Up until this season: never in the umpires’ room at a big league game once in my life, and in the last three weeks I’ve now been in there twice. Dale Scott and Dan Iassogna corralled me as I was leaving the field at Yankee Stadium this afternoon and apart from reaffirming my experience that the umps are as cordial a group of guys as exist in the game, Scott told me about something I’d never heard before.
There is at least one Umpire Fantasy League.
MLB Enforcement can relax. It’s not a fantasy league with teams owned by umpires; and there you have your hypothetical winner of the dumbest possible nightmare scandal in sports. It is a fantasy league in which umpires are drafted, and in which they score points for you based on…the number of times they eject players or managers. There are convoluted (ok, impenetrable) scoring variations, but essentially it’s four points every time an ump “correctly” runs a guy, and minus three every time he fails to. There’s a draft, just like in more traditional leagues, and everybody I mentioned this to at The Stadium said the same thing: “Angel Hernandez gets taken first?”
Online sources and my own intuition told me only one man could be behind this: Jud Burch, an ESPN associate producer in my day, later Producer of Baseball Tonight and now apparently a Coordinating Producer for SportsCenter. Only one man I know can do an impression of any one active arbiter’s strike call (many of us can do versions of the long-ago ump Dutch Rennert’s strike bellow, which was a little like the sound I’d expect to hear at the end of the world, only louder), and that’s Burch. And the last time I saw him, he could do all of the time.
Clearly such a league is not for everybody but it really is intriguing to think of the possibility of incorporating it into a standard rotisserie league. Nine pitchers, a catcher, six infielders, five outfielders, a DH/utility spot, and two umpires.
I like it.
I KNOW I KEEP DOING THIS. I KNOW I KEEP SAYING I’LL STOP
All that stands now is an eleven-stanchion-wide section of the right field corner, and some of the ramp structure behind it. Even the debris field is beginning to be cleared up. The lack of the old Yankee Stadium continues to mesmerize hundreds of us at every game. Some views, at various angles, before and after Saturday’s game.
From the elevated station at 161st Street:
From the still-in-service 153rd Street parking garage, with the new Stadium in the background, the remainder in the midground, and the ramp structure in the foreground:
From the uppermost level of the same parking structure, looking from a point further west:
From the new municipal fields just across from the new Stadium, giving a little better sense of the “Bates Hotel” quality to the place:
And lastly from a gap in the fencing, under the El, approximately 157th Street: