Saturday, October 1, 2022

Phillies Lose Out After Backswing Interference Loophole, Get it Back After Wrong Count on Batter

A loophole in baseball's backswing interference rule nearly cost the Phillies an out in Washington, until HP Umpire Marvin Hudson lost track of the count, giving pitcher Zach Elfin an extra chance to strike out Nationals batter Victor Robles as Philadelphia defeated the Nats, 5-1, on Friday.

With two out and Nationals baserunner R2 Luis Garcia on second base, batter Victor Robles swung at and missed a 2-1 cutter from Phillies pitcher Elfin for a swinging strike as catcher JT Realmuto threw to second base in an attempt to pickoff runner R2 Garcia. Realmuto's initial throw did not retire the runner, but a rundown ensued during which it appeared as if Garcia ran out of the base path to avoid fielder Alec Bohm's tag.

Behind the play, HP Umpire Hudson, however, had called "Time" due to batter Robles' bat making contact with catcher Realmuto's hip on the backswing, an instance of follow-through contact. Pursuant to Official Baseball Rule 6.03(a) Comment, Garcia was returned to second base, safely: "If a batter strikes at a ball and misses and swings so hard they carry the bat all the way around and, in the umpire’s judgment, unintentionally hits the catcher or the ball in back of them on the backswing, it shall be called a strike only (not interference). The ball will be dead, however, and no runner shall advance on the play."

Sidebar: In NFHS/high school, follow-through interference results in an out; pro and NCAA/college do not consider this bona fide interference.

Because the catcher's initial throw did not retire the runner, pursuant to modern interpretation, "Time" is called and play halted; professional baseball does not allow a delayed dead ball situation here to extend past the "initial throw."

With Washington given a second chance, Robles took Elfin's subsequent 2-2 pitch for a called ball, and the next pitch after that for another called ball—but no one on the field seemed to notice that four balls had been thrown to Robles. As such, the count became 3-2 instead of an at-bat-ending 4-2, and with that extra pitch, Elfin struck out Robles...for a cumulative 4-3 count.

Ball/Strike count as well as number of outs and similar scorekeeping variables are reviewable via Crew Chief Review, but with uniformed personnel apparently unaware of the incorrect count, play continued with the improper count becoming the official count, allowing the strikeout to stand.

Video as follows:

Friday, September 30, 2022

Teachable - A Base Touch Rotation with John Tumpane

For this Teachable, we watch an umpiring rotation during Tigers batter Riley Greene's triple as Detroit hosted Minnesota. After 2B Umpire Marvin Hudson goes out on a fly ball to the gap, 3B Umpire John Tumpane runs to fill in the vacated second base position, watching for batter-runner Greene's touch of second base.

Behind the play, HP Umpire Ryan Blakney has also rotated up the foul line to prepare for a play into third base and 1B Umpire Charlie Ramos is prepared to rotate to home plate if need be.

With no runners, the 2B Umpire is obliged to go out on any ball the umpire senses may become a "trouble" ball—which is those that may be subject to interference, catch/no catch issues, or stadium boundary questions such as a ball getting stuck in a wall or bounding out of play.
Sidebar: The following Mets-Marlins play from September 11, 2022 is an example of what might transpire if a 2B Umpire opts not to pursue a ball into the outfield that does indeed become a trouble ball, creating an umpiring coverage vacuum in the outfield that ultimately sees the home plate umpire make a lodged ball call.

Thus, it is important that all umpires on the field be prepared to rotate to new positions for new responsibilities as play develops, as Hudson's crew does in Detroit—Tumpane becoming the umpire in the middle as the Twins unsuccessfully appealed a missed base, ruled safe by Tumpane, and upheld via Replay Review.

Video as follows:

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Jean Segura Thrown Out After Mistakenly Thinking Ball 3 Was Ball 4 - Reviewing The Umpire's Official Count

Phillies baserunner Jean Segura was thrown out between first and second base in Chicago after mistakenly thinking a 3-0 pitch had been called ball four when, in fact, it was a 2-0 pitch for ball three. HP Umpire Ted Barrett's and the Wrigley Field scoreboard's displayed counts conflicted and when an umpire's count conflicts with a broadcast or scoreboard, the umpire's version of events usually wins.

In baseball, stadium scoreboards are generally operated by the home team's entertainment or production department, as the modern Daktronics All Sport consoles (controllers) usually integrate with the overall show control system used to manage the video and LED boards around the facility.

And as fate would have it, this team-employed scoreboard operator rarely sits or communicates whatsoever with the actual MLB-trained stats stringer/datacaster, or the official scorer, who usually sits in the press box detached from the entertainment control room.

This approach differs from leagues such as the NHL, which employ off-ice officials to operate or sit with the scoreboard operator and are representatives (and paid by) the league itself, as opposed to the local team.

Nonetheless, the mistaken count—a ball was improperly added to begin Nick Maton's at-bat despite Cubs pitcher Javier Assad not throwing a single pitch (there was a pickoff attempt though)—made its way to both the scoreboard and Cubs television scorebug, but curiously not to the Phillies broadcast graphics (which presumably was independently controlled by a visiting TV operator)...although Philadelphia's broadcaster did refer to the scoreboard and give the incorrect count with such frequency that the independent away TV operator succumbed and incorrectly added a ball to the count, thus making it seem to most viewers that Maton had walked when in fact the count had simply reached 3-1.

