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 Umpire News

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PostSubject: Umpire News   Thu Oct 22, 2009 9:17 pm

Umps save their worst for last
Billy Witz / New York Times News Service

Anaheim, Calif. -- Who's on third?

That question seemed to flummox the umpire Tim McClelland on Tuesday night when two Yankees -- Jorge Posada and Robinson Cano -- arrived at the base, but not exactly on it.

The 2009 playoffs have at times been one big slapstick routine for Major League Baseball's umpires, who have executed some calls with all the clarity of Abbott and Costello. McClelland and his crew provided more head-slapping moments in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series when they missed three calls.

The mistakes are sure to increase calls for the increased use of instant replay, although Commissioner Bud Selig has said repeatedly that he is opposed to the idea. As it stands, replay may be used only to determine if a home run was fair or foul, or if it cleared the fence.

The umpiring miscues Tuesday might not have had an effect on the game -- the Yankees won in a rout, 10-1 -- but the ones by McClelland, the crew chief, were glaring, even in this postseason.

In the fifth inning, Posada was caught in a rundown between third and home. He returned to third just as Cano arrived, and Posada ran past the bag as if to give himself up for the speedier Cano. But Cano was not on the bag, either. Angels catcher Mike Napoli alertly tagged Cano, then Posada, seemingly giving the Angels a double play.

McClelland did not see it that way. He ruled only Posada out.

It was the second gaffe of the night for McClelland, who an inning earlier called the Yankees' Nick Swisher out for leaving third early after he tagged up and scored on a fly ball. Replays indicated that Swisher had not only left at the same time Angels center fielder Torii Hunter caught the ball, but that McClelland was not even looking at Swisher.

McClelland provided an explanation to reporters afterward, but did not take questions.

"The first one, with Swisher leaving too soon, in my heart I thought he left too soon," he said. "On the play with Cano and Posada, I was waiting for two players to be on the base. When he tagged Cano, I thought Cano was on the base." When Posada touched the base and continued and Napoli tagged him out, McClelland said, "I thought Posada was out."

He added: "After looking at replays, I'm not sure I believe the replay of the first one. The second one it showed that Cano was off the bag when he was tagged. So, obviously there were two missed calls."

Several Yankees, including Swisher and Mark Teixeira, could be heard laughing about McClelland's account from the bathroom area of the clubhouse. One player said that McClelland should have been looking at Swisher's heel.

"In my heart," Teixeira said to a Yankees official as he returned to his locker. "That's funny. That's a good one."

The comedy of errors in this postseason has had several acts.

The umpiring lowlight thus far had been Joe Mauer's ground-rule double that wasn't -- it nicked off the glove of Melky Cabrera in fair territory, landed fair and was ruled foul by the umpire Phil Cuzzi. The 11th-inning call might have deprived the Twins a chance to win Game 2 of their divisional series against the Yankees, who swept them.

The Phillies' Game 3 win over the Rockies in a divisional series was aided by two missed calls on one ninth-inning play. Chase Utley hit a ball off his leg that was not ruled foul, and then Colorado first baseman Todd Helton was ruled to have pulled his foot off the bag on the throw to first -- even though he had not. Ryan Howard followed by putting Philadelphia ahead.

The Angels had been on the wrong end of two missed calls by the first-base umpire C.B. Bucknor in Game 1 of their division series against the Red Sox, but they were able to overcome them.

Napoli said he was not frustrated by the calls in Tuesday's game.

"It was kind of a weird play," Napoli said of the double tag at third. "I thought it was a double play, but you've just got to play the game. We're all human. People are going to make mistakes. Sometimes you see it different than it is. You go with your best judgment."

McClelland would have been spared that rundown mistake if not for another one by his crewmate Dale Scott. Moments earlier, Swisher appeared to have been picked off second base when Erick Aybar slapped a tag on Swisher's hand before it reached the bag.

Or at least that was how the Angel Stadium crowd and the television replays saw it.

There was, however, one shining moment for an umpire. Jerry Layne, who correctly ruled that Aybar had failed to touch second base on an apparent double-play ball in Game 2 of this series, correctly ruled that Napoli had missed -- by an inch or two -- nicking the uniform of Robinson Cano with a swipe tag at the plate in the fourth.

It was proof that at least once on this night, the men in blue making the right plays were not all Yankees.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola


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PostSubject: Re: Umpire News   Thu Oct 22, 2009 9:18 pm

Just look back at Tigers' games where umps messed up this year... I am all for instant replay in more situations than just home runs!



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PostSubject: Re: Umpire News   Wed Oct 28, 2009 12:20 am

World Series umpires bring experience
MLB tabs veteran crew to preside over Fall Classic

By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com

10/27/09 9:31 PM ET

NEW YORK -- Major League Baseball is breaking tradition and will use only experienced umpires for the World Series between the defending champion Phillies and the Yankees that opens with Game 1 at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night at 7:57 p.m. ET on FOX.

The group includes veteran crew chiefs Gerry Davis, Joe West and Dana DeMuth, along with Brian Gorman, Jeff Nelson and Mike Everitt. Davis is the crew chief and is slated to open behind the plate as former Cleveland teammates CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee hook up, now representing the Yankees and Phillies, respectively.

