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MLB needs to discipline some umpires. Now.

Aug 26, 2009, 8:20 AM EDT

Lost in the two straight dramatic wins that have the Rockies within spittin’ distance of first place is a bizarre series of exchanges from Monday’s game that, according to the Denver Post, is likely going to get some umpires disciplined:

Several Rockies alleged after Monday’s
dramatic, 14th-inning 6-4 victory that second-base umpire Bill Miller
called catcher Yorvit Torrealba a derogatory name while the catcher was
a baserunner late in the game . . .
Tensions began to escalate because,
Torrealba said, Miller insulted him, saying that he was out of line by
showing up Campos during the game with his body language on
questionable calls against Rockies pitchers. A witness to the incident
said that Miller referred to his own experience as an umpire in
explaining why he had the right to criticize Torrealba’s actions,
though he wasn’t working the plate.

As that was going on, Rockies’ reliever Huston Street started jawing at first base umpire Jim Joyce, telling him that he needed to get Miller to lay off of Torrealba. Instead, Joyce came to the dugout and got into it with Street. After the game, during the celebration after Spilborghs’ homer, Torrelaba apparently had some nasty words with Campos and/or Miller.

Bob Watson is looking into it all, and if the Post’s story is accurate, there had better be some discipline against the umps.  This has been a pretty bad year for umpire behavior, and at some point baseball needs to send a message to them that they need to rise above whatever petty baloney they feel the players and managers are doing during a game and do their job.

If I was in charge of umpires I’d order them not to even argue back during heated exchanges because nothing looks sillier than a manager ranting and raving to a stone faced ump. Going way beyond that and actually calling out players during a game for what they perceive to be disrespect is utterly unacceptable.

In order to legitimize their authority, umps need to take the high road.  It seems that the only way they’ll be inspired to do that is for Bob Watson to knock them down a few pegs.  Watson and baseball has been loathe to do that when necessary, but they desperately need to do it now.

  1. M.S. Lovell - Aug 26, 2009 at 10:23 AM

    Your commentary is utterly ridiculous opinion of someone who has never officiated a sport let alone sport with rising tensions and superior atheletes. Unfortunately your biased point of view does not take into account that umpires do take the high road 85-95% of the time. They are often catcalled, criticized and ridiculued without responding or having the benefit to respond in kind because they are professionals. When a bench consistently complains about the zone or a perceived missed tag umpires are the ones who take it on the chin and keep moving. However once you start having player visibly showing up umpires without recourse then we are opening the floodgates in allowing blatant disregard for rules and authority. As for for what Biller Miller may have said to Y.T. no one will ever know. Bt i do know there are 45 playes on the filed comprised of 2 teams. There are only 4 umpires and that is their team. Supporting your teammate when he is being disrespected is not a problem for me or anyone. The true case of the matter if an umpire is wrong his teammates will e the first to tell him so. So I applaud Bill Miller. The problem i dee is that playesdo not want umpires to be a part of the game. Well the dont want to either. Good umpires dont want their miscue to affect the result of a game. But it has goten so that players have forgoten that they ulitmately take responsibility for the game and when the dont liv up to that. They have start projecting their failures to the umpires.
    So Craig why dont u do us all a favor. Buy yourself some equipment. Get behind the dish and call some balls and strikes and ge back to us…
    M.S. Lovell
    ABUA Member
    NFHSS
    CBUA

  2. DON - Aug 26, 2009 at 10:28 AM

    TIME TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THE “GOD COMPLEX” OF UMPIRES.THEIR JOB IS TO CALL THE GAME AND EXPLAIN THE RULES WHEN NECESSARY NOT ENGAGE IN PETTY B.S.

  3. sandy - Aug 26, 2009 at 10:33 AM

    Like it or not, umpires are paid to make the proper calls. They are not paid to get into it with players or managers, and more and more that is what fans have been seeing this year. Umpires that are looking to throw someone out, umpires that have made some ridiculous calls on the base lines, and umpires that have a strike zone, that even they couldn’t find on a consistent basis.
    Are they all like that? Of course, not. But the ones that don’t measure up should be disciplined, and that is what this article is about.
    If an umpire doesn’t want to listen to the boos, catcalls, etc. don’t put on the equipment. If they don’t want to be questioned on their calls, make the right ones. Major league umpires get paid very well for what they do, and if they don’t want to do the job as it is outlined, don’t do it. Simple.

