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Umpire Big Egos are a Bad Thing for Baseball 0

Posted on April 18, 2015 by Dean Hybl
Jordan Baker added himself to the list of awful ego-driven umpires by ejecting Ubaldo Jimenez during the Orioles-Red Sox game on April 17, 2015

Jordan Baker added himself to the list of awful ego-driven umpires by ejecting Ubaldo Jimenez during the Orioles-Red Sox game on April 17, 2015

Umpires who think they are bigger than the game has been a thorn in the side of baseball for generations. With Bud Selig, who seemed unwilling or incapable of addressing the problem, now out of the way, it is time for his replacement, Rob Manfred, to address this critical issue.

The problem was amplified last night when umpire Jordan Baker, who first umpired in the majors in 2012, made a ridiculous call that has the potential to impact one of the teams involved for days.

It is one thing when umpires make the wrong call on a close play and hold their ground. While you would hope they would be most concerned about getting plays right, part of being good at your job is feeling you are correct. Fortunately, the addition of replay as an opportunity to correct umpire mistakes has helped this phase of the game.

However, the bigger problem, and the one that Baker exemplified last night is when an umpire makes a horrible judgement call that cannot be altered by replay.

With the Baltimore Orioles clinging to a 1-0 lead with two outs and no one on base in the fourth inning, pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez was working on a no-hitter when Boston Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval came to the plate. Considering that Jimenez was horrible in 2014 and fortunate to even make the starting rotation this season, you can guarantee that his focus was to continue the scoreless streak he has had to start the season and to keep getting players out.

So when his first pitch to Sandoval, who as a left-handed hitter with a large figure is known for setting up close to the plate, sailed in and hit Sandoval below the shoulder with a slider, you can bet that he disappointed to have added a base runner, but ready to move on to the next batter, Mike Napoli.

Watching the game live, there seemed to be nothing out of the normal until suddenly Baker came out from behind home plate and immediately threw Jimenez out of the game. There had been no warning or any previous close pitches by either team.

According to crew chief Jerry Meals, who of course is going to defend his fellow umpire, Baker felt that Jimenez was retaliating for a hard slide Sandoval had made into second base earlier in the game.

First, even if the hit-by-pitch was done in retaliation, that is part of the game and has been for generations. However, there is no evidence that the errant pitch was related to any previous action. It was just a bad pitch. Read the rest of this entry →

More of the Same From “Cowboy Joe” 0

Posted on May 27, 2010 by Don Spieles

Here’s a name you should not know but probably do: Joe West

Aside from his aspiring (or is it perspiring) country music career, Joe West is the best known umpire currently in the major leagues.  But pay attention to that sentence because best known is very different from being the best, or even generally good at his job.  Most talking heads agree, Joe West is an average to below average official.  More importantly, he refuses to fade in to the background of the games he calls as a good umpire should.  Instead, West enjoys his stage and, on occasions like Wednesday’s White Sox game, he demands center stage.

West called Chicago’s Mark Buehrle for two balks in the first three innings of their game against the Indians.  Buehrle, known for an exceptional move to first, didn’t like the first one, and his manager, Ozzie Guillen, came out of the dugout, argued with West, and got himself tossed.  Now, Ozzie getting tossed is not even really news worthy, although most observers seem to agree that what Buehrle did in the second inning was not a balk.  In the third inning, West called Buehrle for another balk that was not a balk.  This time, when Buehrle dropped his glove on the ground in disgust, West tossed him.  It did not appear that Buehrle yelled anything at West prior to his ejection, and it was clear that West was waiting for any excuse.

Is Joe West a Good Umpire?

  • Whatever skill he possesses is overshadowed by his showboating (39%, 7 Votes)
  • He's average (28%, 5 Votes)
  • He's lousy (22%, 4 Votes)
  • Yep, He calls 'em like he sees 'em (11%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 18

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Now, balks are a dubious thing at best – most fans I know can’t even explain clearly what constitutes one.  The real issue here isn’t balks, however, it’s roles. Life is much nicer when you and the folks around you know what roles they are in and play them.  Joe West’s role is supposed to be, to steal a line from Full Metal jacket, “In the rear with the gear.”  The is most assuredly not where Joe West wants to be.

Read the rest of this entry →

Joe West and The Real Disgrace of Baseball 2

Posted on April 09, 2010 by Don Spieles

So, the Yankees as Red Sox are playing a three game set. You find yourself in the very lucky position of having enough disposable income to afford tickets for one of these games (some outfield seats go for $200 plus.)  You layout close to a grand to take the wife and kids to Yankee Stadium, you spend a bit more on gas and parking.  You drop another $200 bucks on $5 hot dogs, $10 beers, and over priced game programs and souvenirs for the kiddies.   Given this layout of cash, which of the following options do you choose:

A) A 2 hour, 20 minute lightning-round game, barely longer than a $9 movie.

B) A 4 hour baseball clinic with full counts run up by two of the best lineups in baseball, complete with base runners, full counts, and a couple of lead changes to boot.

"Cowboy Joe" West

Some more obvious observation:  Joe West is a blow-hard attention seeker who hasn’t the first clue what is important to baseball fans.

Joe West, Major League umpire, had this to say about the Yankees and Red Sox recent series at Fenway:

“They’re the two clubs that don’t try to pick up the pace. They’re two of the best teams in baseball. Why are they playing the slowest? It’s pathetic and embarrassing. They take too long to play.’’

Why is it that an umpire who’s been in the league for the years that West has doesn’t realize the the very fact that these are the two best teams in baseball is the exact reason why their games go so long.  As Curt Schilling pointed out recently, two great line-ups, taking lots of pitches, giving up no at-bats, makes for long games.   Read the rest of this entry →

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      October 1, 2017 | 8:21 am
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      Joe Cronin

      In recognition of the start of the baseball playoffs, we recognize as the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month a man who managed pennant winning teams in Washington and Boston and spent more than decade as a player-manager.

      When the Boston Red Sox acquired Joe Cronin following the 1934 season they didn’t just get an All-Star player, they also got a new manager.

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