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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Dale Scott Exits with Injury, Joyce Umps Behind Mound

HP Umpire Dale Scott was injured on a pitch to the hand during the first inning of Thursday's Cubs-Giants split-squad game and left the field as a precaution. With none out and none on, Giants batter Nori Aoki took a 0-0 pitch from Cubs pitcher Jacob Turner for a called ball. The pitch evaded catcher Welington Castillo and struck Scott's hand.

As 3B Umpire Mark Ripperger retreated to the umpire's dressing room in order to change into his plate gear, 1B Umpire Jim Joyce stepped behind the mound to call balls and strikes with 2B Umpire Ron Kulpa filling in at first base, recalling memories of Spring Training 2013, when veteran Tim McClelland served as umpire-in-chief from behind the pitcher after plate umpire Seth Buckminster broke his hand on an errant Wily Peralta fastball that also struck batter Albert Pujols.

Information on Scott's condition was not immediately available; Having recovered from his hand injury, Buckminster worked 66 games during the 2014 MLB season. Ripperger returned to the field as the plate umpire in the bottom of the second inning.

Wrap: Chicago Cubs vs. San Francisco Giants, 3/5/15
Video: Scott leaves with wrist injury, leaving Joyce to call balls and strikes from behind the mound (MLBAM)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Hirschbeck Returns, Gibson Changes Official Name to 'Tripp'

Umpire John Hirschbeck returned to baseball during Spring Training action in Florida's Grapefruit League after nearly one year each on umpiring's extended bereavement list.

Hirschbeck, whose second son Michael passed away in early April 2014, made his 2015 comeback during Wednesday's Phillies-Yankees game. Hirschbeck, whose last MLB contest worked was April 6, 2014, served as a field umpire, starting the game at first base, alongside Tim Welke, Sean Barber and home plate umpire Adam Hamari. Hirschbeck had made appearances at the New York Replay Operations Center in September 2014.

Hal 'Tripp' Gibson, whom MLB hired full-time this January, officially changed his name as appears in the box score from "Hal Gibson III" to "Tripp Gibson III." Gibson's first Spring Training game as a freshly minted MLBU was Wednesday's White Sox-Dodgers game at Camelback Ranch.

Co-hires Will Little (TOR-PIT) and Mark Ripperger (ARI-COL) have kept their pre-promotion names.

Friday, February 20, 2015

MLB Releases Pace of Game, Replay Changes for 2015

MLB announced changes to pace of game and instant replay review for 2015 designed to cut down on game times. For the upcoming season, Major League Baseball's Pace of Game and Instant Replay Committees—with the approval of the MLB Players Association and World Umpires Association—announced the following rules and enforcement changes:

Instant Replay Review (Video: MLB Network Hot Stove Introduces New Rules)
> Managers now will challenge plays from the dugout. The invocation of the Manager's Challenge will be signaled verbally or with a hand gesture by the manager from the top step of the dugout. The Manager will still be permitted to hold play while consulting with replay and coaching personnel. In the event of an inning-ending play to be reviewed, the Manager will be required to leave the dugout immediately to challenge the call, as in 2014.

> As a result of the unreviewable play that was overturned in Kansas City, MLB has added properly touching a base on a tag-up play (including whether a runner left early) to the list of reviewable plays.

> A manager will now retain the challenge after every overturned call, instead of losing his challenge after its second use, regardless of whether the second call was reversed or affirmed.

> As a result of the Rule 7.13 loophole, wherein safe/out plays at home plate could be reviewed "for free" (Crew Chief Review) instead of by Manager's Challenge, MLB has now decided that all home-plate collision reviews must be initiated via Manager's Challenge, unless the Manager is out of challenge after the start of the seventh inning, in which case the Crew Chief Review is available as it would be for any other reviewable play. This leaves 2008-era HR/boundary calls as the only play that always is initiated by the umpiring Crew Chief.

> During Jewel Events (postseason, regular season tiebreaker and All-Star games), Managers will now have two challenges per game.

Pace of Game Rules Changes and Initiatives
> Umpires will enforce Rule 6.02(d), the batter's box pace of play rule that previously applied only to National Association, or Minor League games. The rule requires batters to keep one foot in the batter's box throughout the at-bat unless: the batter swings at a pitch, the batter is forced out of the box by a pitch, the umpire grants a request of "Time," a play is made on a runner at any base, the batter feints a bunt, a wild pitch or passed ball occurs, the pitcher leaves the dirt of the mound after receiving the ball or the catcher leaves the catcher's box to give signals. The penalty for violation is the award of an automatic strike.

> Inning breaks and pitching changes will now be timed by an MLB timer and the eight-pitch warm-up will be forgone in favor of the time. For instance, a pitcher will have 2 minutes and 15 seconds in which to throw as many warm-up pitches as he wishes for a nationally televised game (1:55 for locally televised games). If he throws less than eight, he forfeits the opportunity to throw the remainder of the traditional allotment. The penalty for violation is a League-issued warning and fine.

Press Release: MLB, MLBPA announce pace of game initiatives, replay modifications (MLB.com)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

2015 Major League Spring Training Umpire Roster

MLB released its Spring Training Umpires roster for 2015, which includes all 76 umpires on the freshly expanded Major League staff, plus those minor league umpires invited and assigned to baseball's Spring Training in Arizona's Cactus and Florida's Grapefruit Leagues. For the 2015 season, the Major League staff expanded to 76 (from 74) following MLB's hiring of three umpires and the retirement of one.

The Spring Training roster below also includes sleeve numbers for all applicable umpires, including Minor League call-up umpires authorized to fill in at the Major League level during the regular season. "--" indicates umpire is a Minor League (AAA) official and has not been given a sleeve number for the MLB regular season fill-in list. Newcomers to the MiLB Call-Up list are indicated by bold text.

MLB Spring Training Umpires' Roster - 2015 Pre-Season
MLB StaffMLB StaffMiLB Call-Ups
Baker, Jordan 71
Barksdale, Lance 23
Barrett, Lance 94
Barrett, Ted 65
Barry, Scott 87
Bellino, Dan 2
Blaser, Cory 89
Bucknor, CB 54
Carapazza, Vic 19
Carlson, Mark 6
Cederstrom, Gary 38
Conroy, Chris 98
Cooper, Eric 56
Culbreth, Fieldin 25
Cuzzi, Phil 10
Danley, Kerwin 44
Davidson, Bob 61
Davis, Gerry 12
DeMuth, Dana 32
Diaz, Laz 63
DiMuro, Mike 16
Drake, Rob 30
Dreckman, Bruce 1
Eddings, Doug 88
Emmel, Paul 50
Estabrook, Mike 83
Everitt, Mike 57
Fairchild, Chad 4
Fletcher, Andy 49
Foster, Marty 60
Gibson, Greg 53
Gibson, Hal 'Tripp' 73
Gonzalez, Manny 79
Gorman, Brian 9
Guccione, Chris 68
Hallion, Tom 20
Hernandez, Angel 55
Hickox, Ed 15
Hirschbeck, John 17
Holbrook, Sam 34
Hoye, James 92
Hudson, Marvin 51
Iassogna, Dan 58
Johnson, Adrian 80
Joyce, Jim 66
Kellogg, Jeff 8
Knight, Brian 91
Kulpa, Ron 46
Layne, Jerry 24
Little, Will 93
Marquez, Alfonso 72
Meals, Jerry 41
Miller, Bill 26
Muchlinski, Mike 76
Nauert, Paul 39
Nelson, Jeff 45
O'Nora, Brian 7
Porter, Alan 64
Rackley, David 86
Randazzo, Tony 11
Reyburn, D.J. 70
Reynolds Jim 77
Ripperger, Mark 90
Schrieber, Paul 43
Scott, Dale 5
Tichenor, Todd 13
Timmons, Tim 95
Vanover, Larry 27
Wegner, Mark 14
Welke, Bill 52
Welke, Tim 3
Wendelstedt, Hunter 21
West, Joe 22
Winters, Mike 33
Wolcott, Quinn 81
Wolf, Jim 28

Barber, Sean 29
Basner, Toby 99
Blakney, Ryan --
Buckminster, Seth 67
Byrne, Jon 59
Fagan, Clint 82
Goodman, Ryan --
Gosney, Jeff 40
Hamari, Adam 78
Hoberg, Pat 31
Johnson, Anthony 48
Lentz, Nic --
May, Ben 97
Morales, Gabe 47
Pattillo, Marcus 18
Scheurwater, Stuart 85
Segal, Chris 96
Torres, Carlos --
Tumpane, John 74
Vines, Doug --
Whitson, Chad 62
Woodring, Tom 75

(22 MiLB Umpires)
(76 MLB Umpires)
(98 Total Umpires)

Information obtained by
UEFL on 2/18/2015.
Some observations:
  • MiLB invites dropped by six (from 2014), while full-time MLB umpires increased by two.
  • Bruce Dreckman, John Hirschbeck and Sam Holbrook are returning, Tim McClelland is not.
  • Angel Campos (11 years of Triple-A experience; MLB 2007-2012, 2014) has been released.
  • Umpires who appeared on the 2014 Spring Training MiLB invitee list, but who have been cut for the 2015 preseason are: Allen Bailey, Angel Campos, Shaun Lampe, Jeff Morrow, Brad Myers, Alex Ortiz, and David Soucy.
  • Of these 2014 invitees cut from the 2015 invite list, Shaun Lampe, Jeff Morrow, and Alex Ortiz have been assigned to the 2015 Pacific Coast League. Brad Myers and David Soucy were IL Umpires in 2014. (Baseball switched Campos to the 2014 IL after several years in the PCL.)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Retirement of MLB Umpire Tim McClelland

Veteran MLB Umpire Tim McClelland has retired from baseball's full-time umpire roster. McClelland retires after a 33-year career in the American League (1981-99) and in Major League Baseball (2000-2013).*

Retiring MLB Umpire Tim McClelland
The second-tallest umpire at the time of his retirement (tallest: Jordan Baker), McClelland concludes his illustrious MLB career with 77 ejections, spanning from his first career ejection on July 24, 1983, of Royals infielder George Brett for using a doctored bat as part of the infamous "pine tar game." Lost in the tale of the tape was the story of McClelland's other three ejections that day: Kansas City Manager Dick Howser, coach Rocky Colavito, and pitcher Gaylord Perry, for interfering with the umpires' confiscation by stealing Brett's bat.

Over the years, McClelland ejected Hall of Famers and other legendary ballplayers, including Yankees catcher-turned-manager Yogi Berra, Orioles ironman Cal Ripken, future broadcaster Joe Morgan, PED poster children Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, future boss Joe Torre and scores of others in between.

McClelland presided over David Wells' perfect game in 1998 and tied with fellow crew chief Tom Hallion for taking part in (being on the field for) the most no-hitters amongst active umpires—seven. He participated in three All-Star Games (1986, '98, 2003) and 15 postseasons, reaching the Fall Classic in 1993, 2000, 2002 and 2006. He made the playoff roster every year from 2000 through 2009, when multiple missed calls in Anaheim's AL Championship Series hit the front pages of mainstream sports media.

McClelland's final career ejection occurred June 9, 2012, when he ousted Oakland Athletics Manager Bob Melvin for arguing balls and strikes (QOC = Correct).

*McClelland's final game was in September 2013 as he spent the 2014 season as a member of the full-time MLB staff, but on the Disabled List.

As part of McClelland's retirement, 2014 acting crew chiefs Jerry Meals and Larry Vanover have been permanently promoted to the Crew Chief position.

Friday, February 13, 2015

MLB Considering Changing Strike Zone Definition

MLB may change the definition of its strike zone in 2016, according to league sources. According to the report, the Major League Baseball Playing Rules Committee—whose umpires have been represented by crew chief Brian Gorman since 2011, and Charlie Reliford before him—has put the strike zone on its agenda for the 2015-16 offseason and may tweak Rule 2.00 [Strike Zone] as early as that time. The rule presently reads:
The 1996-present (2015) strike zone in professional baseball.
The STRIKE ZONE is that area over home plate the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants, and the lower level is a line at the hollow beneath the kneecap. The Strike Zone shall be determined from the batter’s stance as the batter is prepared to swing at a pitched ball.
The reason for the review may be tied to decreased offense and run production: the league sources cited technology, including Questec and the now-employed Zone Evaluation system tied to Pitch f/x, and the unintended consequence of a larger, more consistent strike zone, that has led to a recent trend towards pitcher domination.

Mets GM and Playing Rules Committee chairman Sandy Alderson referred to the last time the Committee changed the definition of its strike zone, which occurred in 1996: "I don’t think the Playing Rules Committee at the time of the last change ever expected that the umpires would call strikes at the hollow of the knee."

Thanks to that committee and reinforced by the numbers and evaluation of PFX and ZE, they are.

A 2014 Hardball Times story concluded that the strike zone expanded down the knee, to its hollow, by 46 square inches between 2009 and 2014.

The following is a history of Major League Baseball's strike zone, in the form of [lower-upper limit]:

Key: Green = Lower or Upper Bound same as preceding rules changeYellow = Changed rule.
1887: Batsman's knee - shoulders;
1907: Batsman's knee - shoulders (Adopted by both National and American Leagues)
1950: Top of the knee when batter assumes a natural stance - armpits;
*NOTE: 1957 was the Adoption of Rule 2.00 [Strike] referencing Rule 2.00 [Strike Zone]*
1963: Top of knees when batter assumes a natural stance - top of shoulders;
1969: Top of knees when batter assumes a natural stance - armpits;
1988: Top of knees when prepared to swing - midpoint between top of shoulders and top of pants;
1996: Hollow of the knees when prepared to swing at pitch - midpoint b/w top of shoulders/pants.

H/T: Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan | Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Sunday, February 8, 2015

UEFL Profile of MLB Umpire Tripp Gibson

Presenting the UEFL Profile of MLB Umpire Tripp Gibson
Umpire Hal "Tripp" Gibson
Name: Hal Howard Gibson III
Date of Birth: August 5, 1981
Place of Birth: Mayfield, Kentucky

MiLB Leagues Worked: Gulf Coast, New York-Penn, South Atlantic, California, Florida State, Eastern, Southern, Pacific Coast.
MLB Debut: 2013
Level: MLB
Umpire Uniform Number: 73
Crew Chief: No

2014 Ejections: 1.
Ejection 092 (OAK 3B Josh Donaldson; QOC = Y) *First Career Ejection*

2013 Ejections: None.
Ejection History: 0 (2013), 1 (2014).

UEFL History: Tripp Gibson

Postseason and Special Events History
World Baseball Classic: -
All-Star Game: -
Wild Card Game: -
Division Series: -
Championship Series: -
World Series: -

UEFL Fill-In of the Year Award: 2014

Notes: Named to the full-time MLB staff in January 2015.
» Alum of the Harry Wendelstedt School and Murray State, Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.
» Prior to his appointment, served as a substitute teacher during the minor league offseason.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

UEFL Profile of MLB Umpire Will Little

Presenting the UEFL Profile of MLB Umpire Will Little.
Umpire Will Little (left)
Name: William Max Little III
Date of Birth: March 2, 1984
Place of Birth: Fall Branch, Tennessee

MiLB Leagues Worked: Gulf Coast, Appalachian, South Atlantic, Carolina, Southern, International.
MLB Debut: 2013
Level: MLB
Umpire Uniform Number: 93
Crew Chief: No

2014 Ejections: 4.
Ejection 165 (LAD PH Andre Ethier; QOC = U).
Ejection 138 (STL M Mike Matheny; QOC = Y).
Ejection 052 (MIA M Mike Redmond; QOC = Y).
Ejection 037 (LAD M Don Mattingly; QOC = Y).

2013 Ejections: 3.
Ejection 151 (KC M Ned Yost; QOC = Y).
Ejection 121 (DET P Max Scherzer; QOC = Y).
Ejection 084 (BAL 3B Manny Machado; QOC = Y). *First Career Ejection*

Ejection History: 3 (2013), 4 (2014).

UEFL History: Will Little

Postseason and Special Events History
World Baseball Classic: -
All-Star Game: -
Wild Card Game: -
Division Series: -
Championship Series: -
World Series: -

Notes: Named to the full-time MLB staff in January 2015.
» Alum of the Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring (JEAPU), played baseball at Milligan College.
» Began his umpiring career at Elizabethton Little League; worked the WBC Qualifier in Germany.

Friday, February 6, 2015

UEFL Profile of MLB Umpire: Mark Ripperger

Presenting the UEFL Profile of MLB Umpire Mark Ripperger.
Umpire Mark Ripperger
Name: Mark Anthony Ripperger
Date of Birth: August 6, 1980
Place of Birth: Escondido, California

MiLB Leagues Worked: Arizona, Northwest, Midwest, California, Eastern, Hawaii Winter, Pacific Coast.
MLB Debut: 2010
Level: MLB
Umpire Uniform Number: 90
Crew Chief: No

2014 Ejections: 6.
Ejection 166 (MIL M Ron Roenicke; QOC = Y).
Ejection 145 (STL LF Matt Holliday; QOC = Y).
Ejection 131 (TB M Joe Maddon; QOC = N).
Ejection 091 (PHI M Ryne Sandberg; QOC = U).
Ejection 090 (PHI P Roberto Hernandez; QOC = U).
Ejection 040 (SEA P Felix Hernandez; QOC = N).

2013 Ejections: 1.
Ejection 154 (HOU M Bo Porter; QOC = Y).

2012 Ejections: 1.
Ejection 178 (COL RF Andrew Brown; QOC = N).

2011 Ejections: 1.
Ejection 156 (BOS M Terry Francona; QOC = Y). *First Career Ejection*

Ejection History: 1 (2011), 1 (2012), 1 (2013), 6 (2014).

UEFL History: Mark Ripperger

Postseason and Special Events History
World Baseball Classic: -
All-Star Game: -
Wild Card Game: -
Division Series: -
Championship Series: -
World Series: -

Notes: Named to the full-time MLB staff in January 2015.
» Alum of Harry Wendelstedt & Escondido High School; attended Palomar College & Cal State San Marcos.
» Started umpire career at Escondido Little League at age 16 after breaking his right foot junior year.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Winter Leagues Baseball Ejections, January 2015

Here is baseball's January 2015 Winter Leagues ejections update, including the Caribbean Winter & Australian Baseball Leagues; the regional Caribbean League seasons are now complete, ABL is in playoffs:

2B Umpire Kelvin Bultron: Indios de Mayaguez Manager Carlos Baerga for Unsportsmanlike-NEC (RC, 1/3)
HP Umpire Jorge Teran: Caribes de Anzoategui Manager Omar Lopez for arguing an out call (V, 1/3)
3B Umpire Jair Fernandez: Aguilas de Mexicali Manager Juan Castro for arguing a check swing (M, 1/6)
HP Umpire Carlos R Cotto: Criollos de Caguas 1B Carlos Rivera for arguing a strike three call (RC, 1/7)
HP Umpire Tom Woodring: Toros del Este C Mayo Acosta for arguing a ball call (D, 1/8)
HP Umpire Ulises Dominguez: Tomateros de Culiacan 2B Ramiro Pena for arguing a strike 3 call (M, 1/8)
HP Umpire Jorge Davilla: Indios de Mayaguez RF Luis Montanez for arguing a strike 3 call (RC, 1/12)
HP Umpire David Arrieta: Aguilas del Zulia P Wilfredo Boscan for throwing at a batter (V, 1/12)
HP Umpire David Arrieta: Aguilas del Zulia Manager Eddie Perez for intent HBP after warning (V, 1/12)
HP Umpire Carlos Rey Cotto: Criollos de Caguas LF Juan Silva for arguing a strike 3 call (RC, 1/13)
HP Umpire Nate White: Navegantes del Magallanes 2B Henry Alejandro, balls and strikes (V, 1/18)
HP Umpire Neil Poulton: Adelaide Bite P Tony Vocca for intentionally throwing at batter (ABL, 1/18)
HP Umpire Neil Poulton: Melbourne Aces SS Brad Harman (hit batter) for fighting pitcher (ABL, 1/18)
HP Umpire Tom West: Brisbane Bandits C Ryan Battaglia for arguing a strike 3 call (ABL, 1/18)
1B Umpire Edwin Hernandez: Cangrejeros de Santurce 3B Coach Jose Flores, balk no-call (RC, 1/25)
HP Umpire Jorge Teran: Navegantes del Magallanes Manager Carlos Garcia, ball call (V, 1/28)
HP Umpire Trent Thomas: Perth Heat C Matt Kennelly for arguing a teammate's K3 call (ABL, 1/30)

*ABL = Australian, CS = Caribbean Series (Begins February 2015), D = Dominican (Concluded), M = Mexicana del Pacifico (Concluded), RC = Roberto Clemente (Puerto Rico, Concluded), V = Venezuelan (Concluded)*