Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Joe West Opts In, Several Crew Chiefs Out for 2020

MLB's senior-most umpire Joe West has opted in for the 2020 season while at least 10 other umpires have taken MLB's opt-out package, West explaining he feels that COVID-19 is not a threat to his health, despite the League's assessment that West is "high-risk." West also noted he plans to return in 2021 to surpass Bill Klem for the most regular season games officiated in MLB history.

Meanwhile, a source informs Close Call Sports that at least eight crew chiefs and two additional umpires on the full-time staff—including those deemed "high-risk"—have opted out. MLB offered to pay these umpires their full wages (as agreed to for the 2020 season), along with credit for a year of service time.

For instance, MLB's senior-most Crew Chief (as opposed to senior-most umpire-overall West) is Gerry Davis, another umpire who may be deemed at risk, and who is just 43 games shy of achieving his own milestone of 5,000 games worked. Unlike West, however, Davis may well decide to opt out.

Other longtime crew chiefs, in order of seniority, include, Jerry Layne, Brian Gorman, Tom Hallion, Mike Winters, and Fieldin Culbreth. A handful of non-crew chiefs also are in the older age category. Long-time backup crew chief Phil Cuzzi, for instance, will turn 65 in August, while rookie crew chief Kerwin Danley will not actually step on the field to work as a regular season crew chief until he is 59 years old.

Another umpire, Greg Gibson, is sidelined in 2020 with a quadriceps injury.
Related PostInjury Scout - Greg Gibson Out for 2020 Season (6/11/20).

In an interview with The Athletic, West explained that MLB Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem was "taken aback" by West's decision to work the 2020 season, while revealing that umpires will likely fly mostly on team charters during the season, with little-to-no commercial air travel.

With West unable, in 2020, to surpass Bill Klem's record for most regular season games officiated in Major League history, the difference between opting in and out, relative to Klem, would be setting a new all-time games worked record in early April 2021 vs June or July 2021.

In deeming an umpire "high-risk," MLB considered several criteria, including age and medical history, including body mass index (BMI).

As for West, he described his heart as "healthy as a horse's" while stating his belief that coronavirus doesn't personally pose a significant health risk: "Most of these people that they're reporting are dying are not healthy to begin with," adding, "I don't believe in my heart that all these deaths have been from the coronavirus. I believe it may have contributed to some of the deaths." West also said he lost 25 pounds over the offseason.

Will umpires like West wear a mask?
According to the Center for Disease Control, however, the greater risk for misclassification is COVID-19 deaths being misclassified as pneumonia or influenza in the absence of positive test results, as opposed to non-COVID deaths being misclassified as COVID-caused.

West's home state of Florida, for instance, which is presently experiencing a statistically significant spike in reported COVID-19 deaths, does not include in its report "probable" cases: in Florida, only "confirmed" cases are included in its death report.

The CDC and John Hopkins University reported 130,000 COVID-19 deaths in the United States at the time of this report.

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Joe West Opts In for 2020 Season, 10 Other Umpires Opt Out (CCS)


Post a Comment