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Joe Torre wants umpires to feel “part of the game.” What does that even mean?

Apr 18, 2011, 12:00 PM EDT

bob-davidson-umpire AP

Joe Torre is now MLB’s umpire czar, and he told Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times that he wants to change their relationship to the game:

The former Dodgers manager who now serves as Major League Baseball’s vice president of baseball operations said he wanted umpires to feel as much a part of the game as players and vowed to do everything he could to support them. “We’ve pretty much isolated umpires from being a part of this game because they’re always out there and easy to criticize, and I just didn’t think that was right,” Torre said.

I don’t even know what this means. It seems to me that a lot of the problems we’ve had in recent years has been umpires wanting to be too great a part of the game and to draw attention to themselves when a player takes issue with them.  They are officials. They should be respected, without question, but I don’t think I’d want to send the message that they are  “as much a part of the game as players.”  I want them to be like the college kid who refs my son’s soccer games. He shows up, he does his job and he doesn’t expect to join in for snacks afterward.

I think a ton of good would be accomplished if two things were communicated loudly and clearly:  (1) to players and managers: you can ask questions and appeal respectfully, but you will not get anywhere chewing out umpires. And if you make a habit of it, you’re going to get fined; and (2) to umpires: if your call is questioned and if anyone gets in your face over it, take the high road and don’t bark back.

  1. Utley's Hair - Apr 18, 2011 at 12:04 PM

    He wants them to get hit by pitches?

    But snacks, Craig? Really? You want to turn this into the Type 2 Diabetes post from a couple weeks back?

  2. saucepaws - Apr 18, 2011 at 12:09 PM

    This doesn’t sound good at all. I’ve got to agree with Craig in that lately umpires are waaaayyyyy too involved in the game. Baseball does not need umpires with personality, or ego. They generally need to be out of sight, out of mind…like ninjas.

  3. cur68 - Apr 18, 2011 at 12:16 PM

    Torre has it exactly backwards. I’d like to see a whole lot less of Davidson, Barry & West in games. NO ONE is paying to watch an umpire, least of all those 3 dolts. Does Joe Torre think making them more ‘a part of the game’ is going to attract people to the park? What in hell has been smoking?

  4. catsmeat - Apr 18, 2011 at 12:28 PM

    Bring on the robots.

  5. kellyb9 - Apr 18, 2011 at 12:29 PM

    Maybe he wants them to have a voice for expressing why they made terrible calls? That might not be so bad.

  6. spudchukar - Apr 18, 2011 at 12:34 PM

    Topps may be printing umpire cards as we speak. Hey, I’ll trade you an Angel Hernandez for the gum you are chewing once the sugar is gone.

  7. Jonny 5 - Apr 18, 2011 at 12:45 PM

    “What does this even mean?”

    Torre is twice the jerk we all thought he was. Maybe?

    Which is still half as much as Larussa. This is nothing more than Bud Selig speaking through Torre. He figured if Torre said it people wouldn’t pick it apart as much. I’m guessing.

  8. ThatGuy - Apr 18, 2011 at 12:55 PM

    You want them part of the game, fine. Then their actions, their evaluations and their discipline should be public information. Just like everytime a player gets disciplined or fined it comes in a press release. Umps should be the same if they are part of the game.

  9. Walk - Apr 18, 2011 at 12:56 PM

    How do you know an umpire just called a good game? It is easy, you didn’t know who he was. I dont mean this to disparage umpires here because i believe most make outstanding calls without the recourse of replay for most of them but when an umpire calls a really good game you might not even notice them on the field. i do feel making the umpires as much a part of the game as players is seriously wrong and periliously close to adopting the attitudes of personalities such as joe west for mainstream umpires. As far as umpires go i know they are a big part of the game but i will never purchase a ticket to see someone judge a game, in fact the rules consider umpires a part of the field, for instance a batted ball hits an umpire it is a ball in play same as if it had hit the mound.

  10. BC - Apr 18, 2011 at 12:58 PM

    This is a bad thing if its going the direction I think it’s going.
    Maybe they need SCMODS instead.

  11. scatterbrian - Apr 18, 2011 at 1:00 PM

    This is what happens when you put old people in charge of new ideas.

  12. mattintoledo - Apr 18, 2011 at 1:37 PM

    You know what umpire probably felt like he was as much a part of the game as the players? Jim Joyce, last year on June 2nd.

    I’d like to think if Torre was interviewing for the job of umpire czar and gave that answer, it would have caused MLB to immediately move onto somebody else as their umpire czar. I hope he’s just bad at putting his eventual actions to words.

  13. rollinghighwayblues - Apr 18, 2011 at 2:42 PM

    Joe, you’re starting to sound like Curt Schilling. Out of the game and making stupid ass comments such as these.

  14. Old Gator - Apr 18, 2011 at 3:20 PM

    Kinda like wanting your tapeworm to feel like part of your body, isn’t it?

  15. uuddlrlrbastart - Apr 18, 2011 at 6:28 PM

    It’s stuck in my head because of Jackie Robinson Day last week, but the next time you see the clip of Jackie Robinson stealing home in the ’55 World Series, watch home plate umpire Bill Summers. Calls him safe, Yogi Berra goes ballistic and Summers just turns and walks away. He lets Yogi yell and scream but it doesn’t look like he says a word. It’s completely antithetical to any argument you see today.

  16. leftywildcat - Apr 19, 2011 at 8:38 PM

    Torre has it all wrong. The umpires should be replaced by robots! Ones that can call a strike zone consistently, and with a 5th robot on each crew in the booth that can view all the camera angles of all close plays.

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