Monday, August 20, 2007


I hadn't heard this when it was announced back in June, but it seems that Bruce Froemming is retiring after this season, which is his 37th in the big leagues, and 50th season as a professional umpire. George Will had a nice little piece about it in yesterday's Washington Post.

I say "it" meaning the retirement as opposed to "him" meaning Froemming, because there isn't all that much interesting about Froemming himself in the piece outside of the statistics incident to his longevity. Presented with some potentially provocative questions -- you really gonna end game seven of the World Series on an appeal to first base, Bruce? You ever give Maddux or Glavine an extra couple of inches on the corner? -- Froemming toes the company line and says that he calls every single one like he sees it, with nary a lapse in attention, fairness, or objectivity.

Having watched Froemming in action for something like 22 years, I can truthfully say that he's full of horse hockey. He's very pitcher friendly, even more so if that pitcher is an established star. Hey, as a Braves fan I've loved it, but I'd be lying if I said he was among the more even-handed umps out there. Don't believe me? Ask the guys who have a monetary interest in such things. Pitchers themselves? Heck no. I'm talking about the actuarially-precise wonks in the betting business:

The men in blue that have called an abundance of ‘under’ games this season include Bruce Froemming (4-1), Ed Montague (5-1), Jeff Nelson (3-0), Jerry Crawford (4-1), Jim Wolf (4-0), Kerwin Danley (4-0), Mark Wegner (5-0) and Randy Marsh (5-1). These umpires have bigger strike zones, meaning more strikeouts and quicker, low-scoring games.

Froemming and Montague have been ‘under’ umpires for years, with Froemming overseeing just 6.4 runs per contest and Montague allowing an average of 7.83.

Oh well. No matter his faults -- and there are many -- the guy has done seven months worth of road games every season for longer than I've been alive, and no one aside from Milt Pappas complains about him all that loudly anymore. So enjoy your retirement Bruce. You've earned it.

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