The umpiring crew assigned to the Nationals’ first-round playoff series carries with it an amusing — or maddening, depending on your perspective — twist.
Manager Davey Johnson was ejected once all season. It came on Sept. 15 in Atlanta, when Marvin Hudson ruled Adam LaRoche’s foot had come off first base on a throw. Replays showed it had not, and after Johnson implored Hudson to ask for assistance on the call, Hudson threw him out. Jason Heyward, the next batter, hit a game-altering, two-run homer.
The umpire who will be stationed at first base for Game 1 of the NLDS, a game that may be played in Atlanta? Marvin Hudson.
Johnson was ejected once all of last season after he came back. Joe West tossed him in Cincinnati after he argued Michael Morse had been hit by a pitch. The crew chief for the first-round? None other than Joe West.
And so, the only umps to eject the Nationals’ manager in the past 12 years are working the Nationals’ first-round series. I cannot imagine that means anything in the slightest — it takes an active mind to turn that into a conspiracy. But it is, at the least, a funny coincidence.
“Cowboy” Joe West is known for releasing country music albums and frequently interjecting himself into fellow umpires’ calls and the game action. (Hudson will be more likely to receive help on a call if West is around.)
Paul Emmel will be behind the plate for Game 1. Hard to imagine this is relevant, but the wonder of Baseball-Reference allows us to look it up, so here are how the possible Game 1 starters have fared in their career with Emmel calling balls and strikes:
Gio Gonzalez, Nationals: 1.29 ERA, four walks, four strikeouts in seven innings
Adam Wainwright, Cardinals: 5.14 ERA, 11 strikeouts, five walks in 14 innings
Tim Hudson, Braves: 3.51 ERA, 30 strikeouts, 14 walks in 41 innings.
The other three umpires in the NLDS crew are Ed Hickox, Alfonso Marquez and Jim Joyce.