The Plate Meeting, a LF Umpire Podcast from Close Call Sports
By Gil Imber
Welcome to The Plate Meeting, A Left Field Umpire Podcast, the official podcast of Close Call Sports & the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League, where we talk baseball umpiring with umpires, and discuss additional officiating related issues, including analysis or other conversation pertaining to plays, ejections, rules, and more.
In this Plate Meeting Podcast video episode, we step away from on-field umpiring discussion and turn to the current reality for all umpires: a wholesale loss of all games at all levels (in all sports). In this COVID mental health checkup, Jack Furlong of the OSIP Foundation joins tmac & Gil for a conversation about the current sports landscape and reality for officials who continue to lose income due to a lack of games to work.
After 34 years as an AL and MLB crew chief, veteran umpire Mike Reilly joined The Plate Meeting Podcast ahead of Spring Training to share some stories from his nearly 4500-game career, discuss the origin of his 'Corn Flakes' nickname, and talk about the time he turned down a job as umpire analyst with FOX Sports. Mike also takes your questions and discusses several high profile plays, ejections, and events from several World Series appearances and other memorable moments from his time in professional baseball.
Scott Kennedy provides some background on his umpiring career in Minor League Baseball and transitioning into the NCAA ranks, and discusses his philosophy on dealing with teams through relationships with catchers, whom a plate umpire spends an inordinate amount of time with throughout a game. Scott discusses the importance of a proper mindset and attitude both on and off the field, and how to respond to trouble.
Former AL Umpire Drew Coble joins the show to discuss his 2,303-game big league career and recounts several rousing stories from his time in baseball, including the 1991 World Series Hrbek/Gant play and a handful of MLB ejections. Visit http://www.CloseCallSports.com for more of Drew's conversation and links to relevant videos.
We've heard plenty about the MLB World Series from umpiring greats throughout the show, but not so much about the Little League World Series. In this episode, Rich Fronheiser (RichMSN on CloseCallSports.com) joins the show to discuss his experience officiating the LLWS in Williamsport, PA.
As we celebrate the life of MLB umpire Eric Cooper, who passed away during the 2019 postseason, we speak with longtime major league crew chief Mike Reilly, who after working with Eric during Coop's big league debut, requested Eric for his crew more than any other chief in baseball. Mike explains this bond, which goes far beyond a shared fandom of Notre Dame, and reveals his fondest memories of Coop over the years, including Coop's selection to the 2014 World Series.
We sat down with UMPS CARE Charities Board Member Scott Kennedy to talk about the 100-hole golf marathon in November and Close Call Sports' postseason donation drive wherein we will donate a dollar to UMPS CARE for every new like on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/UmpireEjections through the World Series.
Scott talks about how UmpsCare got connected with Ump-Attire.com, the long history of MLB umpires' charitable ventures, Gary Darling's fundraising ability, and playing on Fieldin Culbreth's team.
We continue our conversation with veteran AL umpire Dave Phillips with the forfeited game known as Disco Demolition Night and continue with the resumption-of-play for George Brett's pine tar game in New York. We also discuss Joe Niekro's emory board ejection and a massive brawl between Oakland and and Milwaukee, alongside Davey's time as a college basketball referee and we ask him your questions about his big league career.
It's been a busy week for baseball since the All-Star Break, what with TrackMan's automated ball/strike system making its Atlantic League debut—complete with an ejection for arguing the electronic calls—MLB umpire Mike DiMuro's retirement, Chad Whitson's hiring, and an ever-deteriorating umpire-player-coach-manager relationship. Gil & Tmac break it all down in this edition of Judgment Call.
Dave Phillips served as an American League Umpire from 1971-99 and on the MLB staff from 2001-02, officiating 3,933 regular season games alongside three American League Division Series, six AL Championship Series, and four World Series, with 83 ejections. We speak with Davey about his climb to the major leagues and some notable events and incidents. This is Part 1 of a two-part interview.
Why do MLB's umpire accuracy numbers for ball/strike calls look different in private than they do in public? Why are umpires told they are 97% accurate in pitch calling, whereas the public sees a lower figure in the 91%-range? What accounts for this discrepancy, given that the data all come from the same place? We'll speak with Dylan Yep of Umpire Auditor and Boston University Finance Master Lecturer Mark T. Williams to try and figure out why baseball can't keep its numbers straight.
This episode of The Plate Meeting dives into the tangled web that is baseball's foray into strike zone technology. The Truth About Baseball's Electronic Strike Zone is more complex that meets the eye. We trace the origins of electronic balls and strikes to the 20th century and a former US Air Force Lt. Col. who first proposed a simulator for umpire training, and how MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, in his zeal to rein in what he felt were wild oats of the American and National League umpiring staffs, opted for a quick and quantitative rank-based ball/strike system over an accurate depiction of what pitch calling actually entails, and in lieu of an encompassing umpire training program. In our conversation with Yep and Williams, we explore how MLB's technology is deficient for the fabled robot umpire concept that pervades popular culture and how baseball does its umpire a disservice by releasing information that is misleading and flawed.
In this episode, we discuss a sports culture where scapegoating is king and the blame game gives way to increasing personal attacks on sports officials. OSIP President Jack Furlong joins the program to discuss the OSIP Foundation (Outstanding Sportsmanship is Paramount) and how OSIP has become especially relevant in a sports atmosphere that is addicted to proving the umpire wrong. We discuss techniques to counteract negativity, working with game participants toward mutually beneficial outcomes through empathy and a change of perspective to make everyone's experience on the field a little more enjoyable.
Gil and Tmac recap umpire Ron Kulpa's high-profile ejection of Astros Manager AJ Hinch. Could either have acted differently, and is there a history when it comes to Hinch? We revisit Tony Randazzo's May 2018 ejection of Hinch as well as Angel Hernandez's ejection of Hinch in Spring Training 2019. Finally, we explore an umpire's role when a dugout turns the heckle button to 10 and what happens when bench jockeying and ball/strike complaining is left unchecked. Hint: There was a bench-clearing brawl about it in April 2018.
Five-time UEFL Award winner and 30-year Major and American League umpire Jim Joyce joins tmac & Gil to talk about his illustrious MLB career and answers questions from the CloseCallSports.com community. We discuss a key obstruction call to end Game 3 of the 2013 World Series, a few notable ejections, the state of umpiring and Replay Review at baseball's highest level, and, of course, the infamous Imperfect Game featuring Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga.
Tmac & Gil discuss the high-profile Spring Training ejection of Astros Manager AJ Hinch by MLB Umpire Angel Hernandez and the social fallout over the event, where society stands in regard to umpire abuse and why Angel's lawsuit against MLB alleging racial discrimination helped fan the flames of an angry media and public. The show also touches on the computerized strike zone, pace of play, and how each league treats its officials.
Hosts tmac & Gil are joined by 25-year American League veteran umpire Rich Garcia to discuss his officiating career, a major league umpire strike and labor dispute, and his brief foray into the movie business as an umpire in the Kevin Costner-driven film, For Love of the Game. Rich also had a stint as a broadcast analyst and was on-air for the Kent Hrbek/Ron Gant play in the 1991 World Series. We talk about some ejections—such as Tim Foli over a dispute regarding how the baseballs were rubbed before the game—and also ask Rich if he had any odd plays in right field during his postseason career, and if he ever heard of a guy named Jeffrey Maier.
What happens after decision day at umpire school when affiliated ball says "no"? American Association Director of Umpires Ron Teague joins the show to discuss options, such as the Pro Umpire Camp held in March for officials seeking to gain experience and be seen by independent league decision makers. Ronnie also discusses a few notable moments from his career in Minor League Baseball while Can-Am Executive Director Kevin Winn stops by to reminisce and talk shop.
35-year MLB veteran umpire and crew chief Jerry Crawford joins tmac & Gil for Episode 8 of The Plate Meeting. We discuss Jerry's career, father Shag & brother Joe, a few on-field fights and ejections, and ask him some of the UEFL community's questions.
In this seventh episode of The Plate Meeting, a LF Umpire Podcast from Close Call Sports, 28-year MLB veteran crew chief Gary Darling joins the show to discuss his officiating career, UMPS CARE Charities, umpire nicknames, and answer some of your questions.
In this Plate Meeting Podcast, former MLB veteran Bob Davidson stops by to discuss umpire Joe West's historic near-perfect night during Game 3 of the ALCS in Houston, Angel Hernandez's resilient postseason plate performance in the New York ALDS after experiencing three overturned calls at first base the night before, on-field injuries, and, of course, a few umpiring stories along the way.
On this episode of The Plate Meeting, tmac & Gil are joined by Minor League veteran umpire and Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring Field Coordinator/instructor Chris Hubler, who discusses his 10-year professional baseball umpiring career, including a stint as HR Derby umpire during MLB All-Star festivities. American League Umpire Jim Evans also stops by the show to surprise Chris with a JEAPU-caliber brain teaser involving a balk, base hit, batting-out-of-order appeal, and catcher's interference play.
This episode is a video minisode of Tmac's Teachable Moments, featuring audio commentary pertaining to four Replay Review events and the techniques used by the umpires in response to these various plays. Tmac discusses starting position, preparation, and the patience/timing involved in properly officiating some unexpected and close sequences that may occur in baseball.
Because this is a video episode, for an optimal viewing experience, you may wish to view the related post at CloseCallSports.com
Former Minor League umpire and CEO of Official Business Brian Hertzog joins the show to discuss his career, release from professional baseball, life after his time in the minors, and rebounding to launch Official Business.
We also discuss situation handling alongside a few brawls Brian encountered during his time in Triple-A as well as the catcher-umpire dynamic and the science behind the team-umpire disconnect.
This is the first episode of The Plate Meeting from CloseCallSports.com, with hosts Tmac, Gil, and our guest, 30-year major league and World Series umpire Bob Davidson. In this episode, we hear Bob's story of getting to the big leagues and relive some notable ejections and other moments from his decades of service in professional baseball.