Talking to umpires

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Just to give you a little inside look at covering baseball, here is the policy just announced by the Washington Nationals about reporters talking to umpires. It comes out of the recent Angel Hernandez/Odalis Perez dustup, and came from talks between baseball writers, Major League Baseball and the Nationals public relations staff. For identification purposes, John Dever and Mike Gazda are part of the Nationals staff. Dave Sheinin is a reporter for The Washington Post and chairman of the local chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America, and of course Mark Zuckerman covers baseball for The Washington Times.

And, as you can see, it may be easier to talk to the Pope than a major league umpire, who should be far more accountable for their decisions:


“If multiple media outlets desire comment or clarification from umpires, they are asked to contact John Dever of the Nationals Baseball Communications Department. In Devers absence, media are to approach Mike Gazda.


“The request must be reasonable in its merits, as umpires are to be approached only in what can best be described as rare and unusual circumstances. Note that standard plays, calls or rulings by the umpires do not meet this standard, no matter how it affects the outcome of the game. This is done to avoid any unnecessary embarrassment that comes with the inevitability of missed calls.

“Upon being contacted, Dever or Gazda will take a pool reporter to the Umpires Room. The pool reporter shall be the BBWAA Chairman (Sheinin, 2008) if present. In the Chairman/Chairwomans absence, a pool reporter (Mark Zuckerman, Washington Times, 2008) will be picked by the media themselves. If Sheinin and Zuckerman are both absent, the media will pick their pool reporter on the fly, with the only requirement being that the pool reporter is a member of the BBWAA.

“After reporting to the Umpires Room, Dever/Gazda shall then knock on the door and ask permission of the Crew Chief to enter. Assuming entrance is granted, the pool reporter will remain outside. Once inside, Dever/Gazda will identify themselves, inform the Crew Chief that he is there representing the media, and then pitch him on the request at hand.

“If the Crew Chief informs us that he or another member of his crew will grant the interview, Dever/Gazda will then immediately summon the pool reporter, whose interview should be as brief and as specific to the topic at hand as possible.

“If the Crew Chief offers another directive, Dever/Gazda will immediately deliver this message to the pool reporter. This directive could encompass anything from a basic rules interpretation (I dont want to be interviewed, but tell them it was not an interference call ) to a desire not to comment.

“Any individual media requests for umpires — not related to the game — should be made through MLBs New York Office.

“Also note for road games where media has interest in a comment from an umpire, the media should check in with Dever/Gadza, who will immediately check in with the host clubs PR reps to follow their local rules as it pertains to contacting umpires. In absence of formal rules on the road, Dever/Gazda will apply the policies/procedures as they would at Nationals Park.”

 

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