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Appeals Board: Reverses E-181-182 Kellogg, Bellino 3, 7.
The Left Field Corner: Read the September 2014 Issue of LF Corner

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

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Torre Talks Umpires, Replays, Wendelstedt Joins High Heat

Umpire Hunter Wendelstedt and MLB Executive VP of Baseball Operations Joe Torre, soon to be Chief Baseball Officer, joined two MLB Network shows to discuss umpires and expanded instant replay review while promoting Friday evening's The Third Team umpiring special on MLB Network. Wendelstedt joined High Heat's Chris Russo while Joe Torre joined the crew at MLB Tonight.

In his interview with "Mad Dog" Russo, Wendelstedt discussed his plate job during Game 5 of the World Series: "You haven't accomplished everything until you work home plate in the World Series...I was nervous that it was going to be a sweep and I needed Game 5 just to make sure I worked the plate."

Regarding getting wrapped up with a dominant pitcher like Madison Bumgarner, "As an umpire, you have to take your time and focus."

Regarding a pitcher tipping his cap upon exiting the game, "When they come out and they let you know they respect the job you've just done, that makes you feel proud...It's nice to be recognized every once in a while."

Video: Hunter Wendelstedt talks World Series during Third Team promo interview with Russo

Meanwhile in San Diego, Torre positively reviewed the replay system and praised younger umpires in New York overturning veteran officials' calls throughout the system as a sign that "they're all in on it." The UEFL's Instant Replay database for 2014 shows that, on the average, veteran umpires and crew chiefs experienced a greater incidence of overturned calls than younger full-time MLB umpires: the correlation between years of MLB service and % of overturned calls was decidedly positive.

Torre agreed that managers exiting the dugout to stand with the umpire while the video coordinator and bench coach make their decision was an unnecessary component of the process, noting, "we'll probably make an adjustment there...and several other things."

Regarding the pitch clock experiment during the Arizona Fall League: "I thought it worked. It picked up the pace of game." As I wrote in the September 2014 edition of The Left Field Corner, "time between pitches is the single-largest hurdle to MLB reducing its pace of game quotient."

Video: Greg Amsinger leads MLB Tonight's interview with EVP Torre at the Winter Meetings

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

MLB-WUA Contract Talks Stall, Lockout Possible (Source)

MLB may lockout its umpires if union-league cannot agree on contract terms, according to an anonymous baseball official. The World Umpires Association, founded in 2000 to replace the former Major League Umpires Association, previously signed a five-year deal in 2009, which at the time was the largest-ever contract in MLB history. That CBA runs through December 31, 2014, which means the WUA and MLB must ratify a new deal prior to the 2015 season or—according to the anonymous MLB source—a lockout is on the horizon.

Ergo, while teams and general managers across the league descend on San Diego for baseball's winter meetings, the umpires attempt to renew and revise their deal with baseball.

At the negotiation table for the umpires is union legal counsel Brian Lam of Washington, DC's Lam Law, PLLC. WUA executive board members include 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.

Umpires previously were locked out to start the regular season in 1995, when the MLB club owners held a 120-day standoff with Richie Phillips' MLUA during which replacement umpires were used. A series of news stories from December 23, 1994 had predicted the lockout by showing the differences in what the MLUA wanted and what the AL and NL offices were willing to concede for their umpires. The most recent (and current) CBA was ratified and announced on December 23, 2009.

In 1999, umpires attempted a mass resignation as part of a collective bargaining strategy. Fearing another lockout, baseball simply accepted the resignations while John Hirschbeck founded and assumed leadership of the WUA, leading to not only mass hiring, but years of legal battles and minor league journeys that ultimately brought umpires like West, Bob Davidson and Ed Hickox back to the big leagues.

The NBA and NFL also experienced recent lockouts of their officials.

H/T: @JoshVernier610

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Third Team: MLB Network to Air 2014 Ump Show

MLB Network will air its umpire-centric 'The Third Team" All-Access, a look at and documentary of the 2014 World Series umpiring crew: Jeff Kellogg, Jerry Meals, Eric Cooper, Jim Reynolds, Ted Barrett, Hunter Wendelstedt and Jeff Nelson. The 2014 episode of this MLB Network Special airs Friday, December 12 at 9:00 PM Eastern Time with repeats scheduled for Saturday, December 13 at 1:00 AM and 1:00 PM Eastern, Monday, December 15 at 4:00 AM Eastern, and Sunday, December 21 at 5:00 PM Eastern. The reprisal of "The Third Team" is the network's first since 2012.

