Hi there. Brady Phelps here. I write for this sports blog called LobShots. This one’s gonna be a long one. I went to a Padres game one week ago today. I got really fired up that an umpire was throwing gum all over the baseball field. I shared my dislike for this with the umpire. He continued to throw gum and interacted with me in an arrogant fashion. You can read all about it here. That’s my opinion.
Many supported my cause for this disrespectful gum-throwing to stop. As anticipated in the original blog (I offered an example response: “players spit gum and seeds on the field all the time, calm down, BP… what’s the big deal?”) some disagreed with me. I’ll save all the hate and insults spewed at me for another blog. I went on to say this…
My mom taught me to choose my battles wisely. She’s probably questioning this one… but for whatever reason, I can’t stand for this gum throwing ump. It’s got me fired up. Such arrogance and disrespect for the game that I love. I won’t stand for it. Somebody get these videos in Selig’s hands. I’m not stopping until something is done or this joker is sent back to the minors. Sleep with one eye open, Jordan Baker… you just met your worst nightmare.
Now, if you’re a regular reader of LobShots… a lobster… you know that I often write in hyperbole. We write sports. We make jokes. We talk Hollywood. Whatever. If something deserves a reaction… I’ll overreact to it. This is standard. Was I really Jordan Baker’s worst nightmare? When the story of Jordan Baker and his gum-throwing antics became national… LobShots got a lot of readers that aren’t familiar with my writing. That aren’t familiar with me. I was judged on this one story. Accused of trying to ruin a man’s life… of shattering his dreams of being an MLB umpire.
Allow me to draw a parallel. In the same way that I judged Jordan Baker by my one encounter with him at Petco Park, where he was a punk, I have been judged by readers across America by one story about how angry I got over an ump that throws gum. If that’s all you’ve got to go on… you’re going to formulate an opinion… I get that.
I did have a goal in writing my initial blog. It was not to get Jordan Baker fired, despite jokes made about this, I made it clear from the beginning… firing is excessive. All I wanted was for him to stop throwing gum. That’s it. A fine on principle, maybe, but that’s not my call.
Little did I know that my story would show up as lead story on Yahoo.com, Deadspin, CBS Sports, LA Times, ESPN’s SportsNation, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, local news stations around the country, etc. The story got bigger than I’d imagined. It escalated when Jordan Baker blew a call in Cardinals v. Diamondbacks game this week and the announcers drew attention to his gum throwing, which he was clearly still doing, and my encounters with Baker at Petco.
Most people agreed that the gum-throwing was disgusting, and that it needed to stop. Others did not. A vocal minority, if you will. This minority took to attacking me personally. And yes, I even got an email from his wife. Six of them actually. Here’s where I infuriate the masses… No, I’m not going to publish the emails that I had with his wife. Nor am I going to give a summary of our conversations. I’d thought about it, but after much consideration, I just don’t think there’s any integrity in that. I know this disappoints many of you. I will say this, she’s a very nice lady, and although she was angry about the post about her husband initially, after she and I spoke, she handled herself with incredible class and decency and by the end of our email exchanges… we both had a new found respect for each other. She never defended the act of throwing gum, she defended his character which was being called into question. No harm in that.
Upon mentioning that I had been in contact with Mrs. Baker in the blog, I received many comments begging me to post the exchange. Then I got a comment that said, “So help me, if this turns into another VJack sob story where they convince you he is somehow right and deserves sympathy/respect/blah blah cause he’s a public figure, im gonna junk punch you.” Ha. The comment is referring to the first actual blog I ever wrote on LobShots and an encounter I had with Vincent Jackson. He read the blog, contacted me, and we spoke about our misunderstanding. I then wrote a follow-up blog about VJ, about blogging, and about integrity in blogging.
I don’t regret posting my encounter with Jordan Baker. Did I overreact? Sure. But an umpire throwing gum onto the playing field every half inning of a baseball game is ridiculous. Baseball is full of egos, I recognize that. If I was an umpire and some fans tried to show me up, regardless of what I was doing, would I have messed with them just like Jordan Baker did to us? Probably. If somebody wrote a blog insulting my spouse, would I email them? Probably.
I don’t know Jordan Baker. The only encounter I had with him… he was a punk. Does this make him a terrible person? Of course not. If we were all judged by one particularly bad encounter we’d had in life… everybody would hate everybody and we’d all be awful people. That’s not how life works.
He may not know it, but he’s got friends and family that have his back. They don’t want his career ruined by some stupid gum-throwing. Frankly, neither do I. I just want him to stop throwing gum. Well, his friends came out in masses to tell me about him. So, because I don’t know Jordan Baker. Here’s what I’ve been told:
He’s from Oklahama. He’s 31 years old. He’s 6’7″. He’s got a dog named Radar. His mom was a dental hygienist and his dad was a Culligan Man. His friends call him “Bake”. His first love is his wife. His second is baseball. He attended the prestigious Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School. Two words repeatedly showed up when others described him: loyal and humble. When one of his friends was struggling financially, “Bake” would have him over for rice pilaf and casserole, and he would slip cash into his friends pocket without him noticing. His friends and family love him dearly.
There you have it. That’s what I’ve heard about Jordan Baker. Sounds like a great person, not at all like the ump I got into a pissing match with at Petco. I’m sure his career as a Major League Baseball umpire will be long and plentiful, like a roll of Bubble Tape.
Oh, and Jordan Baker’s gum-throwing? Joe Torre, assigned by Bud Selig as the Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations for Major League Baseball, has spoken with Mr. Baker and you will never see him throw another piece of gum on a baseball field again. Mission accomplished.
Happy umping, Jordan Baker.