Thursday, April 11, 2024

MLB Ejection 008 - Jeremie Rehak (1; Reese McGuire)

HP Umpire Jeremie Rehak ejected Red Sox catcher Reese McGuire (strike three call; QOCY) in the bottom of the 9th inning of the #Orioles-#RedSox game. With none out and none on, Red Sox batter McGuire took a 3-2 fastball from Orioles pitcher Craig Kimbrel for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer half of home plate and belt-high (px -0.54, pz 2.86 [sz_top 3.33]), the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 3-3. The Orioles ultimately won the contest, 9-4, in 10 innings.

This is Jeremie Rehak (35)'s 1st ejection of 2024.
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
This pitch was located 4.49 horizontal and 8.11 vertical inches from being deemed incorrect.

This is the 8th ejection report of the 2024 MLB regular season.
This is the 4th player ejection of 2024. Prior to ejection, McGuire was 0-4 (2 SO) in the contest.
Ejection Tally: 2 Managers, 2 Coaches, 4 Players.
This is Boston's 1st ejection of 2024, T-1st in the AL East (BOS, NYY, TOR 1; BAL, TB 0).
This is Reese McGuire's first career MLB ejection.
This is Jeremie Rehak's 1st ejection since Sept 12, 2023 (Chris Johnson; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

A's-Rangers Double Play - Infield Fly or Ordinary Effort?

Oakland turned an inning-ending double play against Texas when Rangers batter Jared Walsh's soft infield pop fly evaded diving A's second baseman Zack Gelof near the pitcher's mound, with 2B Umpire Tom Hanahan initially appearing to signal an infield fly, before declaring the batter safe, electing not to invoke the infield fly rule because none of the Athletics infielders could have caught the batted ball with ordinary effort.

With one out and runners on first and second base in the bottom of the 7th inning, Walsh's quasi-fly ball initially attracted speculation that the infield fly rule would be invoked, but as second baseman Gelof slid in an unsuccessful attempt to catch the batted ball, Oakland recovered and turned the inning-ending double play when umpires ruled the infield fly rule did not apply.

Gelof's slide may have tipped the scales against ruling this play an infield fly, as pitcher Austin Adams would have had to range backwards, off the mound to field the ball and Gelof was the other closest infielder, meaning that according to the umpire, no infielder was in a place where this ball could have been caught with ordinary effort.

This might be the infield fly counterweight to LF Umpire Sam Holbrook's infamous postseason infield fly call in Atlanta, when the umpire ruled that a shortstop deep into left field could have caught a fly ball with ordinary effort because he was camped under the ball before suddenly vacating that position.

Although formally termed an "infield fly" the definition and rule may more accurately be deemed the "infielder fly rule."

An infield fly 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," and the infield fly rule results in the batter being declared automatically out while the ball itself remains live.

When Walsh's batted ball fell to the ground and the infield fly rule was not invoked, that forced both preceding baserunners R1 and R2 to advance, allowing pitcher Adams to turn a double play when both R1 Adolis García and R1 Jonah Heim didn't advance.

Video as follows:

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

MLB Ejection 007 - John Bacon (1; Aaron Boone)

HP Umpire John Bacon ejected Yankees manager Aaron Boone (strike two call; QOCY) in the bottom of the 7th inning of the #Marlins-#Yankees game. With none out and none on, Yankees batter Alex Verdugo took a 1-1 slider from Marlins pitcher Andrew Nardi for a called second strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer edge of home plate and at the hollow of the knee (px -0.88, pz 1.45 [sz_bot 1.57 / RAD 1.45]), the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Marlins were leading, 4-1. The Marlins ultimately won the contest, 5-2.

This is John Bacon (70)'s 1st ejection of 2024.
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
This pitch was located 0.41 horizontal inches from being deemed incorrect.

This is the 7th ejection report of the 2024 MLB regular season.
This is the 2nd manager ejection of 2024. Ejection Tally: 2 Managers, 2 Coaches, 3 Players.
This is New York's 1st ejection of 2024, T-1st in the AL East (NYY, TOR 1; BAL, BOS, TB 0).
This is Aaron Boone's 1st ejection since Sept 20, 2023 (Lance Barrett; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is John Bacon's 1st ejection since July 16, 2022 (Mike Matheny; QOC = Y [Interference]).

Wrap: Miami Marlins vs New York Yankees, 4/10/24 | Video as follows:

The Reasonably Set Pitch Clock Loophole & Alert Walk

We again saw a potential pitch clock loophole as HP Umpire Gabe Morales called Giants pitcher Jordan Hicks for a violation and automatic ball, resulting in a walk, as San Francisco complained that Nationals batter Joey Gallo failed to come set so that Hicks could pitch the baseball.

The issue here is the difference in pre-pitch requirements and restrictions for batters and pitchers between the pitch clock rules and the Official Baseball Rules which pre-date the pitch timer.

To refresh the pitch clock rules state, "Batters must be in the box and alert to the pitcher by the 8-second mark or else be charged with an automatic strike" while pitchers may not come set or begin delivery before the batter satisfies these criteria.

The pre-existing rules, on the other hand, further restrict the pitcher as OBR 6.02(a)(5) Comment (amongst other places) states, "A quick pitch is an illegal pitch. Umpires will judge a quick pitch as one delivered before the batter is reasonably set in the batter’s box. With runners on base the penalty is a balk; with no runners on base, it is a ball. The quick pitch is dangerous and should not be permitted."

Accordingly, a pitcher may not pitch to a batter before said batter is reasonably set, while a batter according to the pitch clock rules is not required to become reasonably set but only alert to the pitcher.

Alert is a lesser standard to achieve than "reasonably set" which means, theoretically, a pitcher may be entrapped into quick pitching a batter who is not "reasonably set" by the expiration of time (since the batter is not required to be).

Then again, perhaps the solution is to reinterpret "reasonably" to weed out any unfair gameplay.

Video as follows:

Monday, April 8, 2024

Angel Again? Step-Off Disengagement Delivery Strikeout

After HP Umpire Angel Hernandez called Yankees batter Gleyber Torres out on strikes in the 1st inning vs Toronto, New York manager Aaron Boone argued the strikeout shouldn't count because Blue Jays pitcher Bowden Francis stepped off the rubber during his delivery, causing Torres to back out of the box.

This disengagement delivery involves two main components: #1, replays indicate pitcher Francis disengaged his pivot foot from the pitcher's plate during delivery, quickly re-engaging and firing home for a called strike three, which (#2) the television on-screen strikeout graphics indicate was located outside (and above) the strike zone.

Let's tackle the strike zone location issue first. When batter Torres stepped back in the batter's box during the pitch sequence, his stance as the pitch neared home plate remained similar to his standing stance—e.g., there was no "crouch" as expected during most pitches. This is reflected by the adjusted computer strike zone data as well as online zone visualizations, all of which agree the pitch was a strike, given Torres' elevated strike zone due to standing back in the batter's box. The location issue was officiated properly.

As for the disengagement issue, we note that all pitches must be made with the pivot foot in (reasonable) contact with the rubber/pitcher's plate. If runners are on base and a pitcher's foot slips and they interrupt delivery, this can be called a start-stop balk pursuant to Official Baseball Rule 6.02(a)(1). But if the bases are empty, there's no penalty other than to allow the pitcher to reset the play, re-engage, and retry the pitch.

...except that as of 2023, we have a pitch clock which means the pitcher might well be under a time crunch that prevents them from properly resetting the play. That appears to be what happened here: pitcher Francis had just three seconds remaining after the inadvertent disengagement, meaning he didn't have time to recover and retry from scratch.

Instead, Francis quickly re-engaged and threw. We now refer to OBR 5.07(a) and 6.02(a)(5), both of which concern an illegal pitch known as the quick pitch: "A quick pitch is an illegal pitch. Umpires will judge a quick pitch as one delivered before the batter is reasonably set in the batter’s box. With runners on base the penalty is a balk; with no runners on base, it is a ball. The quick pitch is dangerous and should not be permitted."

A central component of the quick pitch, however, is spelled out in OBR 5.07(a)(2) Comment: "If, however, in the umpire’s judgment, a pitcher delivers the ball in a deliberate effort to catch the batter off guard, this delivery shall be deemed a quick pitch, for which the penalty is a ball."

It would appear the pitcher did not intend to catch the batter off guard (also, the batter was somewhat reasonably set already) as much as he was rushing in an attempt to catch his own mistake of his pivot foot slipping off the rubber. A common sense approach to this play would be to declare "Time" and simply hit the reset button—no strike three call, no automatic ball, just a redo. This is the fairest outcome. Except the pitch clock was at the three-second mark when Francis slipped off the rubber, so the most likely outcome here would be a pitch clock violation on the pitcher and automatic ball for that reason.

As for who might see this, a pitcher out of Set (or even Hybrid) may have their back or pivot foot out of view of the home plate umpire, who would have to look through the front/free foot or leg to see the pivot foot slipping off the rubber. That's where the 1B and 3B Umpires can help—big time. What appears to have occurred here is 1B Umpire Nic Lentz and/or 3B Umpire and Crew Chief Lance Barksdale observed the disengagement, but also knew that with no runners on, there really isn't a penalty per se for it (not withstanding the pitch timer violation). Unfortunately, no one on the crew seemed to take it a step further to 1) the pitch clock issue, or 2) the quick pitch issue.

Instead, the crew, which did not put the entire play together, allowed the strikeout to stand.

Video as follows:

Sunday, April 7, 2024

MLB Ejection 006 - Alfonso Marquez (2; Miguel Cairo)

HP Umpire Alfonso Márquez ejected Nationals bench coach Miguel Cairo (strike one call to Jacob Young; QOCY) in the bottom of the 2nd inning of the #Phillies-#Nationals game. With two out and two on, Nationals batter Young took a 3-0 sinker from Phillies pitcher Christopher Sánchez for a called first strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer half of home plate and above the hollow of the knee (px 0.43, pz 1.72 [sz_bot 1.59]), the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 1-1. The Nationals ultimately won the contest, 3-2.

This is Alfonso Márquez (72)'s 2nd ejection of 2023.

This is the 6th ejection report of the 2024 MLB regular season.
This is the 2nd coach ejection of 2024. Ejection Tally: 1 Manager, 2 Coaches, 3 Players.
This is Washington's 1st ejection of 2023, T-1st in the NL East (NYM, WAS 1; ATL, MIA, PHI 0).
This is Miguel Cairo's 1st ejection since Sept 27, 2022 (Brennan Miller; QOC = N [Check Swing]).
This is Alfonso Márquez's 2nd ejection of 2024, 1st since March 30 (Yohan Ramírez; QOC = U [Throwing At]).