"Those umpires they got here, they're the best in the Major Leagues," said Larry Bowa, the Dodgers' third-base coach under manager Joe Torre who was still an active shortstop when Davis broke in in 1982. "I think they're pretty fair."

Davis, a veteran of 28 seasons, is known for his unique stance, in which he bends both his knees and back, crouching close over the shoulder of the catcher to give him a better view of the zone. He is known as more of a hitter's ump than a pitcher's, although Lee fared well in two starts with Davis behind the plate.

Davis called Game 1 of the National League Division Series in which Lee pitched a complete-game 5-1 victory over the Rockies. Lee allowed six hits and one earned run with five strikeouts and no walks, and 79 of his 113 pitches were strikes. Davis also called Lee's start for the Indians in a 2-1 win over the Blue Jays on July 21, the lefty's second-to-last start for the Tribe. In that victory, also a complete game, Lee allowed one run on seven hits with four strikeouts.

Davis did not call a game started by Sabathia this season.

"Gerry Davis is very consistent," said Bowa, who was also a coach under Torre during his final years as skipper of the Yankees. "I never had a lot of squabbles with him about balls and strikes. He was pretty good. He'll let you know early what his strike zone is and he'll stay with it."

In 24 of the past 25 World Series, the six-man crew has included at least one umpire working the event for the first time. In each of the past two years, there were three new umps working the World Series.

At least a pair of first-time World Series umpires has been on each of the past five crews. Starting in 1983, the only crew that did not include a World Series rookie before now was 1997.

That didn't happen this year because MLB wanted more experienced umpires to try to avoid the mistakes that plagued the first two rounds.

West, DeMuth and Davis each have worked three World Series and have been big league umpires for more than 25 years. Gorman, Nelson and Everitt all have called one World Series, and have been on the big league staff for at least 11 years.

The most damaging mistake of the first round was left-field umpire Phil Cuzzi's foul call on a drive by Minnesota catcher Joe Mauer that was fair by a foot in Game 2 of the AL Division Series at Yankee Stadium. It happened in extra innings of a game the Twins lost, 4-3, in the l1th inning on Mark Teixeira's walk-off homer.

In Game 4 of the ALCS, also won by the Yankees, third-base umpire Tim McClelland made two erroneous calls: He missed an obvious double play when Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada converged on third base. McClelland correctly called Posada out, but should have also done the same with Cano, who was tagged before he got to the bag from second base. Cano was called safe. McClelland also nailed Nick Swisher for leaving third base early on an apparent sacrifice fly to Angels center field Torii Hunter. Replays showed that Swisher didn't leave early and should have been credited for scoring the run.

In all three cases, Cuzzi and McClelland admitted they were in error.

World Series umpires are chosen from the pool of 24 umpires who work in the first round, with those two dozen picked on merit. ALCS and NLCS umpires aren't in play, because umps don't work in consecutive rounds of the postseason.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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PostSubject: Re: Umpire News   Thu Oct 29, 2009 3:18 am

They should only use the most experienced umpires in the World Series;
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PostSubject: Re: Umpire News   Wed Dec 23, 2009 3:40 pm

MLB, umpires agree to five-year pact
More flexible playoff scheduling likely in coming seasons

By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com

12/23/09 10:27 AM EST

Major League Baseball and the World Umpires Association have tentatively agreed on a new five-year contract through Dec. 31, 2014. The old deal was set to expire this Dec. 31 and the new one is expected to be ratified by the middle of January.

The owners meet in Paradise Valley, Ariz., on Jan. 13-14, while the umpires have their annual meeting in Scottsdale on Jan. 18-19. The owners and union have been in negotiations all year on this new deal, and for the second consecutive time have come to agreement without acrimony.

Both sides said they would not comment on the substance of the agreement until ratification, although it has been reported that MLB was seeking more flexibility in assigning umpires during the postseason, and in expanding instant replay.

Under the auspices of the old agreement, umpires can't work in consecutive playoff series, meaning that the crews which called the two League Championship Series can't do the same in the World Series.

As far as replay is concerned, it now covers boundary calls on home runs -- fair or foul, in or out. That issue was negotiated with umpires outside of regular collective bargaining in 2008, and the program was put in place in September of that year.

Commissioner Bud Selig said recently that he would consider expanding replay after a spate of missed calls plagued the first two rounds of this year's postseason.


The World Umpires Association was certified by the National Labor Relation board on Feb. 24, 2000, and became the negotiating arm of the umpires. Its first president was John Hirschbeck, who was replaced by veteran umpire Joe West this past April.

The certification came after the dissolution of the old union -- the Major League Umpires Association. In 1999, led by president Richie Phillips, 50 of the 66 umpires resigned as a negotiating ploy to move along collective bargaining. Some rescinded their resignations, but MLB ultimately accepted the resignation of 22 umpires, thus breaking that union.

Since then, 11 of those 22 umpires have been reinstated, including Bob Davidson, Tom Hallion and Ed Hickox, who were added during the negotiations of 2004.

Thus, MLB concludes the decade for the first time since the 1960s without a work stoppage involving either the players or the umpires. Under the leadership of Rob Manfred, MLB's executive vice president of labor relations and human resources, the owners have negotiated successfully with unions of both entities four times since the players threatened to strike for the last time in 2002.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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