Friday, January 10, 2014

Portland Tribune Interviews Umpire Jim Joyce About Career

MLB Umpire Jim Joyce spoke with Oregon's Portland Tribune to start the new year, revealing to the publication's Kerry Eggers that, among other things, he almost left professional baseball in the wake of the now infamous Armando Galarraga imperfect game incident: "I could very easily have walked away from the game of baseball after that season. I could have slinked away. I beat myself up. if I didn't have people like Nick and my wife encouraging me, I might have."

Major League Umpire Jim Joyce
Photo: CCA 2.0 Wikimedia.
The "Nick" Joyce refers to is Nick Hamel, a Floridian teenager with spinal bifida after that June 2010 Detroit affair. In his letter, Hamel related a personal story with the takeaway lesson: "You're crying over spilt milk."

This is the same Nick Hamel, then 11 years old, mentioned in Joyce's book, Nobody's Perfect, delivered by Phil Cuzzi. In that e-mail, Hamel wrote:
Please tell Mr. Joyce to hang in there, keep his head up, and give him a hug for me the next time you see him...Eventually things will settle down and it will fall into the spilt milk category. You guys have a tough job and you all do it well...better than anybody else that is why you are in the big leagues.
Hamel is one of us—an "umps [sic] best friend"—and when Joyce finally met Hamel, he was gifted the umpire's hat Joyce wore that night in Detroit: "Just in case anyone's wondering, I'm [Joyce] hoping the Hall of Fame never calls."

Joyce obviously did not retire after that season, a decision that not only kept MLB's favorite umpire (as voted by the players) in the game, it also may have saved Levy employee Jayne Powers' life when, prior to the Monday, August 20, 2012 Marlins-Diamondbacks game, Joyce performed CPR on Powers when she stopped breathing during cardiac arrest. After two rounds of CPR and a defibrillator's shock, Powers moved, then breathed.

Arizona recognized Joyce the following evening, broadcaster Brad Steinke stating: "Without a doubt, that man right there saved a life." Joyce used the opportunity to encourage all viewers to learn CPR.

The remainder of Joyce's interview, given prior to an umpiring clinic at local Concordia University, delved into baseball philosophy—from home plate collisions and expanded instant replay ("I'm not allowed to talk about that right now") to his obstruction call to end Game 3 of the 2013 World Series and journey to get there.

Finally, Joyce responded to a question about the future and retirement, saying, "I have a couple of more [years] in me, if my knees hold up. We'll see what happens after this year."

Joyce was the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League's Honorable Umpire of the Year in 2010 and 2012 and recipient of the UEFL's Umpire of the Year Award in 2009 and 2013.

News: EGGERS: Talkin' baseball with Beaverton's Jim Joyce, MLB's top umpire (Portland Tribune)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Ump or Ref? A Fan's Guide to Officiating Titles in Sports

National Championships across all sports tend to bring out greater media coverage, higher energy with charged atmospheres and casual fans, many of whom may not be familiar with the game.

Twitter fans question the existence of a football umpire.
Of course, this has the unintended—yet completely expected—consequence of creating a situation in which fringe fans, for lack of a better term, become confused. I've noticed this trend finds its way into those winner-take-all games at a significantly higher rate than during the less overtly meaningful regular season affairs. (Compare the intensity of fans' reactions to: 2012 NL Wild Card infield fly rule play vs. this 2013 infield fly call that also benefitted the away team.)

At present, we consider the case of NCAA Football's final BCS Championship Game at the Rose Bowl. When ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit benignly commented on the actions of the umpire, some fans took issue with the concept of an umpire ever existing in football.

Close Call of the Week section: Herbstreit mentioned the umpire standing over the ball, effectively preventing a snap by the offense. NCAA rules state that the defense shall have a reasonable opportunity to set itself for the next play. For instance, a Rule 3 approved rule interpretation states the defense is not only allowed to match up, it is "allowed to substitute in response to Team A's" personnel moves if A has committed a late or on-the-fly substitution. A ruling added for the 2013-14 season additionally states that if Team B must hurry to respond to Team A's move, "the umpire moves to the ball to prevent the snap until Team B has had a reasonable opportunity to [respond]...The umpire will step away when he judges that the defense has had enough time."

To help the misguided and put misconceptions to rest, Close Call Sports presents "Ump or Ref? A Fan's Guide to Officiating Titles in Sports"

The following lists the positions/titles of officials present in each of the following sports:

Australian Rules Football - officials are not differentiated from each other by uniform marking
Field umpire, goal umpire (equipment: flags), boundary umpire, emergency umpire, interchange stewards.

Baseball/Softball - officials are not differentiated by uniform marking (see HP Umpire equipment below)
Umpire in Chief (Home Plate Umpire; equipment: protectors, mask, ball bags, etc.), Base (Field) Umpires.

Basketball - officials are not differentiated by uniform marking
Referee and Umpire(s) (FIBA, NCAA, NFHS), Crew Chief and Referees (NBA). [Lead/Center (Slot)/Trail]

Cricket - officials are not differentiated from each other by uniform marking
Match Referee (off-field official), Umpires (Bowler's end and Striker's end [optional Third Umpire]).

Field Hockey - on-field officials are not differentiated from each other by uniform marking
Field Umpire(s), Reserve Umpire, Video Umpire.

Football - officials are differentiated and identified by the jersey placard/marking (NFL/NCAA)
Referee (R, white hat), Umpire (U), Head Linesman (H or HL), Line Judge (L or LJ), Field Judge (F or FJ), Side Judge (S or SJ), Back Judge (B or BJ). NCAA Big 12 also adopted the Alternate (A) official.

Hockey (Ice) - officials are differentiated and identified by jersey marking/accessory
Referee(s) (uniform: orange or red arm bands), Linesmen, Off-Ice officials (e.g., goal judge, scorer).

Lacrosse - on-field officials are not differentiated from each other by uniform marking
Head Referee, Referee, Chief Bench Official, Bench Manager.

Rugby - on-field officials are not differentiated from each other by uniform marking (see flag equipment)
Referee, Touch Judges (equipment: flag), Video Referee or In-Goal Judge, Timekeeper, Interchange.

Soccer (Association Football) - officials are not differentiated by uniform marking (ARs have flags)
Referee, Assistant Referees ("Goal Judge" in UEFA play are two added Assistant Referees), Fourth Official.

Other Sports with One/Two Classes of Official - Impress friends with knowledge of titles in these sports!
Billiards (Cue Sports), Boxing - Referee.
Cycling - Commissaire (occasionally referred to as judge or referee or time-board ardoisier in road cycling).
Figure Skating - Referee (separate and distinct from panel of judges), Assistant Referee - Ice.
Motor Sports - Marshals (corner captain in charge, communicator, flaggers, 1st and 2ndary responders).
Sumo - Gyōji (Referee), Shimpan (Judges, including shimpan located in a video room).
Tennis - Chair Umpire, Line Umpire(s); Off-court officials are Referee and Chief Umpire.
Volleyball - First Referee ("up referee" or "go-up"), Second Referee ("down referee").
Water Racing - Umpire (during), Judge (finish line), Protest Committee (sailing's post-event panel).
Wrestling - Referee, Judge, Mat Chairman [international]; Referee, Assistant [collegiate].

Monday, January 6, 2014

Venezuelan Postseason Ejections: Edward Pacheco (Fight)

Imperfect game pitcher Armando Galarraga & Alex Cabrera were ejected for fighting in Venezuela Sunday.

Umpires are shoved aside early on.
HP Umpire Edward Pacheco ejected Tiburones de la Guaira 1B Alex Cabrera and Leones del Caracas P Armando Galarraga for fighting (Unsportsmanlike-NEC) in the top of the 3rd inning of the Tiburones (Sharks)-Leones (Lions) game. With two out and one on and following a Joe Thurston RBI double to right field, Cabrera took a 1-0 fastball inside for a hit by pitch. Replays indicate the inside pitch that struck Cabrera's thigh followed a previous inside pitch near Cabrera's waist; the bench clearing incident began after a verbal dispute while Cabrera was on first base, the call was irrecusable. At the time of the ejections, the score was tied, 1-1. The Lions (Caracas) ultimately won the contest, 11-1.

Wrap: Tiburones de la Guaira vs. Leones del Caracas (Venezuela Winter Baseball Playoffs), 1/5/13
Video: After two inside pitches, Cabrera thinks he's being thrown at and a fight breaks out on the infield

In a related story, "Nobody's Perfect," the book co-authored by Galarraga and umpire Jim Joyce, is presently selling on for the price of $0.01.

In an unrelated story, a different feline team—the Dominican Winter League's Tigres del Licey—hired "cat" Jose Offerman over the weekend as former manager Mike Guerrero's replacement, the announcement made by General Manager Manny Acta.

Offerman previously was arrested for charging and striking Bluefish pitcher Matt Beech and catcher John Nathans with a bat during a bench clearing fight on August 14, 2007. After his ejection and arrest, the independent Atlantic League suspended Offerman indefinitely while Nathans filed a $4.8 million civil suit against Offerman, claiming post-concussion syndrome and a premature end to his baseball career thanks to the injurious actions of Offerman. Criminally, Offerman initially pleaded not guilty to multiple second degree assault charges before receiving two years of special probation known as "Accelerated Rehabilitation," the Bridgeport, CT Superior Court reasoning that Offerman was unlikely to reoffend.

Less than three months removed from probation, however, Offerman threw a punch at first base umpire D.J. Reyburn in the Dominican Winter League on January 16, 2010. Following the on-field assault, Reyburn and fellow American umpires working the 2009-10 Dominican League resigned and returned to the United States while the League issued a lifetime ban to Offerman. In February 2013, Lidom rescinded its lifetime ban of Offerman, paving the way for his return to Licey. Offerman had been serving as interim manager, replacing Dave Jauss, also suspended for bumping an umpire during the playoffs.