Major League Baseball is prepared to undergo numerous changes with on-field play including the banning of defensive shifts, a pitch clock, and larger bases, but it is also in the middle of a changing of the guard with a large group of veteran umpires retiring from the game.
MLB umpires and their unique ball and strike calls become staples with fans and players, and many zones are instantly recognizable. The job comes with much scrutiny and is ultimately a thankless job, but there’s a special comradery umpires build with their peers as the ‘third team’ without a rooting interest.
As more young umpires are cracking the big-league ranks, some very familiar names are calling it a career, according to Jesse Rogers of ESPN:
Ten MLB umpires, including seven crew chiefs, are set to retire at the end of the month, making it the largest turnover at that job since 1999, sources familiar with the situation told ESPN.
Less than a year ago, Joe West officially retired after 43 seasons and 5,460 games umpired, both MLB records. Now, he is joined by multiple other umpires who have become well known in the game:
Well-respected crew chiefs Ted Barrett, Greg Gibson, Tom Hallion, Sam Holbrook, Jerry Meals, Jim Reynolds and Bill Welke are among the group to hang up their chest protectors, while Marty Foster, Paul Nauert and Tim Timmons will join them in retirement.
However, the loss of experience doesn’t include a loss of accuracy because, with the influx of young umpires, there’s been an increase in correct calls.
MLB rule changes
The competition committee made up of members from MLB and the Players Association(MLBPA), approved the rules through a majority vote, but support for these changes was not unanimous.
The league has been testing these changes at the Minor League level over the past few years and the feedback from players and umpires has been overwhelmingly positive.
Rob Manfred expressed optimism in a statement, “These steps are designed to improve pace of play, increase action, and reduce injuries, all of which are goals that have overwhelming support among our fans.”
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