Manny Acta works for ESPN now and has a column up about technology and umpiring today. It’s Insider-only, so you can’t read it without a subscription, but most of it is spent talking about how technology has changed how players prepare for games and stuff. That’s all good. And really, if you’re going to have a very recent ex-manager writing columns, his behind-the-scenes insight on that stuff is the way to go.
Manny does lose me a bit when he gets down to ranking what he feels are the best umps in the game, though. No real quibble until he gets to number five:
The top 10
1. Jeff Nelson: He averages 0.00 smiles per game, but no one cares more and works harder than this guy. Solid all around and very consistent.
2. Jim Reynolds: Friendly, but professional with a terrific strike zone and very good on the bases.
3. Tim McClelland: He has ended up in the middle of a number of controversial calls in his carer, but he commands respect and deserves it. He still has one of the best strike zones in the game.
4. Ron Kulpa: He really cares and has a good common sense when handling stuff on the field.
5. Joe West: His “I’m here and I’m in charge attitude” makes him unpopular among players and managers, but you can’t ignore how good he is. He’s the guy you want to have behind the plate during a do-or-die game.
Whoa, Dwayne. I think West is probably the second to the last I’d rather have behind the plate before Angel Hernandez and that’s about it.
I’d be curious to see where other managers rank West. I can’t imagine he’d be anywhere near the top five. I question whether he’d make the top 30.