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Thursday, January 15, 2015

MiLB Double-A, Triple-A to Adopt 20-Second Pitch Clock

Double- and Triple-A will likely use a 20-second pitch clock in 2015, according to MiLB.com. Taking place at the January Arizona meetings is a negotiation with the players' union over pace-of-game concerns. Minor League Baseball's higher levels will also reportedly implement other methods tested during 2014's Arizona Fall League.
The Pitch Clock. Photo: Arizona Fall League

These include a modification of OBR Rule 6.02(d) regarding a batter keeping at least one foot in the batter's box throughout his at-bat (with limited exception), the manager's ability to request an intentional walk as opposed to his pitcher throwing four times, and a limit of three non-substitutive defensive conferences/mound visits per game.

During the 2013 Winter Meetings, MLB Chief Baseball Officer (then Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations) Joe Torre said, "There is a chance that will happen."

Sunday, January 11, 2015

MLB Hires Tripp Gibson, Mark Ripperger, Will Little

MLB hired umpires Tripp Gibson and Mark Ripperger to the full-time staff, according to the Wendelstedt Umpire School; Will Little is the third umpire hired. Gibson, Ripperger, and Little officiated the most MLB games of all umpires in 2014 (149, 142, and 141, respectively). Gibson, who has been working the Dominican Winter League, purportedly left the Dominican Republic in order to return to the United States to complete the hiring process. Gibson's hire to the MLB staff was first reported on January 9 by George Torres of the Dominican's Radio Universal.

Umpire retirement information will be forthcoming when available.

MLB Umpire Tripp Gibson
Hal 'Tripp' Gibson III: With just 173 games of Major League experience over two seasons (24 in 2013, 149 in 2014), Mayfield, Kentucky native Hal Howard Gibson III joins MLB's umpiring roster with the fewest games officiated of any of the 9 umpires hired over the past two seasons. Gibson worked as a AAA call-up while in the Pacific Coast League. A 2006 graduate of the Wendelstedt School, the 33-year-old Gibson has worked the Gulf Coast, New York-Penn, South Atlantic, California, Florida State, Eastern and Southern Leagues before his PCL promotion. Gibson was the 2014 UEFL Fill-In Umpire of the Year award winner and served as crew chief for the 2013 Arizona Fall League experiment with expanded instant replay review.
> MLB Debut: July 8, 2013
> First and Most Recent MLB Ejection: June 14, 2014 (OAK Athletics 3B Josh Donaldson).

MLB Umpire Will Little (left)
Will Little: William Max Little III from Fall Branch, Tennessee, joins the full-time staff with 197 games of big league experience over two seasons (56 in 2013, 141 in 2014). The 30-year-old Little graduated from the Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring in 2006 and since officiated in the Gulf Coast, Appalachian, South Atlantic, Carolina, Southern and International Leagues.
> MLB Debut: June 24, 2013
> First MLB Ejection: June 27, 2013 (BAL Orioles 3B Manny Machado)
> Most Recent MLB Ejection: August 26, 2014 (LA Dodgers PH Andre Ethier).

MLB Umpire Mark Ripperger
Mark Ripperger: Mark Anthony Ripperger promotes to full-time status with 211 big league games over five seasons under his belt (4 in 2010, 41 in 2011, 12 in 2012, 12 in 2013, 142 in 2014). The 34-year-old Ripperger, from Escondido California, is a 2003 graduate of the Wendelstedt School and has worked the Arizona, Northwest, Midwest, California, Eastern, Hawaii Winter and Pacific Coast Leagues.
> MLB Debut: September 30, 2010
> First MLB Ejection: August 13, 2011 (BOS Red Sox Manager Terry Francona)
> Most Recent MLB Ejection: August 27, 2014 (MIL Brewers Manager Ron Roenicke).

Most Games Officiated During the 2014 Regular Season (bold denotes umpires hired since 04/14)
1) Tripp Gibson - 149
2) Mark Ripperger - 142
3) Will Little - 141
4) John Tumpane - 138
5) Quinn Wolcott - 132
6) Marvin Hudson, Paul Emmel, Vic Carapazza, Adam Hamari - 127
10) Mark Carlson - 126

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Winter Leagues Baseball Ejections, December 2014

Here is baseball's December 2014 Winter Leagues ejections update, including the Caribbean Winter & Australian Baseball Leagues:

HP Umpire Vincent Morales: Criollos de Caguas RF Henry Ramos for arguing a strike call (RC, 12/1)
HP Umpire Santo Castillo: Tigres del Licey DH Jose Ruiz for arguing a strike 3 call (D, 12/4)
3B Umpire Stewart Howe: Melbourne Aces 3B Josh Davies for arguing an out call (ABL, 12/6)
HP Umpire Richard Mason: Melbourne Aces Manager Tommy Thompson, same out call (ABL, 12/6)
HP Umpire Verman Mejia: Toros del Este 1B Allan Dykstra for arguing a strike 3 call (D, 12/6)
HP Umpire Jair Fernandez: Aguilas de Mexicali 1B Josh Whitesell for arguing a strike 3 call (M, 12/7)
HP Umpire Nate White: Tiburones de La Guaira C Miguel Gonzalez for arguing a strike 2 call (V, 12/7)
HP Umpire Manuel Araiza: Yaquis de Obregon DH Donald Lutz for arguing a strike 3 call (M, 12/9)
HP Umpire Ryan Harder: Perth Heat LF Tim Smith for arguing a strike 3 call (ABL, 12/11)
HP Umpire Charlie Rivera: Indios de Mayaguez SS Luis Figueroa for Unsportsmanlike-NEC (RC, 12/13)
HP Umpire Edwin Moscoso: Aguilas del Zulia Manager Eddie Perez, batter's interference call (V, 12/13)
HP Umpire Riley Barrington: Adelaide Bite Manager Brooke Knight, strike 3 call (ABL, 12/14) [Video]
HP Umpire Ron Teague: Tigres del Licey Manager Wally Backman, batter's interference call (D, 12/14)
1B Umpire Orlando Lopez: Venados de Mazatlan Manager Miguel Ojeda, check swing call (M, 12/17)
HP Umpire Kelvin Bultron: Cangrejeros de Santurce C A.J. Jimenez, ball call (RC, 12/17)
3B Umpire Nate White: Bravos de Margarita Manager Henry Blanco, check swing K3 (V, 12/19)
HP Umpire Carlos Velez: Indios de Mayaguez 2B Jesmuel Valentin, strike three call (RC, 12/22)
HP Umpire Carlos Torres: Caribes de Anzoategui Manager Omar Lopez, ball call (V, 12/22)
HP Umpire Tom West: Brisbane Bandits Manager Dave Nillson, ball calls (ABL, 12/22) [Video]
HP Umpire Kelvin Bultron: Criollos de Caguas Manager Alex Cora, ball calls (RC, 12/22)
HP Umpire Jairo Martinez: Leones del Caracas P Loiger Padron, balls and strikes (V, 12/22)
HP Umpire Jairo Martinez: Leones del Caracas DH Bobby Abreu, strike 3 call (V, 12/22)
3B Umpire Socrates Marin: Caneros de los Mochis SS Emmanuel Avila, check swing (M, 12/23)
HP Umpire Carlos Torres: Tigres de Aragua P Ramon Garcia, balls and strikes (V, 12/30)
3B Umpire Brett Robson: Melbourne Aces SS Brad Harman, 3B Josh Davies, NEC (ABL, 12/30) [Video]
HP Umpire Peter Bowie: Melbourne Aces C Kellin Deglan, strike 3 call (ABL, 12/30) [Video]
HP Umpire Carlos Velez: Senadores de San Juan P Miguel Martinez, ball call (RC, 12/30)

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

Monday, January 5, 2015

John Hirschbeck Announces 2015 Return After Son's Death

MLB umpire John Hirschbeck announced his return to baseball in 2015, describing the great importance umpiring and baseball played throughout his and his late son Michael's life. After working MLB's opening week, John Hirschbeck took to umpiring's bereavement list with the death of son Michael at age 27. In 1993, 8-year-old John Drew Hirschbeck died of the rare inherited brain disease ALD.

2015 will be Hirschbeck's fourth return to baseball since missing the entire 2008 season recuperating from back surgery and, in his words, "much more important."

Hirschbeck was the UEFL's 2014 Honorable Umpire of the Year alongside veteran Ted Barrett.

Video: Hirschbeck announces his return to the game and remembers his son Michael (MLBAM)

Monday, December 29, 2014

MLB Network Countdown's Top 20 Ejections of 2014

The UEFL reviews the Top 20 Ejections of 2014 by umpire & ejected player/manager, as selected by MLB Network and aired during their offseason "MLB Network Countdown" series. As was the case in 2013, this year's list includes several bench clearing brawls, bean-ball ejections and both UEFL Ejections of the Year. Enjoy this year-end recap of the 2014 ejection season and Happy New Year!

*Note: Quality of Correctness is provided in the following format: Y=Correct, N=Incorrect, Y=Irrecusable.

MLB Network Countdown: The Top 20 Most Unforgettable Ejections of 2014
Note: Click each umpire's name & ejection # to be taken to the associated ejection report from the season.
20: E 103: DJ Reyburn (2); Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire (Ball One Call, QOC = Y).
19: E 125: David Rackley (1); Dodgers RF Yasiel Puig (Strike Three Call, QOC = N).
18: E 053-054: Tim Timmons (2-3); Tigers 1B M Cabrera & Mgr B Ausmus (Check Swing, QOC = Y).
17: E 135: Bill Welke (1); Rays SS Yunel Escobar (Strike One Call, QOC = N).
16: E 121-122: James Hoye (3-4); Athletics 2B Nick Punto, M Bob Melvin (Strike Three Call, QOC = N).
15: E 134: Jim Joyce (1); Tigers Manager Brad Ausmus (Replay Review, QOC = Y).
14: E 086-089: Jordan Baker (2-5); ATL-COL Carpenter, Weiss, Masset, Runnels (Bean Balls, QOC = U).
13: E 129-130: T Basner, Jeff Nelson (5, 3); PIT P Justin Wilson, M Clint Hurdle (Throwing At, QOC = U).
12: E 050: Jerry Layne (2); Athletics P Scott Kazmir (Ball Four Call, QOC = N).
11: E 181-184: Kellogg, Bellino (3-5, 7); Marlins x4 (Unsportsmanlike-NEC/Throwing At, QOC = U).
10: E 012-014: Fieldin Culbreth (2-4); MIL Gomez & Narron, PIT Travis Snider (Fighting, QOC = U).
9: E 080-081: Adrian Johnson (1-2); BAL Manny Machado, OAK Fernando Abad (USC-NEC, QOC = U).
8: E 052: Will Little (2); Marlins Manager Mike Redmond (Strike Three Call, QOC = Y).
7: E 033: Laz Diaz (1); Yankees Manager Joe Girardi (Strike One Call, QOC = Y).
6: E 045: Lance Barksdale (1); Marlins Manager Lloyd McClendon (Check Swing, QOC = Y).
5: E 065-068: Bellino, Kellogg (3-5, 2); Red Sox x4 (Arguing Warnings & Throwing At, QOC = U).
4: E 017: Gerry Davis (1); Yankees P Michael Pineda (Illegal Substance/Pine Tar, QOC = U).
3: E P-1|2: Vic Carapazza (P1|2); Nationals 2B A Cabrera, Mgr Matt Williams (Strike 3, QOC = Y).
2: E 137: Mike Winters (1); Marlins Manager Mike Redmond (Replay Review, QOC = Y).
1: E 189: Joe West (3); Phillies P Jonathan Papelbon (Lewd Gesture/Unsportsmanlike-NEC, QOC = U).

UEFL 2014 Ejections of the Year: 1) E 189: Joe West (Ranked #1). 2) E 137: Mike Winters (#2).

Total Correct: 9 / Total Incorrect: 4 / Total Irrecusable: 7 = 69.2% Accuracy (Compare to 80.0% in 2013)
Links to previous years' "Most Unforgettable Ejections" countdown: 2012 | 2013.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

MLB, Umpires Reach Agreement on New 5-Year Contract

MLB and the World Umpires Association reached agreement on a five-year contract according to several sources who wished to remain anonymous. The new CBA which will bring about five more years of labor peace must still be ratified by the umpires and league owners in January, but ratification is expected. As the MLB-Umpires deal was reached prior to the previous CBA's expiration of December 31, 2014, this can be considered outgoing Commissioner Bud Selig's last major labor contract.

Once ratified by both sides, the proposed five-year contract, set to run from January 2015 through December 2019, will replace the present five-year deal signed in 2009.

Umpires were represented by counsel Brian Lam of Washington, DC's Lam Law, PLLC and on-field umpires Joe West (President of WUA), Fieldin Culbreth (Vice President), and Jerry Layne (Secretary/Treasurer), with the governing board comprised of at-large members Phil Cuzzi, Mike Everitt, Sam Holbrook, Dan Iassogna, Jeff Kellogg and Mike Winters.

Source: USA Today/The Associated Press

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Australian Umpire Greg Howard Hit, Taken to Hospital

Australian Baseball League umpire Greg Howard was hit in the head by a bat during the ABL All-Star Game and taken to a Melbourne hospital as a precaution after positive evaluation from training staff. With one out and none on in the top of the 2nd inning of the World All-Stars vs. Team Australia game, World batter C.J. Beatty swung at a Tim Atherton pitch, his bat striking the right side of Howard's head on the back swing. Howard was removed from the game due to injury and replaced by  alternate umpire Michael Lyons. The ABL subsequently tweeted that Howard was given "the all clear."

Howard appears to have been struck on the right side of his traditional-style face mask, above the right ear at the temple.

Wrap: World All-Stars vs. Team Australia (ABL All-Star Game), 12/17/14
Video: Beatty's overswing drills veteran plate umpire Howard in the head during ABL ASG

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

MLB Director Justin Klemm Talks Replay at SVG Summit

MLB Director of Instant Replay Justin Klemm recently spoke at the Sports Video Group Summit, addressing baseball's inaugural season of instant replay in the overall framework of deciding what replay system to use. The SVG Summit brings together several representatives and sports production figures from leagues and media outlets across the country to discuss all facets of game presentation.

Video: MLB Director Klemm Talks Replay
Klemm was featured as part of the MLB-centric panel, "Going Deep for Baseball Production: New Workflows, New Technologies," a group featuring MLBAM Broadcast Infrastructure Engineer Tom Psipsikas (Statcast), YES Network's Woody Freiman, Turner Sports Director Matthew Lipp and ESPN MLB senior producer Phil Orlins.

Klemm discussed baseball's decision to incorporate a challenge replay system in the interest of pace-of-game considerations, stating that baseball considered and then opted against using a college football-esque booth initiated review system. Klemm explained the decision making process, saying that if such a system was in place, "the umpires, because they want to get the plays right, they would stop on every close play and, thus, we'd interrupt the flow of the game."

As if to confirm Replay's tremendous influence over professional sports broadcasting, the corresponding NBA panel featured NBA Senior Vice President of Replay and Referee Operations Joe Borgia.

Video: MLB Replay Director Justin Klemm talks pro baseball replay and why challenges exist

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Replaying The Third Team on MLB Network

A few video clips of MLB Network's The Third Team are online as the umpire documentary for 2014 debuted last Friday. Although the show still has a few rebroadcasts scheduled for Monday, December 15 at 4:00 AM Eastern Time and Sunday, December 21 at 5:00 PM Eastern, many American and nearly all international MLB umpiring fans do not have access to the cable channel and are unable to see MLB Network's programming.

MLB Advanced Media—the same technical gurus behind MLB's Replay Operations Center in New York—posted a few segments of 'The Third Team' to MLB Video over the weekend. While these clips do not encompass the entirety of the 2014 episode, posted below is a list of 2014 'Third Team' segments with links to video clips of the segments or micro-features, as available on MLB.com.

MLB Network: "The Third Team" All Access
0. Teaser-Trailer for The Third Team All-Access, World Series (0:15)
I. Introduction
- a. Highlights/Soundbite teaser package
- b. Calling the World Series Crew with MLB Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre at Park Avenue (5:11)
II. Game 1: San Francisco Giants at Kansas City Royals
- a. Feature: HP Umpire Jerry Meals
III. Game 2: SF@KC
- a. Feature: HP Umpire Eric Cooper
- b. Peacemakers: Game management of a quasi-bench clearing incident (2:59)
IV. Game 3: KC@SF
- a. Feature: HP Umpire Jim Reynolds
V. Game 4: KC@SF
- a. Feature: HP Umpire Ted Barrett
- b. Anatomy of a Replay Review: 2B Umpire Kellogg's safe call confirmed by Replay Official Meals (3:59)
VI. Game 5: KC@SF
- a. Feature: HP Umpire Hunter Wendelstedt
VII. Game 6: SF@KC
- a. Ted Barrett's off-day visit to Negro Leagues museum, last surviving umpire Bob Motley.
- b. Feature: HP Umpire Jeff Kellogg
- c. Former chief ump Motley visits crew prior to Game 6 and is honored as Veteran of the Game.
VIII. Game 7: SF@KC
- a. Feature: HP Umpire Jeff Nelson
- b. Challenge, instant replay review overturns call on slide into first base
IX. Recap and summary

Friday, December 12, 2014

WS Umpires Reynolds, Barrett Join Hot Stove

World Series Umpires Ted Barrett and Jim Reynolds joined MLB Network's Hot Stove as baseball continued its promotion of Friday night's MLB Network Special, The Third Team: All Access.

During Barrett's segment, Ron Darling asked about instant replay review, Matt Vasgergian asked about having a camera crew and microphones following the crew around during the Fall Classic, and Barrett talked about the powder keg of a bench clearing non-incident.

Barrett discussed his umpiring history, calling himself "the luckiest man in the world" while talking about his development in situation handling from eventually provoking conflict to managing the game and its players.

Jim Reynolds: "Can you believe they put me in charge of this?"

Speaking with "cousin" Harold Reynolds and Fran Charles, Jim Reynolds talked about having his family travel to the World Series, the adjustment to instant replay and handling failure, and bearing witness to a perfect game.

Video: Barrett talks World Series and previews The Third Team with Matt Vasgergian, Ron Darling
Video: Reynolds calls into Hot Stove in-studio to discuss umpiring, promote MLB Network Special