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Tag:Umpires
Posted on: August 17, 2011 9:53 am
 

Pepper: Signing deadline needs to be moved up

Bubba Starling

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The last couple of days showed us some of the best of baseball, five walkoffs on Tuesday, Jim Thome's 600th home run on Monday, triple plays both Monday and Tuesday and so much more. But Monday night we saw one of the things that needs to be fixed, and that's the signing deadline for draft picks.

Yesterday I touched on this, but I suggested just moving it from midnight to a more reasonable hour. That was a selfish wish. Hall of Famer George Brett tells the Kansas City Star that the deadline needs to be moved up more than a month to something like July 4.

The reason is simple, the development of players is stunted by a year and the posturing could hurt players. According to Brett, the Royals and Scott Boras, the "advisor" for their top pick, Bubba Starling, didn't even start talking until 10:30 p.m. on Monday night. The two sides then agreed to a deal with 20-40 seconds left, Brett said.

"If they made the deadline July 4, these guys would sign July 4 and the guy would jump on the plane and play some real baseball rather than go to Arizona when the season is almost over after not picking up a ball and a bat for how long … and playing football … he's not baseball ready," Brett told the newspaper. "It's going to take him a while." 

Instead of playing baseball and cashing checks, Starling was working out with the Nebraska football team as a negotiating ploy, showing that he was "serious" that he'd turn down millions of dollars to play football. He was also risking injury and his future with no guarantee.

That said, with the way money was thrown around on Monday night, it seems to make little sense to sign early. The teams showed that players who wait to sign until the deadline will be rewarded. An agent I spoke to on Tuesday said he's had players sign early in the past -- which is all well and good for the teams, but did he do his players' a disservice by not waiting until the end? In his previous cases, no, it was still the right thing to do. But next time? When the 27th player picked gets $800,000 above slot, the waiting game pays. That's not going to change, the way to fix that it to shorten the wait.

Pirates' booty: Speaking of the draft signings, the Pirates spent $17 million in signing bonuses for their draft picks. While there are negatives, for Pittsburgh, this is a positive. For many years teams like the Royals and Pirates wouldn't draft the best available player in the draft, instead drafting the best available player that would fit into their budget. The Royals gave Bubba Starling a huge contract and the Pirates gave out several, including an $8 million signing bonus to No. 1 overall pick Gerrit Cole and $5 million for second-rounder Josh Bell. Last season we heard about how the Pirates weren't spending their luxury tax gains, but now we see an actual plan and owner Bob Nutting is putting money into the team. [MLB.com]

Right player, wrong position: Living in Cincinnati I've seen this before -- teams in MLB will often pick the best player available in the draft, regardless of position, now Yonder Alonso is in the big leagues with the Reds and has little to do because Joey Votto isn't going to sit the bench for him. The Nationals saw a player some considered to be the best in the draft fall to them and couldn't pass up Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon, despite already having a 26-year-old at third base in Ryan Zimmerman. The Nationals are happy to have Rendon and let that problem play out. [MASNSports.com]

Bundy eyes 2013: Orioles first-round pick Dylan Bundy said his plan is to be in the big leagues in 2013. The right-hander would be 20 in 2013. Brett would tell him if he was serious about that, he maybe should have signed sooner. [Baltimore Sun]

Overrated Howard: Baseball-Reference.com's Sean Forman made the argument in the New York Times that Philadelphia's Ryan Howard is not an elite hitter. The bigger argument was about overvaluing the RBI -- the stat that Howard provides much of Howard's worth. It does certainly help that he plays for the Phillies and has some pretty decent players in front of him in the lineup.

Umps visit kids: Jerry Meals may be Public Enemy No. 1 in Pittsburgh, but not to 3-year-old Emily Berger. Berger, who had undergone surgery on Monday, was one of the children visited by a group of MLB umpires to visit a children's hospital on Tuesday. Meals, who famously blew the call at home plate to end a 19-inning game in Atlanta for Pittsburgh loss, and the rest of his crew hosted a Build-A-Bear workshop for dozens of children. [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review]

Sizemore improving: The Indians hope Grady Sizemore can return next month after he started baseball activities on Tuesday as part of his rehab from a right knee injury and a sports hernia surgery. [MLB.com]

Granderson's rare feat: Curtis Granderson has a shot at leading the American League in homers and triples. The last player to do that was Jim Rice in 1978. [Baseball-Reference.com]

Mariners doing well: Jack Zduriencik won the offseason according to many before the 2010 season, and we saw how that worked. But even with that in hindsight, it appears Zduriencik has had a good couple of weeks despite his team's fall in the standings over the last two months. [Seattle Times]

More Thome: If you haven't had enough of Jim Thome (and really, it's not like we've even got to a tenth of the DJ3K madness yet), his hometown paper, the Peoria JournalStar put together a fantastic package looking back on his life and career. Make sure you check it out.

Give the people what they want: Nice job by the Brewers' promotion department with the announcement of  "Tony Plush Rally Towels" for the Sept. 9 game against the Phillies. "Tony Plush" is the "gentleman's name" of outfielder Nyjer Morgan. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

Bashing Boise: No, not the Broncos and their "Smurf turf," but the city's Class A team -- Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said Boise's Memorial Stadium is "below standard." [Chicago Tribune]

Pros vs. G.I. Joes: Some White Sox players are playing video games with soldiers online. [MLB.com]

Hi, bye: Outfielder Jonny Gomes was traded from the Reds to the Nationals last month, but he wasn't informed until just before the Reds' game started, meaning he wasn't able to say goodbye to his teammates in Cincinnati. Now a member of the Nationals, Gomes got to say both hello and goodbye to the Reds when the team started their series in Washington. [Cincinnati Enquirer]

Cut those sideburns: Monday was the 20th anniversary of Don Mattingly sitting out a game for refusing to cut his hair. [MLB.com]

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 16, 2011 9:49 am
Edited on: August 16, 2011 9:54 am
 

Pepper: Thome's quiet run to the Hall of Fame

Jim Thome

By C. Trent Rosecrans

I don't think there's any doubt Jim Thome will be in the Hall of Fame, but I did find it interesting that my wife had never heard of Thome.

The guy hits 600 home runs and the wife of someone whose life revolves around baseball had never heard of him. How is that possible? I thought chicks dug the long ball. 

Much of it, I guess, is that my wife is a National League kinda gal -- having been born in raised in  Braves country and now living in Cincinnati, the wife doesn't see much American League or even pay much attention to it. But still, Jim Thome?  I went through the teams -- Indians, Phillies, White Sox, Dodgers, Twins -- nope, not a flicker of recognition. The 1995 World Series when the Braves won? Well, He did only go 4 for 19 in the series.

It seems strange that she'd never heard of him, but it also seems to jibe with the relative silence of Thome's march to 600. Is it because Thome has always just been a quiet professional? He's never been in trouble, never even pounded his own chest. He's just been quietly hitting home runs and doing his job, day in and day out.

It's not that he's never been on the biggest stage, he's played in 67 postseason games and made it to two World Series, hitting one homer in 1995 and two in the '97 Series.

My friend Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus has a funny theory of the Hall of Fame -- for him it's all about the fame. If his mother has heard of someone, they belong. If she hasn't, no. So for KG's Hall of Fame, Paul Molitor is out, but Jose Canseco is in. Rod Carew? Nope. Bo Jackson, yes. I'm pretty sure Thome doesn't hit the fame standard, but he certainly belongs in the Hall.

Here's a couple of better articles putting his candidacy in perspective -- Joe Posnanski of Sports Illustrated has the backstory of Thome's bat point at the pitcher and other things in a great blog post and Steven Goldman has the argument against Thome being a mere "compiler."

Meals in Pittsburgh: Umpire Jerry Meals made his first appearance at PNC Park in Pittsburgh since his bad call that cost the Pirates a 19-inning game against the Braves. As you would expect, he was not greeted kindly by Pirates fans. Since the call, the Pirates have lost 15 of 19 and fallen from a tie for first place to fourth place in the National League Central. [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review]

Silly deadline: I understand why there's a deadline for signing draft picks and I even understand why it's in August, but I don't understand why it's at midnight. I talked to a scouting director on Sunday (and because it wasn't the Blue Jays' scouting director, he signed his first-round guy) and he said there's zero movement until late on Monday. On Sunday, there'd been no movement, but because these things go down to the wire, why not make move the wire up to a reasonable hour? How about 5 p.m. so you can announce it before a game and have everything all tidy? They've done that with the trade deadline, now with the increased focus on the draft, they need to do it on the signing deadline.

Full moon in Cooperstown: Did Robin Yount give Bert Blyleven an unusual greeting to the Hall of Fame? [FanGraphs.com

Scranton is nice in September: Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said it's unlikely the team would call up top pitching prospect Manny Banuelos when rosters expand in September. [New York Post]

Nicasio visits teammates: Juan Nicasio, who suffered a broken neck on Aug. 5, visited his Rockies teammates before Monday's game in Denver. Closer Houston Street told the Denver Post that Nicasio was "full of life," smiling and laughing with teammates. 

Career cut short: A Padres  prospect had to retire from baseball at 22 because of an inner-ear problem. Read all about Drew Cumberland. [Pensacola News-Journal]

Another good guy: This seems to fit with the Thome celebration, but if Thome's not the nicest guy in the game, Torii Hunter may be. Like Thome, I've never heard anyone say a bad thing about Hunter. In fact, I have a sportswriter friend who has a long list of people he doesn't like, but he named his dog Torii in honor of Hunter. Here's a good story about one of the good guys from ESPN.com's Jim Caple.

Read this: A really good story this weekend from the New York Daily News about baseball and Sept. 11. Go read it.

It's gotta be the shoes: Evan Longoria's new spikes have made a huge difference for the Rays' third baseman. [MLB.com]

Literary touch: I've only been to Safeco once (well, three games, one series), so I don't know all the ins and outs. I will say I love the park, but maybe even more so after seeing this from the Boston Globe's Peter Abraham -- the park has baseball-themed quotations on all its gates to the park. That's just so darn cool.

Murph blogs: One of the most interesting baseball blogs around right now is from former MVP Dale Murphy, who is enjoying blogging and Twitter. [New York Times]

New caps: Gone, apparently, are the ugly stars and stripes trucker caps to make a buck, and in their place for Sept. 11 will be simple American flag patches. It's certainly an improvement, but still not sure why everyone needs to be reminded what country they live in -- shouldn't the butchered version of the Star Spangled Banner by some American Idol-wannabe before the game be enough? 

New caps 2: That said, I do think it's cool that the Nationals will wear a cap with the Navy SEALs logo tonight to honor the 22 SEALs killed in Afghanistan on Aug. 6. It's the Nationals' first game back in Washington since the attack. [Washington Post]

Odd sight: There was something odd on Sunday in Dayton, Ohio -- empty seats. Home of professional sports' longest sellout streak, Dayton's Fifth Third Field had empty seats on Sunday as the Dragons and Lake County Captains played a continuation of Tuesday's suspended game was played before the regularly scheduled Sunday game. However, once that game started, the Dragons had their 832nd consecutive sellout. [Dayton Daily News]

Step back for Carter: Sad news today, as Gary Carter learned of a "mild step backward" on Monday, as a doctor's visit revealed his white blood cell count was low, which means he won't be able to start a scheduled round of chemotherapy that he was supposed to start today. [ESPN.com]

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 14, 2011 12:54 am
Edited on: August 14, 2011 12:48 pm
 

Francona ejected after reversed call

Josh Bard

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Just because a player slides into home doesn't mean a nasty collision can't take place -- and one did in the fourth inning of Saturday's game between the Red Sox and Mariners. However, the only person out of the game after Josh Bard blocked the plate from Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury was Red Sox manager Terry Francona.

Francona was ejected because he argued home plate umpire Mark Ripperger decision to overturn his initial safe call and ruled Ellsbury out.

With one out in the top of the fourth, Ellsbury was on third when Dustin Pedroia flied out to right. Ellsbury tried to score on Ichiro Suzuki, who threw a one-hopper to Bard. The ball arrived at home well before Ellsbury, who slid into home, but got a knee into Bard's jaw.

It appeared that Bard lost control of the ball and Ripperger called Ellsbury safe. After the umpires conferred, Ellsbury was called out, ending the inning. That's when Francona argued more and was tossed. It was the 33rd time in his career he was ejected.

Watch the player here.

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Posted on: August 10, 2011 3:26 am
 

Astros' Downs wants umpires held accountable

CB BucknorBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Astros infielder Matt Downs vented about the umpires and echoed the thoughts of many fans when he said he wants Major League umpires to be held more accountable for their calls.

"My stats are put in the paper every day, everybody knows if I fail or succeed, and I feel like some kind of action has got to be taken where we realize if a guy's blown a call or not and he's accountable," Downs told Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle.

Downs was frustrated after he felt a 3-1 pitch from Diamondbacks closer J.J. Putz was called a strike by umpire CB Bucknor and he felt it was inside. He then struck out swinging on the next pitch for the second out of the ninth inning in an eventual 11-9 Diamondbacks victory.

"I get tired of umpires going back to the hotel and thinking they did a good job on the night and I have to go back to the hotel on a failure night after I feel like I walked 3-1 instead of punching out 3-2," Downs said. "Some kind of action has to be taken on just a bonehead call like that."

Pitch F/X showed the ball was well inside and even Diamondbacks TV announcer Mark Grace was surprised it was called a strike and said, "Oh my goodness, J.J. got a big break there -- and the Diamondbacks. That pitch looked six inches inside. Holy mackerel."

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Posted on: August 8, 2011 9:56 pm
Edited on: August 8, 2011 11:36 pm
 

Umpire ejects Braves' Fredi and Freddie

Freddie FreemanBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Umpire Hunter Wendelstedt accomplished a rare feat on Monday, ejecting a Fredi (Gonzalez) and a Freddie (Freeman) in the Braves' game at Florida.

Gonzalez, the Braves' manager, was ejected for arguing balls and strikes during the fourth inning of the game, while Freeman was ejected after striking out to end the top of the eighth inning.

Gonzalez was ejected after Wedelstedt called a Derek Lowe pitch to Bryan Peterson a ball. After he did, he looked into the Braves dugout and ejected Gonzalez, who then walked out and argued for a moment.

"You can't argue balls and strikes," Gonzalez told David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. "I deserve what I got."

Freeman thought he checked his swing against Steve Cishek with two strikes and two outs, but Wendelstedt called him out. After Freeman tossed his helmet, Wendelstedt tossed Freeman. Freeman never turned to say anything or show up Wendelstedt before the umpire tossed Freeman.

After the game, Freeman said the call on the strike was correct, but wasn't so sure about the ejection. He said he only asked Wendelstedt to check with the third base umpire.

"Couldn’t believe it. That was pretty incredible," Freeman said (via the AJC). "I didn’t say anything. There was no reason I should have been thrown out of this game. All I asked was, 'Why?' All he said was, 'You know what you got thrown out.' At the time, I didn't." 

It was Gonzalez's third ejection of the season.

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Posted on: August 3, 2011 12:25 am
Edited on: August 3, 2011 1:58 am
 

Molina bumps, spits on umpire

Yadier Molina

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Tuesday night's Cardinals-Brewers game was highly entertaining, but it took a very ugly turn in the 10th inning when St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina spit in the face of home plate umpire Rob Drake after bumping him at least three times.

Molina didn't appear to rear back and spit directly in the face Roberto Alomar-style, but he was yelling and Drake was the victim of collateral spit and obviously wiped his face multiple times. Even as Molina was in the dugout and still yelling at Drake, the umpire used his shirt to wipe spittle from his face.

Molina watched a called third strike at the knees to lead off the top of the 10th inning and went nuts on Drake -- bumping Drake twice and then after Drake tried to turn away, Molina came back and bumped him again. Molina was ejected after the first bump. Molina denied spitting on Drake.

"That was a bad call," Molina told reporters, including Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I never spit on any face or man. In the moment, I was yelling. I didn't spit." 

Molina had to be held back by teammates and coaches as he continued to go after Drake.

Here's a gif of Molina going berserk from Twitter user @soccerkevin11:
GIF - Yadier Molina going completely bonkers at the home plat... on Twitpic

And for the record, Pitch F/X showed the pitch was a ball -- even though that's no excuse for Molina's reaction.

Umpires refused to comment after the game. 

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Posted on: July 27, 2011 4:18 pm
 

Torre 'human element' is part of baseball

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Joe Torre, MLB's vice president for baseball opperations, released his statement on the ending of Tuesday night's/Wednesday morning's Braves-Pirates game that ended on what appeared to be a missed call by home plate umpire Jerry Meals.

Here's Torre's statement:

“Unfortunately, it appears that the call was missed, as Jerry Meals acknowledged after the game.  Many swipe tags are not applied to the runner with solid contact, but the tag was applied and the game should have remained tied.  I have spoken with Jerry, who is a hard-working, respected umpire, and no one feels worse than him.  We know that this is not a product of a lack of effort. 

“Having been the beneficiary of calls like this and having been on the other end in my experience as a player and as a manager, I have felt that this has always been a part of our game.  As a member of the Commissioner’s Special Committee for On-Field Matters, I have heard many discussions on umpiring and technology over the past two years, including both the pros and the cons of expanding replay.  However, most in the game recognize that the human element always will be part of baseball and instant replay can never replace all judgment calls by umpires. Obviously, a play like this is going to spark a lot of conversation, and we will continue to consider all viewpoints in our ongoing discussions regarding officiating in baseball.

“We expect the best from our umpires, and an umpire would tell you he expects the best of himself.  We have to continue to strive for accuracy, consistency and professionalism day in and day out.”

I don't disagree with any of the words here -- but I do disagree with the sentiment. The sentiment is "stuff happens, deal with it." I will constantly harp thtat there are improvements that can be made and should be made to help umpires make the game better and more fair. To stand in the way of progress for the simple reason of tradition is myopic at best and lazy at worst.

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Posted on: July 27, 2011 1:06 pm
 

Pirates officially 'disappointed' by call

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Pirates president Frank Connelly has released a statement about the end of Tuesday night's Pirates-Braves game:

“The Pittsburgh Pirates organization is extremely disappointed by the way its 19-inning game against the Atlanta Braves ended earlier this morning. The game of baseball and this game in particular, filled with superlative performances by players on both clubs, deserved much better. We have filed a formal complaint with the Commissioner.

“While we cannot begin to understand how Umpire Jerry Meals did not see the tag made by Michael McKenry three feet in front of home plate, we do not question the integrity of Mr. Meals. Instead, we know that Mr. Meals’ intention was to get the call right. Jerry Meals has been umpiring Major League games for 14 years and has always done so with integrity and professionalism. He got this one wrong.

“For Pirates fans, we may have lost a game in the standings as a result of a missed call but this game, and the gutsy performances by so many of our players, will make us stronger, more unified and more determined as we continue the battle for the National League Central Division.”


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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com