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.