Watch the trailer for "The Third Team" All-Access: 2014 World Series Umpires here.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Fall and Winter Baseball Ejections, November 2014

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

HP Umpire Ian Fazio: Mesa Solar Sox 2B Tony Renda for arguing balls and strikes (AFL, 11/4)
HP Umpire Emil Jimenez: Caribes de Anzoategui Manager Omar Lopez, strike three call (V, 11/6)
HP Umpire Greg Kent: Sydney Blue Sox P Dae-Sung Koo, ball four call (ABL, 11/9)
HP Umpire Kelvin Bultron: Senadores de San Juan P Malcolm Diaz, balls and strikes (RC, 11/10)
HP Umpire Adam Schwarz: Estrellas de Oriente Manager Dean Treanor, out call (D, 11/13)
HP Umpire Gabrial Alfonzo: Aguilas del Zulia Manager Eddie Perez, ball four call (V, 11/13)
HP Umpire Blake Halligan: Perth Heat Manager Steven Fish, balls and strikes (ABL, 11/16)
HP Umpire Blake Halligan: Perth Heat 2B Luke Hughes, safe call at third base (ABL, 11/16)
3B Umpire Neil Poulton: Adelaide Bite Manager Brooke Knight, out-catch call (ABL, 11/16)
3B Umpire Mariano Vizcaino: Estrellas de Oriente 2B Jordany Valdespin, out call (D, 11/21)
HP Umpire Neil Poulton: Brisbane Bandits C Kuan-Wei Yang, strike three call (ABL, 11/21)
HP Umpire Richard Mason: Sydney Blue Sox Manager Jason Pospishil, fair ball call (ABL, 11/24)
HP Umpire Charlie Rivera: Cangrejeros de Santurce 1B Jonathan Rodriguez, strike three call (RC, 11/24)
HP Umpire Vicente Madero: Aguilas de Mexicali RF Dave Sappelt, strike three call (M, 11/25)
HP Umpire Carlos Cotto: Senadores de San Juan RF Jon Garcia, strike one call (RC, 11/27)
HP Umpire Ron Teague: Gigantes del Cibao SS Jonathan Diaz, strike three call (D, 11/28)
HP Umpire Delfin Colon: Criollos de Caguas CF Miguel Abreu, balls and strikes (RC, 11/28)
HP Umpire Jonathan Parra: Caribes de Anzoategui 3B Niuman Romero, strike three call (V, 11/28)
1B Umpire Travis Eggert: Tiburones de La Guaira Manager Buddy Bailey, safe call (V, 11/28)
HP Umpire Marcelo Alfonzo: Tiburones de La Guaira P Edgmer Escalone, ball four call (V, 11/28)
HP Umpire Tom West: Melbourne Aces 3B Brad Harman, strike three call (ABL, 11/29)
HP Umpire Tom West: Melbourne Aces Pitching Coach John Hussey, DP interference NC (ABL, 11/29)
1B Umpire Takahito Matsuda: Adelaide Bite P Matthew Williams, check swing NC-ball (ABL, 11/30)
HP Umpire Trent Thomas: Perth Heat DH Allan de San Miguel, strike call (ABL, 11/30)

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

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Dale Scott Comes Out as Gay After Feature Article

Veteran MLB Umpire Dale Scott has publicly come out as gay, marrying his 28-year partner Michael Rausch last November. Those who knew Scott well knew Rausch—the pair traveled to Australia for the 2014 Opening Series—and Scott informally came out and introduced the officiating community to Rausch in Referee magazine's October feature, "Redemption."

Dale Scott & Dan Iassogna listen in on a
Replay Review during the 2014 season.
On December 2, SB*Nation's Outsports division, which covers LGBT issues in athletics, formally publicized Scott's relationships and marriage, having seen the Referee article, subsequently reaching out to Scott and the Referee editorial staff.

Scott knew what his profile in Referee meant: "Obviously, when I sent that picture to [Referee magazine editor] Jeff [Stern], I knew exactly what it meant. In a small way this was opening that door in a publication that wasn't going to be circulated nationwide. It could be picked up, but it's not Time magazine." And it almost was. Sensitive to former umpire Dave Pallone's own story—in which he was publicly outed by the New York Post in 1988 and fired by baseball shortly thereafter (in his book, Behind the Mask: My Double Life in Baseball, Pallone wrote that baseball forced him out because he was gay)—the UEFL opted not to run the story at that time: Outsports is the more appropriate venue, as is the article's timing.

When Outsports first contacted Scott in September, it was a similar tale: Worried it would cause a distraction from MLB's postseason—and Scott's own assignment to the Dodgers-Cardinals National League Division Series—Outsports and Scott agreed to defer the article to after the postseason.

Said Scott, "I am extremely grateful that Major League Baseball has always judged me on my work and nothing else and that's the way it should be...If this story or the Referee picture motivates somebody somewhere who's an amateur umpire or is trying to go to umpire school and is trying to get a job in the Major Leagues but maybe has doubts because of their sexuality and sees this and it gives them some confidence, that's great."

Scott is the first active MLB umpire to publicly and voluntarily say he is gay, the first active male official in the NBA, NHL, NFL or MLB. The NBA's Violet Palmer was the first active official to declare. She married girlfriend Tanya Stine in the summer of 2014.

Update: Scott's story has been picked up nationally by major news outlets ESPN, Fox Sports, Deadspin, Yahoo!, Bleacher Report, Instinct Magazine, MSN, and locally by many more; "Dale Scott" is trending on Twitter and Facebook.