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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. Mark U - Aug 26, 2009 at 1:43 PM

    Why are the umpires allowed to show up the players. The dramatic third strike calls, especially in tight game situations is nothing more than the umpire showing up players.
    They should do their job without all the theatrics.

  2. Hamlet Canosa - Aug 26, 2009 at 2:06 PM

    In my many years watching and enjoying this wonderful game, few if any years have been highlighted by as much poor umpiring and downright unprofessional behavior as witnessed this year. Nevertheless, one gets the sense that the chance of any discipline being administered to umpires who apparently as seen in the eyes of MLB to be beyond reproach, seems remote.
    The article in on-target and much appreciated.

  3. VirginiaSox - Aug 26, 2009 at 3:03 PM

    A yank-mee fan, oh boy, here we go…..
    The phanton 1 and okcyankmeefan are psychologists now, get a grip on yourselves.
    Since you two are specialists, you would probably see that I was explaining what COULD eventually happen when you let the arrogant umps continue their “mightier than thou” attitudes out there this season.
    A real psychologist, or anyone who would have some sort of intelligence in their life would have seen what I was saying.
    And I do have a pretty great life, thank you…
    If you don’t know baseball, please don’t come on here and waste time. If you can’t see what the umps have been doing (especially this year) then don’t enter in here because we are talking about this subject in particular.
    So, phantom 1- how long did it take to look up how to spell blithering? wow, big word for the day!
    okcyankmeefan- stay the course on your online psychiatry degree.
    If you don’t like or agree with something someone says on line, you can ignore it and not respond. Responses need to be backed up, not riddled with armchair psychology and deep thoughts from Jack Handee.

  4. d.paterson - Aug 26, 2009 at 3:07 PM

    I think this whole thing is a dead issue. If anyone, including the commisioner, attempted to discipline the umpires, they would be on strike so fast it would make your head spin. Lets face it, they run the show and it is not going to change.

  5. d.paterson - Aug 26, 2009 at 3:11 PM

    I think this whole thing is a dead issue. If anyone, including the commisioner, attempted to discipline the umpires, they would be on strike so fast it would make your head spin. Lets face it, they run the show and it is not going to change.
    Unless someone has the guts to fire the whole bunch and start fresh we are all stuck with the status quo.
    The umpires show up the players a lot more often than the other way around, every time they make one of their dramatic out calls on the base paths or on a third strike.

  6. mike Chandler - Aug 26, 2009 at 3:23 PM

    The problem is the players and managers want respect but they don’t want to give it. Why don’t they follow the rules and not argue judgement calls like the rule book says. They want to run their mouth and then cry wolf when the ump says something.

  7. SamCookie - Aug 26, 2009 at 4:26 PM

    I have called balls and strikes for many years, albeit at much lower levels, and feel that this comment was far more ridiculous than the article. I understand the abuse umpires take, which is just as bad at low levels as at high levels. But taking the high road “85% of the time” is far from enough. That would mean, for 1 out of every 6 disputed calls, the umpires would get to insult the players back. Sorry, that is not good enough for the police or for judges, and is not good enough for umpires, either.

  8. juan f ramirez - Aug 26, 2009 at 4:43 PM

    umpires suck,they abuse power at any level,the show players and
    their teams and their fans with their attitudes and excited reactions when they call a runner out or,in a strike-out situation
    umps jump out of their box,like 6 to 8 feets their whole fat body
    and pumped fit into the air,it should not be,restrain them.if
    torrealba has a body language that the umps dont like,talk it over
    don’t make it a fight.miller vs torrealba,it’s probably a case of
    white trash vs wise latino,think about it…..

  9. Craig Cook - Aug 26, 2009 at 4:57 PM

    To follow up briefly on my previous post, I remind everyone that THE RULES of baseball explicitly give the umpire total authority over the entire game. No umpire may be removed from a game (unless injurted) by anyone, even the Commish. They are God out there and the rules are specifically written to give them that authority.
    I heartlily agree that umpires should not seek trouble or have a chip on their shoulders. They are and should be held to higher standard than the crybaby players and managers (who, of course, see every pitch and close call perfectly and do not suffer from any bias! Ha!!!)
    I have seen some egregiously incorrect calls this season in MLB — calls I would not accept from the youth umpires I oversee in my local little league. But I have also seen a Mets second baseman drop a pop fly and lose a game to the Yankees — a ball any Little Leaguer would have caught. I suppose that was the umpire’s fault, too.
    So, for players, and managers: Just shut up and play ball and don’t blame the umpire for your failures.
    For the umpires: How about calling the strike zone in the rule book for a change? These pitches that are 3 inches outside that you are calling strikes are ruining the game — I turn off the game when you guys do that because it is no longer a game worth watching becasue you are taking the bat out of the batter’s hands. Make the pitcher come into the zone.

  10. S. King - Aug 26, 2009 at 8:46 PM

    If M.S.Lovell calls games the way he spells, his games must be really bad!

