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The umpires, the MLBPA and MLB met yesterday

Mar 7, 2011, 9:09 AM EDT

Yost Estabrook

Remember back in October how the players, umpires and Major League Baseball announced that they were going to meet in order to address the increasingly sorry state of umpiring?  OK, that’s my characterization, I suppose the umps viewed it differently.  Anyway, after a delay of several months they finally met yesterday.

“We had a productive exchange about a range of issues of concern to players, umpires and the commissioner’s office,” union head Michael Weiner said … Attending for MLB were executive vice presidents Joe Torre and Rob Manfred, senior adviser Frank Robinson and senior vice president Dan Halem.

“Just a conversation about areas of mutual concern,” Manfred said.

The biggest area of concern in my view is not necessarily blown calls. Those are bad, but they are merely a case of human error. Replay would fix a lot of that, but Bud Selig has made it abundantly clear that ain’t happening any time soon.

No, the biggest issue is the demeanor of umpires and their increasingly confrontational behavior when they screw up a call or if their authority is questioned. This is, in turn, compounded by the fact that the Commissioner’s Office has shown time and again that it has no interest whatsoever in disciplining umpires or, at the very least, being transparent about such discipline so as to instill confidence in their system. Players and fans are increasingly exasperated, and rightfully so.

There is no word coming out of this meeting on any action dealing with any of this, so the problems are probably going to continue. And if they again wait six months after another ugly incident occurs to address it, I fully anticipate that any sense of urgency will be once again lost and they’ll have a nice little meeting that does nothing.

  1. BC - Mar 7, 2011 at 9:35 AM

    The root of the problem is accountability. The umpires are not accountable to MLB, they’re accountable to the Umpires’ Union, which means they’re basically accountable to themselves. MLB can’t do anything to discipline or reprimand an umpire – the union handles that. 999 times out of 1000 they handle it internally, and you have no idea what if anything happened.
    I’m not a total anti-union guy in general, but I think the overall quality and attitude issue becomes a lot less of a problem if you blow up the Umpires’ Union – essentially, boot the guys there now – and have MLB hire umpires who directly accountable to MLB, and not a union. The Umpires’ Union protects its own and lets the umpires do as they wish. Enough already.

    • The Common Man/ - Mar 7, 2011 at 9:43 AM

      I could be wrong, BC, but I don’t believe that’s entirely accurate. MLB has fined and suspended umpires in the past (I’m thinking of Joe West in particular), which suggests it has some control over discipline, but they don’t seem particularly interested in flexing that muscle. This may have to do with the umpire’s union, but MLB has had no problem busting that union in the past. So, I guess I’m saying I don’t really know what the problem is, except that MLB doesn’t seem inclined to make this a priority.

      • BC - Mar 7, 2011 at 10:12 AM

        That being said….you remove the union from the equation, and you have direct accountability.
        I wouldn’t fine or suspend an umpire for blowing a call – hey it happens. But the behavior of some of these guys is ridiculous. Think they’d pull that if they knew they had a very public 10-game suspension coming, versus a secret-behind-closed-doors thing from the Union that probably is nothing anyway?

    • JBerardi - Mar 7, 2011 at 12:05 PM

      I don’t think there’s any need to blow up the players union, just dictate terms to them and dare them to go on strike. It’s not like the players going on strikes, where there’s no possibility of getting equivalent replacement talent. They don’t have that much leverage.

  2. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Mar 7, 2011 at 9:59 AM

    Of all the major sports, the baseball officials are easily the best by a wide margin. And they have gotten better over the last ten years or so.

    • The Common Man/ - Mar 7, 2011 at 10:43 AM

      I’m not sure I agree with your premise, Pancho, but even if I did, that is still no reason to not try and improve their performance. Better than football and basketball shouldn’t be the goal. Simply getting better should be.

    • cusoman - Mar 7, 2011 at 12:28 PM

      Nice try Joe West.

    • fatcatt - Mar 8, 2011 at 3:56 AM

      By no means have they gotten any better sir. They make most of the bad calls from being out of position. but that position that they dont stray from is the correct position deemed by their training. and thats the problem. Most of them ever move to get the best angle. Where does the ump stand on a steal to 2nd base? On the 1B side of the bag. The best view they have is if the ball is thrown where it supposed to be. The ball is supposed to be a perfect throw at the 1st base side of the bag so the runner perfectlly slides into it. but that doesnt happen very often and there view is often blocked. And often a runners hand alues the tag. They need to stand on the SS side of the bag to get the best views. Same at home plate. The ump stands behind the catcher and is totally blocked by a throw from left field to the catcher. Happens alot. The umps are lazy and stagnet during games. And as any baseball fan knows full of themselves except for a few. They were pathetic last year. And Bud Selig needs to go.

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