With both broadcasts and the in-stadium scoreboard incorrectly adding a ball to the count, Segura was easily retired, with Barrett and 1B Umpire Charlie Ramos cognizant of the correct count.

When in doubt, refer to the on-field umpire, who carries a ball/strike/out indicator for just such a purpose.

Video as follows:

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

MLB Ejections 175-6 - Alan Porter (4-5; Rojas, Lovullo)

HP Umpire Alan Porter ejected Diamondbacks 3B Josh Rojas and manager Torey Lovullo (strike three call; QOCY) in the top of the 6th inning of the #Dbacks-#Astros game. With two out and none on, Rojas took a 2-2 fastball from Astros pitcher Justin Verlander for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer half of home plate and above the hollow of the knee (px 0.64, pz 1.81 [sz_bot 1.71 / RAD 1.59]) 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, 2-2. The Diamondbacks ultimately won the contest, 5-2, in 10 innings.

These are Alan Porter (64)'s 4th and 5th ejections of 2022.
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
This pitch was located 3.29 horizontal and 2.68 vertical inches from being deemed incorrect.

These are the 175th and 176th ejection reports of the 2022 MLB regular season.
This is the 60th player ejection of 2022. Prior to ejection, Rojas was 0-3 (3 SO) in the contest.
This is the 94th manager ejection of 2022.
This is Arizona's 8/9th ejection of 2022, 1st in the NL West (ARI 9; SD 6; SF 5; COL 3; LAD 1).
This Josh Rojas' first career MLB ejection.
This is Torey Lovullo's 5th ejection of 2022, 1st since Sept 10 (H Wendelstedt; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Alan Porter's 4/5th ejection of 2022, 1st since Aug 16 (Myles Straw; QOC = Y [Foul/Strike]).

Wrap: Arizona Diamondbacks vs Houston Astros, 9/28/22 | Video as follows:

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

MLB Ejections 173-74 - Ryan Blakney (2-3; Mattingly, Bleier)

HP Umpire Ryan Blakney ejected Marlins manager Don Mattingly and pitcher Richard Bleier (three no-stop balk calls by 1B Umpire John Tumpane; QOCY) in the bottom of the 8th inning of the #Marlins-#Mets game. With two out and none on, Mets batter Jeff McNeil hit a 0-2 slider from Marlins relief pitcher Bleier on the ground for a single to become the first baserunner during Bleier's appearance. With two out and one on (R1), 1B Umpire Tumpane called Mets pitcher Bleier for three balks during Pete Alonso's at-bat, the penalty for which advanced the runner McNeil to second, third, and home bases respectively. Replays indicate Bleier failed to come to a stop while delivering from Set Position with runner McNeil on base, the call was correct.* At the time of the ejections, the Marlins were leading, 6-4. The Marlins ultimately won the contest, 6-4.

These are Ryan Blakney (36)'s 2nd and 3rd ejections of 2022.
*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."

These are the 173rd and 174th ejection reports of the 2022 MLB regular season.
This is the 93rd manager ejection of 2022.
This is the 59th player ejection of 2022. Prior to ejection, Bleier's line was 1.0 IP, H, 3 Balks, ER.
This is Miami's 10/11th ejection of 2022, 1st in the NL East (MIA 11; WAS 4; PHI 3; ATL, NYM 2).
This is Don Mattingly's 3rd ejection of 2022, 1st since July 9 (Mark Ripperger; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Richard Bleier's 1st ejection since July 20, 2021 (Cory Blaser; QOC = Y [Check Swing]).
This is Ryan Blakney's 2/3rd ejection of 2022, 1st since Aug 31 (Brandon Crawford; QOC = Y [Check Swing]).

Wrap: Miami Marlins vs New York Mets, 9/27/22 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejection 172 - Brennan Miller (1; Miguel Cairo)

3B Umpire Brennan Miller ejected White Sox interim manager Miguel Cairo (ball one call by HP Umpire Jansen Visconti/check swing; QOCN) in the bottom of the 6th inning of the #WhiteSox-#Twins game. With none out and one on, Twins batter Matt Wallner attempted to check his swing on a 0-0 cutter from White Sox pitcher Lance Lynn, ruled a ball by HP Umpire Jansen Visconti and affirmed as no swing on appeal by 3B Umpire Miller. Cairo was ejected during a mound visit/pitching change two pitches later, following a Wallner home run. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer edge of home plate and below the midpoint (px -0.56, pz 3.57 [sz_top 3.68 / RAD 3.80 / MOE 3.72]), the call was incorrect.* At the time of the ejection, the Twins were leading, 4-0. The Twins ultimately won the contest, 4-0.

This is Brennan Miller (55)'s 1st ejection of 2022.
*This pitch was located 1.80 vertical inches from being ruled correct.
^Because pitch/location called a ball is QOCN, the check swing ball call is immaterial.