Saturday, April 6, 2024

MLB Ejection 005 - Brennan Miller (1; David Popkins)

HP Umpire Brennan Miller ejected Twins hitting coach David Popkins (strike two and three calls to Matt Wallner; QOCN) in the bottom of the 4th inning of the #Guardians-#Twins game. With two out and none on, Twins batter Matt Wallner took a 3-1 slider and 3-2 sinker from Guardians pitcher Nick Sandlin for called second and third strikes. Replays indicate the 3-1 pitch was located over the inner edge of home plate and below the hollow of the knee (px 0.71, pz 1.53 [sz_bot 1.87 / RAD 1.75 / MOE 1.67]) while 3-2 was located over the inner edge of home plate and at the hollow of the knee (px 0.80, pz 1.68 [sz_bot 1.87, RAD 1.75 / MOE 1.67]), the call was incorrect. At the time of the ejection, the Guardians were leading, 3-1. The Guardians ultimately won the contest, 3-1.

This is Brennan Miller (55)'s 1st ejection of 2023.
Meanwhile, in Anaheim, HP Umpire Alex Tosi was nearly perfect, calling 173 of 174 taken pitches in accordance with the computer. The one disputed pitch was located within our margin of error.

This is the 5th ejection report of the 2024 MLB regular season.
This is the 1st coach ejection of 2024. Ejection Tally: 1 Manager, 1 Coach, 3 Players.
This is Minnesota's 1st ejection of 2023, 1st in the AL Central (MIN 1; CLE, CWS, DET, KC 0).
This is David Popkins' 1st ejection since August 24, 2023 (Cory Blaser; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Brennan Miller's 1st ejection since Sept 9, 2023 (Alejo Lopez; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Angel's Swinging Strike Call & the Unreviewable Play

Detroit manager AJ Hinch argued after being told he couldn't challenge HP Umpire Angel Hernandez's foul tip call in the 11th inning in New York because Hernandez's on-field ruling that batter Spencer Torkelson swung at the pitch is not a reviewable play.

In Ejection 003 - Vic Carapazza (1; Dylan Moore), we discussed how check swing decisions—specifically whether or not the batter struck at a pitch—are not reviewable. In that game, Cleveland successfully challenged that batter Ramón Laureano was hit by a pitch, with Replay Review awarding Laureano first base as a result. Seattle had contended Laureano swung at the ball as it touched him, which the on-field umpires did not call (the crew ruled Laureano did not swing at the pitch), so the scope of the replay solely focused on whether the ball struck the batter or not. Finding that it did, the natural award was first base, relying on the umpires' on-field "no swing" ruling.

In Ejection 004 - Mike Muchlinski (1; Derek Shelton), we concentrated on the mechanics of calling a check swing, finding that the home plate umpire bears primary responsibility with such a play, and if they deem that the batter did in fact swing at the pitch, then by rule they are supposed to unilaterally call the swing from behind the plate (not appeal to a field umpire). The first and third base umpires may rule on appeal when the plate umpire calls "no swing" but not when the plate umpire calls a strike (by swing or by location).

Putting these lessons together brings us to Thursday in New York, when HP Umpire Hernandez called a foul tip on Tigers batter Torkelson in the 11th inning. While Detroit initially sought to challenge this call, alleging the pitched ball touched batter Torkelson's hands and not the bat, the umpires informed manager Hinch that due to Hernandez's ruling that Torkelson did indeed swing, the play was not reviewable.

This is correct, in part, and not entirely correct, in part. First, we know that Replay cannot review whether or not a batter has attempted to strike a pitch (swing/no swing is not reviewable). But, there is an ever-so-slight difference between the on-field ruling of foul tip and what the Tigers allege happened, which is a pitched ball touching the batter. Add in Hernandez's call "...as he struck at it" and we find the difference Replay could make here is between a foul tip—a live ball—and a dead ball strike (obviously, a dead ball).

In this situation, it doesn't sound like much of a difference, but had the catcher tried to pick off a runner and either retired the runner or overthrew the fielder, allowing runners to advance, the live vs dead ball call would loom large. On a foul tip (live ball), the runner could be deemed out or could advance to score a run on the catcher's throwing error, while on a dead ball (dead ball strike), no further action could occur and any pickoff attempts would be nullified.

Jeff McNeil & Angel Hernandez Disagree About Time Out

Mets batter Jeff McNeil and HP Umpire Angel Hernandez exchanged words in the bottom of the 6th inning of New York's Thursday matinee vs Detroit over a pitch clock rule-related "Time" out request, an instance of confusion increasingly spreading throughout baseball when batters—restricted to one "Time" request per at-bat—and umpires can't seem to agree as to when said batter actually wants to use their allotted pause.

During McNeil's 6th inning at-bat, Tigers pitcher Joey Wentz committed a pitch timer violation on the 1-2 pitch, failing to start his delivery prior to the expiration of time. After a subsequent curveball in the dirt, McNeil turned to speak with Hernandez, which the umpire took as a request for "Time", signaling as much as McNeil replied he hadn't asked for time out.

This situation resolved without consequence—McNeil walked on the next pitch—but as we know from the Seoul Series and HP Umpire Andy Fletcher's pitch timer violation strikeout for excessive time out requests by Padres batter Xander Bogaerts, crossed wires can produce at-bat defining consequences.

My proposal to fix this miscommunication malady is simple: implement a protocol that requires batters to visually request "Time" by raising a hand with open palm facing the umpire. This way, there (ideally) will be no confusion of whether a batter verbally requested "Time" or was commenting on something else.

Video as follows:

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

MLB Ejection 004 - Mike Muchlinski (1; Derek Shelton)

HP Umpire Mike Muchlinski ejected Pirates manager Derek Shelton (check swing strike three call) in the top of the 7th inning of the #Pirates-#Nationals game. With two out and one on, Pirates batter Bryan Reynolds attempted to check his swing on a 3-2 splitter from Nationals pitcher Hunter Harvey, ruled a swinging strike by Muchlinski. At the time of the ejection, the Nationals were leading, 5-3. The Nationals ultimately won the contest, 5-3.

