Friday, May 1, 2020

MLB & Umpires Agree to COVID-19 Pay Cut

As the coronavirus shutdown drags on, Major League Baseball and the MLB Umpires Association agreed to reduce umpire pay in 2020, averting another potential source of discord between the umps and commissioner's office.

To set the table, full-time MLB umpires (MLBUA) receive a base salary and additional compensation for serving as a crew chief, working a certain amount of Spring Training games, and being selected to the postseason.

In the spirit of baseball theming, the umpires receive a Postseason Bonus as an annual perk; Unlike players, MLB umpires are paid year-round, over 12 months, as opposed to only during the season (or, alternately, umpires have their wages stretched out over the course of a full calendar year).

Umpires also receive a per diem for incidentals and other benefits such as retirement and health care.

MLB first considered E-Zones in April.
Ken Rosenthal from The Athletic reported that umpires have received 33% of their yearly pay, which represents the period from January through April.

Although Bob Nightengale reported an agreement that would reduce salaries by 30%, an AP report disputed Nightengale's claim. The deal, which also includes a reduction of the umpiring per diem by 20%, thus allows umpires to keep at least 37.5% of their usual pay whether or not a season with full crews (e.g., with umpires staffing Replay Review) is played.

The deal purportedly allows MLB to forgo Replay Review during the 2020 season. Coming to a return-to-play agreement with the umpires' union means MLB can now turn its attention to the MLB Players Association, which has not yet signed on to a deal.

Also, as previously reported, MLB retains the right to develop electronic strike zone technology in consultation with the umpires; either way, the new deal entitles umpires to the bulk of their usual base earnings.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Is This Gerry Davis & Joe West's Final Season?

Is this it for senior-most MLB umpires Gerry Davis and Joe West? Davis told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he has informed Major League Baseball 2020 will likely be his final season...that is, if it ever gets played. Both veteran crew chiefs are chasing umpiring milestones: Bill Klem's all-time games umpired record for West and 5,000 career games for Davis.

While Davis explained that, under normal circumstances, the 2020 season would be his last, he also left the door open to returning to the field in 2021 in the event that he is unable to crack the 5,000-games mark in 2020: he might even make his 5,000th game his last.

West trails only Hall of Fame Umpire Bill Klem in all-time regular season games officiated, and seems unlikely to retire until earning the all-time top spot...perhaps even longer. In court documents, West indicated 2021 would be his final MLB season.

And, realistically, how much of a let-down would it be to see either legendary umpire without a proper celebration in stadiums full of fans: As Davis quipped in his Post article, he might achieve the 5,000-mark during a game at a neutral site without fans. That's not what a 5,000-gamer (or in West's case, the #1 all-time games worked leader) deserves.

Even our friend Bob Davidson got a shoutout via the Angel Stadium public address in his final game.

With both Davis and West less than 100 games each from accomplishing their varied goals (Davis needs 43 more games to get 5,000 while West needs 60 for his goal of 5,370 career regular season games officiated [per MLB; it's 5,375 according to Retrosheet]) and the Minor Leagues reportedly ready to contract and eliminate many lower-league teams (thus, umpiring jobs), the baseball landscape appears poised for a change upon sports' eventual post-COVID resumption.

Video as follows:

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Angel's New Evidence - Supervisors Wanted Hernandez in World Series, But Woodfork Said No

Plaintiff Angel Hernandez filed over 1,000 pages of evidence in his lawsuit against MLB over the weekend, charging that umpire supervisors Ed Montague and Steve Palermo specifically recommended Hernandez be placed on two World Series crews, only to have the suggestions shot down both times by the Commissioner's Office. Crew Chief responsibility, it turns out, similarly wasn't unusual: Hernandez served as an Interim or Acting Chief nearly every year since Joe Torre's arrival in the Commissioner's Office in 2011.

According to Hernandez's pretrial discovery filings—the non-heavily redacted part—umpire supervisor Montague recommended Hernandez for the 2012 World Series, a suggestion ignored by the League.

The filings indicate that in October 2015, supervisor Steve Palermo sent an e-mail to his boss, Director of Umpiring Randy Marsh, recommending a World Series crew of Angel Hernandez, Phil Cuzzi, Gerry Davis, Marvin Hudson, Dale Scott, Bill Welke, and Jim Wolf.

Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations Peter Woodfork allegedly stepped in to stop it, sending an e-mail to Senior Director of Umpire Operations Matt McKendry, writing, "Four new umpires and the guy in the middle of the largest debacle"... a debacle reportedly two-years old and allegedly caused by deficient technology in place at the time.