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MLB to changeup umpire assignments for the World Series

Oct 23, 2009, 8:25 AM EDT

Baseball has seen enough bad calls and is changing the way it assigns umpires for the World Series:

Stung by a rash of blown calls in the playoffs, Major League
Baseball is breaking tradition and sticking with only experienced
umpires for the World Series.

Longtime crew chiefs Joe West, Dana DeMuth and Gerry Davis, along
with Brian Gorman, Jeff Nelson and Mike Everitt will handle the games,
three people with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press
this week . . . In 24 of the last 25 World Series, the six-man crew has included at
least one umpire working the event for the first time–baseball likes to
reward newer umpires, plus replenish the supply of umps with Series

Not that this is a guarantee of anything better than what we’ve seen. An experienced umpire does not necessarily make for a good umpire.  Joe West has been around forever, and for as long as he’s been around, people have complained about him. And he doesn’t take well to complaints: back in 1984 West actually ejected two SportsChannel cameramen when they allowed Mets players and coaches to see replays of a call he blew. And let us not forget that our friend Tim McClelland has been around for over 25 years, and he still made those awful calls at third base on Tuesday night.

But at least it’s something.  Not as good as, say, the limited introduction of replay or — an idea I heard someone suggest yesterday which may be better — simply stationing an umpire in the press box, giving him access to video and a headset and allowing him to serve as a overruling authority in the event something clearly gets blown on the field.

  1. Rod - Oct 23, 2009 at 11:13 AM

    Wow… like that idea of umpire in press box. That would really change the game.

  2. Old Gator - Oct 23, 2009 at 11:17 AM

    Ah, the search for perfection among flawed humans. Could it be that blown calls are encoded in our mitochondrial DNA and that MLB has actually found a test for them?
    The fact is, this whole discussion is a red herring. There are no blown calls. Like the old joke goes, you ain’t safe and you ain’t out till the ump calls it. He is the reservoir of reality in a ballgame, the ultimate arbiter of in which of a number of alternate universes the play was executed. Now, if MLB really wants perfection, they ought to be buying their umpires out of the Tyrrel Corporation android catalogue. “Calling balls and strikes tonight, Roy Batty….”

  3. Larry - Oct 23, 2009 at 7:59 PM

    I don’t get it. They want umpires with experience, but don’t want to give umpires experience. I mean, there has to be a FIRST time that you do something. Sure, I wouldn’t want to be the first person a doctor operates on, but SOMEONE has to be the first one. In the same way, these guys need to get the experience somewhere.
    I think it’s a good idea to say that umpires cannot work the World Series until they have worked at least some number of LDS and LCS series, but if they have proven themselves in the regular season they NEED to be given postseason assignments.

  4. Old Gator - Oct 23, 2009 at 10:32 PM

    You’re quite correct, of course, but this is just Bud Selig and Co. panicking because of all the bad publicity from the excruciating mistakes of the first few games. By next year, after the umpire’s union has quietly and privately handed Bud his touchas during the offseason, it’ll be back to the slightly adjusted status quo.

  5. watercott - Oct 24, 2009 at 12:58 AM

    The idea of having an umpire in the booth/dungeon with a video feed is so fantastically simple and perfect that there is no excuse whatsoever that can justify not doing it.
    No challenges, no crazy rules about when or how often one can challenge, no time consuming hood-tent viewing festivals. Just have an umpire tell the other umpires when they got something wrong. They already do this! They just do it incredibly randomly and by appealing to other umpires on the field that only might have had a better view of the play than the original caller.
    This would be so simple and effective that there is probably zero chance it will ever be done.

  6. sweaty armpits - Feb 8, 2010 at 4:44 PM

    There usually obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some really points in Features also.

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