic Carapazza (4; Aaron Boone)

HP Umpire Vic Carapazza ejected Yankees manager Aaron Boone (catcher's interference call [no challenges remaining]; QOCN) in the bottom of the 5th inning of the #Rays-#Yankees game. With two out and none on, Rays batter Taylor Walls swung at a 3-2 fastball from Yankees pitcher Frankie Montas, HP Umpire Carapazza ruling catcher's interference. Replays indicate Walls' bat did not appear to make contact with Yankees catcher Kyle Higashioka's mitt, the call was incorrect. The Yankees were out of manager's challenges because of an unsuccessful challenge filed by Boone one half inning earlier on a stadium boundary (catch/no catch) play. At the time of the ejection, the Yankees were leading, 1-0. The Yankees ultimately won the contest, 2-1.

This is Vic Carapazza (19)'s 4th ejection of 2022.

This is the 152nd ejection report of the 2022 MLB regular season.
This is the 82nd manager ejection of 2022.
This is New York's 11th ejection of 2022, 1st in the AL East (NYY 11; TOR 9; BOS 6; BAL 4; TB 3).
This is Aaron Boone's 7th ejection of 2022, 1st since August 7 (Ed Hickox; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Vic Carapazza's 4th ejection of 2022, 1st since August 7 (Matt Blake; QOC = N-c [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: New York Yankees vs Tampa Bay Rays, 9/4/22 | Video as follows:

Ask - Infield Fly No-Call Leads to Double Play in New York

After New York shortstop Francisco Lindor allowed a batted ball to drop untouched before turning an inning-ending double play during Saturday's #Nationals-#Mets game, questions surrounding the umpires' infield fly no-call sprung up: why wasn't the batter declared out pursuant to the infield fly rule?

Play: With one out and two on (R1, R2), Nationals batter Luis Garcia hit a first pitch-changeup from Mets pitcher Max Scherzer in the air, whereupon Mets shortstop Lindor let the ball drop to the dirt before fielding it and throwing to second baseman Jeff McNeil, who threw to third baseman Eduardo Escobar, who tagged advancing Nats baserunner R2 CJ Abrams.

Call: Although umpires did not signal "infield fly" on the play, and although 2B Umpire Manny Gonzalez clearly signaled Mets baserunner R1 Lane Thomas out on second based on a force play, the game score's play-by-play account has this as "[batter] Luis Garcia pops into a double play" before concluding with, "Luis Garcia out at 1st."

Conflict of Calls and Scoring Decision via Stats Stringer: Since the Mets never threw the ball to first base, the only explanation for Garcia being out would be if this play was declared an infield fly, despite replays indicating evidence to the contrary (such as no signal, and U2 Gonzalez's force out call).

Rule: The infield fly rule is defined as: "a fair fly ball (not including a line drive nor an attempted bunt) which can be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort, when first and second, or first, second and third bases are occupied, before two are out. The pitcher, catcher and any outfielder who stations himself in the infield on the play shall be considered infielders for the purpose of this rule."

The batter is out, and the ball remains live (runners can advance at their own peril, with liability to be put out).

Analysis: With the less-than-two-out and runners-on-first-and-second criteria clearly satisfied, we turn to the "attempted bunt" portion of the rule. Replays indicate the batter appeared to contact the ball during a check swing—this is not a bunt and thus the bunt exemption does not apply.

Furthermore, this is not a line drive ("a batted ball that goes sharp and direct from the bat to a fielder without touching the ground").

With replays indicating fielder Lindor could have caught this ball with ordinary effort, we turn to whether it satisfies the "fly ball" criterion or not. The definition for FLY BALL is of little help: "batted ball that goes high in the air in flight."

Thus, we are left with a subjective judgment call on whether this particular batted ball traveled "high" enough in the air. Judging by the ball's apex, one could certainly make an argument in favor of declaring this an infield fly. Note that the rule does not make any reference to amount of time the ball is airborne: the only criteria are whether a fair fly ball could be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort.

As for the intentional drop rule, OBR 5.09(a)(12) requires the infielder to have physically touched the baseball in order to merit a call; additionally, it is superseded by the infield fly rule: "In this situation, the batter is not out if the infielder permits the ball to drop untouched to the ground, except when the Infield Fly rule applies."

This is therefore not an intentional drop and may or may not be an infield fly, depending on your subjective interpretation of the word "high".

Video as follows: