Bet most of you didn't know about the Umpire Election Fantasy League. It exists, according to the web site closecallsports.com, "to objectively track and analyze umpire ejections and their corresponding calls, with great regard for the rules and spirit of the game."
So let's take a look at the ejections of Denard Span and Ron Gardenhire from Wednesday's game.
First, the video:
Now, Denard on Twitter, where he says: "Well tonight didn't go the way I planned for it to go. My mom always told me to defend myself."
And now, for the perspective of the UEFL: "HP Umpire Greg Gibson ejected Twins center fielder Denard Span and Manager Ron Gardenhire for arguing a strike call in the top of the 3rd inning of the Twins-Yankees game. With one out and one on, Span attempted to pull his bat back on a 0-0 fastball from Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia, having squared to bunt upon the pitch's release. Replays indicate Span successfully pulled his bat back, though Pitch f/x confirms the pitch was correctly ruled a strike..."
Maybe you're asking how the pitch could have been called "correctly" when the graph on the web site, and the Foxtrax gizmo on the telecast, shows it to be slightly outside the strike zone.
Here's the UEFL's geeky explanation (Skip this if you hate numbers):
"In rendering QOC regarding a pitch location (ball/strike), Pitch f/x shall be the primarily cited source. Borderline pitches, whose outer bounds are located no more than one (1.00) foot from the absolute center of the strike zone (the center of home plate), shall be deemed a strike, if the call on the field was strike, as the pitch f/x plot takes into account the working strike zone (24 inches), which includes the 17" home plate, its edges, plus the diameter of a baseball to either side; however, because pitch f/x records the location of the center of the ball, as opposed to its edges, one radius is subtracted from each side, so that the pitch f/x working strike zone is only 20.432 inches. Converted to feet, the pitch f/x zone is 1.7027 across or 0.8513 to either side. To account for a projected margin of error of no greater than one inch (0.0833 feet), pitches with an absolute horizontal location (px) value of less than 0.768 feet from center shall always be deemed a strike, pitches with an absolute px value between 0.768 and 0.935 shall be deemed borderline, and shall routinely reflect the call on the field as correct unless evidence overwhelmingly suggests otherwise, and pitches with an absolute px value greater than 0.935 may be deemed a ball. This provision only applies to static borders of the strike zone (e.g.: its horizontal, as opposed to vertical, boundaries)."
Here's the short version, if Upload is interpreting it correctly:
The pitch tracker you see on TV shows the center of the baseball, not the entire thing. So a pitch that looks inside on the graphic can actually be a strike. "On the black" is the baseball term for called strikes on the corner of the plate.
If nothing else, now you have a home on the web to go way deeper on ejections that most people might care to -- unless it's their guys who gets tossed out. Notice, in this case, most of the comments are favorable to the ruling (at least as of 8:20 a.m.)
Speaking of umpires, tonight's home plate umpire is this guy: