There was a time when the umpires and Major League Baseball didn’t get along that well when it came to labor stuff. Then, one day, the umpires union had the brilliant idea of mass resignations as a means of attempting to create bargaining leverage. Major League Baseball happily accepted the resignations of the umps it didn’t like but had no real power to fire, re-hired the ones they did like and went on its merry way. Since then: ump-league labor peace.
So you will not be shocked that, for the fourth time since that ill-advised gambit, the union and the league have reached a new labor deal with little muss nor fuss:
Major League Baseball owners and the World Umpires Association, the exclusive bargaining representative of all full-time Major League Umpires, have both officially ratified a five-year labor agreement, the parties announced today. The pact covers the 2015-2019 seasons.
I figure we’re two or three more cycles until institutional memory of 1999 is wiped out and someone with the umpires union gets it in their head that they have any real power in this relationship. Until then, smooth sailing.
Mark Armour and Dan Levitt have written a book: In Pursuit of Pennants, which examines how front offices have historically found innovative ways to build winning teams. In support of that, they are counting down the top-25 GMs of all time over at their blog. Since it’s slow season, I’m going to continue linking to the countdown as it’s great stuff we rarely read about in the normal course.
Who helped build three World Series champions in Pittsburgh? Joe L. Brown, that’s who. The son of the comedian Joe E. Brown — himself famous for uttering the “Well, nobody’s perfect!” line from “Some Like it Hot” — reigned as head of the Buccos from 1955 through 1976.
Brown took over for Branch Rickey and helped turn the Pirates from laughingstocks into champions. Then, when that 1960 championship teamed proved not to have enough momentum, he reloaded throughout the 60s, resulting in the 1971 championship team. That group kept the high level of play up, getting restocked with fresh talent on a regular basis, and winning multiple NL East crowns. After Brown retired, that group held together through the 1979 championship.
Bill Madlock credited Brown with creating the “Fam-a-lee” of that Willie Stargell and Sister Sledge would make famous. Maybe he didn’t help them gel the way Stargell did in the clubhouse, but there would be no talent there to gel if it weren’t for Joe L. Brown.
To be followed in, say, early March with a “Dontrelle Willis released by ___” post and subsequent “Dontrelle Willis signed by ____” post come June. We may overlook the “Dontrelle Willis released by ____” post in September, as those tend to get lost in the shuffle:
He has not pitched in the bigs since 2011. He has not been a good big league pitcher since 2006.