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Posts Tagged ‘Joe West’

Anyone who watched any of this week’s Yankees games are probably wondering the same thing: who stole the major league umpires and replaced them with these clowns?

In every single game, the umpires blew at least one call. By my count, they cost Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira
and Jorge Posada base hits. They also cost the Royals a run last night. They cost Brett Gardner an at-bat for reasons unknown (although Colin Curtis turned that into his first ML home run). They tossed Joe Girardi from a game and nobody has yet to tell him why.

I wish I could rail against some sort of vast umpiring conspiracy against the Yankees. I wish that Joe West’s comments at the beginning of the season pointed to a bias against the Yankees. Sadly, I cannot. This season, umpires have cost Armando Gallaraga a perfect game (and no-hitter) with two outs in the 9th inning. Turn on SportsCenter and nightly, some umpire somewhere is blowing a call that directly affects the outcome of a game. What we are watching is the one thing that will kill baseball as a top-tier sport in this country faster than PED’s or Tim McCarver. Bad umpiring used to be a rare occurrence – rare enough that a bad call led every sportscast in America. Now, bad umpiring has become the norm. Fans can be excused if they wait with baited breath for the next horrible call.

Fortunately, I don’t think this problem is unsolvable. Here are five pretty simple things that Commissioner Bud Selig can do to restore some sense of normalcy to the grand game:

  1. Revert back to having AL & NL umpires. With that system, the umpires got to know the teams, players and managers much better than with the current system of rotating crews around the majors.
  2. I understand that MLB grades the umpires every year. Why not make those grades public? Fans have more stats available than Roosevelt has dimes to know how a player performs; it seems only fair that we know which umpires have fair strike zones, which ones blow calls most often and so forth. Besides, knowing that their performance will be publicly available sounds like a great incentive to get the umpires to concentrate a bit harder on the field.
  3. Suspend umpires during the season for some of the ridiculous calls they make. If a player or manager can be suspended for conduct unbecoming, no reason an umpire cannot.
  4. Demand the umpires get in shape. Baseball is the only major sport that allows its game officials to be so…corpulent. This isn’t a case of “fat discrimination” but one of simply asking the umpires to be mobile enough to keep up with the speed of the game.
  5. Have more intense spring training for the umpires. I cringe every time I see an umpire in the absolutely wrong position to make a call. Just as the players work on getting themselves in correct position for cut-off throws and pitchers run PFP drills during spring training, I think having a spring complex where umpires work on getting on in position for throws to every base from every angle is appropriate.

The really neat thing is, the commissioner’s “best interests of baseball” authority means he can do all of this outside of the CBA. (Maybe not #5; but certainly the rest). What do you think? Is it time for MLB to do something about the umpiring?

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