Can you read the ‘controversial check swing judgment’ video? “I just need to make a local rule, but… ”

Doosan infielder Yang Seok-hwan drew attention as a fierce protest against the first base umpire who made a check swing decision in the match against Jamsil NC on August 11 (Photo = Doosan)

[스포츠춘추]

In addition to strike and ball judgment, check swing judgment is a regular subject of controversy in the KBO League. Doosan Bears infielder Yang Seok-hwan also drew attention by expressing strong dissatisfaction with the controversial check swing decision. The controversy over the check swing decision is inevitably repeated every year because the decision is made based on the subjective judgment of the referee rather than under clear rules.

Check swing judgment rule without clear reference point, controversy re-ignited after strong protest by Yang Seok-hwan

Yang Seok-hwan's swing caught on the broadcast screen in the match where the controversial check swing decision was made.  Because the bat heads did not all turn, a no-swing decision could have been made (Photo=capture of the corresponding relay screen)
Yang Seok-hwan’s swing caught on the broadcast screen in the match where the controversial check swing decision was made. Because the bat heads did not all turn, a no-swing decision could have been made (Photo=capture of the corresponding relay screen)

In the match between Doosan and NC Dinos held at Jamsil Stadium on August 11th, Yang Seok-hwan came to the plate at the end of the 8th inning with a chance to come back to second base in a 2-2 match. Yang Seok-hwan, who was driven by the ball count 2S situation, stopped while trying to turn the bat to the high course ball in the third pitch. However, first base umpire Park Geun-young saw this scene and judged that the bat was spinning, so he struck out a wasted swing.

Yang Seok-hwan was dissatisfied with the decision of the first base umpire, put down his bat and stood on the ground for a while. After coach Kim Tae-hyeong came out to the ground and protested the decision to the first base umpire, Kang Seok-cheon, head coach, jumped out, and Yang Seok-hwan returned to the dugout. As if his anger could not be resolved, Yang Seok-hwan shouted at the 1st baseman and at the same time went into the bench and threw his helmet to express his anger.

On the broadcast screen, Yang Seok-hwan’s bat did not completely pass through the home plate. Even if the body turned, the bat stopped just before passing home plate, so it was possible to make a ‘no swing’ decision. However, in principle, the check swing judgment is left to the subjective judgment of the referee, just like the strike/ball judgment. Regardless of the angle of the bat shown on the screen, if the first base umpire judges that Yang Suk-hwan showed the intention of swinging, he can make a check swing decision.

The definition of a strike in the KBO League Baseball Rules.  There are no objective standards in (a) related to check swing judgment (Photo = KBO)
The definition of a strike in the KBO League Baseball Rules. There are no objective standards in (a) related to check swing judgment (Photo = KBO)

KBO Referee Chairman Ho Un told Sports Spring and Autumn, “There are no clear standards in baseball rules regarding check swing determination. Although the judgment is made with the most attention to whether the bat head rotates while intersecting the ball, if the referee determines that the batter intends to swing, it may be judged as a half swing. In the case of Yang Seok-hwan, the bat stopped as his body moved forward, so it could be mistaken for a half swing from the angle of the first base umpire. Still, a scene that leaves the judgment sad” he said.

The check swing decision is made under the subjective judgment of the referee not only in Korea, but also in the United States and Japan. In the US Major League Baseball (MLB), controversy over the check swing decision in the final game of the 2021 postseason has arisen.

In the ninth inning of Game 5 of the National League Division Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants, Dodgers pitcher Max Scherzer faced San Francisco batter Wilmer Flores. The game ended in a 2-1 win for the Dodgers as Scherzer turned Flores back with a three-ball strikeout. However, as Flores received a half-swing judgment on Scherzer’s third ball, the game ended, causing controversy.

On the relay screen, Flores’ bat stopped just before passing home plate. However, even in the major leagues, the check swing decision is a subjective judgment of the referee. As in Korea, it was not subject to video reading, so the series ended in vain from the San Francisco point of view.

San Francisco manager Gabe Kepler said:There are many other reasons why we lost matches.“But”The final (check swing) verdict is disappointing but i know the referee can’t always be accurate and they do a really hard job” he said.

“Let’s set up an objective reference point and read the video.” On-site proposal… Chairman Ho Un, “It is possible if we make local rules, but…”

Referees waiting for the results of the video reading.  Can check swing judgment be included in video reading items (Photo = Sports Chunchu DB)
Referees waiting for the results of the video reading. Can check swing judgment be included in video reading items (Photo = Sports Chunchu DB)

As such, even in the US, the home of baseball, controversy over check swing judgment often arises. This happens because the rules for determining the check swing are not clear. At the KBO league site, there are voices wishing for a clearer standard for determining check swings.

The KBO League A team commander is “Isn’t there a controversy over the check swing judgment every year? When viewed from the angle seen from the dugout, there are actually not one or two check swing judgments that leave a disappointment. If it is impossible to enter the video reading section because there is no clear decision rule, I would like to create an objective reference point for the check swing decision. It should be possible to hold the bat based on the rotation of the bat head more than 90 degrees with respect to the home plate.” he raised his voice.

If you make a local rule related to check swing judgment, it may be possible to read check swing video along with the previous commander’s suggestion.

Chairman of the Jury, Ho Un, said,Through local rules, you can make your own rules for the KBO league regardless of other countries. If the baseball world negotiates, the check swing judgment criteria can be objectively made and applied as a local rule. If so, it will be possible to include a check swing judgment in the video reading item.“I looked at it.

However, the process of preparing an objective standard for check swing judgment is not expected to be easy. It is not easy to set a reference point because the batters stand in different positions at the plate. In addition, in order to read the video, it must be followed by a camera shot at a clear angle to help determine the check swing for each stadium or relay.

Chairman Ho Un said,Even if all the opinions of the baseball world are gathered, it is questionable whether there will be a check swing criterion that all clubs and batters can agree on. It seems that the discussion process will not be easy until an objective reference point is established as each batter’s position at bat is different. There is also concern about whether video readings can be made clearly from different camera angles in different stadiums. Still, if baseball fans strongly demand it, it’s a topic that can gather opinions from the baseball world.” he said.

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