  4. VirginiaSox - Aug 26, 2009 at 10:45 AM

    Umpires have been the worst this season, very cockey and arrogant for some reason. Did someone give them the authority to be billy-bad assholes this year or something???
    Maybe Torrealba should have attacked this douche Miller and beat his ass up a little so umps would get the point that they had better back off of their arrogance and over authoritative attitude of this season.
    I don’t know about you, but after how the umps have been acting this season, I would LOVE to see some of these useless umps get the crap beat out of them by some players. This season has been full of bad calls and cockey attitudes from these umps, so let a player or manager rough up a few of theses dorks to get them back in line and bring them back down to earth.
    The umps are just mad because deep down they know that it is only a matter of time before the human ump is no longer there. With all the cameras they have at ballparks now days, who needs the umps!
    So all of the umps in baseball, just keep on acting like you are gods and masters of the game and eventually you will find out the hard way that you umps are just useless douchebags that will eventually be replaced by video and still cameras because you guys suck at your jobs. And all it’s going to take is one of your dumbass morons like Bill Miller to start yacking his mouth at another player, and that player is going to snap and bust your ass good. Miller, you are lucky, I know quite a few players that if you did that to, you would still be in the ICU at the local hospital fighting and crying for your life.
    If Miller continues to act the way he did with Torrealba and the Rockies- it will only be a matter of time before he runs across the wrong team and the wrong player at the wrong time- and then Miller, you will really get yours.
    MLB, you had better punish these umps, or all it’s going to do is cause massive repercussions throughout the game, and end up getting some ump beat up or attacked on the field. Umps especially, should be punished, even more harsh because they are suppose to be grown up and mature and level headed out there. If the umps are being belligerent and starting conflicts, what do you think is going to end up happening out on that field?

  5. CMC - Aug 26, 2009 at 10:48 AM

    It is your comments that are utterly ridiculous. A major part of an umpire’s job is to control the game, especially when there are “rising tensions” — whether it is on the major league level or in little league. The umpire is supposed to be above the fray. Today’s umpires, however, apparently you included, don’t seem to understand that. Any umpire that acts the way Miller and Joyce did is nothing other than part of the problem and they should be disciplined accordingly.

  6. Craig Calcaterra - Aug 26, 2009 at 10:57 AM

    I’ll just add, Mr. Lovell, that baseball players behave themselves 85-95% of the time too. When they don’t, they are publicly fined and suspended. Umpires never are, and that’s all I’m asking that happen here.
    Also, the idea that I can’t comment on the proper behavior of umpires without first having umpired myself is ridiculous. Either they’re held to an objective standard of behavior or they’re not. Any discipline regime that is dependent upon people who have “been there” necessarily elevates the emotional and subjective state of its subjects. Umpires should be reasonable and impartial and anyone is capable of seeing when they’re not.
    If players or managers treat them poorly, they are empowered to report them to the league office for discipline. They should not take it upon themselves to get even, either in their on-the-field rulings or by fighting back via name calling or argument.
    U

  7. no-fan - Aug 26, 2009 at 10:59 AM

    The problem is these dumb-ass, immature, whiny, poor sport, babies we call “professional athletes”. When you take these unintelligent jerks from their gang-infested, violent lives, give them multi-million dollar contracts, and promote substance abuse, your going to get a spoiled-rotten brat! If they would just play the game instead of worrying about a bad call, or about one-upping the other team’s disrespect, the fans might actually get their money’s worth (even though baseball players are the most overpaid, worthless “athletes” around). I say if you speak ill to an ump, you should be fined and must sit out a couple of games.

  8. Jason - Aug 26, 2009 at 11:05 AM

    I guess proper grammar wasn’t part of your umpire training. You sound ridiculous.

  9. Phantom 1 - Aug 26, 2009 at 11:09 AM

    VirginiaSox, you’ve redefine the term “Blithering Idiot”. Baseball players beating up umps??? You’ve crushed one too many beer cans against your noggin. What next, playing baseball in a hockey rink? Go back to watching the NHL… maybe your moronic suggestion might take flight there.

