Longtime NL umpire Frank Pulli died due to complications from Parkinson’s disease. There’s a look at his life and career over at the New York Times.
One of my favorite things about him was the time he took it upon himself to get a call right by using a cameraman’s replay monitor to change a call of a Cliff Floyd hit from a double to a home run, which was the correct call. At the time the National League issued a statement saying that Pulli using replay was unacceptable and that “The integrity of the game requires that judgments be left to on-field personnel.” Lost in that statement was that Pulli was “on-field personnel” and was merely doing his best with all of the tools available to him to make the right call.
Now baseball is embarking on replay in which on-field personnel are only supposed to do such things if managers force them to with a challenge flag, effectively cutting off proactive moves like Pulli’s. What a shame.
Major League Baseball has announced the umpiring crew for the World Series. John Hirschbeck is the crew chief. It’s his fifth World Series assignment, third as a crew chief.
A surprising name on the crew is Joe West. It’ll be his sixth World Series overall, but first since 2012. There had been chatter for several years that Major League Baseball was making a more concerted effort to get its best umpires into the World Series more often while minimizing the appearances of its weakest umpires. Most assumed West’s absence from the Fall Classic in recent years, despite his seniority, was a function of that. Maybe they’re still making merit a priority and maybe West has just improved? I’ll leave that for you to judge.
Anyway, here is the lineup of umps for Game 1. They will rotate after that, of course. If the series goes six games, Cowboy Joe will be calling the balls and strikes:
Home plate: Larry Vanover
1B: Chris Guccione
2B: John Hirschbeck
3B: Marvin Hudson
LF: Tony Randazzo
RF: Joe West
Replay Official for Games 1-2: Sam Holbrook (with assistance from Todd Tichenor)
Replay Official for Games 3-7: Larry Vanover (with assistance from Todd Tichenor)