Three-peat controversy, then another… In an age of mistrust of umpires, conflict erupts

Faith and trust among league members is an essential component of a successful and stable league. However, the distrust of the KBO’s umpires has not gone away.온라인카지노

The game between Kiwoom and Lotte at Sajik Stadium in Busan on the 23rd was a clear example of the players’ distrust of the umpires.

The two teams were battling for the Winning Series, and after a hard-fought game that included a rain delay in the 86th minute, Kiwoom won 7-6 to secure the Winning Series. However, there were a number of sensitive, strange, and unfortunate calls made during the match. The six-hour, 10-minute game included a rain delay, but it also included time for volleys of vocalising and shouting at the referees.

Screen capture from KBSN Sports broadcast

Another Three-Peat Violation, Revised Rules in Effect

Firstly, there was a situation regarding the three-foot line, which was the biggest topic at the end of the first half. In the top of the third inning, Kiwoom’s leadoff hitter Lee Ji-young singled to right, and Lee Yong-gyu laid down a sacrifice bunt towards first base with the intention of a surprise bunt.

It was an exquisite throw to the first base line, and Lotte first baseman Han Dong-hee caught it and threw it to first base. The throw to first base hit Lee Yong-kyu in the left shoulder. Second baseman Ahn Chi-hong, who was covering the base, was able to catch the ball. The ball deflected off Lee Yong-kyu and went to second base, and both runners advanced one more base.

At this point, the umpires gathered. They questioned whether there was a three-peat violation, and a three-peat defensive interference call was made. Coach Hong Won-ki came out and asked for a video review.

Lee Yong-kyu ran back to the foul territory to avoid an early three-footer, and when he needed to run the bases, he stepped on the line. He ran the bases with his left foot. The pitch hit Lee Yong-gyu’s body, but Han Dong-hee’s pitch and the position of the pitch were not in line with Lee Yong-gyu. It was hard to see that the third base line was violated, and the call for defensive interference was overturned. The runners remained on second and third base. Lotte didn’t protest the call. Kiwoom then took a 3-0 lead on Kim Hye-sung’s sacrifice fly to centre field and Ronnie Dawson’s first home run in the KBO (two runs).

Screen capture from KBSN Sports broadcast

Three-peat controversy sparked by result-orientated explanation

The KBO has seen a number of three-peat controversies in the first half of the season, and each time, the umpiring committee’s explanations have stoked the flames.

On 23 June, in the bottom of the seventh inning of the Gocheok Doosan-Keum game, Lim Ji-yeol hit a grounder from Doosan catcher Yang Yang-ji to first base that hit Lim’s body and was ruled a three-pitch violation. Manager Hong Won-ki firmly believes that Lim did not violate the three-peat. “It’s unfair from our point of view. From a young age, managers and coaches don’t tell players to commit fouls. We always tell them to play fairly, and he played normally. However, the umpires decided that he had committed foul play,” he said, adding, “I think the process of running the bases is important, but the pitching process and the angle of the pitch should be judged comprehensively.”

KIA suffered from a different call in the same situation. In the fifth inning of the NC-KIA game in Gwangju on 16 June, Shin Beom-soo bunted with runners on first and second with no outs, but NC pitcher Ryu Jin-wook threw the ball to first base but it was out of bounds. The ball was not in line with the runner, but it hit Shin Bum-soo’s foot and became a bad ball. NC requested a video review and it was ruled that Shin Beom-soo ran inside the foul-pitch area and violated the three-foot line. Shin was called out, and coach Kim Jong-guk was ejected for protesting the video review.

[OSEN=Gochuk, Kim Sung-rak] KIA manager Hong Won-ki protests against a defensive interference call for a three-foot violation during the ‘2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League’ match between the KIA Heroes and the Doosan Bears at the Gochuk Sky Dome in Guro-gu, Seoul on the 23rd afternoon /

KIA coach Kim Jong-kook /OSEN DB

Then, on the 13th of this month, in the Gwangju Samsung-KIA game, another call was made in the same situation. KIA was victimised again. In the bottom of the third inning, Pirela’s pitch went just inside the first base line, and pitcher Yang Hyun-jong made a throw to avoid Pirela, but it was called a bad pitch. Manager Kim Jong-kook called for a video review, but unlike in the last NC, Pirela was not out. The umpire took the microphone and gave his reasoning, saying, “Pirela ran inside, but the pitcher threw the ball wide from the start.” This explanation sparked further controversy and led to a refinement of the rules for the second half.