  11. Lord Aston - Aug 27, 2009 at 3:54 PM

    MLB umpires are the worst officials in all of sports. They’ve decided that they are as important if not more so than the players. They get worse every season with their sometimes brutal calls. Balls and strikes are brutal. It is ridiculous that virtually every umpire has his own strike zone.

  12. STL Fan - Aug 27, 2009 at 11:34 PM

    M.S. Lovell,
    Some years ago, the St. Louis Cardinals lost a World Series to the Kansas City Royals on a blown call by a first base umpire which would have been the final out of the Series. Maybe an apology was issued, but I have never seen it.
    Too many umpires think they are part of “the show”. I totally agree that it’s a hard job, but the best umpire is the one who is transparent.
    p.s. I’m no expert at English, but my guess is you could do a whole heck of a lot for your credibility by engaging spell check before you do a post.

  13. gil4 - Aug 29, 2009 at 3:25 PM

    If Campos had an issue with Torrealba showing him up, he should handled it himself. It was none of Miller’s business and the time for dealing with the situation had passed.

  14. gil4 - Aug 29, 2009 at 3:29 PM

    RE: “…on a blown call by a first base umpire which would have been the final out of the Series.”
    It would have been the first out of the 9th inning. Cardinal fans are so whiny.

  15. Skiddy - Sep 1, 2009 at 12:57 PM

    All I have to say is, “Don’t knock it till you’ve done it.” “Walk in their shoes before you gripe about them.”
    SI had an article a few years back, I don’t remember the exact numbers, but the percentage of calls they missed was like 1 every 24 games. That’s pretty good.
    It’s the only profession where you are expected to be perfect your first day of work and improve from there.

  16. HOTROD - Sep 1, 2009 at 4:26 PM

    I REMEMBER THE OVER WEIGHT UMPIRES FROM THE LATE 70’S EARLY 90’S, MOST WERE FIRED DURING THE UMPIRE STRIKE, MANY RETIRED, THOSE GUYS GOT IT RIGHT AND IF THEY DIDN’T THEY HAD A QUICK DISCUSSION WITH THE MANAGER WHOM THEY ASSURED THEY WOULD MAKE UP FOR IT AND THEY PLAYED BALL. TODAY THE UMPIRES BAIT GUYS ON ESPECIALLY THE
    MILTON BRADLEYS BUT HEY, JETER NEVER HAS A PROBLEM, ACTUALLY IF THE BALL GETS TO THIRD BASE BAG BEFORE HIM, THEN HE DOES.

  17. mike redmond - Sep 7, 2009 at 7:08 PM

    Bad umps, my arsss….fans and players forget umps have to do an “apprenticeship” in the minor leagues for peanut pay for years and years and only the supposedly “best” are selected for Triple A and the Majors……a major league ump has to start out perfect the first day on the job and improve on it!!! Then you have banana heads like Bobby Cox and Lou Piniella getting ejected over and over and nothing is said to them…I swear Bobby Cox gets ejected on purpose just to go back in the clubhouse and drink a beer and go to sleep….when was he ever reprimanted by ML Baseball??? Jim Leyland and Ozzie Guillen are another couple of doozies that come to mind…..they couldnt call a runner out on the bases if they looked at the play 450 times….in the past few weeks three umps have been taken out of games for concussions – two from 95 mph fastballs to the mask and one for a possible broken rib….I did not see any of those managers sending them a card…..then there is the issue of pay – about 20-25 grand a year for pay in Triple A and tops in the majors less than $200 grand a year if you have about 55 years of seniority……..take a foul off your fingers or forearm and tell me how stupid or good major league umps are….as for Chipper Jones he whines more than a sick cow in heat……Milton Bradley is another doozie who comes to mind…..umps are worth way more than they are given credit for…..

  18. Andrew Bailey - Sep 10, 2009 at 9:58 AM

    We don’t pay to see the umpires…umpires should go unnoticed. They should call the plays consistently correctly and objectively. We’ve seen the same umpire call the same play differently in the same game! We need to hold them accountable otherwise it appears as if they’re being paid off. This would not surprise me. Bob Watson must investigate their umpires and get rid of the bad ones. Otherwise this will make the steroids issue seem like a minor issue.

  19. Andrew Bailey - Sep 10, 2009 at 10:00 AM

    Just so it’s clear, I’m NOT the Andrew Bailey of the Oakland A’s.

  20. Pokey Okie - Sep 12, 2009 at 3:42 AM

    No wonder America loves the NFL and instant replay.

  21. Roger - Sep 19, 2009 at 3:35 PM

    Wow. This comment is so amazingly arrogant.
    The fact is, at the Major League level, umpires could be replaced tomorrow by high-speed cameras and Questec, and I doubt 1 fan in 1,000 would care at all. MLB would have their fight with the union, push it through the courts, pay them off to go away, and you’d have a) a better product on the field, and b) a huge blow to the whole “profession” of umpiring.
    The only thing that is keeping umpires on the field is some nostalgia, inertia, and the fact that so far, no one has been bothered enough by the downside of employing human umpires to challenge the system. Watch that last one, guys. You’re in danger of losing it.

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