This is Mike Muchlinski (76)'s 1st ejection of 2023.

This is the 4th ejection report of the 2024 MLB regular season.
This is the 1st manager ejection of 2024.
This is Pittsburgh's 1st ejection of 2023, 1st in the NL Central (PIT 1; CHC, CIN, MIL, STL 0).
This is Derek Shelton's 1st ejection since August 13, 2023 (Nic Lentz; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Mike Muchlinski's 1st ejection since May 14, 2023 (Matt Blake; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Monday, April 1, 2024

MLB Ejection 003 - Vic Carapazza (1; Dylan Moore)

2B Umpire Vic Carapazza ejected Mariners bench player Dylan Moore (check swing no-call by 1B Umpire Adam Hamari and HBP Replay Review during Ramón Laureano's at-bat) in the top of the 3rd inning of the #Guardians-#Mariners game. With none out and none on, Laureano attempted to check his swing on a 1-2 changeup from Mariners pitcher Emerson Hancock, ruled a fair ball by HP Umpire Mark Ripperger who adjudged that the pitched ball hit Laureano's bat and bounced into fair territory, resulting in an out, and ruled "no swing" on appeal by 1B Umpire Hamari. Upon Replay Review as the result of a challenge by Guardians manager Stephen Vogt, the call was overturned to a hit-by-pitch, as the baseball was ruled to have first made contact with Laureano's hand; due to Hamari's "no swing" call, the result of the play was a hit-by-pitch with Laureano awarded first base (as opposed to a dead ball strike [strike three]). At the time of the ejection, the Mariners were leading, 4-0.

This is Vic Carapazza (19)'s 1st ejection of 2024.

This is the 3rd ejection report of the 2024 MLB regular season.
This is the 3rd player ejection of 2024. Prior to ejection, Moore did not appear in this game.
This is Seattle's 1st ejection of 2023, 1st in the AL West (SEA 1; HOU, LAA, OAK, TEX 0).
This is Dylan Moore's 1st career MLB ejection.
This is Vic Carapazza's 1st ejection since August 7, 2023 (Matt Quatraro; QOC = U]).

Savannah Bananas Rules Analysis - April 1 Edition

By popular demand, we analyze a few quirky plays from the off-beat baseball experience known as the Savannah Bananas. Which of their peculiar stunts are legal in a regulation game? Stick around for a rules analysis to find out.

Where applicable, we provide citations to rules and links to prior videos we may have done on the related plays.


Video as follows:

Saturday, March 30, 2024

MLB Ejection 002 - Todd Tichenor (1; Genesis Cabrera)

2B Umpire Todd Tichenor ejected Blue Jays pitcher Génesis Cabrera (fighting) in the bottom of the 7th inning of the #BlueJays-#Rays game. With two out and one on, Rays batter José Caballero bunted a 0-1 fastball from Cabrera, resulting in a throwing error by 3B Justin Turner. Caballero attempted to advance to third base on the error and was tagged out by shortstop Bo Bichette. After the out, Caballero and Cabrera engaged in a physical confrontation beyond third base with Cabrera appearing to shove Caballero in the face resulting in warnings and Cabrera's ejection, the call was irrecusable. At the time of the ejection, the Rays were leading, 4-1. The Rays ulimately won the contest, 5-1.

This is Todd Tichenor (13)'s 1st ejection of 2024.

This is the 2nd ejection report of the 2024 MLB regular season.
This is the 2nd player ejection of 2024. Prior to ejection, Cabrera's line was 1.0 IP, ER.
This is Toronto's 1st ejection of 2023, 1st in the AL East (TOR 1; BAL, BOS, NYY, TB 0).
This is Génesis Cabrera's 1st ejection since July 25, 2021 (Chad Fairchild; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Todd Tichenor's 1st ejection since August 23, 2023 (Robert Suarez; QOC = U [Illegal Substance]).

MLB Ejection 001 - Alfonso Marquez (1; Yohan Ramirez)

3B Umpire Alfonso Márquez ejected Mets pitcher Yohan Ramírez (throwing at Brewers DH Rhys Hoskins) in the top of the 7th inning of the #Brewers-#Mets game. With one out and one on, Brewers batter Hoskins took a first-pitch sinker from Mets pitcher Ramírez for ball one. Replays indicate the pitch was thrown behind Hoskins, approximately torso-high. Warnings had not previously been issued, the call was irrecusable. At the time of the ejection, the Brewers were leading, 6-2. The Brewers ultimately won the contest, 7-6.

This is Alfonso Márquez (72)'s 1st ejection of 2024.*
*This box score credits the ejection to HP Umpire Lance Barrett; however, available video replay suggests this ejection came from Crew Chief Márquez.
Official Baseball Rule 6.02(c)(9) entitled Intentionally Pitch at the Batter states, "If, in the umpire’s judgment, such a violation occurs, the umpire may elect either to: (A) Expel the pitcher, on the manager and pitcher from the game, or (B) may warn the pitcher and manager of both teams that another such pitch will result in the immediate expulsion of that pitcher (or replacement) and the manager."
Related PostHoskins' Slide Into McNeil & Obstruction Play at 1B (Opening Day, 3/29/24).

This is the 1st ejection report of the 2024 MLB regular season.
This is the 1st player ejection of 2024. Prior to ejection, Ramírez's line was 0.1 IP, K.
This is New York's 1st ejection of 2023, 1st in the NL East (NYM 1; ATL, MIA, PHI, WAS 0).
This is Yohan Ramírez's first career MLB ejection.
This is Alfonso Márquez's 1st ejection since July 7, 2023 (Seby Zavala; QOC = N [Out/Safe]).

Friday, March 29, 2024

Hoskins' Slide Into McNeil & Obstruction Play at 1B

Following a look at whether Brewers 1B Rhys Hoskins' block of Mets runner DJ Stewart was obstruction or not, we determine whether Hoskins' slide into Mets 2B Jeff McNeil satisfied the bona flide slide rule criteria relative to breaking up double play attempts. Of note, 2B Umpire Jonathan Parra made his MLB debut and was working his first major league game when the benches cleared as a result of Hoskins' slide and McNeil's reaction.

Obstruction: In the bottom of the 2nd inning, Brewers catcher William Contreras threw to first base in an attempt to pickoff Mets baserunner R1 Stewart, with Milwaukee 1B Hoskins receiving the throw and appearing to place his left leg into runner Stewart's path, effectively blocking his access to first base. 1B Umpire Lance Barrett called the runner out, effectively no-calling potential obstruction as the retired runner complained that Hoskins was blocking the bag.

Defined as "the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball and not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner," the new obstruction point of emphasis instructs umpires to call obstruction as in Official Baseball Rule 6.01(h)(1) or Type A when a fielder blocks the runner's path without possession of the ball unnecessarily, even if the fielder is in the act of fielding at the time.

The goal is to crack down on fielders using the "act of fielding" defense to blatantly block runners' base paths when they distinctly do not need to occupy that space to receive the throw.

Bona Fide Slide: In the top of the 8th inning, Brewers baserunner R1 Hoskins slid into second base on an infield ground ball and potential double play attempt. Hoskins slid through the base, but was able to keep his hand in contact with the second base bag, making contact with Mets 2B McNeil in the process, who took exception and whose reaction spurred both benches to briefly clear.

After Replay Review, the Mets' challenge that Hoskins' slide was illegal was denied and the original call by 2B Umpire Parra of out and no slide violation was confirmed.

The four criteria of a bona fide slide, as in OBR 6.01(j), are 1) begins the slide before reaching the base, 2) able and attempts to reach the base, 3) able and attempts to remain on the base, and 4) slides within reach of the base without changing pathway for the purpose of initiating contact with a fielder.

Replay conclusively determined that R1 Hoskins satisfied all four criteria and, thus, engaged in a legal, bona fide slide.

Note that in college and high school, Hoskins' slide may have violated the force play slide rule (FPSR doesn't exist in pro ball), given that Hoskins' failed to slide in a direct line between the two bases. NCAA Rule 8-4 governs FPSR cases and holds that "the runner’s entire body (feet, legs, trunk and arms) must stay in a straight line between the bases."


Video as follows:

Plate Blocking Replay & Missed Foul Ball Leads to Run

A pair of Opening Day plate blocking replays at home in Houston and Miami brought out some fiery opinions from the Marlins broadcasters while a missed foul ball call led to Chicago's 9th-inning go-ahead run as the Rangers catcher argued with the umpire during play rather than pursuing the loose baseball, allowing a heads-up Cubs baserunner to score all the way from second base.

We begin with an Astros challenge of HP Umpire James Hoye's out and home plate collision rule no-call in Houston as Yankees outfielder Juan Soto threw out baserunner Mauricio Dubón on a close play at home plate.

Official Baseball Rule 6.01(i)(2) pertaining to home plate collisions states, "Unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is 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."

A catcher's legal position for this play, through which the defensive player gives the runner a path home, for better or worse often can be illustrated using the foul line—if the catcher is positioned to the right of the line (or at least in fair territory), blocking is unlikely, but if the catcher initially positions in foul territory (or straddling the line), blocking becomes a possibility. Replays indicate New York catcher Jose Trevino initially set up entirely to the infield-side of the foul line and at no point—even after catching the ball—appeared to actually block the runner. Accordingly, the out call was upheld.

In Miami, Marlins TV took exception to a Pirates challenge of the home plate collision rule and HP Umpire Chris Guccione's out call when catcher Nick Fortes tagged Pittsburgh baserunner Michael Taylor out at home on a throw from first baseman Josh Bell. In this situation, replays indicate the catcher initially set up straddling the foul line, which could theoretically lend itself to a blocking call.

However, OBR 6.01(i)(2) continues, "Notwithstanding 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)."

Replays indicate first baseman Bell was on the infield grass when he threw home and from this drawn-in position, catcher Fortes' potentially blocking occupation is exempted as legal by rule.

Finally, Chicago took a 9th-inning lead over the Rangers when HP Umpire Chad Fairchild did not notice a foul ball off the bat of Cubs batter Miles Mastrobuoni. As the ball bounced away from Rangers catcher Jonah Heim, Cubs baserunner R2 Michael Busch took off from second base and, as Heim continued to argue the call during live action, took two bases, scoring a run, on the passed ball-turned-wild pitch (scoring decision).

To our chagrin (we've been asking for this for years but it still hasn't happened), this play is not reviewable.

Video as follows:

Monday, March 25, 2024

NCAA Ejection for Helmet Toss During Walk-Off HR

Georgia batter Kolby Branch found himself ejected and suspended after tossing his helmet while celebrating a walk-off grand slam, umpires opting to enforce NCAA baseball's unsportsmanlike conduct rule after the game had ended, meaning that pursuant to the post-participation ejection rules, Branch was effectively "ejected" (or suspended) for the team's next game, which was Game 2 of a doubleheader vs Alabama.

To be clear, NCAA Rule 5-17, Unsportsmanlike Conduct, states that "Game personnel shall not use language that will, in any manner, refer to or reflect negatively upon opposing players, coaches, umpires or spectators. Any orchestrated activities by any player or dugout personnel designed to distract, intimidate or disconcert the opposing team or reflect poor sportsmanship shall not be allowed."

