Who is Jordan Baker, Anyway?

gum-new

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.

-bp

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52 Responses to Who is Jordan Baker, Anyway?

  1. dunn says:

    Nice post BP. Exactly what I would expect from this blog. I personally never thought you were trying to ruin this man’s life and thought the accusations pointing to that were ridiculous. Good to see that the end result was what you(we) were hoping for.

  2. leila says:

    Appreciate your candor and thoughtful insight. And genuinely glad to hear that the gum-throwing is taken care of and that he sounds like he’s an overall good guy. :)

  3. Trevor says:

    You said that you weren’t going to give a summary but you basically did in the same paragraph. Personally that’s all I wanted to hear about the email exchanges. I don’t think that you overreacted, he was taunting you. In the end the mission was accomplished, he’s not going to throw gum anymore. Now let’s see if we can get him to stop making shit calls.

  4. Axion says:

    oh, he has a dog? well forget everything then.

  5. Congratulations! Sounds like an outstanding outcome. I enjoy your blog and although I live in Arizona, I’ll probably continue to check it out. Now if you can just find something to get on Angel Hernandez about.

  6. Justin says:

    Good stuff, I’m glad you didn’t post the emails from his wife too.

    Also, the call from the cards vs dbacks game wasn’t that bad.. #blindpride #cardinalstuckinZONIEland #terriblecall

  7. Jim says:

    Thanks Lobster Man. Baker was being a jerk, but as you point out, we all have our bad moments and these shouldn’t define us. Unfortunately, many people who are in positions of power let it go to their heads and they act badly making everyone around them miserable. A dose of humility is good for all of us once in a while.

  8. CB in AZ says:

    1. No more gum throwing
    2. Humility and integrity shown by blogger
    Good job, BP! :-)

  9. CT2SD says:

    Well done BP! Attention was drawn. Lessons were learned. “Mission accomplished”!

  10. Kimball says:

    Very classy. It’s a shame that, on a national level, people will only remember the first blog post.

    • bp says:

      agree. i’ve tried to get the word out on this blog as well… not because i’m looking for traffic, but because i really do want folks to see that there’s another side to this guy… from what i’m told.

  11. Cameron says:

    The gum throwing has stopped, that’s all that matters.
    Nice work BP.

  12. Ghost of RAK says:

    Drunken rant over. I’m getting you a tub of Bazooka Joe gum for Christmas.

  13. Kevin H says:

    I stopped reading after you said you weren’t publishing the emails with his wife. That’s all I was here for.

  14. Michael says:

    Bake is behind home plate at Wrigley Field right now! Check him out!

  15. AJM says:

    6’7″? Jesus H!

  16. Dane says:

    “I’m sure his career as a Major League Baseball umpire will be long and plentiful, like a roll of Bubble Tape.”

    Was that intended to be a compliment or an insult? A complisult?

    Well done bp. You saw it. You blogged it. You changed it. On behalf of all baseball fans, thank you.

  17. Wayne Schweikart says:

    No one has yet commented on the fact that he was replaced on the umpiring crew last night by Quinn Wolcott, another rookie umpire, who apparently has a stellar reputation. Let’s hope that Mr. Torre makes this change permanent, not just for the gum issue, but also for Jordan’s apparent inability to handle the pressure of having to make the correct call under a lot of pressure.

  18. Pingback: Tracy McGrady on if he is ready to play in Game 2 of the NBA Finals | Extra Mustard - SI.com

  19. Buddy says:

    “But an umpire throwing gum onto the playing feel*every half inning of a baseball game is ridiculous. ”
    * field.
    Just one old ad man’s opinion that there should be no typos in a blog. Yep, I’m old fashioned.

  20. Tom says:

    I hate ABC gum as I’ve had it on pants, shoes, and stepped in it barefoot as a kid. I think it is disgusting. But I kind of laughed that finally San Diego fans got riled up! I’ve been to all but 3 MLB stadiums with my son (will hit the last 3 this season), and I have to say the San Diego fans were the most boring. Not a bash, I just think 344 beautiful days a year makes most natives and long-time residents boring. And, I am only basing it on the baseball game, not the beaches and other attractions. But Miami (where I was born, but not raised) will be our last stop and I am just hoping there are at least a dozen fans there so I can tell if they are boring or not. San Diego may not be in last place for long!

