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: