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On the Mets’ loss last night & Major League Baseball umpiring

Umpires discuss a play (photo credit: Keith Allison)

The Mets lost last night, 6-0, and now trail the Braves by 7.5 games in the wild card race.

The winning streak wasn’t going to last forever, and there’s no great shame in getting shut out by a pitcher who could start the All-Star Game for the National League.

There is cause for concern about the sloppy fielding – the Mets were charged with three errors – and Dillon Gee having another inning he couldn’t escape.

The umpires may be an even bigger concern – not just for the Mets, but for all of baseball.

During the broadcast, Gary Cohen mentioned an article by Murray Chass which talks about the state of umpiring in Major League Baseball. Specifically, Chass wonders why eight umpires had difficulty counting to four.

During a game between the Mets and Rangers on June 25, Mike Dimuro and his crew failed to award Nelson Cruz a walk after Jon Niese threw ball four. On July 2 in a game between the Mariners and Padres, Phil Cuzzi sent Cameron Maybin to first base after he received ball three. Maybin went on to score the only run of the game.

When Chass interviewed Peter Woodfork, Major League Baseball’s senior vice president for baseball operations is in charge of umpires, he said “I’m not going to speak on particular umpires and discipline.”

Cohen brought up the article because Greg Gibson missed a clear call that cost the Mets a run for the second night in a row. Wednesday, Gibson called Matt Kemp safe at first base on what should have been a double play.

Last night, Gibson called Juan Uribe safe on a play at the plate even though Ronny Paulino tagged him on the thigh before Uribe’s foot came down on the base. Gibson had a clear angle on the play and his error was immediately apparent (and confirmed by replays.)

I’m not a proponent of expanding instant replay in baseball, and I don’t think it’s fair when television broadcasts use super slo-mo replays to make umpires look bad on close calls. However, I don’t think it’s fair that Major League Baseball tries to sweep all of the missed calls under the rug.

As bad as Gibson’s mistakes were, they were both judgement calls. I can understand why there might not be any official reaction regarding them. But there should have been an official reaction to Dimuro and Cuzzi’s counting errors, not a blanket “no comment.”

Major League Baseball’s lack of transparency regarding umpire evaluation does nothing to preserve fans’ or players’ confidence in the men in blue. If anything, the policy of silence creates more doubt.

There should be a program to help re-train umpires who make mistakes so that the overall quality of umpiring in the game. Umpire evaluation data should be released to the public so that fans and players can see that umpire errors are being addressed.

What do you think?

6 thoughts on “On the Mets’ loss last night & Major League Baseball umpiring

  1. I heard something interesting the other day on Baseball Tonight. Currently, there are a lot of umpires who are not regular MLB umps. They are replacements from the minors while umps take vacations. Did you know they vacation during the season? I guess I never really thought of it in terms like that – that it’s their job and they are entitled to vacations…although it seems they would do this over the winter ideally. I’m not if some of the recent umping errors are the result of less experienced umps calling the games, but I found it to be an interesting thought.


    1. I think they have to let the umps have in-season vacation, because otherwise, they’d essentially be on a six-month road trip. Umpires don’t really have “home” games. I mean, I’m sure there are quite a few who live close enough to some cities where they can sleep at home, but for the most part, their entire job is done on the road.

      I’m OK with replays and with expanding the use of replay review (I’m OK with NOT expanding it too; I really don’t mind whatever is decided), and I definitely agree that MLB needs to be more open about it. I don’t think they need to release umpire evaluation data (not many of us have our job reviews available to the masses, and it’s not like their jobs are a matter of public health or safety), but they at least need to acknowledge that they’re reviewing obvious mistakes and addressing them with the umpires.

      If Jim Joyce ever wants to end his days on the road, MLB should bring him on immediately as some sort of overseer of on-field performance and liason between the league and the umps. When one of them misses a call, or a guy like Angel Hernandez or Joe West makes it about himself instead of the game, Joyce should get on the phone with them and remind them it’s their job to call the game, not be a part of the game, and to be humble and admit when they’re wrong. No one’s done it better than Joyce did.


      1. I don’t think that MLB needs to release the full umpire evaluation reports, but they do need to let fans and players know that problems are being addressed. The umpires’ jobs are not matters of public health or safety, but their performance is key to the integrity of the game. If players have to permit their health (and drug testing) information to become public, I don’t think it’s fair to let the umpires shield their job evaluations completely.

        Major League Baseball – at minimum – should have outlined what steps were taken when Dimuro and Cuzzi lost track of the ball & strike counts in those two games. They were not judgment calls, they were errors caused by an umpire not paying attention to his job.

        What happens when an umpire screws up? From the outside, it doesn’t look like MLB does anything about it. That perception needs to change if fans and players are going to have confidence in the umpires.


    2. The “vacation umpires” are not really new. I think all of the regular umpires got their start that way. Considering that some umps would otherwise be away from home from March through October, it seems only right to give them time off during the season.

      Dimuro, Cuzzi and Gibson are all veterans with approximately 12 years of MLB experience who have worked playoff and/or all-star games.


  2. As a longtime umpire I can tell you it’s not hard to occasionally lose track of the count. If you get a long at-bat, with a number of foul balls, or perhaps a steal attempt, etc., it can happen — we’re all human. I’m guessing every one of us has made a mistake — even a momentary one — in our jobs in the past week.

    What boggles my mind is that nobody else — none of the other umpires, none of the players, none of the managers and coaches — noticed it either. Wouldn’t you think the pitcher and catcher would notice if the batter is sent to first on ball three?

    Or do we all just blindly trust the scoreboard operator because if something is up on the big screen it must be correct?


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