    Enjoyed the blogs about the ump. TS in Atlanta

  21. Greanthumb says:

    Very classy.

    I’m glad he’s not gonna be throwing gum anymore.

    It would have much less painful if he’d just recognized the excess and corrected it accordingly. I’m sure he’s a nice gentleman….but what a first impression.

  22. Richard says:

    have you ever been a baseball player? have you ever umpired? I have been both for longer than you have been around and I’ve seen it all…if you really are into the game, just stepping on the field causes an almost instant reaction…weird noises, spitting seed games, wrapping gum around a chaw, incomprehensible name calling, and almost constant spitting and until now I’ve never heard anyone complain because its always been a part of baseball…please tell me you aren’t just a dopey fan looking for trouble?…call an umpire anything you want, I have myself and I’ve been called things I couldn’t even figure out with a dictionary…but don’t get on his gum habits…the players do exactly the same thing 3 hours a night on every field across this great land from Little League to the Show…plus the man not only graduated from THE best Umpire school around, he is in the BIGS and is an instructor over the winter…my son knows him and he is a great guy…everyone blows calls my friend, and all fans complain about it, but not everyone is “disgusted” by gum tossing enough to make a huge deal about it

    • Nobody throws a WAD of gum into the outfield every half inning. Nobody.

    • Greanthumb says:

      U mad bro??

    • Jeff says:

      Richard, not only was BP a great baseball player in his own right, but his dad played AAA ball with Hank Aaron. He knows baseball.

      Take it from someone who’s known BP a long time; in case the way BP handled himself in this situation didn’t make it abundantly clear to all, BP’s a great blogger and an even better person.

  23. BP, you’ve definitely taken the high road and I think you’ve handled this whole situation really well. You weren’t wrong to make a big deal of this guy’s disgusting and disrespectful antics. I’m sure he’s a “great guy” but excuse me for waiting for him to prove it before I become a believer. In the mean time, I consider this a CYA situation. Crazy that his friends and family think he’s a good guy. All I see is arrogance.

    BTW I’m 6’6″ and I have two Italian Greyhounds named Missy and Rasco. My wife and kids think I’m pretty top-notch. My friends do too but I think that’s just because I buy them beer.

  24. wrveres says:

    great post.

    Now about that william Walker …

  25. MulnItOvr says:

    well done – from start to end. ID the issue, don’t emotionalize or personalize it beyond the frustration of the offensive act (or acts) at hand…don’t sensationalize it with the responses from Mrs. Baker and in the end get results.

  26. Bull Benn says:

    Nice follow up, sweet’eart. where’s you get that picture? did he send that to you?

  27. Ross says:

    Very classy Brady.

    I’m glad you were the voice of reason, I was out for blood.

    Let me know if you still want me to help with that other thing…

  28. Randy says:

    One of the best Internet posts I have read in a long time. Classy.

    Thanks for calling this guy out. See, things CAN be resolved, and everyone can win.

  29. Paul says:

    Commendable all around. Integrity intact. Well done, Mr. Lobshots.

  30. Wayne Schweikart says:

    Well, it looks like Mr. Torre decided to give Jordan another chance. He was back with Angel’s crew last night. Hopefully he has learned his lesson, but I still hope the D’Backs don’t draw that crew again this year!

  31. Cory says:

    He blew another call tonight in the Royals-Tigers game ringing up Billy Butler in the 9th on a ball at least 3 inches off the plate. Butler was tossed and the Royals hopes of tying or winning in the 9th went with him. Gum throwing aside, he’s still a horrid ump and needs a new home anywhere but in the majors.

  32. Amy Beam says:

    Holy comments section Batman! Seriously though, “like a roll of Bubble Tape” killed me. As is the neighbors could hear my laugh. Thanks for that.

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