This is the 172nd ejection report of the 2022 MLB regular season.
This is the 92nd manager ejection of 2022.
This is Chicago's 7th ejection of 2022, 1st in the AL Central (CWS 7; CLE 5; DET, KC, MIN 4).
This is Miguel Cairo's 3rd ejection of 2022, 1st since Sept 2 (Ron Kulpa; QOC = U [Warnings/Fight]).
This is Brennan Miller's 1st ejection since April 29, 2021 (Mike Schildt; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Chicago White Sox vs Minnesota Twins, 9/27/22 | Video as follows:

Teachable - Cuzzi Uses the Force Tag at 2nd

In this Teachable, we spotlight 2B Umpire Phil Cuzzi, who attains a keyhole angle to officiate a mid-baseline tag play when Yankees fielder Anthony Rizzo lunges to tag Rays baserunner Randy Arozarena between first and second base.

This is both a force and tag play, and as the ground ball from batter Isaac Paredes is hit toward Rizzo, Cuzzi adjusts his position to prepare for a multitude of possibilities, including a potential throw to second base, throw to first base, or—as occurred here—a tag attempt on baserunner R1 Arozarena. Upon observing Arozarena's stop, Cuzzi stops as well to preserve the optimal angle he has cultivated.

Cuzzi's out call was challenged by Rays manager Kevin Cash and affirmed by Replay Review.

Video as follows:

Monday, September 26, 2022

Ask - Washington Loses Run on Miami's Chaser Appeal

Already 43 games behind first place in the NL East, the Washington Nationals lost an apparent run in Miami after Marlins catcher Nick Fortes successfully appealed to HP Umpire Bill Miller that Nats baserunner CJ Abrams failed to touch home plate, a call affirmed via Replay Review.

With none out and two on (R1 Vargas, R3 Abrams) in the 2nd inning of Sunday's affair in Miami, Nationals batter Victor Robles hit a ground ball to Marlins pitcher Edward Cabrera, who threw home to catcher Fortes as runner R3 Abrams slid toward home plate. HP Umpire Miller made no signal, only ruling R3 Abrams out after catcher Fortes pursued Abrams to the visitor's first-base dugout at Marlins Park to apply a tag.

The Appeal Rule: Pursuant to Official Baseball Rule 5.09(c)(2), a runner is out on appeal when "they fail to touch each base in order before they, or a missed base, are tagged."

Furthermore, the MLB Umpire Manual advises what to do when both the runner misses their base touch and the fielder misses their tag of the runner, as Miller ruled occurred in Miami: "the umpire shall make no signal on the play...the runner must then be tagged if they attempt to return to the plate; if they continue on their way to the bench, the defense may make an appeal."

If the runner returns to the plate before being tagged, the umpire may then signal the runner safe.

If the runner makes no attempt to return to the plate, as occurred in Miami, the catcher has two options to appeal. For this play, F2 Fortes could have either tagged home plate or tagged the runner Abrams; so-called "accidental" appeals wherein the fielder inadvertently steps on the base with the ball don't count, meaning that Fortes would have to make it clear to HP Umpire Miller that stepping on the base was an intentional act alleging that runner Abrams failed to legally touch it—pursuing the runner to the warning track in front of their dugout in order to apply a tag, while time-consuming, is also a valid appeal option, meaning that Miller properly ruled on Fortes' appeal, declaring runner Abrams out for failing to touch a base. 

Video as follows:

Sunday, September 25, 2022

MLB Ejections 170-71 - Adrian Johnson (4-5; SEA-KC)

HP Umpire Adrian Johnson ejected Mariners pitcher Robbie Ray and Royals pitcher Luke Weaver (national anthem standoff/refusal to leave field/delay of game) prior to the top of the 1st inning of the #Mariners-#Royals game. Following the pre-game performance of the national anthem, off-day pitchers and bench personnel Ray (Seattle) and Weaver (Kansas City) remained on the playing field in the locations occupied during the national anthem. They remained in these on-field positions as Royals starting pitcher Max Castillo completed his warmup pitches and the game was ready to begin, and were ejected for delaying the start of the game after failing to follow the umpires' direction to leave the field, the call was irrecusable. At the time of the ejections, the game hadn't begun (score was tied 0-0). The Royals ultimately won the contest, 13-12.

These are Adrian Johnson (80)'s 4th and 5th ejections of 2022.

These are the 170th and 171st ejection reports of the 2022 MLB regular season.
These are the 57th and 58th player ejections of 2022. Prior to ejection, neither player appeared in the game.
This is Seattle's 12th ejection of 2022, 1st in the AL West (SEA 12; LA 10; HOU 7; OAK 6; TEX 2).
This is Kansas City's 4th ejection of 2022, T-3rd in the AL Central (CWS 6; CLE 5; DET, KC MIN 4).
This is Luke Weaver's first career MLB ejection.
This is Adrian Johnson's 4/5th ejection of 2022, 1st since June 26 (Scott Servais; QOC = U [Fighting]).

Wrap: Seattle Mariners vs Kansas City Royals, 9/25/22 | Video as follows: