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The umpires in the Astros-Angels game have been disciplined

May 10, 2013, 4:53 PM EDT

Mike Scioscia, Fieldin Culbreth

Relatively unprecedented. From MLB:

Umpire Fieldin Culbreth, the crew chief in Thursday night’s game between the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park in Houston, has received a two-game suspension and a fine for the misapplication of Official Baseball Rule 3.05(b) in the top of the seventh inning, Major League Baseball announced today.

The other members of Culbreth’s crew – Brian O’Nora, Bill Welke and Adrian Johnson – have received fines stemming from the same sequence of events … Culbreth’s two-game suspension will be served at a date to be determined by the Office of the Commissioner.

We’ve heard that sometimes umpires get disciplined, but it’s rarely if ever publicized like this.  Good for baseball for doing the right thing.


  1. flamethrower101 - May 10, 2013 at 4:55 PM

    Somewhere, in the depths of a corporate office, Bud Selig sulks in his chair, angry that his “human element” factor is failing so mightily.

    • texasdawg - May 10, 2013 at 4:58 PM

      Maybe so, but I’m not sure how a replay ump would have changed anything here.

      • vanmorrissey - May 10, 2013 at 5:50 PM

        Irrelevant here. This was because they did not know the rules which is their job.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - May 10, 2013 at 5:04 PM

      Why is he using a chair? He should sit on a man. And if the man gets tired and collapses from exhaustion, well, that’s just the human element that we all know and love.

    • Kevin Gillman - May 10, 2013 at 5:32 PM

      Even with replay, it’s failing too since the umps blow those calls too. Now what?

  2. kjericho43 - May 10, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    What about disciplining Angel Hernandez’s human element?

    • dondada10 - May 10, 2013 at 5:07 PM

      See, what had happened was…

    • sabatimus - May 10, 2013 at 5:37 PM

      I’m a bit surprised that Culbreth gets suspended for a “misapplication” of the rules (i.e., a mistake), whereas Angel gets nothing for what could not possibly under any conceivable situation be a mistake…unless he didn’t have the camera shots that the home viewers did. However, Culbreth’s suspension might be a de facto warning that Angel better step up.

      • bsbiz - May 10, 2013 at 6:58 PM

        The difference is that the Hernandez eff up falls under the category of “Judgement Call” where it is his judgement as to what happened. This is the same as balls and strikes and outs at a base. Misapplication of rules is a different kind of eff up.

      • sabatimus - May 10, 2013 at 7:53 PM

        Yeah, I know it falls under that category. I just don’t agree that it ought to be immune from discipline, given how egregiously bad the decision was and Angel’s history of being an extremely substandard umpire.

      • jeffbbf - May 10, 2013 at 10:40 PM

        I think I would compare it more to the situation where the 3B umpire threw a fit with Harper at the plate or something similar. In other words – an umpire using aggressive actions toward a player that appear to be unprovoked or unreasonable. The umps in the LAA/HOU game, to me, had a brain fart. Incompetency is no reason to be suspended – and worse – fined. I mean, those punishments are meant to be a deterent against similar actions in the future. You can’t deter stupid.

  3. Walk - May 10, 2013 at 5:00 PM

    There is bad blood that gets built up between players and umpires. It is something rarely noticed on tv but is seen at the game. Actually making discipline public when umpires transgress will go a long way towards ending unneeded confrontations. Well done MLB. Transparency is something that should be welcomed. Yes people make mistakes, but we also learn from them and move on. The umpires are not perfect making this public allows mlb to hold them to a high ideal without them having to be perceived as infallible.

  4. bucsfan5000 - May 10, 2013 at 5:02 PM

    What about Marty Foster’s crew for blowing three calls in less than a month?

    • geoknows - May 10, 2013 at 5:12 PM

      Like what? Judgment calls, as with the home run mis-call the other night? This is for misapplication of the rules, which is a whole different kettle of fish. You can be excused for missing a call; everyone is human. We may not like it – and I don’t – but it happens. But umpires at this level not knowing the rules is inexcusable. They’re lucky they don’t get sent back to the minors for remedial work until they can prove they know the rules and will apply them correctly.

  5. El Bravo - May 10, 2013 at 5:08 PM

    Nice job, MLB.

  6. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - May 10, 2013 at 5:08 PM

    It is all well and good, but it is not like these guys were TRYING to get the call wrong and this was some intentional act.

    More and more I feel like the umpires should have a hotline phone to call MLB offices with a “eye in the sky” to help them out when they have a question about a play or a rule. I would imagine such a system would actually speed things up and help get more calls correct.

    • geoknows - May 10, 2013 at 5:14 PM

      Oh, come on. This is a basic rule that EVERY baseball fan knows. There is zero excuse for an umpire, much less four of them, not to know that a new pitcher must pitch to at least one batter before he can be replaced.

      • crackersnap - May 10, 2013 at 5:33 PM

        Exactly. I would guess that about 50% of the fans in that stadium knew the proper application of this rule. As large and complex are the rules of baseball, this is one of the fundamentals that most people who have ever played/coached/umpired know pretty well.

        I think the real data point that most people should be surprised about is learning that the umpires apparently don’t have a hard copy of the damned rule book at every game so they look it up right then and there. The actual language is unequivocal.

