Thursday, September 8, 2011

MLB vs. Umpires

I'm not sure who is worse - MLB Front Offices or MLB Umpires...

Over the past 5-10 years, umpires have just been getting more awful by the pitch.  I'm not talking about the close calls that could go either way, or the not-so-close calls like Armando Gallaraga's perfect game that wasn't because of an umpire.  I especially am not talking about situations like that when the umpire fully admits he made a mistake (which is extremely rare). Those are, unfortunately, calls that happen .  I'm not even talking about the awful ball/strike calls by many an umpire.

I also understand that we are in a different time right now with everything being digital and available with a snap of a finger.   We, the fans, have the benefit of watching replays of calls and watching them in slow motion.   Umpires on the other hand have a split second to see the play from whichever angle they are standing at and make a call.   And the thought of having review in the games has a lot of negatives and positives associated with it.   I think maybe it should be expanded a bit to be more than just home run or not but you have to be really careful on how far you take it - because one of the great things about sports is that split second decision.

I'm talking about the umpires who think they are G-ds gift to earth and make it a point to be seen and heard.   The ones that when the players start to question something, the ump is the one jumping in their face and trying to make it a bigger situation than the player is.   The ones who have ridiculous arm motions for the strike out calls - so ridiculous you might think they are putting on a show of their own.

More specifically, Im talking about the umpires who consistently make bad calls.   Like really bad calls that get discussed on SportsCenter or MLB Tonight.   These are typically the umps that are rated as the worst by ML players.  I'm talking about guys like Joe West and his call in the Phillies/Marlins game last week.  

There were multiple issues with what occurred - with the biggest being that West broke the rules by going and viewing the replay.   There was never any question that there was fan interference.   But it was also apparent that it was a double with or without the interference.   It was Jack McKeon, the Marlins manager - not Charlie Manuel, the Phillies manager - who went and fought.   And why would the opposing manager fight for it to be a home run.  Charlie Manuel went out there, but barely said a word to West before the review occurred.   The smaller issues are all revolve around whether the right call was made - which is that split second decision that I can understand.   

The Phillies ended up playing the game under protest, filing with the league office to review what occurred.   They were protesting whether West had the right to go to replay and make a decision other than home run or not home run.   According to the rule book - he can only decide home run or not.

With the protest being filed, MLB offices had the chance to come out and say Joe West broke the rules (not even that he made a bad call with the fan interference - but that he broke the rules on going to replay and making the final call that he did).    Instead, they denied the Phillies protest haven't said a peep since.   Its rumored that West got a talking to - but that's just a rumor.

It's one thing to protect the umpires - I really do understand that - but its another to continue to stand by the umpires who consistently have poor performance and break the rules.   Eventually in any other position, you will be fired.   Even in professional sports - those players end up getting released.

So, who is worse - MLB Front Office or MLB Umpires?

I vote the front office is worse.   First off, its not fair that the bad umpires put out this persona of umpires as a whole.   Secondly, MLB is just cultivating this behavior by standing by them all the time.

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