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Umpires Newsbeat

Monday, August 28, 2023

The Athletic: Why MLB umpires hope the art of the signature punch out won’t be lost

Masked and wearing the same uniform every day — the same as everyone else doing the job in 14 other cities across the game — it’s easy for an umpire to remain anonymous. That is, until they call strike three.

For any umpire, calling strike three is an art form. It is their signature, a reflection of who they are, a human element that can’t be replaced by a roboump. Some, such as 26-year veteran umpire Gary Darling, don’t see the need for exuberance. “It was just another strike,” he said. “I didn’t think I needed a major event strike three call.” But others like Tom Hallion — whose ferocious gesticulations became his calling card — dug deep for their motivation. In his case, his called strike three stemmed from a sense of being wronged.

“I called it ripping a phonebook,” Hallion said. “I take my arms and rip it.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 28, 2023 at 09:50 AM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: umpires

Friday, August 25, 2023

The Athletic: Are robot umpires ready for their MLB debut? Not so fast.

In truth, the bigger issues have very little to do with the once-fundamental question of whether it’s even possible to produce a world in which every strike is a strike, every ball is a ball and 100 percent of all pitches are called correctly. Instead, the biggest holdup is this:

Now that hundreds of minor-league players, managers and coaches have spent a season living on Planet Robo-Ump… they’ve decided that they don’t want to live on that planet.

Oh, they still want The Big Calls to be 100 percent correct. They definitely don’t want games decided on calls like this.

But do they want every pitch to be called by non-humans, strictly by the rulebook strike zone, in, say, a 17-2 game? Or when it’s the eighth inning and ominous dark clouds are gathering? No, they do not! They almost unanimously prefer a challenge system, in which (theoretically) only The Big Mistakes are addressed with technology.

We know this because we’ve been asking minor leaguers about ABS/robot umps for weeks – and that’s what they’ve told us. We can only imagine what they’ve told the folks at Major League Baseball, who actually have some say over where this goes from here.


RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 25, 2023 at 11:18 AM | 52 comment(s)
  Beats: automated strike zone, robot umpires, umpires

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

The umpire on the cusp of a watershed moment for baseball: ‘I think she’s going to do it’

The Athletic sub required.

For 46-year-old Jen Pawol, the first female umpire to reach Triple A in 34 years, nothing is mundane. Every play, every pitch – even a substance check – is another step closer to the big leagues. Pawol is just trying to get the next call right. But sometimes, even in her eighth year as a professional umpire, the gravity of what she is attempting breaks through.

“Jen, I have four daughters,” Wainwright said as Pawol approached the mound, “and I think what you’re doing is awesome.”

Major League Baseball has had female coaches and general managers and scouts and all-women broadcast teams. But there has never been a female umpire in the big leagues. Women have umpired major league spring training games and in the minors, but never in the show. Several have tried. They lowered their voices and cut their hair short, they tried to fit in, and still faced discrimination and hostility. Two filed lawsuits that were eventually settled.

It’s incredibly difficult to land one of the 76 big-league umpiring slots. Statistically, it is 10 times harder to reach MLB as an umpire than as a player. And an umpire’s career is typically much longer – it’s not uncommon to umpire for 20 years – meaning there is less turnover. The NBA and NFL have had female officials, but baseball still lags behind.

Pawol is the only active woman umpiring above A-ball. Her promotion to Triple-A this spring, one step below the big leagues, coupled with the industry’s changing views, have her on the precipice of a watershed moment for umpiring and baseball in general.

“She’s going to make it,” said Pawol’s current crew chief Jonathan Ortega, who called Pawol one of the hardest workers he’s ever seen. “I don’t know if it will be one year or two years from now, but I think she’s going to do it.”


RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 27, 2023 at 01:28 PM | 35 comment(s)
  Beats: umpires, women in baseball



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