      • vanmorrissey - May 10, 2013 at 5:51 PM

        Right, or at least throw one pitch, even an intentional ball. Wonder what else it is in the rule books they don’t know.

      • blacksables - May 11, 2013 at 9:31 AM

        Well, since he has to face the batter until the end of his plate appearance, and not just one pitch, that wouldn’t work.

        Wonder what else is in the rule book that you don’t know.

  7. apmn - May 10, 2013 at 5:16 PM

    They should try positive reinforcement. Pizza party after every season for the umps that don’t screw up.

    • ditto65 - May 10, 2013 at 5:20 PM

      It would be a cheap party, especially if the pizzeria sells by the slice.

      • fanofevilempire - May 10, 2013 at 5:49 PM

        pizza, I want pizza………

      • apmn - May 10, 2013 at 5:50 PM

        With entertainment by DJ Commish. “Who’s ready for the CHICKEN DAAAAANCE!”

  8. 13arod - May 10, 2013 at 5:19 PM

    so they didn’t suspend the ump that cursed at price and the suspend the umps that missed a rule

    • manchestermiracle - May 10, 2013 at 8:05 PM

      Please list the rule citing burning ears/hurt feelings.

  9. gbrim - May 10, 2013 at 5:57 PM

    And Hernandez, Country Joe, and Balkin’ Bob continue their yearly incompetence completely undisturbed by the powers that be. Punishing the isolated transgression is good, I guess. Better would be dumping the worst umpires in the game, and I would start with the three listed in my comment.

  10. malbrecht4 - May 10, 2013 at 6:04 PM

    I have MLB extra innings and watch 2 games at a time. I usually see 4 or more games a day. has a nice feature where you can watch condensed games. I watch those for the other games I don’t see. Most people won’t like this comment, but for the most part the umps are pretty good. Those stupid programs on ESPN or MLB Network are always focusing on blown calls. Over and over again, It’s not a fair assessment. That being said, I do believe the umpiring today is getting worse every year and something should be done about it. Whatever they try to do, as long as Bud’s in on it, they’ll screw it up and make it worse.

    • flamethrower101 - May 10, 2013 at 6:42 PM

      Fair, but consider this. Umpires are meant to call the game, call every play as it happens and get the calls right. The fans go to ballparks to watch the hitters hit and the pitchers pitch, not the umpires put on a show. The belief is that if you are not argued at by a manager or player, or criticized by a beat writer, you’ve done your job. I agree with that 100%. The only reason people piled so much on Jim Joyce was because he blew arguably the most important call of his career and one that changed MLB history. But conversely, the reason why he is now so very revered and respected by managers, players, and fans alike is because he did the one thing umps seemingly never do: admit he screwed up.

      If you tried to ask Bob Davidson or Joe West to do that they’d probably kick you in the nuts then eject you from your computer.

    • clydeserra - May 10, 2013 at 7:35 PM

      is anyone disputing that most calls are correct? even 90%of close calls are correct.

      • sabatimus - May 10, 2013 at 7:57 PM

        75% of most things are made up on the spot, 60% of the time.

  11. Panda Claus - May 10, 2013 at 6:17 PM

    Even with this MLB has left itself with a loophole.

    Public scolding, yet private discipline.

    Mr. Culbreth, you may serve your suspension in November.
    Signed, Bud Selig.

    • flamethrower101 - May 10, 2013 at 6:44 PM

      Maybe this is why Bud has put off retirement for so long, cause he knows that the second he leaves the umps’ free ride is over.

  12. Samuel - May 10, 2013 at 6:26 PM

    Reblogged this on But at the end of the day… and commented:
    Finally! Some accountability! But it’s still sad that the umpires this week have shown that they are not equipped for this job.

  13. scoocha - May 10, 2013 at 6:58 PM

    Umps not knowing the rules reminds me of a Seinfeld episode:

    Lippman: “It has come to my attention that you had sex with the cleaning lady on your desk.”
    George: “Was that wrong? I tell ya if I knew this sort of thing was frowned upon, I never would have done it.”

    No excuses for umps to not know the rules – it’s their job.

  14. mungman69 - May 10, 2013 at 8:09 PM

    Umps suck now and they always have sucked. I don’t go to games to watch umpires ump.

  15. louhudson23 - May 11, 2013 at 4:32 AM

    I am a bit stunned at those who seem to feel that blown judgement calls are comparatively worse and worthy of more outrage/punishment than not knowing/misapplying the rules. Each and every judgement call is based entirely upon a particular rule. You can not even begin to make a judgement call if you do not know or fail to correctly apply the rules. IN baseball,as in life, any judgement made based on incorrect interpretation of the facts/rules is inherently incorrect and has zero value.Some things in life,such as rules of the game, are not opinion ,but are facts and not open to personal interpretation. Rules are indeed the facts of the game. Judgement calls are an opinion based on rules. It seems more and more people confuse this “fact” and demonstrate a seeming aversion to both facts and rules,preferring the fantasy that all of their opinions are equally valid and disdaining the certainty of facts and rules…..and as a result do not like punishments based on ignorance of said rules/facts …..whose existence they wish to willfully ignore….

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