We knew that bat flips during a game were grounds for ejection, but a celebratory helmet toss after a game-ending four-run home run?

The roots of college's decision to adopt 5-17 and emphasize its enforcement stems from a benches-clearing incident that occurred after a bat flap mid-game, but in this case, the game was already over and indeed, the plate umpire had already started walking off the field with his back turned to home plate—the first base umpire was the only official who appeared to witness the throw, convening the crew shortly thereafter to impose the ejection penalty for a violation of NCAA 5-17.

Are we going too far in legislating celebrations or is this a correct application of rule within its spirit to head off a potential game management situation in Game 2 of the Alabama-Georgia doubleheader?

Video as follows:

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Shohei's Blunder & Bogaerts Strikes Out on Pitch Clock Violation in Seoul

After Dodgers acquisition Shohei Ohtani's baserunning blunder during MLB's Seoul Series, Padres batter Xander Bogaerts struck out on a pitch timer violation when HP Umpire Andy Fletcher called an automatic strike on the San Diego slugger, leading to an argument over who said what and when.

In Game 1 of the LA vs San Diego season opening series in Korea, baserunner R1 Ohtani ran toward second base on a deep fly ball off Freddie Freeman's bat that was eventually caught for a fly-out. When retreating to first base, Ohtani—who had rounded second base—failed to retouch on his last time by the bag. San Diego successfully appealed the base-running error for the inning-ending double play. Official Baseball Rule 5.06(b)(1) requires all runners forced to return to "retouch all bases in reverse order."

With two out and none on in the top of the 8th inning of Game 2, Bogaerts took a 1-0 changeup from Dodgers pitcher JP Feyereisen for a called first strike. Bogaerts, who appeared to disagree with HP Umpire Fletcher's strike call (pitch QOC for those curious: px 0.68, pz 1.54 [sz_bot 1.58 / RAD 1.46]...the call was correct), stepped toward the umpire and said something, to which HP Umpire Fletcher signaled "Time" and pointed at the batter to indicate Bogaerts had taken his offensive timeout.

After a later strike two call (px 0.31, pz 1.64 [sz_bot 1.58]—call was correct), Bogaerts again said something to Fletcher, who then signaled Bogaerts out for a clock/time violation, resulting in an argument during which it became clear the disagreement concerned how many times Bogaerts had requested time out. Bogaerts maintained it was his first time out request of the at-bat while Fletcher had it as the batter's second.

With a 15-second bases-empty pitch clock (18-seconds with runners on base [down from 20-seconds in 2023]), the timer can work very quickly, leaving little time to argue about an umpire's call between pitches. The pace of play procedure states that each batter is allowed one time out request per at-bat, meaning that Fletcher's determination that Bogaerts had requested two time outs also meant that Bogaerts had violated the pitch timer rules by requesting an excessive timeout, the penalty for which is an automatic strike.

With a two-strike count, the auto-K resulted in a strikeout. | Video as follows:

Friday, March 22, 2024

Lindor Called for Obstruction After Base Blocking

As Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor appeared to tag out Tigers baserunner Carson Kelly on a stolen base attempt, 2B Umpire Brennan Miller called the New York fielder for obstruction pursuant to MLB's new point of emphasis concerning base blocking, declaring Kelly safe at second due to the violation.

Official Baseball Rule 6.01(h)(1) itself has not changed and obstruction is still defined as "the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball and not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner."

However, the primary focus of the new emphasis appears to be fielders blocking runners on pickoffs and steals (or any time a play is being made at a base).

Major League Baseball seems concerned that infielders have used the "in the act of fielding the ball" exemption to the obstruction rule as an excuse to illegally block the offense from reaching a base, by sticking a leg, knee, or foot in the runner's way, and has adopted a stance on OBR 6.01(h)(1) similar in theory to the existing standard for home plate collisions in OBR 6.01(i)(2), which prohibit a catcher from blocking the pathway of the runner—even when in the act of fielding—unless the catcher is blocking the runner's path "in a legitimate attempt to field the throw."

Video as follows:

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Interference Ends Tigers' 8th vs Phillies - Whose Protection is it Anyway?

After Phillies 3B Esteban Quiroz failed to catch a two-out fly ball vs Detroit, 2B Umpire Matt Brown called Tigers baserunner Eddys Leonard out for interference, ruling that the runner illegally hindered the fielder attempting to field a batted ball. But with three Philadelphia infielders in close proximity appearing to track the fly ball, was 3B Quiroz the correctly protected fielder or was this another player's ball?

Official Baseball Rule 6.01(a)(10), which puts a batter or runner out for interference if they "fail to avoid a fielder who is attempting to field a batted ball," also states, "if two or more fielders attempt to field a batted ball, and the runner comes in contact with one or more of them, the umpire shall determine which fielder is entitled to the benefit of this rule."

Although the "comes in contact with" portion of this rule might suggest contact is required for such a call, this is another instance of a misleadingly-worded rule. The definition of interference states, "Offensive interference is an act by the team at bat which interferes with, obstructs, impedes, hinders or confuses any fielder attempting to make a play." Body contact is not required (though it often helps toward getting this called).

Replays indicate 3B Quiroz was joined by two teammates in the immediate vicinity of the falling fly ball and 2B Umpire Brown determined that this fielder was the one protected—do you agree?

Had the umpire not protected 3B Quiroz, we theoretically could have seen an Obstruction 2/B call out of this, presuming the umpire also determined that the fielder hindered the runner's attempted advancement.

But in the end, with 3B Quiroz protected, the interference call ended the inning. Credit Tigers batter Parker Meadows with an infield single.

Video as follows:

Monday, March 18, 2024

Bat Flip Ejections - How Not to Be Ejected for Flipping?

After umpires ejected UConn's Matt Malcolm and Penn State's Kyle Hannon, both for bat flips after hitting a home run, you asked us how a college player can avoid ejection for celebrating a big hit, and why bat flips have seemingly been deemed illegal by NCAA Baseball. Perhaps of equal importance is to consider why college baseball adopted the bat flip ejection rule in the first place.

Prior to the 2023 season, NCAA adopted rule 5-17: Unsportsmanlike Conduct, which states
Game personnel shall not use language that will, in any manner, refer to or reflect negatively upon opposing players, coaches, umpires or spectators. Any orchestrated activities by any player or dugout personnel designed to distract, intimidate or disconcert the opposing team or reflect poor sportsmanship shall not be allowed. This includes activities such as:
> Negative comments directed at an opponent, umpire or spectator.
> Bench jockeying.
> Bat flips near or toward an opponent or umpire.
> Use of props or signs directed at an opponent or umpiring decision.
The instruction to umpires appears to be one of strict scrutiny: interpret most bat flips as qualifying under this new sportsmanship rule 5-17. After all, an opponent (including the opposing dugout) or umpire is bound to be near a bat flipping player.

During a college baseball playoff game in 2016, a Miami player flipped his bat after a grand slam, resulting in a benches-clearing incident when defensive team Boston College responded with objection. Eight years later, the NCAA rules committee stepped in to address the bat flip issue, effectively finding that its member schools had been unable to address the problem on their own, requiring a sportsmanship intervention.

*An earlier version of this article's title contained the phrase, "How to not be ejected for flipping?" The author sincerely apologizes for exposing the reader to this reckless split infinitive. This careless error has been corrected.

Video as follows:

Saturday, March 16, 2024

2024 MLB Umpire Crew List & Roster

MLB quietly posted its 2024 umpire crew list on its website, albeit marked "CONFIDENTIAL"... though the crews are posted publicly via Official Information => Umpires = > Crews. In any case, crew chief Jerry Layne returns as baseball's most experienced umpire in the major leagues, with a new crew for recently-promoted chief Chris Guccione and new-hires Clint Vondrak and Ryan Wills slotted into the mix. Here are the 2024 crews:

2024 MLB Umpire Crews

#Crew ChiefUmpire 2Umpire 3Umpire 4
A50 Emmel, Paul49 Fletcher, Andy76 Muchlinski, Mike52 Visconti, Jansen
B2 Bellino, Dan10 Cuzzi, Phil11 Randazzo, Tony66 Tosi, Alex
C26 Miller, Bill88 Eddings, Doug62 Whitson, Chad44 Moore, Malachi
D64 Porter, Alan28 Wolf, Jim36 Blakney, Ryan29 Barber, Sean
E13 Tichenor, Todd89 Blaser, Cory79 Gonzalez, Manny33 Ceja, Nestor
F80 Johnson, Adrian81 Wolcott, Quinn18 De Jesus, Ramon25 Valentine, Junior
G72 Marquez, Alfonso16 Barrett, Lance90 Ripperger, Mark40 Ortiz, Roberto
H63 Diaz, Laz73 Gibson, Tripp83 Estabrook, Mike12 Bacchus, Erich
I51 Hudson, Marvin21 Wendelstedt, Hunter74 Tumpane, John48 Mahrley, Nick
J14 Wegner, Mark1 Dreckman, Bruce35 Rehak, Jeremie15 Vondrak, Clint
K46 Kulpa, Ron4 Fairchild, Chad37 Torres, Carlos20 Wills, Ryan
L24 Layne, Jerry19 Carapazza, Vic78 Hamari, Adam32 Moscoso, Edwin
M27 Vanover, Larry86 Rackley, David96 Segal, ChrisTBD*
N98 Conroy, Chris7 O'Nora, Brian31 Hoberg, Pat55 Miller, Brennan
O58 Iassogna, Dan54 Bucknor, CB97 May, Ben38 Beck, Adam
P6 Carlson, Mark71 Baker, Jordan85 Scheurwater, StuTBD*
Q23 Barksdale, Lance5 Hernandez, Angel93 Little, Will59 Lentz, Nic
R92 Hoye, James8 Drake, Rob17 Reyburn, DJ84 Libka, John
S68 Guccione, Chris91 Knight, Brian47 Morales, Gabe67 Additon, Ryan
UUnassigned: 87 Barry, Scott43 Livensparger, ShaneCloseCallSports.com

Transactions:
Crew A (Emmel) added Fletcher for Fairchild, Muchlinski for Lentz, and Visconti for Rehak.
Crew B (Bellino) added Randazzo for Ripperger and Tosi for Livensparger (unassigned).
Crew C (Miller) added Eddings for Drake and Moore for Ortiz.
Crew D (Porter) added Blakney for Muchlinski. Blakney is now a #3.
Crew E (Tichenor) added Blaser for Knight, Gonzalez for Randazzo, and Ceja for Tosi.
Crew F (Johnson) added De Jesus for Gonzalez. Wolcott is now a #2. De Jesus is now a #3.
Crew G (Marquez) added Barrett for Eddings. Barrett is now a #2.
Crew H (Diaz) added Gibson for Fletcher. Gibson is now a #2.
Crew I (Hudson) added Mahrley for Blakney.
Crew J (Wegner) added Vondrak (new-hire) for Scheurwater. Rehak is now a #3.
Crew K (Kulpa) added Fairchild and Wills (new-hire) for Blaser and Visconti.
Crew L (Layne) added Moscoso for Mahrley.
Crew M (Vanover) added Segal (from Nelson) for Guccione (new crew chief). Rackley is now a #2.
Crew N Conroy added Miller, Br for Ceja.
Crew O (Iassogna) added Bucknor and May (from Nelson), for Barry (unassigned) and Morales. 
Crew P (Carlson) added Scheurwater for Gibson and TBD for Br Miller.
Crew Q (Barksdale) added Hernandez for Hickox (retired) and Lentz for Additon.
Crew R (Hoye) added Drake for Hernandez.
Crew S (Guccione) replaced 2023 Crew B (Nelson; retired) and has four different umpires.
Unassigned umpires are Barry and Livensparger. Crews M & P have TBD slots.

