Posted on: May 5, 2011 12:21 pm
Edited on: May 5, 2011 4:03 pm

MLB has problem children: West's umpiring crew

By Matt Snyder

Joe West, Angel Hernandez, Chad Fairchild and Paul Schrieber are the worst umpiring crew in the majors, and it's not even close. If it was simply a competence issue, that might be a bit less of a problem. You can fix incompetence through more training. No, the problem is way worse. It's a crew that has a mental issue in terms of being accountable and lacking the most needed skill in officiating a sport.

There's a chip on the shoulder and penchant for intentionally becoming the story. That's a big problem.

Full disclosure here: I probably respect professional sports officials more than the average fan, because I'm a high school football official. Please don't misconstrue this into my saying I know what it's like to umpire major-league baseball. Not even close. I'm just saying I have an appreciation for how much harder it is to call a sporting event than the average fan realizes. Of course, I also realize that there are certain things that apply to all levels. Such as:

- A sporting official is doing his job if you don't even notice him.
- If a player, coach or manager gets thrown out of the game, one of two people are completely out of line: 1. the person who was ejected; 2. the person who did the ejecting.
- An official should never make himself part of the story or the center of attention.

These are basic and apply to all sports. If a player, coach or manager makes the umpire part of the story, that's not the umpire's fault. But West and his crew constantly violate all three of the above principles. And what's with all the yelling back? Shouldn't they just let players and managers vent? I sometimes think of it as the equivalent of an adult and child arguing. At some point, you have to be the adult. The umpires should act the same way. If you need to throw someone out, do it. Then just let him kick and scream like a child. There's no reason to scream back.

Wednesday night in Tampa Bay was just another example of the problem with this umpiring crew. Three people were ejected. B.J. Upton deserved it -- even though he was correct that it was an awful call, by the way. Joe Maddon and John Farrell were both ejected for arguing pretty mildly and neither deserved to be thrown out. Farrell's ejected was absurd because it looked like a completely ordinary conversation. No one else even knew he was arguing until the umpire made an issue out of it. You have to be pretty insecure to toss a guy who isn't doing anything to cause a scene. Maddon's ejection was absurd because he was simply asking a question and West later admitted he blew the call. Oh, wait, he said "it appears we may have erred." Quite an admission, huh?

Look, I understand the umpires take abuse and don't get near enough respect for the job they do. That's precisely why this crew is such a problem. These guys make it harder on the rest of the umpires in the bigs. You ever hear one bad apple spoils the whole bunch? If fans, media, players and coaches all have a sour taste about calls they see on a day-to-day basis from a group of umpires, suddenly the entire group of major-league umpires are stained. In order to stop people from having a sour taste in their mouths about umpiring, these guys need to quit putting themselves in the spotlight.

I don't know if they like or even crave the negative attention -- as some would say that's better than no attention at all -- but umpiring isn't supposed to be something that makes you famous. If someone is in it for anything but the job itself, they are in the wrong profession.

Enough of the constant ejections, ripping off the mask to scream at a dugout, tossing pitchers without warning or waiting for the TV cameras to come back on before running a guy. Just do your job and stay anonymous, that's all we're asking. No one is paying to watch an umpire sideshow. I'm guessing that's how Major League Baseball feels as well -- it just won't publicly say it.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: October 19, 2010 8:43 pm
Edited on: October 20, 2010 1:29 am

Replay used selectively for Yankees

fan interferrence If you're going to have replay, why not use it?

It looked as if the ball Robinson Cano hit was going out, but the fan in the Derek Jeter jersey had his hands over the wall and hit Nelson Cruz's glove. That's tough to see with the naked eye. Jim Reynolds was the umpire on the right field line and he was adamant the ball was out. It just seems egotistical not to look at it. If you're so sure you're right, the video will back you.

The instant replay can be used for fan interference, why not look at it in that case?

I'm don't think it would have been overturned, but what would it hurt to have looked? If the goal is to get it right, it wasn't even close -- you've got to look at that. In Game 3 of the Reds-Phillies series, a similar play -- one that wasn't even nearly as close -- was reviewed on a Chase Utley home run. The umpires saw it quickly, and upheld the call in about a minute. At least the replay would show the Yankee fan in the Jeter jersey was a lout.

Reynolds got it wrong again on Lance Berkman's apparent homer. The umpires did look at it and overturned the call. They got one right, at least. But both should have been reviewed.

UPDATE: The Star-Ledger 's Brendan Prunty spoke to one of the fans who reached over (clearly in the picture) the wall to get the ball.

"It was definitely over the wall," said 20-year old Jared Macchirole, a Penn State student from Queens. "It hit the cement before I got to it."

Of course, Macchirole is seen going clear over the wall to judge the ball that was "definitely over the wall" so his judgement may not be so keen.

Macchirole said the ball hit his brother Jay, sitting to his right, before it hit him.

After the play, TBS replays showed Jared Macchirole making obscene gestures at Cruz and yelling at him, which Macchirole (who is not turning out to be the state's best witness) denies.

"I saw him pointing at us," Macchirole said. "But I couldn't hear what he was saying. Everyone was celebrating."

UPDATE: The two claim to the New York Daily News that they didn't touch Nelson's giove at all. Although someone did, since replays clearly showed Nelson glove being smooshed. Of course, Macchriole reportedly denied making obscene gestures toward Cruz, which can be seen on many screengrabs across the internet.

"We didn't touch his glove," Jay Macchirole told the Daily News . "A lot of people were just going for the ball. He didn't touch his glove."

UPDATE: Texas manager Ron Washington didn't ask for a replay review, Reynolds said.

"From the angle I had, I was very confident that I got the call write," he told reporters (via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram ).

Crew chief Gerry Davis said after seeing the replay that he believed the crew got the call right.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: October 5, 2010 2:00 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 11:10 am

Division Series umpires announced

So, who among this group of umpires will be the reason instant replay is expanded this offseason? Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com has the list :

Anyway, here are your four umpiring crews for the Division Series:

Yankees-Twins: Jerry Crawford, Hunter Wendelstedt, Greg Gibson, Brian O'Nora, Gary Darling, Chris Guccione.

Braves-Giants: Dana DeMuth, Paul Nauert, Paul Emmel, Mike Winters, Jerry Layne, Ed Hickox.

Rangers-Rays: Tim Welke, Jim Wolf, Jerry Meals, Bill Miller, Jeff Kellogg, Mike DiMuro.

Phillies-Reds: John Hirschbeck, Bruce Dreckman, Sam Holbrook, Ed Rapuano, Gary Cederstrom, Rob Drake.

No Bob Davidson or Joe West -- but they could be back in time for the Championship Series.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Category: MLB
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