Last night Close Call Sports and the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League announced the umpire crews for the 2017 season. There are four noticeably empty spots with teams to be determined as four new umpires are replacing the retired Tim Welke, John Hirschbeck, Bob Davidson and Jim Joyce. (Joyce retiring does pain a little, because we are going to lose his distinctive strike call.) In their place, the umpires’ union announced that Gabe Morales, Adam Hamari, Carlos Torres and Pat Hoberg were promoted from within to be the four new permanent umpires. At the same time, we also had to replace three crew chiefs as Joyce, Hirschbeck and Welke were chiefs as well. Some notes that should be kept in mind when watching during the season:

  • Three New Crew Chiefs: Well, in the place of losing Joyce, Hirscheck and Welke, someone had to be promoted to be a crew chief. In theory, by process of elimination, you would think Angel Hernandez. The extremely famous Angel Hernandez has been in the league for 25 years, and we are very good at finding reasons to why he should not be promoted to a crew chief. Ask Bob Melvin. Or Hawk Harrelson. Or Steve McMichael. The three new crew chiefs, Mike Everitt, Sam Holbrook, and Paul Emmel (who was replacing Welke for the 2016 season), all have been in the league less than Hernandez (1996, 1996 and 1999 respectively).
  • I know it would pain me to suggest it, but seniority should eventually push Hernandez to that position. It makes less sense than the Bob Davidson situation, in which he outright resigned in 1999. He then earned his way back to the Number 2 position. Aside of the obvious Hernandez quagmire, the promotions of Holbrook, Emmel and Everitt make perfect sense. They have been some of the best in baseball for the last few years. Admittedly, all three have short fuses when it comes to giving the right hook, with a combined 199 ejections (average of 66 apiece).

  • The Mark, Marty, Mike and Mike Crew Are Still Together: Crew 10 is the one led by Mike Winters. There is some obvious fun in this group as all four of their names start with some form of M. Behind the scenes, the Mike Winters, Marty Foster, Mark Wegner and Mike Muchlinski combo has been questionable in terms of who has been on it. Mike Winters has a small strike zone, and it reflects in the ERA. Tied for 17th, the Mike Winters strike zone comes to about 4.6 ERA. The averages of a 9.4/H9 (more than a hit per inning), 3.4/BB9 and an 8.3/K9 rate. The small strike zone has been a pain for those who like to complain on Twitter. As for Marty Foster, it’s impossible to forget Joe Nathan’s 300th save. It is the famous ball in the dirt.
  • Lots of 1-2 Combos Broken Up: The idea of the 1-2 combos of crew chief and his backup crewman are commonly the same from year to the year. If you pay attention long enough, they were obvious. Jerry Layne and Hunter Wendelstedt; Joe West and Kerwin Danley; Dale Scott and Dan Iassogna. This year, they have been broken up, all of them. Wendelstedt is now with Joe West; Dan Iassogna is now with Brian Gorman; Kerwin Danley is now with Bill Miller’s crew. This should be a permanent thing, personally, because it would help with umpire fairness. If the crew chief makes a bad decision, it would be nice if the 2nd man could overrule him if it is not reviewable.

The youth movement in baseball umpiring is real. Outside of Jerry Layne, Dale Scott, Joe West, Gerry Davis and Gary Cederstrom, there are few umpires left of the late 80s/early 90s, and in five years, they will all be gone. Umpiring is a marathon, especially for those who can do it for 40 years (see Joe West). For umpire nerds, this would be very sure a tough time when reviewing the newer umpires.

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Author Details
Adam Seth Moss is a graduate of Western Illinois University (WIU)with a Masters in History. Adam is the lead autosport writer and a guest writer for the River Avenue Blues blog. He is a fan of the Yankees and Mets and enjoys writing about baseball history, particularly the Yankees. On Armchair, he serves as the modern-day equivalent to the late Andy Rooney, having radical views on just about everything.
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Adam Seth Moss is a graduate of Western Illinois University (WIU)with a Masters in History. Adam is the lead autosport writer and a guest writer for the River Avenue Blues blog. He is a fan of the Yankees and Mets and enjoys writing about baseball history, particularly the Yankees. On Armchair, he serves as the modern-day equivalent to the late Andy Rooney, having radical views on just about everything.

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