  10. atlhokie - Aug 26, 2009 at 11:10 AM

    The umpires need to take the high road 100% of the time – no less. As a USAT&F official we are told that “supercops” are not needed and now I know where they went – MLB. Yes, the players can be abusive and there is a process in place to address bad player behavior and that starts with Bob Watson not the “4 man team” of supposedly neutral officials.
    Insulting players under any circumstances is unacceptable for an umpire.
    YOU need to realize that the fans DO NOT come out to see the umpires and until I see Nike ads pushing desiger umpire wear, it’s a safe bet that the umps are not going to be the main attraction.
    MLB umpires are well paid, have a good work schedule and if you do not believe that, then ask yourself why so many people are trying to be an MLB umpire?
    The bottom line is that the umpires need to do their job – and quit trying to be part of the gsme.

  11. Flying Man - Aug 26, 2009 at 11:12 AM

    M.S. Lovell,
    Your comments are our of line. While I no longer do it due to career issues, I have officiated at many levels from grade school through the semi-pro level in four sports. I can definitely say your position is wrong on this. I have witnessed clear intimidation by umpires in MLB this year. They are trying to become “part of the game”, not aloof and above above it, making calls in an unfair and impartial manner. The second base umpire has no place in getting involved in “showing up” issues a player has with the home plate umpire. An umpire behind the plate at the major league level has the ability to handle those issues himself. While an umpiring crew is a crew and must work together, one umpire allowing himself to inject what is clearly a personal issue into the game is not good to his crew or to umpiring in general. Were I the home plate umpire in the incident, AFTER THE GAME, I would have clearly made the second base umpire aware that he needs to keep his nose out of my business when I am working my position.
    MLB does need to discipline umpires. They need to take a strong hand in making sure that they are fair, impartial, and above all, aloof to the antics of the players unless they impact the game. The comment above is right, nothing makes a person look like more of an idiot than arguing with a stone faced official in front of a cloud of thousands. Stupid stuff gets said in arguments by both parties and it takes two to have an argument, so if one party isn’t arguing, there isn’t an argument.
    MLB Umpires, just make the calls and run the game in an expeditious manner. Stop trying to show up multi-million dollar athletes. I agree they are overpaid and occasionally crybabies, but your beef is with owners who allow such antics and overpay for performance, so don’t take it out on the players, be professional and do your jobs!

  12. Robert the Robot - Aug 26, 2009 at 11:15 AM

    Umpires GUESS at balls and strikes. There is no other way to explain strike call after call when the replay CLEARLY shows the ball in the opposite batter’s box.

  13. Dan - Aug 26, 2009 at 11:15 AM

    If they want to argue with a manager who runs out on the field to complain, I’m okay with that. I’m not okay with the umpires instigating arguments with players, no matter how disrespectful the players are. If a player isn’t openly arguing a call, leave him alone. Sure it’s immature to throw your hands up after a close pitch, or to make comments from the dugout, but the umpires need to do their jobs. If certain players or coaches are being disruptive or disrespectful, they need to either have some way to file a report behind the scenes or ask between innings for players or managers to be more respectful. I’m a little tired of watching umps call time out during play to yell at a player. You’re a professional MLB Umpire, not an elementary school lunch lady.

  14. Kim - Aug 26, 2009 at 11:23 AM

    Yes, the athletes are spoiled, but they don’t play the game to get harassed by the umpires. This story reminds me of the umpire that Jeter got into it with and then the umpire lied about what happened and did not get disciplined. It’s not the umpires’ job to “create” tensions, as this umpire did, but to control tensions. Athletes are supposed to have egos and are expected to, the umpires are supposed to be in the background of the game, ensuring smooth runnings, but for some reason lately, umpires think they should be the main event. The athletes ARE the EVENT, and the umpires should do their jobs, quit whining, that’s it.

  15. Craig Cook - Aug 26, 2009 at 11:26 AM

    As a Little League umpire for 30 years, I can tell you that on every close call the umpire gets heat from someone (player, manager, spectator). To an umpire, there is no such thing as a “good call”, there are only correct calls and incorrect calls. As human beings, we make incorrect calls from time to time. Umpiring is like pitching, if you haven’t done it, you have zero idea what you are talking about.
    The rules say that when the game starts, it belongs to the umpire. The rules also say that players and managers are to respect the umpires and are prohibited from questioning judgement calls (which are 95% of the calls an umpire makes). And, the idea that officials should not affect the outcome of a game is absurd. Every call an umpire makes affects the outcome of the game.
    It is not the umpire’s job to be “reasonable.” It is their job to enforce the rules and to do so impartially and without regard to the score or the game situation.
    How about this? Players and managers stop whining and stop questioning judgment calls. I promise you no umpire wants to have a discussion with any player or manager. Leave them alone and they’ll leave you alone. Show them up and they will toss you, which is what they should do.
    OR, we could let the players umpire the games. That would work well, wouldn’t it????
    To paraphrase old George Blanda: There are only 2 types of people who complain about officials — crybabies and losers.

