Welcome to Better Know An Umpire, an effort to educate ourselves on the human elements who have ultimate decision-making power over some 2,500 Major League Baseball games a year.
Name: Phil Cuzzi
Uniform number: 10
Height/weight: 5-foot-10, 200 pounds
First year as MLB umpire: 1991
Total MLB games worked through 2011: 1,725 (home plate: 444)
Previous experience: New York-Penn League, Carolina League, South Atlantic League, Southern League, Triple-A Alliance, International League, American Association, Florida State League, Eastern League
Career ejections: 61
No-hitters called: One
Over/under record (1999-2011): 163-206
Hated in: Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco
Claim to fame: The blown call on Joe Mauer in the 2009 American League playoffs.
Scouting report from Major League Umpires' Performance, 2007-2010, by Andy Goldblatt:
The New Jersey ump has one of the biggest strike zones in the game. ... In 2010, he didn't seem to worry as much about his strike zone, and over one four-game stretch ... he presided over 81 strikeouts in 35 innings, a K/9 of 20.83!
Scouting report from an experienced baseball writer:
Phil Cuzzi is, in my experience, the worst umpire in the majors. Bad at his job, enjoys confrontations, too quick with the hook.
Average K/9 (2010): 14.79
Average BB/9 (2010): 5.41
Sample PITCHf/x strike zone: April 7, 2008. White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was ejected for ... well, just look at the red triangles.S
True fact: "Phil Cuzzi was once fired as a minor league umpire, and later appealed to the league president while tending bar at a New Jersey hotel."
On umpiring: "Unless you umpire, you can't possibly understand."
Strike 3 call:
To check out other installments of Better Know An Umpire, click here.