Previously, Baseball Rules 5.09 and 6.01 stated, “If the umpire determines that a runner interferes with a fielder making a throw to first base by stepping outside the three-foot line inside or outside the foul line while running the second half of the distance between home plate and first base, the runner shall be declared out and the other runners shall return to the bases they occupied at the time of the interference.” Under the strict application of baseball rules, runners have not been called out for running inside the foul line if they do not interfere with the defence of first base, nor have they been ruled out for interfering with the defence if the umpire judges the throw to be a bad throw.

However, in the revised rule application, a runner will be called out for defensive interference if the umpire determines that the runner’s run “caused the interference. To ensure consistency of judgement and to avoid confusion on the field, a runner’s run inside the 3-foot line will also be declared obstruction if the umpire determines that the runner’s run was clearly a ’cause of obstruction’ of the defence (throw or catch).

Courtesy of the Lotte Giants

Pent-up frustration erupts as Kiwoom and Lotte lash out at inconsistent umpires

The three-peat situation went to video review and was upheld. But it was the strike zone calls where the basic mistrust remained. Both teams exploded. A rare situation arose where two players were ejected, one from each team, for calling a strike ball.

Sutton took the mound in the top of the fifth inning after Jae-min Shim gave up a straight ball to Ronnie Dawson and was replaced by Han Hyun-hee. After accepting the ball from umpire Kim and handing it to the new pitcher, Sutton approached umpire Kim. There was a brief argument about a strike zone call. Earlier in the inning, there had been an inexcusable call to load the bases. Sutton’s voice got louder and his gestures got bigger. Umpire Kim ordered him to leave the field. Sutton became even more agitated and the umpires all rushed over to calm him down.

It didn’t stop there. In the top of the sixth inning, with the score tied at 4-4, Kim became agitated with the umpire’s call. The game resumed after an 86-minute suspension due to heavy rain. In a two-ball, one-strike at-bat, Lee check-swung at a forked ball from Koo Seung-min on the fourth pitch. Yong-kyu thought he had stopped, and it appeared so. However, umpire Kim Seo-soo ruled Yong-kyu’s check swing a miss. It was an ambiguous swing, but umpire Kim made an arbitrary call. Lee Yong-kyu was surprised and looked at the umpire, which led to a heated reaction. Head coach Hong Won-ki and assistant coach Kim Chang-hyun both came out to tear him apart. The situation seemed to be under control.

However, Yong-kyu retreated to the dugout after hitting a grounder to centre field and made another appeal to umpire Kim. He gestured that he should ask the third base umpire, and umpire Kim eventually sent Yong-kyu home. After the ejection, Yong-kyu became agitated again and lunged at the umpire, who managed to pull him away, but the situation did not calm down.

Courtesy of the Lotte Giants

Kiwoom Yong-gyu /OSEN DB

‘Age of distrust’ hinders the league’s popularity, but only deepens the rift

The basic distrust of the umpires exploded in this game. One situation leads to another. It is no exaggeration to say that the referees dominated the game and muddied the waters. The controversy over the three-point line violation and defensive interference call had already received a lot of attention from KBO President Heo Koo-yeon, who reportedly ordered the league to issue a revised application later in the day.

Nevertheless, the mistrust among league members is deepening day by day. The issue of strike zone judgement is a long-standing conflict. Despite promises of change, players are frustrated by the inconsistency of the calls. But they can’t say it out loud. There have also been situations where players have taken advantage of the referee’s authority to get into trouble when they shouldn’t have, and the sparks have been flying since the start of the second half. The embers of conflict are always alive. It doesn’t help the league’s box office at all.

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