Saturday, March 25, 2023

Pitch Clock Curiosity as Catcher Called for Violation for Slow Reaction Time

When asked about a pitch clock violation that resulted in ball four and a walk during Toronto's game against Philadelphia, Blue Jays pitcher Alek Manoah reported that HP Umpire Brennan Miller called the auto-ball because catcher Alejandro Kirk "didn't react quick enough" after requesting time with the pitch clock nearly at zero.

The newest wrinkle into MLB's pitch clock rule appears to penalize the defense if the catcher doesn't actually venture out to see the pitcher prior to the expiration of time...with some exceptions: Said Manoah, "I was told that Kirk didn't react quick enough coming out to see me. The umpire's arm band buzzed or whatever so it was a ball. I've never heard of that before"

If the pitch clock rules require a catcher to actually leave their catcher's box en route to the mound prior to the expiration of time lest it be deemed an automatic ball, that would be news to us too.

Instead, the likely explanation here involves not just the catcher's lack of urgency, but the game situation as well. Had there been runner(s) on base, the pitcher's disengagement (one of two legal penalty-free disengagements per at-bat [resets if a base runner advances]) would have on its own caused a full reset of the pitch clock.

But because the bases were empty, the pitcher stepping off doesn't actually affect the clock and the catcher's remaining in the crouch behind home plate as the clock expired—even though "Time" was requested and granted by HP Umpire Miller—resulted in a pitch clock violation call as the clock continued to run. Going forward, would you like to see this situation result in a reset, as it does with baserunners?

Video as follows:

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Spring Ejection 2 - Bill Miller (1; Ryan Tepera)

HP Umpire Bill Miller ejected Angels pitcher Ryan Tepera (failed illegal foreign substance check) before calling a pitch violation strikeout (automatic third strike) on Angels batter Taylor Jones in the 5th inning of the #Angels-#Rangers game. In the top of the 5th, Angels manager Phil Nevin substituted in relief pitcher Tepera for starting pitcher Griffin Canning. At the conclusion of the half-inning, HP Umpire Miller checked Tepera's glove, hat, and belt before ejecting the Angels pitcher for an illegal substance. At the time of the ejection, the Rangers were leading, 2-0. During the first at-bat of the subsequent bottom of the 5th inning (Rangers pitcher Joe Barlow vs Angels batter Jones), Miller called an automatic strike on Jones for failing to be alert to the pitcher with eight seconds remaining on the pitch clock. The Rangers ultimately won the contest, 6-2.

This is Bill Miller (26)'s 1st ejection of Spring Training 2023.

This is the second ejection of MLB Spring Training 2023.
This is the second player ejection of Spring 2023. Prior to ejection, Tepera's line was 0.1 IP, 2 ER, HR.
This is Los Angeles-AL's 1st ejection of Spring, 1st in the Cactus League (LAA 1; All Others 0).
This is Ryan Tepera's 1st ejection since June 26, 2022 (John Bacon; QOC = U [Fighting]).

Monday, March 20, 2023

NCAA Ejection - John Brammer (Tennessee's Tony Vitello)

HP Umpire John Brammer ejected Tennessee Volunteers head coach Tony Vitello (no step balk call; QOCY) in the bottom of the 3rd inning of the TN-Missouri game. With one out and two on (R1, R3), Tennessee pitcher Chase Burns attempted to pick off Missouri baserunner R1 Trevor Austin, ruled a balk. Replays indicate in throwing to first base, Burns failed to step toward the base pursuant to the requirements of NCAA Rule 9-3-c-1, which states, "The pitcher, while touching the pitcher's plate, must step toward the base, preceding or simultaneous with any move toward the base," the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, Missouri was leading, 5-0. Missouri ultimately won the contest, 7-4. 

Pitcher Austin's spin-off move failed to gain requisite distance or direction toward first base, which is a balk pursuant to NCAA 9-3-c-1 (OBR equivalent 6.02(a)(3) & NFHS 6.2.4b). Official Baseball Rules' 6.02(a)(3), for instance, states, "Requires the pitcher, while touching their plate, to step directly toward a base before throwing to that base." If there is any doubt as to potential disengagement on the spin or jump-turn move, see NCAA 9-3-c-5: "The jump-turn move is legal if the pitcher’s free foot steps toward and gains ground to the base that the ball is being thrown. Otherwise, a balk shall be called."

A no-step balk is subject to roughly the same argument provisions as balls/strikes calls in that a manager or coach may be ejected, as HP Umpire Brammer did here after warning the head coach to stop.

Video as follows: