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Monday, May 20, 2024

MLB Ejection 052 - Manny Gonzalez (1; Starling Marte)

HP Umpire Manny Gonzalez ejected Mets RF Starling Marte (strike three call; QOCY) in the top of the 4th inning of the #Mets-#Guardians game. With two out and one on, Marte took a 0-2 sinker from Guardians pitcher Ben Lively for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer edge of home plate and belt-high (px 0.68, pz 3.12 [sz_top 3.58]), the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Guardians were leading, 2-1. The Guardians ultimately won the contest, 3-1.

This is Manny Gonzalez (79)'s 1st ejection of 2024.
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
This pitch was located 2.81 horizontal and 7.92 vertical inches from being deemed incorrect.

This is the 52nd ejection report of the 2024 MLB regular season.
This is the 20th player ejection of 2024. Prior to ejection, Marte was 0-2 (SO) in the contest.
Ejection Tally: 23 Managers, 9 Coaches, 20 Players.
This is New York's 2nd ejection of 2024, T-2nd in the NL East (MIA 3; NYM, WAS 2; ATL, PHI 0).
This is Starling Marte's 1st ejection since May 11, 2016 (Alan Porter; QOC = Y [Replay Review]).
This is Manny Gonzalez's 1st ejection since June 24, 2023 (Dusty Baker; QOC = Y [Balk]).

Wild Replay Reviews - Two Players Apply a Tag & More

In this review of Wild Replay situations, we look at two Rockies that tried to tag Arizona baserunner Lourdes Gurriel at the same time, Yankees batter Anthony Volpe's extremely late catcher's interference, Christian Walker's fair ball off the knob of the bat that Seattle didn't play because they thought it was a foul ball, and a legal, non-balk pitcher step-off and pickoff play at Dodger Stadium.

Video as follows:

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Pirates & Cubs Ends on Confirmed Safe Call at Plate When Runner Knocks Ball Out of Catcher's Hand

Saturday's Pirates-Cubs game ended on a walk-off slide by Cody Bellinger into home plate despite Pittsburgh catcher Joey Bart appearing to tag the runner...only to drop the ball when Bellinger knocked the ball out of Bart's hand. Replay Review confirmed HP Umpire Chris Conroy's safe call, leaving some Yinzers to wonder how replay could confirm a safe call only made because of a dropped ball...which only was dropped because the runner knocked it out of the catcher's hand.

With one out and one on (R2), Cubs batter Christopher Morel hit a 3-2 splitter from Pirates pitcher David Bednar on a line drive to center fielder Michael A Taylor, who threw home to catcher Joey Bart as Cubs baserunner R2 Bellinger slid into home plate. HP Umpire Conroy called Bellinger safe, a call challenged by Pirates manager Derek Shelton and ultimately affirmed via Replay Review.

Replay Review relied on the definition of tag, which includes this passage: "It is not a tag, however, if simultaneously or immediately following his touching a base or touching a runner, the fielder drops the ball. In establishing the validity of the tag, the fielder shall hold the ball long enough to prove that they have complete control of the ball." The phrase "holding the ball securely and firmly in their hand or glove" is also used. With the ball on the ground, Replay would determine the full process of "tag" was not completed and, thus, the tag was not valid.

The Official Baseball Rules, regarding offensive interference, specify in OBR 5.09(b)(3) that a runner is out 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) agrees ("fails to avoid a fielder who is attempting to field a batted ball, or intentionally interferes with a thrown ball"), and this establishes a right-of-way hierarchy we've been over several times before.

During a batted ball, a fielder has the right to field it; however, the runner has the right to run the bases at any other time.

The standard for a non-batted ball situation is intentional interference, or, the runner must commit an intentional act to be called for an interference violation. Unintentional interference only applies to batted balls (and potentially bona fide slides on force plays, collisions at home plate, runner's lane, and batter's interference), but your garden variety tag play on the bases falls under the so-called intentional or "willful and deliberate" standard.

HP Umpire Conroy did not rule interference initially, just that the runner was safe because the catcher dropped the ball.

Because non-slide rule or HP collision interference is not reviewable, the Replay Official was unable to consider the element of Bellinger's swipe knocking the ball out of Bart's hand. Even so, it would have to be an intentional act to be interference.

Accordingly, Replay Review ruled that because Bart failed to complete the process of the tag with full control and possession of the ball, the runner was safe: call confirmed.

Did Replay get this questionable Cubs catcher caper (confirmed) right? | Video as follows:

Laz Diaz Calls Nestor Cortes' Quick Pitch...for a Needlessly Complicated Reason

When HP Umpire Laz Diaz called Yankees pitcher Nestor Cortes for an illegal pitch vs Chicago, he told New York that Nestor stepped off and on the rubber, a technically correct reason to call a violation, but a lizard of a reason during a play where the primary illegal act was a quick pitch that didn't need a pivot foot vs pitcher's plate violation to be considered.

Official Baseball Rule 6.02(a)(5) Comment 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." (there were no runners.)

OBR's definition of Quick Pitch goes one step further: "A QUICK RETURN pitch is one made with obvious intent to catch a batter off balance. It is an illegal pitch."

One pitch prior to the play in question, Cortes delayed his delivery by throwing a "slow pitch"—a tactic he has employed in the past—only to then quick pitch White Sox batter Corey Julks on the very next pitch by hurrying his delivery as Julks was just starting to come reasonably set.

But instead of calling Cortes simply for making a quick return pitch with obvious intent to catch Julks unaware or unprepared, Diaz called a minute moment of Cortes's pivot foot breaking contact with the rubber before Cortes threw home.

Diaz's call was technically correct, but from a game management standpoint, a harder call to sell than the obvious quick pitch that occurred. This is because throughout baseball, if you slow it down and zoom in enough, you'll find that many pitchers routinely break contact between pivot foot and rubber during delivery, which sets a dangerous precedent.

Why is it called here and not when, say, Justin Verlander does it routinely? The answer is the same conclusion made at the very beginning of the article—it was a quick pitch, that's what made the sequence illegal. Just because we might know a rule doesn't mean we have to apply it to a situation which can be adjudicated using a much more obvious rule.

Video as follows:

Friday, May 17, 2024

Why Did Umps Allow Glasnow to Pitch Despite Sticky Hands?

During Cincinnati's 7-2 victory over LA on Thursday, umpire Bill Miller's crew found Dodgers pitcher Tyler Glasnow's throwing hand particularly sticky and discolored during a 2nd inning illegal substances inspection, but did not eject Los Angeles' starter for violation of the foreign substance rule. Given Laz Diaz's recent ejection of Astros pitcher Ronel Blanco for such a violation, why did Miller's crew allow Glasgow to remain in the game?

In June 2021, MLB issued new foreign substance guidelines designed to more strictly enforce Official Baseball Rules 3.01 and 6.02(c), both of which pertain to foreign substances.

OBR 3.01 states, "No player shall intentionally discolor or damage the ball by rubbing it with soil, rosin, paraffin, licorice, sand-paper, emery-paper or other foreign substance" while OBR 6.02(c) prohibits the following actions: "rub the ball on their glove, person or clothing...apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball...deface the ball in any manner...have on their person or in their possession any foreign substance."

That last clause of OBR 6.02(c) is the most important because it prohibits a pitcher from simply possessing any foreign substance. It was this violation of OBR 6.02(c)(7) that prompted Diaz to eject Blanco two days before this Reds-Dodgers game. So why didn't Glasnow get the boot, too?

It all boils down to the type of illegal substance inspection conducted by the crew.

In Diaz's case, 1B Umpire Erich Bacchus detected something bizarre during an entry inspection in the 4th inning, or one conducted as Blanco took the field to pitch the top of the 4th. By contrast, Miller inspected Glasnow during an exit inspection after the Dodgers pitcher retired Cincinnati to end the top of the 2nd inning in LA.

The difference here is succinctly entry vs exit inspections, and, specifically, the rosin bag rule.

OBR 4.01(f) states "that an official rosin bag is placed on the ground behind the pitcher’s plate prior to the start of each game." Rosin is a legal substance and if an umpire detects rosin on the pitcher's hand, this is not grounds for ejection. However, the pitcher should only have rosin on their hand when actually pitching or directly after doing so, as the official, MLB-approved rosin bag is located on the field, not in the dugout and not in the bullpen.

Therefore, during an exit inspection conducted after a pitcher has been on the on-field mound and used the on-field rosin bag, it is not unusual for rosin to be on said pitcher's hand. If there is a question as to stickiness, the pitcher has plausible deniability (the "it's just rosin and sweat" line), and umpires who are suspicious but cannot prove anything can simply ask the pitcher to wash the hand prior to returning to the field the next inning.

But during an entry inspection, the pitcher from the dugout should not have any substance, including rosin, on their hand. The MLB-approved rosin bag is on the field, not in the dugout, after all.

And this is why most illegal substance ejections occur during entry inspections, rather than exit inspections: the rosin angle of plausible deniability cannot be used during an entry inspection, but can during an exit one.

Video as follows:

Thursday, May 16, 2024

MiLB Manager Ejected Arguing a Call That Helped Him

Columbus Clippers manager Andy Tracy passionately argued himself through an ejection from HP Umpire Macon Hammond, even though the play Tracy was arguing actually benefited his own team. With one out and the bases loaded, Clippers batter Myles Straw hit a line drive to Mud Hens 2B Jace Jung, ruled an out on the catch by 3B Umpire Kelvis Velez. Both Velez and 1B Umpire Jen Pawol then signaled "safe" when Toledo unsuccessfully tried to double up the Columbus baserunners at second and first, before Toledo threw to third base to appeal Clippers baserunner R3 Micah Pries, who took off for home plate and scored for leaving early.

HP Umpire Hammond, however, ruled the runner safe—that he left timely—and the inning appeared poised to continue with two out and runners at first and second...until the runner on second, Dom Nuñez took off for third and was easily tagged out by Toledo third baseman Buddy Kennedy, who still held the baseball from the appeal executed moments earlier.

Although replays do not conclusively indicate whether or not R3 Pries timely tagged at third, the runner's speed in touching home plate suggests he may have not. If any manager were to be upset with the umpires about the outcome of this play, it would be Toledo's Tim Federowicz, because Columbus scored a run it may not have been entitled to.

Instead, Federowicz's discussion with the umpires was fairly brief and it was Tracy who approached Hammond as the umpire and catcher Nuñez discussed the play at home plate prior to the next inning.

Hammond quickly ejected Tracy, who appeared to be unaware that umpire Velez had signaled the batter out on the catch.

In this case, Tracy's ignorance was not bliss. | Video as follows:

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

TOR-BAL Obstruction & 'Late' Check Swing Appeal

When Toronto's Daulton Varsho collided with Orioles 2B Jorge Mateo during a stolen base attempt as he attempted to advance to third base on an overthrow, 2B Umpire Brian O'Nora called Obstruction Type 2(B), but didn't award Varsho third base. Later, Blue Jays batter Vlad Guerrero attempted to check his swing on a 3-1 pitch with George Springer stealing second, ruled a ball by HP Umpire Chad Fairchild, but reversed to a strike after a 'late' check swing appeal to 1B Umpire Brennan Miller by Baltimore.

Obstruction: The first decision making business regarding the Varsho play is to determine whether this is Type 1 (A) or Type 2 (B) obstruction. Type 1 applies to a play being made on the runner at the time of the obstruction OR the batter-runner being obstructed prior to reaching first base while Type 2 applies in every other situation in which obstruction occurs. With the ball rolling free in the outfield at the time of obstruction, this is an example of Type 2.

Type 1 (A) kills play immediately, with umpires automatically awarding the obstructed runner at least one base beyond the last legally touched base at the time of obstruction. All other runners are placed where they would have ended up had obstruction not occurred.

Type 2 (B), however, keeps play alive until no further action is possible. After this, pursuant to Official Baseball Rule 6.01(h)(2), "The umpire shall then call “Time” and impose such penalties, if any, as in their judgment will nullify the act of obstruction."

Because Varsho, after being obstructed, retreated to second base, 2B Umpire Brian O'Nora determined he could only protect the runner back to second. Because no further attempt was made to run to third—and perhaps of greater importance, the center fielder backed up the play and retrieved the ball quickly—O'Nora could not deem that runner Varsho would have made it to third had obstruction not occurred.

'Late' Check Swing Appeal: With a runner on first running on a 3-1 pitch to Vlad Guerrero, HP Umpire Chad Fairchild called ball four as Orioles catcher James McCann threw to try and retire the runner. After baserunner George Springer slid safely into second base, Baltimore, after a few seconds of delay, appealed the check swing (no swing) call to 1B Umpire Miller, who ruled Guerrero had swung for strike two.

Other than pitch clock timer-related restrictions, a check swing appeal is treated the same as any other appeal such as a base touch appeal—it may be made at any time until the next pitch, play, or attempted play (that is not part of the continuous action [e.g., the stolen base try] of the original play).

OBR allows both catchers or managers to request such an appeal: "The manager or the catcher may request the plate umpire to ask his partner for help on a half swing when the plate umpire calls the pitch a ball, but not when the pitch is called a strike.... Appeals on a half swing must be made before the next pitch, or any play or attempted play."

As such, even though the umpires conferred afterward, no pitch, play or attempted play had occurred, meaning this was a valid appeal, even if it was a tad 'late'—but not too late.

No, "fielder interference" and "he's in the baseline" don't apply (or make any sense here).

Video as follows:

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

MLB Ejection 051 - Laz Diaz (2; Ronel Blanco)

3B Umpire Laz Diaz ejected Astros pitcher Ronel Blanco (illegal substance/failed inspection) in the top of the 4th inning of the #Athletics-#Astros game. During an entry inspection conducted by 1B Umpire Erich Bacchus, umpires detected an illegal substance on Blanco's glove and ejected Blanco for violation of the prohibited substance rule. At the time of the ejection, the Astros were leading, 1-0. The Astros ultimately won the contest, 2-1.

This is Laz Diaz (63)'s 2nd ejection of 2024.
Official Baseball Rule 6.02(c)(7) states, "The pitcher shall not have on their person, or in their possession, any foreign substance."

This is the 51st ejection report of the 2024 MLB regular season.
This is the 19th player ejection of 2024. Prior to ejection, Blanco's line was 3 IP, 0 R, 4 K.
Ejection Tally: 23 Managers, 9 Coaches, 19 Players.
This is Houston's 3rd ejection of 2024, 1st in the AL West (HOU 3; OAK 2; LAA, SEA, TEX 1).
This is Ronel Blanco's first career MLB ejection.
This is Laz Diaz's 2nd ejection of 2024, 1st since April 15 (Skip Schumaker; QOC = Y [Pitch Clock]).

MLB Ejection 050 - Ben May (1; Luis Urueta)

HP Umpire Ben May ejected Marlins bench coach Luis Urueta (strike two call; QOCY) in the top of the 2nd inning of the #Marlins-#Tigers game. With two out and none on, Marlins batter Vidal Bruján took a 0-1 fastball from Tigers pitcher Reese Olson for a called second strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer half of home plate and at the hollow of the knee (px -0.62, pz 1.48 [sz_bot 1.53 / RAD 1.41]), the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 0-0. The Marlins ultimately won the contest, 1-0.

This is Ben May (97)'s 1st ejection of 2024.
*This pitch was located 1.80 vertical inches from being deemed incorrect.

This is the 50th ejection report of the 2024 MLB regular season.
This is the 9th coach ejection of 2024. Ejection Tally: 23 Managers, 9 Coaches, 18 Players.
This is Miami's 3rd ejection of 2024, 1st in the NL East (MIA 3; WAS 2; NYM 1; ATL, PHI 0).
This is Luis Urueta's first career MLB ejection.
This is Ben May's 1st ejection since Sept 19, 2023 (Bruce Bochy; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Miami Marlins vs Detroit Tigers, 5/14/24 | Video as follows:

Monday, May 13, 2024

MLB Ejections 048-9 - Mark Carlson (1-2; ARI x2)

HP Umpire Mark Carlson ejected Diamondbacks DH Joc Pederson and manager Torey Lovullo (strike three call; QOCY) in the bottom of the 8th inning of the #Reds-#Dbacks game. With one out and two on, Pederson took a 0-2 slider from Reds pitcher Justin Wilson for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer edge of home plate and at the hollow of the knee (px -0.86, pz 1.47 [sz_bot 1.66 / RAD 1.54 / MOE 1.46]), the call was correct.* At the time of the ejections, the Reds were leading, 5-4. The Diamondbacks ultimately won the contest, 6-5.

These are Mark Carlson (6)'s 1st and 2nd ejections of 2024.
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
This pitch was located 0.65 horizontal inches and 0.12 vertical inches from being deemed incorrect.

These are the 48th and 49th ejection reports of the 2024 MLB regular season.
This is the 18th player ejection of 2024. Prior to ejection, Pederson was 2-5 (HR, 3 SO) in the contest.
This is the 23rd manager ejection of 2024. Ejection Tally: 23 Managers, 8 Coaches, 18 Players.
This is Arizona's 1/2nd ejection of 2024, T-2nd in the NL West (SF 3; ARI, SD 2; COL 1; LAD 0).
This is Joc Pederson's 1st ejection since August 24, 2021 (Chris Conroy; QOC = Y [Check Swing]).
This is Torey Lovullo's 1st ejection since June 12, 2023 (Vic Carapazza; QOC = U [Fighting]).
This is Mark Carlson's 1st ejection since April 9, 2023 (Kyle Tucker; QOC = Y [RLI]).

MLB Ejection 047 - Junior Valentine (1; Craig Counsell)

1B Umpire Junior Valentine ejected Cubs manager Craig Counsell (check swing ball three call to Ronald Acuña) in the bottom of the 4th inning of the #Cubs-#Braves game. With two out and the bases loaded, Braves batter Acuña attempted to check his swing on a 2-1 splitter from Cubs pitcher Shōta Imanaga for a called third ball by HP Umpire Quinn Wolcott, affirmed as no swing on appeal by 1B Umpire Valentine. At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 0-0. The Braves ultimately won the contest, 2-0.

This is Junior Valentine (25)'s 1st ejection of 2024.

This is the 47th ejection report of the 2024 MLB regular season.
This is the 22nd manager ejection of 2024. Ejection Tally: 22 Managers, 8 Coaches, 17 Players.
This is Chicago's 1st ejection of 2024, T-4th in the NL Central (MIL 4; PIT 3; STL 2; CHC, CIN 1).
This is Craig Counsell's 1st ejection since July 8, 2023 (John Tumpane; QOC = N [Balk]).
This is Junior Valentine's 1st ejection since August 20, 2023 (Alex Cora; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Chicago Cubs vs Atlanta Braves, 5/13/24 | Video as follows:

Sunday, May 12, 2024

MLB Ejections 045-6 - Alan Porter (1-2; STL x2)

HP Umpire Alan Porter ejected Cardinals bench coach Daniel Descalso and manager Oliver Marmol (Replay Review decision that overturned 1B Umpire Sean Barber's out call at 1B; QOCY) in the top of the 3rd inning of the #Brewers-#Cardinals game. With one out and one on, Cardinals batter Iván Herrera hit a 1-0 cutter from Brewers pitcher Bryse Wilson on the ground to third baseman Joey Ortiz, who threw to second baseman Brice Turang to retire Cardinals baserunner R1 Nolan Gorman, and onto first baseman Rhys Hoskins to attempt a double play, batter-runner Herrera ruled out by 1B Umpire Sean Barber. After Replay Review as the result of a challenge by Cardinals manager Oli Marmol, the call was overturned and Herrera ruled safe. Replays indicate Herrera touched first base prior to Hoskins receiving the baseball, the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Brewers were leading, 3-1. The Cardinals ultimately won the contest, 4-3.

These are Alan Porter (64)'s 1st and 2nd ejections of 2024.

These are the 45th and 46th ejection reports of the 2024 MLB regular season.
This is the 8th coach ejection of 2024.
This is the 21st manager ejection of 2024. Ejection Tally: 21 Managers, 8 Coaches, 17 Players.
This is St Louis' 1/2nd ejection of 2024, 3rd in the NL Central (MIL 4; PIT 3; STL 2; CIN 1; CHC 0).
This is Daniel Descalso's 1st ejection since August 9, 2013 (David Rackley; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Oliver Marmol's 1st ejection since March 8, 2024 [Spring] (Angel Hernandez; [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Alan Porter's 1st ejection since Sept 7, 2023 (Anthony Rizzo; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Umpire Calls Runner Out for Missing Home Plate on HR, Coach Ejected

Sergio Guerra thought he hit his first home run of the season, only to be called out by HP Umpire Asa Howard for failing to physically touch home plate when Utah Valley appealed the Tarleton State batter's baserunning infraction. Head Coach Fuller Smith was ejected arguing the umpire's ruling.

In calling Guerra out on the defense's successful appeal, umpires enforced NCAA Rule 8-6-3, which states that a runner may be called out on appeal for missing a base when "The runner fails to touch each base in order when advancing or returning to a base. Either the runner or the missed base may be tagged."

College isn't the only level to require base touches; all codes agree on this matter. The equivalent rule for professional baseball is OBR 5.06(b)(1) Advancing Bases and for high school is NFHS 8-2-1.

So next time you spy an umpire running alongside a home run hitter in the infield like 1B Umpire Clayton Hamm did alongside Guerra here, or see a plate umpire lean in to look at home plate as the runner approaches, this is precisely what they are looking for: a required base touch, in case there is an appeal play afterward.

Video as follows:

Saturday, May 11, 2024

MLB Ejection 044 - Chad Fairchild (1; Bud Black)

HP Umpire Chad Fairchild ejected Rockies manager Bud Black (Replay Review: denied manager's challenge [ran out of time] on out call by 2B Umpire Carlos Torres; QOCN) in the bottom of the 5th inning of the #Rangers-#Rockies game. With two out and one on, Rockies baserunner Ezequiel Tovar attempted to steal second base on a 1-1 fastball from Rangers pitcher Andrew Heaney to Rockies batter Ryan McMahon, ruled a ball by HP Umpire Fairchild as Rangers catcher Jonah Heim threw to shortstop Corey Seager, whose tag of Rockies baserunner R1 was ruled an out by 2B Umpire Carlos Torres. Replays indicate that after oversliding the base with his hand, the runner's foot touched second base and no tag was applied while the runner was off the base, the call was incorrect. At the time of the ejection, the Rangers were leading, 2-1. The Rockies ultimately won the contest, 8-3.

This is Chad Fairchild (4)'s 1st ejection of 2024.

This is the 44th ejection report of the 2024 MLB regular season.
This is the 20th manager ejection of 2024. Ejection Tally: 20 Managers, 7 Coaches, 17 Players.
This is Colorado's 1st ejection of 2024, 3rd in the NL West (SF 3; SD 2; COL 1; ARI, LAD 0).
This is Bud Black's 1st ejection since April 21, 2023 (Alex Tosi; QOC = U [HBP Check Swing]).
This is Chad Fairchild's 1st ejection since June 28, 2023 (Bob Melvin; QOC = Y [HBP Check Swing]).

Wrap: Texas Rangers vs Colorado Rockies, 5/11/24 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejection 043 - Vic Carapazza (2; Alex Cintron)

3B Umpire Vic Carapazza ejected Astros hitting coach Alex Cintron (strike three call by HP Umpire Adam Hamari to Mauricio Dubón; QOCY) in the top of the 3rd inning of the #Astros-#Tigers game. With none out and one on, Astros batter Dubón took a 0-2 fastball from Tigers pitcher Tarik Skubal for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer edge of home plate and thigh-high (px 0.80, pz 2.82), the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Tigers were leading, 7-0. The Tigers ultimately won the contest, 8-2.

This is Vic Carapazza (19)'s 2nd ejection of 2024.
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
This pitch was located 1.37 horizontal inches from being deemed incorrect.

This is the 43rd ejection report of the 2024 MLB regular season.
This is the 7th coach ejection of 2024. Ejection Tally: 19 Managers, 7 Coaches, 17 Players.
This is Houston's 2nd ejection of 2024, T-1st in the AL West (HOU, OAK 2; LAA, SEA, TEX 1).
This is Alex Cintron's 1st ejection since Sept 19, 2023 (Phil Cuzzi; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Vic Carapazza's 2nd ejection of 2024, 1st since April 1 (Dylan Moore; QOC = U [Check Swing]).

Wrap: Houston Astros vs Detroit Tigers, 5/11/24 | Video as follows:

Friday, May 10, 2024

Mystery of the Vanishing Umpires - Ballou & Brown Go Missing

During MLB umpire Chris Conroy's rehab assignment last Sunday in Triple-A, two umpires mysteriously vanished from the Charlotte Knights vs Lehigh Valley IronPigs game in the 4th inning and haven't worked a game—neither minor nor major league—ever since. An umpire leaving mid-game without any apparent injury is rare, but two? What happened to MLB fill-in umpire Brock Ballou and fellow MiLB colleague Matt Brown?

Crew Chief Edwin Jimenez, who began the game as the third base umpire, left the field in the 4th inning to put on his plate gear. By the top of the 5th, both Ballou and Brown had left the field, an unnamed third umpire was added to the Jimenez/Conroy crew, and the game continued only to end on a controversial out call by the mystery umpire, likely an emergency standby or alternate called upon in case the crew ran short (MiLB crews with multiple call-ups [Jimenez, Ballou, for this crew] are susceptible to this due to the nature of these call-ups traveling to work MLB games...if the crew falls to two, an emergency local may be called on to fill in until a Minor League umpire arrives [usually a day later]).

Further complicating matters, Official Baseball Rule 8.02(d) states, "No umpire may be replaced during a game unless they are injured or become ill," which means that the league office has no rules authority to remove an umpire during a game...of course, that assumes the league is actually following the rules of the game, which may actually not be the ironclad defense it might first appear to be.

We've seen one umpire exit, usually due to injury, but two at practically the same time? And for both Ballou and Brown to have not worked a single MiLB or MLB game in nearly two weeks? MiLB umpires don't take vacations like their major league counterparts.

An umpiring mystery, indeed! | Video as follows:

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

MLB Ejections 041-2 - Alex Tosi (1-2; BAL x2)

HP Umpire Alex Tosi ejected Orioles DH Ryan O'Hearn and manager Brandon Hyde (strike three call; QOCY) in the top of the 9th inning of the #Orioles-#Nationals game. With one out and none on, O'Hearn took a 1-2 fastball from Nationals pitcher Kyle Finnegan for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer edge of home plate and thigh-high (px 0.87, pz 2.27), the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Nationals were leading, 3-0. The Nationals ultimately won the contest, 3-0.

These are Alex Tosi (66)'s 1st and 2nd ejections of 2024.
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
This pitch was located 0.53 horizontal inches from being deemed incorrect.

These are the 41st and 42nd ejection report of the 2024 MLB regular season.
This is the 17th player ejection of 2024. Prior to ejection, O'Hearn was 0-4 (2 SO) in the contest.
This is the 19th manager ejection of 2024. Ejection Tally: 19 Managers, 6 Coaches, 17 Players.
This is Baltimore's 1/2nd ejection of 2024, 3rd in the AL East (NYY, TOR 4; BAL 2; BOS, TB 1).
This is Ryan O'Hearn's first career MLB ejection.
This is Brandon Hyde's 1st ejection since August 8, 2023 (Edwin Moscoso; QOC = Y [Out/Safe]).
This is Alex Tosi's 1st ejection since Sept 15, 2023 (Bryce Harper; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

MLB Ejection 040 - Andy Fletcher (1; John Schneider)

HP Umpire Andy Fletcher ejected Blue Jays manager John Schneider (check swing ball [HBP] call by 3B Umpire Paul Clemons) in the bottom of the 4th inning of the #Phillies-#BlueJays game. With one out and two on, Phillies batter Kyle Schwarber attempted to check his swing on a 2-2 pitch from Blue Jays pitcher José Berríos, ruled a ball and hit-by-pitch by HP Umpire Fletcher and affirmed as no swing by 3B Umpire Clemons. Schneider was ejected following Bryce Harper's grand slam and during Toronto's subsequent pitching change. At the time of the ejection, the Phillies were leading, 8-0. The Phillies ultimately won the contest, 10-1.

This is Andy Fletcher (49)'s 1st ejection of 2024.

This is the 40th ejection report of the 2024 MLB regular season.
This is the 18th manager ejection of 2024. Ejection Tally: 18 Managers, 6 Coaches, 16 Players.
This is Toronto's 4th ejection of 2024, T-1st in the AL East (NYY, TOR 4; BOS, TB 1; BAL 0).
This is John Schneider's 2nd ejection of 2024, 1st since April 17 (Ryan Wills; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Andy Fletcher's 1st ejection since July 23, 2023 (Yuli Gurriel; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Skunk in the Outfield - When a Runner Runs into RF

How can a runner run well into the grass in right field and not be ruled out of the base path? Welcome to baseball's skunk in the outfield play, a distraction gambit that works because of the base path rule's wording regarding tag attempts and most defensive teams' tendency not to know the rule nor how to respond to a play like this.

Usually occurring with runners on first and third, the skunk in the outfield play begins when the runner on first activates by jogging into right field—usually diagonally toward deep center. The runner's positioning is key because this play in which the offense tries to distract the defense by drawing a play on the 'skunk' in the outfield, thus enabling the runner on third base to score during the confusion, relies on a legal exploitation of baseball's out of the base path rule.

Official Baseball Rule 5.09(b)(1) states that, "any runner is out when they run more than three feet away from their base path to avoid being tagged (exception: to avoid interference). A runner's base path is established when the tag attempt occurs and is a straight line from the runner to the base they are attempting to reach safely."

The "when the tag attempt occurs" part of this rule is very important for this play to work, since the offensive team relies on the defensive players' confusion, such that the fielders may forget to try and make a play on the runner in right field. Without a tag attempt, a base path is not established and, thus, the runner playing the part of 'skunk' cannot be declared out for running outside of their base path.

This is not abandonment (OBR 5.09(b)(2)) because the runner is not abandoning their effort to touch the next base (they'll run toward a base eventually if the play works properly) nor is this a travesty of the game since the runner is not running the bases in reverse order to make a travesty of the game (they might be running sideways, but not in reverse order).

As soon as the fielder attempts a tag attempt, even from tens of feet away, the runner's base path to whichever base they are trying for is established and the runner is in jeopardy of an out-of-the-base-path call if they run more than three feet away from the direct line between them and that base, if their running away is in order to avoid the fielder's tag (or play).

BUT—and here's another big reason the 'skunk' play is legal—if the runner then moves toward the other base in the rundown (e.g., retreats toward first base if they were previously trying for second), then the base path drawing process starts over and there needs to be a new tag attempt to establish the line toward the new base they are attempting to reach safely—first base.

And so on and so forth until someone gets tired of one of baseball's last legal ways to waste time.

Video as follows:

Monday, May 6, 2024

Calls of the Month - April 2024

CloseCallSports
' Top 5 Calls of the Month for April 2024 feature umpires whose concentration and keen eye allowed them to accurately assess close plays across Major League Baseball.

5) Alex Tosi's check swing hit-by-pitch in Cincinnati is confirmed via Replay Review.

4) Brian Walsh's out of play ruling on an overthrown ball is confirmed in Cincinnati.

3) CB Bucknor's out call on a force play at second base in Detroit is confirmed.

2) Angel Hernandez's HBP call in Los Angeles is confirmed by the slightest of margins.

1) Jonathan Parra's out call on a stolen base attempt in DC is confirmed by a tag on the heel.

Video as follows:

Saturday, May 4, 2024

MLB Ejection 039 - Jonathan Parra (1; Bo Bichette)

HP Umpire Jonathan Parra ejected Blue Jays SS Bo Bichette (strike three call; QOCY) in the top of the 5th inning of the #BlueJays-#Nationals game. With two out and none on, Blue Jays batter Bichette took a 3-2 sinker from Nationals pitcher Jake Irvin for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer edge of home plate and thigh-high (px 0.79, pz 2.63), the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Blue Jays were leading, 4-0. The Blue Jays ultimately won the contest, 6-3.

This is Jonathan Parra (121)'s 1st ejection of 2024.
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
This pitch was located 1.45 horizontal inches from being deemed incorrect.

This is the 39th ejection report of the 2024 MLB regular season.
This is the 17th player ejection of 2024. Prior to ejection, Bichette was 1-3 (SO) in the contest.
Ejection Tally: 17 Managers, 6 Coaches, 16 Players.
This is Toronto's 3rd ejection of 2024, 2nd in the AL East (NYY 4; TOR 3; BOS, TB 1; BAL 0).
This is Bo Bichette's first career MLB ejection.
This is Jonathan Parra's first career MLB ejection.

MLB Ejection 038 - Ryan Blakney (1; Aaron Judge)

HP Umpire Ryan Blakney ejected Yankees CF Aaron Judge (strike three call; QOCY) in the bottom of the 7th inning of the #Tigers-#Yankees game. With one out and none on, Judge took a 3-2 fastball from Tigers pitcher Tyler Holton for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer edge of home plate and thigh-high (px 0.78, pz 2.45), the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Yankees were leading, 5-3. The Yankees ultimately won the contest, 5-3.

This is Ryan Blakney (36)'s 1st ejection of 2024.
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
This pitch was located 1.61 horizontal inches from being deemed incorrect.

This is the 38th ejection report of the 2024 MLB regular season.
This is the 16th player ejection of 2024. Prior to ejection, Judge was 2-4 (2 SO) in the contest.
Ejection Tally: 16 Managers, 6 Coaches, 16 Players.
This is New York's 4th ejection of 2024, 1st in the AL East (NYY 4; TOR 2; BOS, TB 1; BAL 0).
This is Aaron Judge's first career MLB ejection.
This is Ryan Blakney's 1st ejection since August 5, 2023 (Marcell Ozuna; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Detroit Tigers vs New York Yankees, 5/4/24 | Video as follows:

Thursday, May 2, 2024

MLB Ejection 037 - Dan Iassogna (2; James Rowson)

HP Umpire Dan Iassogna ejected Yankees hitting coach James Rowson (strike one call to Juan Soto; QOCY) in the top of the 7th inning of the #Yankees-#Orioles game. With two out and none on, Yankees batter Juan Soto took a 1-0 cutter from Orioles pitcher Danny Coulombe for a called first strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer edge of home plate and at the hollow of the knee (px -0.71, pz 1.48 [sz_bot 1.51 / RAD 1.39]), the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Orioles were leading, 7-2. The Orioles ultimately won the contest, 7-2.

This is Dan Iasogna (58)'s 2nd ejection of 2024.
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
This pitch was located 2.45 horizontal and 2.04 vertical inches from being deemed incorrect.

This is the 37th ejection report of the 2024 MLB regular season.
This is the 6th coach ejection of 2024. Ejection Tally: 16 Managers, 6 Coaches, 15 Players.
This is New York's 3rd ejection of 2024, 1st in the AL East (NYY 3; TOR 2; BOS, TB 1; BAL 0).
This is James Rowson's 1st ejection since July 23, 2019 (Ramon De Jesus; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Dan Iassogna's 2nd ejection of 2024, 1st since April 17 (Ryan Goins; QOC = Y [Balk]).

Cubs-Mets Ends with Plate Blocking No-Call & Legality of Removing a Helmet

After Chicago cut down New York's tying run Pete Alonso at home plate to secure a 1-0 win, Mets manager Carlos Mendoza challenged HP Umpire Charlie Ramos' out call, asserting that Cubs catcher Miguel Amaya illegally blocked runner Alonso's path in violation of the home plate collision rule. Replay Review ultimately upheld the on-field out call, ruling that video evidence did not conclusively demonstrate that Amaya violated the home plate collision rule.

We also look at the follow day's case of Cubs runner Pete Crow removing his helmet during play to touch second base, and being declared safe by 2B Umpire Carlos Torres, finding the Official Baseball Rules and MLB Umpire Manual alike do not address this peculiar case. That leaves the case of voluntary helmet removal (not 'detached equipment' since that's a defense rule; not interference as the helmet was not thrown at the ball) subject to elastic clause Rule 8.01(c): "Each umpire has authority to rule on any point not specifically covered in these rules."

