Entries Tagged as 'umpire'

Former ump wins medical settlement

From Law Firm News Wire, former MLB umpire Mark Hirschbeck won a settlement from Wright Medical Technology for a faulty hip device that was placed inside him.  The device was shown to have a faulty defect.

a month after surgery, as Hirschbeck was at home watching TV, he heard a pop. Reports show that the ceramic hip had exploded. The former ump later found out that Wright had paid thousands of dollars to a foundation that Keggi helped run and also doled out a trip to a Bahamas conference for him. Many surgeries, and even a hip infection, left Hirschbeck permanently disabled and unable to be in the sport in which he loved officiating.

Mark Hirschbeck umpired in the majors for 15 and was one of the umpires in the 2001 World Series.

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Ozzie’s caught tweeting in the dugout

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White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen is in doghouse again though I’m not sure for the right reasons.  He’s been suspended for two games following his altercation with umpire Todd Tichenor at Yankee Stadium Wednesday night.  MLB states that Guillen is in violation of its “social media policy and other regulations regarding the use of electronic equipment during the course of a game."

Indeed, after arguing balls and strikes with Tichenor, Guillen went back to the dugout and showed him up the best way he knew how.  By using Twitter. Kicking dust at the ump is so old school but Betus has the latest MLB odds 

Two tweets came through Guillen’s account… the first simply said, “This one going to cost me a lot money this is patetic”  The next a little more to the point, said, "Today a tough guy show up a yankee stadium”. 

As of now, his twitter account has been silent since then.

I’m usually pretty tolerant of Guillen’s antics.  He makes the game more colorful and gives the organization a respectable amount of uncomfortableness that I like.  But MLB has it right.  Guillen has a job to do in the dugout and it’s not to be using his smartphone to twitter about the game whether to badmouth the umps or whatever. 

By the way, Cubs manager Mike Quade has made it clear that HE won’t be caught using Twitter mostly because he can’t pronounce it:

"I will never get in trouble tweeting, twittering, tweetering — I can’t even say it — because I will never do it.  I don’t have the time, energy or know-how, and I’m real happy about that."

Give him time, he might come around. 

And Ozzie, arguing balls and strikes, really??

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Listening to an Umpire

My buddy Todd, the umpire, may not realize it but I actually learn a few things from him. 

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Instant Replay and respect for the men in blue

Sports columnist Terence Moore has it right when it comes to umpires, instant replay and when it comes down to it, fan respect.  And he quite succinctly makes his point in his first two sentences of his article posted today (my emphasis):

This umpire mess has to stop. Not the questionable calls or even the horrible ones, but the whining over it all.

As a person who works in a technology field, I should probably embrace instant replay over the inconsistencies of human judgment,  But I don’t.  Call me a traditionalist but that’s just not how baseball is played.

My special concern is WHY the idea of instant replay is gaining so much ground now. 

1.  The mob mentality.. Now that the issue has come to light, many fans have seized on it and thrown it back into the umps’ face.  Instead of “where are your glasses, Blue?” fans are yelling “Replay! Replay Replay!” It gives them something else to be angry about.

2. Major League Baseball, in their effort to appear to please everyone all the time (without really doing so) is slowly jerking their knee and responding.  “See we’re doing something about it?”

(In complete fairness, I know of plenty of knowledgeable, even-thinking people who support the idea of Instant Replay and have logical, thought-out reasons why they support it.  I certainly would not clump them in with the first group.)

Whether or not one supports Instant Replay should not give a fan license to treat an ump with disrespect as Terence Moore’s piece describes in detail.  Now, I go to 20 or so college baseball games a year and sure, I’ve been known to call out an ump on a questionable call. But though I do not like his particular decision at the time, he has my respect for the tough job that he does. 

Even Frank Robinson from the MLB commissioner’s office weighed in on the umpires’ treatment.

