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You're not alone: the players are fed up with the umps too

Oct 8, 2010, 8:25 AM EDT

The players, the league and the umps having some sort of sit-down is a great idea! So I fully expect it to go nowhere.

This is cool: the MLBPA is trying to organize a meeting between the players, the umps and the Commissioner’s Office to discuss the state of umpiring:

What the players would like to address, two player representatives said,
is the growing concern among players about poor communication with
umpires and what players see as a failure of accountability and
transparency in the grading and evaluation of umpires. Oakland Athletics reliever Brad Ziegler,
the team’s player rep, said that because disciplinary action of umps
isn’t made public, a distrust often exists among some players . . .

. . . It’d be nice if they were rated and those who didn’t pass, they get a week vacation, they get sent down,” said Jimmy Rollins,
the Phillies’ player rep. “It’s not that they’re trying to be bad. Some
players just can’t make it; some umpires just can’t make it. That’s
just the way it is. As long as they don’t have to answer to anybody and
they have that job security, that pressure of having to be good to stay
here — they don’t have to worry about that.”

This is so manifestly reasonable that you know damn well it will never happen.  The umpires believe that there’s nothing wrong and how dare they be questioned. The Commissioner’s Office has shown time and again that they have no interest whatsoever in making sure the right calls are made, that umpires are appropriately disciplined or that, when they are, anyone knows about it so as to instill confidence in their supervision. Having some sort of sit-down is a great idea by the union. So I fully expect it to go nowhere.

Beyond the idea of the meeting, by all means, read the rest of the story. Amy Nelson of ESPN got Jimmy Rollins to say an awful lot about the state of umpire-player relations these days, and it’s great stuff. Rollins pretty much nails the state-of-play with respect to the umpires’ increasingly hostile demeanor towards players and managers. 

  1. Jonny5 - Oct 8, 2010 at 8:52 AM

    Rollins pretty much hit the nail on the head. Who else thinks we’re looking at a future skipper in Jimmy? The way he stays in the dugout picking Charlies brain tells me he has a plan for his future and it isn’t a beach when he can’t play at a MLB level anymore. I’m one of those guys who feels the Umps shouldn’t have a union, and also should be subject to a grading system. Strike zones for some guys are spot on, and some look like the ump was on LSD. This is not acceptable, and the fact that MLB still accepts it shows they care less about game integrity than they do network ratings. It’s really backwards thinking for any sport. Bud, you are a loser, please step down. You are allowing the game to be compromised by not doing your job. What’s more important to Bud you ask? Baseball card companies.

  2. BC - Oct 8, 2010 at 8:52 AM

    It won’t get any better until they bleep-can the entire Union and hire umpires that are directly accountable to MLB and not their own union. Lousy umpires are protected by the union. Let’s get some new blood in here and make them accountable for their performance.

  3. brad lidge's mole - Oct 8, 2010 at 9:05 AM

    I’m not exactly thrilled about Rollins speaking out like this when the Phils need to win several more games this season to reach their goal.

  4. David - Oct 8, 2010 at 9:08 AM

    Please provide any evidence whatsoever that the umpires union is responsible for the modern state of umpiring. This was the thesis of the two quotes above. So rather than asking strangers to just trust your declarative statements, please take a minute to substantiate them.

    The umpiring was far less controversial two decades ago, when there was a different, far more powerful union. MLB destroyed the umpires’ union about a decade ago.

    Moron Americans can’t wrap their Prozac and Viagara-decayed brains around the concept of unions without breaking into their girly hysterics. Faux tough guys are already mocking the NFL union, when that is the most defanged and useless entity since 9/11 Commission, and the players are in tragically desperate need of protection from their employers in that instance. (Of course, servile American men do love SOME unions – police and firemen. Who get paid absurd amounts of taxpayer dollars for sitting on their butts fro 40 hours a week, and once in a while beating the crap out of somebody like Tim Lincecum who likes to smoke a joint.)

    (By the way, all throughout the 2009 season I had been repeatedly documenting incompetent and/or corrupt umpiring at the previous incarnation of Shysterball and “And That Happened”. I was routinely mocked and derided, no matter how many screencaps, detail, and video I provided.)

  5. Craig Calcaterra - Oct 8, 2010 at 9:15 AM

    David! You’re back! And you’re still obsessed with erectile dysfunction drugs! God, I missed you!
    And the reason you were ignored before, David, is that you assigned the umpiring problems you observed to conspiracies, not incompetence, and people tend to be turned off by utterly unsupported conspiracy theories.

  6. Glenn - Oct 8, 2010 at 9:29 AM

    Ouch! You should be a lawyer. You ripped up that argument in one breath.

  7. Jonny5 - Oct 8, 2010 at 9:32 AM

    The union gives them the strength to continue to exist when they suck, and should be fired. This was a big reason why Detroit has so much trouble competing with non unionized foriegn car manufacturers. They just can’t fire the slackers,and bad employees, plus they’re mostly overpaid to complete their work in an inferior fashion. Like the Umps you see today.

  8. Jonny5 - Oct 8, 2010 at 9:33 AM

    But they aren’t supposed to take any of that into account are they? They are supposed to be unbiased callers of fact. So it shouldn’t be an issue. in theory…..

  9. Trevor B - Oct 8, 2010 at 9:47 AM

    Amen Jonny.
    Amen Craig.

    David, if you dont like or think all Americans are just a bunch of mindless idiots and complainers you can always move to Canada or Mexico or something, just don’t let the border door hit you in the ass on the way out. :-)

  10. David - Oct 8, 2010 at 9:53 AM

    First off, I think it’s awesome that you’re so excited to see me that you give me the honor of a full four exclamation marks. That means a lot to me, so thanks. However, I’ve posted here a number of times in the past few months, and you and I also had an e-mail correspondence seven or eight months ago. So I don’t know where the total surprise came from.
    As far as “erectile dysfunction” goes….save yourself the syllables and just use the pre-2000 word: “impotent”. As in, “Compared to other countries studied by Pfizer, a disproportionately large percentage of American men are impotent.” Here’s another example: “Every time I turn on the Military Channel or Golf Channel, all I see are commercials for impotent men.” See how much faster that is to type?
    I’m sorry that you don’t think that anybody ever conspires. I’m sorry that you think that every man convicted of “conspiracy to commit murder” should be pardoned – maybe you can live in neighboring houses to them after they’re pardoned and released from prison, eh?
    I know that you think that the survivors of the USS Liberty mass murder are all “wacko conspiracy theorists” (see: ‘Loss of Liberty’ documentary produced by survivors for free at Google Video) and I know that you think that the vaunted North Vietnamese naval fleet used their Pontoons of Death to try and take down US aircraft carriers in the Gulf of Tonkin (non-existent) incident (see: ‘Terrorstorm’ doc for free at Google Video)….but that just doesn’t align with innumerate concrete facts. But it’s good to see that you’re obedient to your impotent American overseers because it means good things for your financial security. Supporting the family should always come first, and so I think that it’s an understandable choice you’d make.
    Finally, you said that I had “utterly unsupported conspiracy theories”.
    These message board debates were a full year ago, and maybe that’s kinda hard for you to remember (ya know, those pharmaceutical drugs can have all sorts of wacky side effects) but I actually “supported” the theory that there was intent involved in the systematic incompetence to a great degree. I got quotes from Chipper Jones and other players, GIF animations of a Marlin fist-pumping an ump, and a slew of other things. And, of course, the “accidents” themselves were so obvious that only a moron could not believe that intent was a reasonable hypothesis.
    (Also, Jon Miller, Tim Lincecum, and Heath Bell are also “wacko conspiracy theorists”. All three of them theorized that the Rockies were cheating be selecting which baseballs to give to the umps at Coors Field. I know that you don’t believe them – again, there’s no such thing as a conspiracy in your mind – but the evidence was overwhelming to those men who’s actual livelihood that the Rockies’ very real conspiracy effected. And Major League Baseball took action, which means that they, too, are wacko conspiracy theorists.)

  11. dra - Oct 8, 2010 at 10:09 AM

    As a Braves fan…Thanks Jimmy R, thank you very much. I’m sure the crew will love reading this before tonight’s game.

  12. beezo - Oct 8, 2010 at 10:22 AM

    Does anybody know how to take something that somebody said and make it sound like an entirely different thing? Nevermind, I think we got it covered.

  13. Mr. Heyward - Oct 8, 2010 at 10:36 AM


  14. Mr. Heyward - Oct 8, 2010 at 10:38 AM

    Craig, I’m assuming you had this post written 2 months ago and simply cut and pasted Rollins’ quote in there and hit “submit” right? [single tear drop for my fallen homies; The Braves] But, hey, this shit ain’t over and Cain and Sanchez are anything but sure things so I think they still got this b/c we all know SF can’t hit for shit.

  15. Jonny5 - Oct 8, 2010 at 10:43 AM

    Really, how the hell does Lowe throw a shutout? (he did if the calls were right.) He pitches against SF, that’s how.

  16. ralphdibny - Oct 8, 2010 at 10:44 AM

    I really don’t understand the virulent anti-union sentiment currently sweeping the nation.
    In the case of the umpires, firing them all and replacing them with less-experiences umps is not going to solve the problem. The problem is that the way umps call the game is becoming more and more incompatible with technology. The blown call at second base in the Braves games was blown because the tag was high up on the body. Umps always call runners safe if they are tagged that high, because they usually are. It’s a shortcut they take, and have always taken, but before TV no one noticed. The same thing happens at first, with the ump listening for the ball hitting the glove while watching the runner’s feet. It is extremely difficult for the human eye to watch two things at the same time. But it is easy for the TV camera.

  17. Jonny5 - Oct 8, 2010 at 10:45 AM

    I don’t think it’ll change a thing. Oswalt is going to attempt to top Doc, we all know it. Prepare yourselves for a focused and dealing Roy Oswalt tonight.

  18. CJ - Oct 8, 2010 at 10:46 AM

    Jonny, I totally agree.
    The ironic this is, if this is really about the ratings and revenue, then they’d repair the tarnished integrity of the game. Ditch the crappy umps, and tell the almost decent ones that are egomaniacs to lose their egos or lose their jobs. I shouldn’t know who dopes like Joe West are, or the minor leaguer who came up and stirred up trouble mid to late summer. They should be seen and not heard (unless they’re saying “STEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERIKE!”, I can deal with that.)
    If they added instant replay and limited the number of appeals to say, two (maybe 3) per side, it would ACTUALLY SPEED UP the game. I don’t know how Selig can’t realize that. In all the time it takes for a manager to go out and get clarification on a call, or argue and get ejected, they could do a review and get the call right at least twice over. It’s the dumbest argument I’ve ever heard. No not every missed call gets argued. Maybe the managers and coaches should start arguing every bad call to slow down the game to the point where the MLB has to do something to fix it. That could force the issue.

  19. CRASHKOBRA - Oct 8, 2010 at 12:20 PM

    If you go to facebook, there is a group “major league baseball fans demanding replay”. I think we should all join this and if we get enough people Bud might listen

  20. cusoman - Oct 8, 2010 at 12:23 PM

    Bug Selig is continuously and consistently bad for baseball.

  21. John_Michael - Oct 8, 2010 at 12:41 PM

    The umpires get it right the vast majority of the time. There are umpires that are really, really good. But you just listed two ways where technology can help umpires be more effective. No one is saying ’86 the umps.’ We’re just saying give them some help if and when they need it. The union comes into the equation because they are unwilling to even admit that there’s a problem that’s readily apparent to the rest of us, and therefore they’re impeding progress driven by change. Not sweeping, drastic, paradigm shifting change, but carefully thoughtout, smartly implemented improvements via technology.

  22. ralphdibny - Oct 8, 2010 at 1:18 PM

    I agree, except that I don’t see the umpire’s union as the problem. If MLB instituted a review system, wouldn’t it most likely mean a fifth ump for all games? I don’t see how a union could be against that. But paying for the huge expenses of a review system? I can easily see how owners would be against that. And yet the ump union gets all of the blame (with a bit of Selig bashing on the side, of course.) I just don’t see the ump union as powerful enough to be the impediment here. Granted, the umps are super defensive (one might say paranoid) about any changes at all, but everyone fears change. Long story short–If the owners wanted to pony up the money to fix this, it would be fixed, regardless of what the umps want.

  23. RichardInBigD - Oct 8, 2010 at 1:20 PM

    Just wondering how you escaped the butterfly net, got out of the straight jacket AND made your way clear of the padded room?

  24. Tony A - Oct 8, 2010 at 1:55 PM

    Three observations:
    1) Rollins should have kept his mouth shut until after the postseason,
    2) It certainly seems like umpiring was far better back in the old days of a STRONG ump’s union,
    3) Bud’s a butt, he’s not going to do anything he doesn’t have to or want to. Don’t expect anything, at most lip service might appear, but nothing substantive.

  25. Tony A - Oct 8, 2010 at 1:58 PM

    Unions have always been a target of corrupt political systems…

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