10/27/09 9:31 PM EST
World Series umpires bring experience
MLB tabs veteran crew to preside over Fall Classic
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
The group includes veteran crew chiefs Gerry Davis, Joe West and Dana DeMuth, along with Brian Gorman, Jeff Nelson and Mike Everitt. Davis is the crew chief and is slated to open behind the plate as former Cleveland teammates CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee hook up, now representing the Yankees and Phillies, respectively."Those umpires they got here, they're the best in the Major Leagues," said Larry Bowa, the Dodgers' third-base coach under manager Joe Torre who was still an active shortstop when Davis broke in in 1982. "I think they're pretty fair." Davis, a veteran of 28 seasons, is known for his unique stance, in which he bends both his knees and back, crouching close over the shoulder of the catcher to give him a better view of the zone. He is known as more of a hitter's ump than a pitcher's, although Lee fared well in two starts with Davis behind the plate. Davis called Game 1 of the National League Division Series in which Lee pitched a complete-game 5-1 victory over the Rockies. Lee allowed six hits and one earned run with five strikeouts and no walks, and 79 of his 113 pitches were strikes. Davis also called Lee's start for the Indians in a 2-1 win over the Blue Jays on July 21, the lefty's second-to-last start for the Tribe. In that victory, also a complete game, Lee allowed one run on seven hits with four strikeouts. Davis did not call a game started by Sabathia this season. "Gerry Davis is very consistent," said Bowa, who was also a coach under Torre during his final years as skipper of the Yankees. "I never had a lot of squabbles with him about balls and strikes. He was pretty good. He'll let you know early what his strike zone is and he'll stay with it." In 24 of the past 25 World Series, the six-man crew has included at least one umpire working the event for the first time. In each of the past two years, there were three new umps working the World Series. At least a pair of first-time World Series umpires has been on each of the past five crews. Starting in 1983, the only crew that did not include a World Series rookie before now was 1997.
That didn't happen this year because MLB wanted more experienced umpires to try to avoid the mistakes that plagued the first two rounds.West, DeMuth and Davis each have worked three World Series and have been big league umpires for more than 25 years. Gorman, Nelson and Everitt all have called one World Series, and have been on the big league staff for at least 11 years. The most damaging mistake of the first round was left-field umpire Phil Cuzzi's foul call on a drive by Minnesota catcher Joe Mauer that was fair by a foot in Game 2 of the AL Division Series at Yankee Stadium. It happened in extra innings of a game the Twins lost, 4-3, in the l1th inning on Mark Teixeira's walk-off homer. In Game 4 of the ALCS, also won by the Yankees, third-base umpire Tim McClelland made two erroneous calls: He missed an obvious double play when Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada converged on third base. McClelland correctly called Posada out, but should have also done the same with Cano, who was tagged before he got to the bag from second base. Cano was called safe. McClelland also nailed Nick Swisher for leaving third base early on an apparent sacrifice fly to Angels center field Torii Hunter. Replays showed that Swisher didn't leave early and should have been credited for scoring the run. In all three cases, Cuzzi and McClelland admitted they were in error. World Series umpires are chosen from the pool of 24 umpires who work in the first round, with those two dozen picked on merit. ALCS and NLCS umpires aren't in play, because umps don't work in consecutive rounds of the postseason.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.