"From fans, players, managers, coaches and front office people, I’ve never seen so much hostility toward umpires that I’ve seen this year.  "All of this (umpire bashing) is very, very unfair. Do they miss calls? Of course they do. One thing people forget: Umpires are human beings.”

So let’s proceed with the Instant Replay discussion carefully and thoughtfully.  And if you’re lucky enough to be out at park this year, don’t take it out on the ump.

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MLB keeps Joyce quiet for Tiger reunion

It is apparently big news that umpire Jim Joyce has to have his interviews approved by MLB.

This news comes in time for Joyce’s return to Detroit’s Comerica Park and his reunion with Armando Galarraga whose perfect game he bumbled earlier this year. 

USA Today Sports’ headline really puts the clamp-down on MLB officials.  “Umpire Jim Joyce muzzled by MLB over Armando Galarraga reunion”, it says.  For a second or two, it even got my blood boiling.  Then, I realized it was pretty much standard operating procedure for baseball employees whether they be players, umpires coaches or managers.  Unless you’re Ozzie Guillen, most statements to the press need to go through a PR person who is sanctioned by MLB.

I don’t like it but that’s how it goes.  It should be any surprise to anyone that MLB is still doing damage control. 

They did take the muzzle off Joyce briefly so he could talk to the press about NOT talking to the press:

“You know me — I’d normally do it in a heartbeat," Joyce said about 90 minutes before Friday’s game between Detroit and Baltimore. "But I got a call yesterday from Major League Baseball saying that I’m under restriction, and that all interview requests have to be approved by them."

Wait for Joyce’s auto-biography.  We’ll hear all about it then.

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Are sports’ officiators losing their hold of the game?

91px-Billklem At the risk of sounding like old man played by Dana Carvey on SNL it didn’t used be like this.  We watched our sports and took it like a man. 

Bill Klem, a Hall of Fame umpire who worked the game for 37 years, was known for saying, It ain’t nothin’ till I call it”.  Not anymore.  Everything is held in the court of public opinion and if the public is lucky, that will sway the sports’ organizations decisions. 

Just in the past month, we’ve had some close calls.  Baseball fans are going mental calling for the reversal of Jim Joyce’s last call of Armando Galaraga’s near perfect game.  (I don’t agree with Bud very often but I’ve come around to his thinking on this.  Can you imagine the precedent this would set?)

Earlier this month, umps at the Women’s Softball College World Series were called into question a couple of times… enough that it was brought up in the media.

And now during the 2010 World Cup (after USA’s unfortunate departure), FIFA is coming under fire for their officiating.  Guess what?  They’re now considering high-tech solutions to solve their problems. 

So either a) officiators are somehow getting worse, b) the fans are getting more picky about their officiating, or c) the media doesn’t have anything better to cover.

My guess is that it’s a combination of b and c.

Quite simply, what’s happening now is that the men in blue are stuck in an era where there have been some high profile missed calls.  As a result, the spotlight is on them where is shouldn’t be.  You know an umpire is doing a good job when you don’t remember him and can’t recall his name.  THEN he’s doing his job. 

Now however, this issue is stuck in neutral and everyone is looking for the umpire to make a mistake.  And when he does, here come the typical articles in press/blogosphere… “SEE SEE!! We need to institute/expand instant replay!!”.

As I feel with most things in life, baseball should not make snap decisions based on high profile mistakes or media-driven policy. 

To me, it ain’t nothin till an ump calls it.

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Joyce voted best ump by players

Umpire Jim Joyce’s fateful call that blew Armando Galarraga’s perfect game on June 2 has most likely landed him on most top ten lists of Worst Calls by a sporting official.  However, that didn’t stop the players from voting him as baseball’s best umpire.

I’m a skeptical guy by nature, never accepting anything at face value.  Knowing this vote took place after the perfecto debacle, I have to think that one of these statements is true:

  1. The players decided to band together and show true support for a good umpire who is going through a hard time because of a very bad call he made. 
  2. A majority of players do really believe that Jim Joyce is the truly the best umpire out there regardless of the mistake he made.