As for the home plate collision no-call to end the prior game, since its baseball debut in 2014, then known as Posey Rule 7.13, the home plate collision rule has undergone several revisions regarding interpretation, but the fundamentals of this rule remain the same. 

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."

OBR 6.01(i)(2) also contains an exception for fielding the throw: "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)."

The current working interpretation of the home plate collision rule considers where the catcher initially positions themself prior to receiving the throw—if the catcher sets up legally, there is a lesser likelihood their position will be considered illegal, while a catcher blocking the runner's path from the get-go will more likely be ruled for a violation.

Over the years, the foul line running between home plate and third base has been used as a delineation marker to determine whether or not a catcher is blocking the runner. If the catcher cedes the entirety of foul territory to the runner, the catcher is more likely to be ruled legal than if the catcher straddles the line or similar.

In either case, a catcher is permitted to block a runner's path in a legitimate attempt to field the throw, as well as while possessing the ball after catching it.

The Cubs-Mets case all comes down to the catcher's initial position, which is entirely on the fair territory side of the foul line and behind the leading edge of home plate, relative to the baserunner sliding from the direction of third base. Because the initial position is deemed legal (no, there exists no rule that makes it illegal for the catcher's foot to be on home plate), Replay Review confirms HP Umpire Ramos' collision violation no-call while the out/safe issue of whether Alonso was tagged in time results in a call stands outcome, an out call to end the game.

Video as follows:

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

MLB Ejection 036 - James Hoye (1; Drew Butera)

HP Umpire James Hoye ejected White Sox catching coach Drew Butera (ball four call to Carlos Correa; QOCY) in the top of the 1st inning of the #WhiteSox-#Twins game. With two out and none on, Twins batter Correa took a 3-1 fastball from White Sox pitcher Chris Flexen for a called fourth ball. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the heart of home plate and below the hollow of the knee (px 0.07, pz 1.49 [sz_bot 1.76 / RAD 1.64]), the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 0-0. The Twins ultimately won the contest, 10-5.

This is James Hoye (92)'s 1st ejection of 2024.
*This pitch was located 2.76 vertical inches from being deemed incorrect.

This is the 36th ejection report of the 2024 MLB regular season.
This is the 5th coach ejection of 2024. Ejection Tally: 16 Managers, 5 Coaches, 15 Players.
This is Chicago's 4th ejection of 2024, 1st in the AL Central (CWS 4; MIN 1; CLE, DET, KC 0).
This is Drew Butera's first career MLB ejection.
This is James Hoye's 1st ejection since October 20, 2023 (Dusty Baker; QOC = U [Arguing Ejection]).

Wrap: Minnesota Twins vs Chicago Cubs, 5/1/24 | Video as follows:

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

MLB Ejections 032-5 - Chris Guccione (TB-MIL Fight)

HP Umpire Chris Guccione ejected Brewers pitcher Freddy Peralta (throwing at Rays batter Jose Siri), manager Pat Murphy (arguing ejection) in the top of the 6th and Rays CF Siri & Brewers P Abner Uribe (fighting) in the top of the 8th inning of the #Rays-#Brewers game. In the 6th with none out and one on, Rays batter Siri took a 3-0 fastball from Brewers pitcher Peralta for a hit-by-pitch. Replays indicate the pitch was located inside the right-handed batter's box and struck Siri on the leg, the call was irrecusable. At the time of Peralta and Murphy's ejections, the Brewers were leading, 6-1. In the 8th, with none out and none on, Rays batter Siri hit a 1-1 slider from Brewers pitcher Uribe on the ground to first baseman Rhys Hoskins who threw to Uribe for the out. Siri continued up the baseline and a physical confrontation between Siri and Uribe ensued, resulting in punches thrown and a benches-clearing incident. At the time of the Siri and Uribe ejections, the Brewers were leading, 8-2. The Brewers ultimately won the contest, 8-2.

These are Chris Guccione (68)'s 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th ejections of 2024.

These are the 32nd, 33rd, 34th, and 35th ejection reports of the 2024 MLB regular season.
These are the 13th, 14th, and 15th player ejections of 2024.
This is the 16th manager ejection of 2024. Ejection Tally: 16 Managers, 4 Coaches, 15 Players.
This is Milwaukee's 2/3/4th ejection of 2024, 1st in the NL Central (MIL 4; PIT 3; CIN 1; CHC, STL 0).
This is Tampa Bay's 1st ejection of 2024, T-3rd in the AL East (NYY, TOR 2; BOS, TB 1; BAL 0).
This is Freddy Peralta's first career MLB ejection.
This is Pat Murphy's 2nd ejection of 2024, 1st since April 29 (Ryan Additon; QOC = Y [Backswing]).
This is Jose Siri's first career MLB ejection.
This is Abner Uribe's first career MLB ejection.
This is Chris Guccione's 1st ejection since June 5, 2023 (Alex Cora; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

MLB Ejection 031 - Cory Blaser (2; David Bell)

HP Umpire Cory Blaser ejected Reds manager David Bell (three ball calls to Ha-Seon Kim; QOCN) in the bottom of the 7th inning of the #Reds-#Padres game. With one out and two on, Padres batter Ha-Seong Kim took three cutters from Reds pitcher Emilio Pagán for called balls one, two, and three, before striking out. Replays indicate that ball one was located over the heart of home plate and near the hollow of the knee (px 0.03, pz 1.60 [sz_bot 1.66 / RAD 1.54 / MOE 1.62]), ball two was located over the outer half of home plate and at the hollow of the knee (px 0.31, pz 1.64 [sz_bot 1.63 / RAD 1.51 / MOE 1.59]), and ball three was located over the inner half of home plate and at the hollow of the knee (px -0.16, pz 1.66 [sz_bot 1.66 / RAD 1.54 / MOE 1.62]), the call was incorrect. At the time of the ejection, the Padres were leading, 6-4. The Padres ultimately won the contest, 6-4.

This is Cory Blaser (89)'s 2nd ejection of 2024.

This is the 31st ejection report of the 2024 MLB regular season.
This is the 15th manager ejection of 2024. Ejection Tally: 15 Managers, 4 Coaches, 12 Players.
This is Cincinnati's 1st ejection of 2024, T-2nd in the NL Central (PIT 3; CIN, MIL 1; CHC, STL 0).
This is David Bell's 1st ejection since September 9, 2023 (Brennan Miller; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Cory Blaser's 2nd ejection of 2024, 1st since April 19 (Dave Martinez; QOC = N-c [Obstruction]).

MLB Ejection 030 - Jansen Visconti (2; Jazz Chisholm)

HP Umpire Jansen Visconti ejected Marlins CF Jazz Chisholm (strike three call; QOCY) in the bottom of the 7th inning of the #Rockies-#Marlins game. With one out and one on, Chisholm took a 2-2 slider from Rockies pitcher Ryan Feltner for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the inner edge of home plate and waist-high (px 0.79, pz 2.93), the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, Rockies were leading, 5-0. The Marlins ultimately won the contest, 7-6, in 10 innings.

This is Jansen Visconti (52)'s 2nd ejection of 2024.
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
This pitch was located 1.49 horizontal inches from being deemed incorrect.

This is the 30th ejection report of the 2024 MLB regular season.
This is the 12th player ejection of 2024. Prior to ejection, Chisholm was 0-3 (SO) in the contest.
Ejection Tally: 14 Managers, 4 Coaches, 12 Players.
This is Miami's 2nd ejection of 2024, T-1st in the NL East (MIA, WAS 2; NYM 1; ATL, PHI 0).
This is Jazz Chisholm's 1st ejection since April 22, 2023 (Dan Merzel; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Jansen Visconti's 2nd ejection of 2024, 1st since April 25 (Joe Espada; QOC = U [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Colorado Rockies vs Miami Marlins, 4/30/24 | Video as follows:

Monday, April 29, 2024

MLB Ejection 029 - Ryan Additon (1; Pat Murphy)

HP Umpire Ryan Additon ejected Brewers manager Pat Murphy (backswing contact [not interference]; QOCY) in the bottom of the 9th inning of the #Rays-#Brewers game. With one out and two on, Brewers batter Jake Bauers attempted to strike a 1-2 slider from Rays pitcher Jason Adam for a swinging third strike. As the pitch passed home plate, it eluded catcher René Pinto before batter Bauers' bat made contact with Pinto's head on the backswing, resulting in "Time" and dead ball call from HP Umpire Additon, who called Bauers for inadvertent backswing contact (colloquially known as "backswing interference" although this type of contact is not interference). As a result, Brewers baserunner Sal Frelick, who had slid across home plate on the wild pitch, was returned to third base and Bauers was declared out (since the dead ball strike on a 1-2 count resulted in strike three). Replays indicate Bauers' bat made contact with Pinto's head on the backswing, the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Rays were leading, 1-0. The Rays ultimately won the contest, 1-0.

This is Ryan Additon (67)'s 1st ejection of 2024.
*Official Baseball Rule 6.03(a)(3) Comment states, "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 hit 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."
In OBR/NCAA, this is inadvertent backswing contact (not actual interference).
In NFHS, this is follow-through interference (which is actual interference).

This is the 29th ejection report of the 2024 MLB regular season.
This is the 14th manager ejection of 2024. Ejection Tally: 14 Managers, 4 Coaches, 11 Players.
This is Milwaukee's 1st ejection of 2024, 2nd in the NL Central (PIT 3; MIL 1; CHC, CIN, STL 0).
This is Pat Murphy's 1st ejection since August 4, 2023 (Edwin Moscoso; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Ryan Additon's 1st ejection since July 27, 2023 (Miles Mikolas; QOC = U [Throwing At]).

Jen Pawol Ejects Confused Coach After Conflicting Calls

Triple-A umpire Jen Pawol ejected Norfolk's manager and right fielder after she and 1B Umpire Kelvis Velez made conflicting calls on the same check swing play—Pawol as the home plate umpire ruling "swing" and Velez, mistaking her point at the batter as a point to him for an appeal, signaling the batter did not swing at the pitch.

With one out and a runner on second base, Norfolk Tides batter Peyton Burdick attempted to check his swing on a 2-2 fastball from Jacksonville pitcher Eli Villalobos. 

The circumstance of R2 and less than two out is important to note for this Triple-A game operating with a three-person umpire crew. In this situation, the 1B Umpire shall position themself within the infield, in front of second base (well, not directly in front of 2B, but still in the vicinity of Deep B/C), meaning there is no field umpire down the right field line anymore.

While the plate umpire assigning fair/foul responsibilities to right field in this crew configuation, the 1B Umpire retains check swing appeal responsibility for right-handed batters.

Accordingly, when Burdick tried checking his swing, HP Umpire Pawol pointed to the batter as part of a two-part "yes he did" mechanic to call the batter for a swinging strike.

1B Umpire Velez, however, saw Pawol pointing beyond the batter and near second base, where he was standing, and assumed Pawol had appealed the matter of Burdick's check swing to him (after all, the catcher requested an appeal by gesturing toward U1).

Thus, as Pawol completed her two-part mechanic ending with a fist, Velez signaled safe with outstretched arms, leading to confusion as two umpires had different calls for the same play.

Although the Official Baseball Rules do clearly state that the plate umpire has primary responsibility for all decisions on the batter—including half swings—which makes this Pawol's primary call, a more apropos response is found in OBR 8.03(c) pertaining to conflicting calls by multiple umpires: "If different decisions should be made on one play by different umpires, the umpire-in-chief shall call all the umpires into consultation, with no manager or player present. After consultation, the umpire-in-chief (unless another umpire may have been designated by the Office of the Commissioner) shall determine which decision shall prevail, based on which umpire was in best position and which decision was most likely correct. Play shall proceed as if only the final decision had been made."

With little doubt that the plate umpire's call of swinging strikeout would prevail (it was Pawol's call to begin with), that left one confused coach arguing to the point of ejection.

How to Avoid This Situation: The best way for a base umpire to avoid a situation where they might signal "safe" on a check swing where the plate umpire signals "out" is for the base umpire to pause momentarily. By waiting a beat, U1 would have been able to see the totality of UIC's swinging strike mechanic, and avoided ruling on a check swing appeal that was never indicated.

Exception: The one exception to this is an MLBUM interpretation known as "Voluntary Strike" in which the base umpire does signal on their own, with or without appeal, on an uncaught third strike, and only if they are going to rule the play a swinging strike.

Video as follows:

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Aaron Judge's Slide Into 2B - Was it Interference?

After Brewers shortstop Willy Adames' throw hit Yankees baserunner Aaron Judge's raised arm during a slide into second base, umpires opted against calling interference ruling the New York runner did not intentionally act to break up a double play in contravention of the rules. After the game, Crew Chief Andy Fletcher released a statement saying it was interference after all and that the call had been missed on the field. Here's what the rule says.

Official Baseball Rule 6.01(a)(10) pertains to interference and states it is interference when "[the offensive player] fails to avoid a fielder who is attempting to field a batted ball, or intentionally interferes with a thrown ball," while OBR 6.01(a)(5) which directly applies to this play states, "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."

This language mirrors the definition of terms: "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."

The intentionally interferes with a thrown ball phrasing appears elsewhere in the book as well (OBR 5.09(a)(13) explicitly puts the following runner out if a preceding runner interferes; while OBR 5.09(b)(3) puts a runner out for intentionally interfering with a thrown ball), but notably not in OBR 6.01(a)(5). Instead, the standard is lower—"simple" interference, whether or not it is actually intentional.

Obviously, intentional interference is always illegal and the intent of the retired runner can provide a clue as to whether said runner has violated the rule.

As for Judge, his action in deliberately raising his arm (one might even say willful and deliberate) and then dropping it into the path of the throw as the fielder threw the ball appears to constitute interference by a retired runner, an observation echoed by the acting Crew Chief for this game after the final out.

Video as follows:

Lindor's Runner's Lane Interference - Taking the Throw

Called out for runner's lane interference, Mets batter-runner Francisco Lindor and manager Carlos Mendoza argued with HP Umpire Eric Bacchus to no avail that New York's SS didn't actually interfere with St Louis on the almost-wild pitch strikeout that led to Lindor running to first base.

We review professional baseball's runner's lane interference rule and compare this call across baseball's different levels, namely college (NCAA) and high school (NFHS). Is Lindor out for RLI at each level?

Contrary to Lindor's claim that he ran legally within the running lane—including the extended-for-2024 dirt area in fair territory—replays indicate Lindor ran entirely on the infield grass and well out of the runner's lane or "inside the line" during his jaunt to first base.

Cardinals catcher Willson Contreras' throw to first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, however, was high and Goldy was unable to catch the ball upon jumping for it. HP Umpire Bacchus' RLI call thus put an out on the board even with the overthrow.

Official Baseball Rule 5.09(a)(11) states, "A batter is out when in running the last half of the distance from home base to first base, while the ball is being fielded to first base, he runs outside (to the right of) the three-foot line, or inside (to the left of) the foul line and on the infield grass, and in the umpire’s judgment in so doing interferes with the fielder taking the throw at first base."

College has a similar rule on its face, but unlike OBR, NCAA 7-11-p has a note that states, "If the batter-runner is running illegally to first base and their being outside the lane alters the throw of a fielder, hinders or alters a fielder’s opportunity to field the throw, or the batter-runner is hit by the throw that has been made in an attempt to make a play, it shall be called interference and the batter-runner is to be called out."

This means the primary difference between college and pro is with whom the batter-runner, by virtue of running out of the lane, is interfering with. Under OBR, the only consideration is "the fielder taking the throw" while NCAA RLI provides for either the fielder taking the throw or the fielder making the throw, provided the batter-runner's illegal positioning "alter[ed] the throw of a fielder."

Accordingly, we must determine whether 1B Goldschmidt, as the fielder taking the throw, was actually interfered with by Lindor's running out of the running lane. Because of the high throw and the jump that couldn't reel it in, I'm inclined to say the throw could not have "reasonably retired the runner", which is the standard interpretation for RLI when considering questionable throw quality.

Meanwhile, high school's rule is probably the easiest as NFHS 8-4-1g states, succinctly, that a batter-runner is out when they run "outside the three-foot running lane (last half of the distance from home plate to first base), while the ball is being fielded or thrown to first base." In other words, NFHS is strict: fail to run within the lane, if there's any question of whether there was interference, you're out, period.

Also the broadcaster incorrectly stated Lindor was out for running "out of the baseline." Sigh.

Wrap: Houston Astros vs Chicago Cubs, 4/25/24 | Video as follows:

Thursday, April 25, 2024

MLB Ejection 028 - Jansen Visconti (1; Joe Espada)

HP Umpire Jansen Visconti ejected Astros manager Joe Espada (general strike zone complaint) during the break before the top of the 9th inning of the #Astros-#Cubs game. Chicago had just concluded its turn at-bat in the bottom of the 8th, and there were no contested calls during that inning, the reason for ejection was irrecusable. At the time of the ejection, the Cubs were leading, 3-1. The Cubs ultimately won the contest, 3-1.

This is Jansen Visconti (52)'s 1st ejection of 2024.

This is the 28th ejection report of the 2024 MLB regular season.
This is the 13th manager ejection of 2024. Ejection Tally: 13 Managers, 4 Coaches, 11 Players.
This is Houston's 1st ejection of 2024, T-2nd in the AL West (OAK 2; HOU, LAA, SEA, TEX 1).
This is Joe Espada's first career MLB ejection.
This is Jansen Visconti's 1st ejection since Sept 19, 2023 (Mark Kotsay; QOC = U [Check Swing]).

Wrap: Houston Astros vs Chicago Cubs, 4/25/24 | Video as follows:

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

MLB Ejection 027 - John Tumpane (2; Alex Wood)

3B Umpire John Tumpane ejected Athletics bench player Alex Wood (no stop balk call on pitcher Joe Boyle; QOCY) in the bottom of the 1st inning of the #Athletics-#Yankees game. With one out and one on, Tumpane called A's pitcher Joe Boyle for a balk during his 1-2 delivery to Yankees batter Aaron Judge. Replays indicate Boyle did not entirely stop prior to delivering to Judge, the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 0-0. The Yankees ultimately won the contest, 7-3.

This is John Tumpane (74)'s 2nd ejection of 2024.
*Official Baseball Rule 6.02(a) states it is a balk when the pitcher "delivers from Set Position without coming to a stop."

This is the 27th ejection report of the 2024 MLB regular season.
This is the 11th player ejection of 2024. Prior to ejection, Wood did not participate in the game.
Ejection Tally: 12 Managers, 4 Coaches, 11 Players.
This is Oakland's 2nd ejection of 2024, 1st in the AL West (OAK 2; LAA, SEA, TEX 1; HOU 0).
This is Alex Wood's 1st ejection since May 5, 2021 (Tony Randazzo; QOC = Y [Check Swing]).
This is John Tumpane's 2nd ejection of 2024, 1st since April 23 (Lawrence Butler; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

MLB Ejection 026 - John Tumpane (1; Lawrence Butler)

HP Umpire John Tumpane ejected Athletics RF Lawrence Butler (strike three call; QOCY) in the top of the 9th inning of the #Athletics-#Yankees game. With none out and none on, A's batter Butler took a 1-2 sinker from Yankees pitcher Clay Holmes for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the inner half of home plate and below the midpoint (px 0.15, pz 3.57 [sz_top 3.41 / RAD 3.54 / MOE 3.62]), the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Yankees were leading, 4-3. The Yankees ultimately won the contest, 4-3.

This is John Tumpane (74)'s 1st ejection of 2024.
*This pitch was located 0.60 vertical inches from being deemed incorrect.

This is the 26th ejection report of the 2024 MLB regular season.
This is the 10th player ejection of 2024. Prior to ejection, Butler was 1-4 (2 SO) in the contest.
Ejection Tally: 12 Managers, 4 Coaches, 10 Players.
This is Oakland's 1st ejection of 2024, T-1st in the AL West (LAA, OAK, SEA, TEX 1; HOU 0).
This is Lawrence Butler's 1st career MLB ejection.
This is John Tumpane's 1st ejection since July 17, 2023 (Matt Thaiss; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Monday, April 22, 2024

MLB Ejections 024-5 - Mike Estabrook (1-2; CWS x2)

HP Umpire Mike Estabrook ejected White Sox RF Gavin Sheets and manager Pedro Grifol (strike three call to Sheets; QOCY) in the bottom of the 8th inning of the #WhiteSox-#Twins game. With two out and one on, White Sox batter Sheets took a 3-2 changeup from Twins pitcher Ronny Henriquez for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer edge of home plate and knee-high (px -0.77, pz 1.55 [sz_bot 1.74 / RAD 1.62 / MOE 1.54]), the call was correct.* At the time of the ejections, the Twins were leading, 7-0. The Twins ultimately won the contest, 7-0.

These are Mike Estabrook (83)'s 1st and 2nd ejections of 2024.
*This pitch was located 0.12 vertical inches from being deemed incorrect.

These are the 24th and 25th ejection reports of the 2024 MLB regular season.
This is the 9th player ejection of 2024. Prior to ejection, Sheets was 1-4 (2 SO) in the contest.
This is the 12th manager ejection of 2024. Ejection Tally: 12 Managers, 4 Coaches, 9 Players.
This is Chicago's 2/3rd ejection of 2024, 1st in the AL Central (CWS 3; MIN 1; CLE, DET, KC 0).
This is Gavin Sheets' 1st ejection since May 18, 2023 (Dan Iassogna; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Pedro Grifol's 1st ejection since August 5, 2023 (Mark Wegner; QOC = U [Fighting]).
This is Mike Estabrook's 1st ejection since June 23, 2023 (Bryce Harper; QOC = Y [Check Swing]).