Supervisor Jim Reynolds oversees Crews A (Emmel), F (Johnson), N (Conroy), and P (Carlson).
Supervisor Larry Young oversees Crews B (Bellino), D (Porter), and J (Wegner).
Supervisor Mike Everitt oversees Crews C (Miller), G (Marquez), H (Diaz), and Q (Barksdale).
Supervisor Charlie Reliford oversees Crews E (Tichenor), L (Layne), and S (Guccione).
Supervisor Jeff Kellogg oversees Crews I (Hudson), O (Iassogna), and R (Hoye).

Video as follows:

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Did Gomes Interfere with Adames in Brewers-Cubs ST?

When Cubs baserunner R2 Yan Gomes stood in Brewers shortstop Willy Adames' way during a ground ball in the 5th inning of Tuesday's Milwaukee-Chicago game, 2B Umpire Bruce Dreckman ruled no interference had occurred. You've asked us to review the play to see if a call could have been made and our answer is 'yes'—in two different ways.

By now, you should be familiar with our right-of-way axiom: a fielder has the right to field a batted ball while the runner has primary right of way at any other time (other than a batted ball). Official Baseball Rule 5.09(b)(3) puts a runner out for interference when "they intentionally interfere with a thrown ball; or hinder a fielder attempting to make a play on a batted ball."

OBR 6.01(a)(10) reinforces this: "It is interference by a batter or runner when they fail to avoid a fielder who is attempting to field a batted ball..." The intent requirement on the runner's part only applies to interference with a thrown ball or fielder attempting a throw (remember the runner has primary right of way on non-batted ball situations, so to get interference on a throw requires actual intent to commit wrongdoing), but intent is irrelevant for a batted ball situation.

Accordingly, if your judgment deems the fielder was hindered or impeded from fielding batter Mike Tauchman's batted ball due to the actions of baserunner R2 Gomes, then Gomes is guilty of interference.

The second way to get this call is in OBR 6.01(a)(11), which puts a batter or runner out when "a fair ball touches them before touching a fielder. If a fair ball goes through, or by, an infielder [not including the pitcher], and touches a runner immediately back of them, or touches the runner after having been deflected by a fielder [including the pitcher], the umpire shall not declare the runner out for being touched by a batted ball."

On this play, the pitcher did not touch the ball nor did it pass any non-pitcher infielder prior to contacting runner R2 Gomes, so OBR 6.01(a)(11) would apply and put R2 out for the touched-by-a-batted-ball brand of interference.

One final question pertains to whether R2 Gomes was "protected" by having a foot in contact with his base at the time he was touched by the batted ball. Leaving the issue of timing aside (e.g., was he really touching 2B or did the ball touch him before he got back), the rules answer here is found in the MLB Umpire Manual which states, "The fact that the runner had contact with the base when struck with the batted ball has no bearing on the play. (An exception to this is when the runner is hit by an Infield Fly while on base)."

A ground ball is not an Infield Fly, so the exemption here does not apply and R2 Goes, thus, is not protected from interference simply because he is in contact with a base.

Video as follows:

Friday, March 8, 2024

Spring Ejections 1-2 - Angel Hernandez (Lynn, Marmol)

HP Umpire Angel Hernandez ejected Cardinals pitcher Lance Lynn and manager Oliver Marmol (arguing balls/strikes) in the bottom of the 3rd inning of a #Cardinals-#Nationals Spring Training game. With one out and none on, Hernandez warned the St Louis dugout about arguing balls and strikes. Lynn was ejected after objecting to a ball call on a subsequent pitch; Marmol for arguing Lynn's ejection. This game was not televised and its stadium not equipped with pitch tracking data, the call was irrecusable. At the time of the ejections, the Cardinals were leading, 5-4. The Cardinals ultimately won the contest, 7-6.

These are Angel Hernandez (5)'s 1st and 2nd ejections of Spring Training.
*OBR 6.04(d) states, "When a manager, player, coach or trainer is ejected from a game, they shall leave the field immediately and take no further part in that game. They shall remain in the clubhouse or change to street clothes and either leave the park or take a seat in the grandstand well removed from the vicinity of their team’s bench or bullpen."

These are the 1st and 2nd ejection reports of 2024 MLB Spring Training.
This is the 1st player ejection of Spring 2024. Prior to ejection, Lynn's line was 2.0 IP, 4 ER.
This is the 1st manager ejection of Spring 2024. Ejection Tally: 1 Manager, 1 Player, 0 Coaches.
This is St Louis' 1-2nd ejection of S-2024, 1st in the Grapefruit League (STL 2; All Others 0).
This is Lance Lynn's 1st ejection since August 18, 2021 (Nic Lentz; QOC = U [Illegal Substance-USC]).
This is Oliver Marmol's 1st ejection since August 22, 2023 (Brennan Miller; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Angel Hernandez's 1st ejection since Sept 28, 2023 (Bryce Harper; QOC = U [Check Swing]).