I’m not in favor of skewing results of polls, surveys and such to push an agenda even if it seems a noble one but such as it is.  The truth is, Joyce has been around since 1987 and is considered one of the best.  He’s officiated one All-Star game, six Division Series, three League Championship Series and two World Series.  In short, he’s a seasoned veteran.

Consistent with their support of Joyce, an overwhelming 86% felt that the play at first base during Galarraga’s perfect game should NOT be overturned. 

Really?  I mean I can see the argument for either side but 86%!?

Other Results

The survey that the players took (100 players participated confidentially) had some other interesting results.  The worst umps?  CB Bucknor and Joe West.  West’s bad grade may be because he was also rated as having the “quickest hook”. 

Overall, the players weren’t so hot on the idea of instant replay.  On fair vs foul calls, only 36% were in favor.  When asked about replay for baserunning plays, it went down to 22%. 

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Umpire Fantasy League

Here’s the most unique idea for a fantasy league I’ve heard in a while.  One based on MLB umpire ejections.

Billed as the MLB Umpire Ejection Fantasy League, this site documents all ejections by umpires in the majors and allows members to draft umps as you would a fantasy baseball team.  But as the name suggests, the stats are based on how many ejections the umpires are part of. 

Even if you aren’t a member, the blog is well worth the read if only for the useful/trivial? documentation of all the ejections that occur in baseball.

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Instant Replay a non-issue at the GM meeting

Looks like baseball’s general managers weren’t interested about expanding the role of instant replay in baseball.  The topic wasn’t even brought up during their annual meeting on Tuesday.

"There are those who clamor for more and more instant replay," said Jimmie Lee Solomon, MLB executive vice president of baseball operations, "I think we need to digest what we’ve got. I know some (general managers) have talked off-line about the expansion of instant replay, but the commissioner (Bud Selig) doesn’t see any reason to consider it."

Good on them, I say.  Even if you favor the system, it’s too soon to rush into it because a few umps made some bad calls. 

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ALCS Beat: Yankees comeback not enough against resurging Angels

As Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over till it’s over”.  And as my buddy Don, who is an Angel fan said late night, “If Brian Fuentes had walked Swisher, I think I would have jumped off my roof”. 

Fortunately for the Angels (and Don S), he didn’t.

I learned my lesson though.  I watched the game on TV at home till the beginning of the 7th.  John Lackey had been pitching brilliantly up until then and had a 4-0 lead.  Thinking that Big John had things well in hand, I decided to head to local coffee shop and watch the rest of the game on Gameday while I got some work done.

It’s a 6 block walk to the coffee shop and I was away from the game for 15 minutes, 20 tops.  Logging into Gameday, I was rudely greeted with a 7-6 Yankee lead.  Refreshing the browser didn’t seem to help. 

Looking back at it, I had a sneaking suspicion that Lackey was tiring.  Mid-inning, the camera crew show him in the dugout and boy, he really looked spent.  I remember commenting on that to my kid.

But thanks to a 3-run seventh fueled by back-to-back base hits by Guerrero and Morales, the Angels got back on top for the final score 7-6.

I’d like to say that was the end of the excitement but the Yankees made the Halos earn their pay Thursday night.  Angel reliever Brian Fuentes made things a little too interesting.  After a two-out, bases empty intentional pass to Alex Rodriguez, Fuentes followed that up with a Matsui walk and a Cano HBP to load the bases.  If that weren’t enough, Nick Swisher took him to a full count before popping out to short for third out to end the game. 

Fuentes line looked good.  One inning, no hits and a save.  But that sure didn’t tell the story of the game.  However, he got the job done.

The Angels got their miracle.  Three-Two sounds a whole lot better than Two-Zero or Three-One.

 

Other Postseason News:

 

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