  16. Jeff J. Snider - Aug 26, 2009 at 11:28 AM

    In Miller’s defense, without knowing what “derogatory name” he called Yorvit Torrealba, I’m sure it was accurate. :-)

  17. M. Fletcher - Aug 26, 2009 at 11:38 AM

    Go back to your Nascar you hillbilly. Obviously you have no idea what you are talking about.

  18. VirginiaSox - Aug 26, 2009 at 11:53 AM

    Hey moron, I don’t watch hockey.
    Baseball needs to toughen up, like back in the old days when they really played baseball.
    The umpire brigade as a whole has been especially bad this season, but if they want to start mouthing off at players, then they should be able to take the heat when it comes. I guess you think that if an ump calls you something nasty on the field that you would just walk away and put up with it. I guess if you did just walk away and put up with an ump calling you names or egging you on, then I guess you would be a puss then wouldn’t you?
    So, if you don’t like my comment from earlier, well… suck it!

  19. one - Aug 26, 2009 at 11:57 AM

    M.S. Lovell, you have shown that you are hopelessly cluless as to the role of an umpire. Keep your composure, do not initiate confrontations, keep the game moving…these are traits that are as important as getting the call right. It takes two to tango and I understand that, but it is not the role of an umpire to escalte a situation. I hope you never umpire, or referee or whatever it is you claim you do a game that I am involved in.

  20. Patches - Aug 26, 2009 at 12:03 PM

    lOVELL,
    I suggest you cool down before making a comment and supporting the umpires entirely. They do act like they are little gods and dare you to contradict them. They are only human and make mistakes like the rest of humanity. I would suggest you use spell check before submitting your comments then the reader would not have to assume what you meant to say.

  21. George Torres - Aug 26, 2009 at 12:17 PM

    I have been watching the game since 1952, played at all levels, except the high minors and majors. Played HS, junior college, sandlot, military, etc. The umpiring is deficient. The calls on the basepaths have suffered, and the umpires are out of position to make a competent call often. The problem with the game is that the commissioner is an incompetent, and the game is suffering, due to his incompetence. Send some of these umpires back to school, to work on their fundamentals.

  22. Joseph Massaro - Aug 26, 2009 at 12:54 PM

    Umpires are ruining major league baseball. They act like infallible gods. How do they have the right to ignore the strike zone in the rule book and make up their own! It’s time for instant replay on close calls since they obviously miss so many.

  23. his dudeness - Aug 26, 2009 at 1:00 PM

    Thank you for the short essay. next time try leaving the blogging to the actual bloggers. that goes for the rest of you who feel the need to write long diatrobs in response to a report on umpires behaving badly, too.

  24. OKCyankeefan - Aug 26, 2009 at 1:17 PM

    Wow! Somebody needs some anger management counseling. Your original rant and your rebuttal comment to Phantom 1 are both hilarious, though, so thanks for posting them! Oh, and good luck with that temper – what a joyous life you must lead.
    One of the things I find great about baseball is that it is a game played by humans, and officiated by humans, who (surprise, surprise) make mistakes from time to time. Those mistakes can change the course of a game, and might even cause a manager to have to rethink his strategy, which is what baseball is all about! I mean, how much emotion would go into a completely pure sport?
    On the other hand, racist slurs are just not cool. We probably don’t want Glen Beck umpiring anytime soon….

  25. John - Aug 26, 2009 at 1:41 PM

    MLB players showing up and ump? What did Torrealba do which was deemed so inappropriate by the second base umpire? Not throw the ball back to the pitcher fast enough? Turn and look at the home plate umpire? Moreover why is the 2nd base ump worried about what is going on behind the plate as that is between the catcher and home plate ump? In my opinion Miller (in whatever he said to Torreabla) is obviously far too sensitive for the job of an MLB umpire if he is allowing the perceived “body language” of a player to compell him to say anything to said player on the field. He should just be glad that he’s not a ref in the NBA where players constantly flail their arms about, contort their faces and openly whine and cry every time the whistle is blown?

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