Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

Baseball needs to address its umpire problem

It’s been clear for quite a while that the state of umpiring in Major League Baseball is not especially good. Most of the focus on fixing the problem has fallen expanding the use of instant replay, under the theory that cameras can’t miss seeing plays like the human eye can.

Wednesday night, Angel Hernandez proved that instant replay is not the panacea its proponents want it to be.

Oakland Athletics infielder Adam Rosales hit a game-tying home run – or at least he would have, if Hernandez had seen that the ball bounced off of a railing above the home run line on the outfield wall. Instead, he was credited with a double.

And to be fair, Rosales stopped at second base and it’s not hard to imagine an umpire being uncertain about where exactly the ball hit. That’s why have replay, so that the umpires have the technology they need to get those important calls correct.

Hernandez and two other members of his crew went off to look at the available video for several minutes. And they still got the call wrong.

MLB executive vice president Joe Torre, whose job seems less relevant than the Maytag repairman’s, agreed that Hernandez botched the call but basically told the Athletics “tough luck.”

If Hernandez is facing any consequences, I haven’t heard about them.

Peter Gammons went so far as to suggest that Hernandez made the wrong call on purpose as a protest against the use of instant replay.

Now there’s a impression – right or wrong – that Major League Baseball needs to address.

But Hernandez isn’t the only umpire who made the news this week.

Last night, Fieldin CulbrethBrian O’Nora, Bill Welke and Adrian Johnson demonstrated complete ignorance of Rule 3.05 (b).

If the pitcher is replaced, the substitute pitcher shall pitch to the batter then at bat, or any substitute batter, until such batter is put out or reaches first base, or until the offensive team is put out, unless the substitute pitcher sustains injury or illness which, in the umpire-in-chief’s judgment, incapacitates him for further play as a pitcher.

Culbreth and company allowed Houston manager Bo Porter to pull Wesley Wright before he faced a batter after Angels manager Mike Scioscia put up a pinch hitter.

At least this time, Major League Baseball did something to address the problem: Culbreth was suspended for two games and all four umpires were fined.

But it’s time to do more – Major League Baseball needs to do everything in its power to make sure that players and fans have no reason to doubt the men who are enforcing the game’s rules.


Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

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.”

Continue reading “On the Mets’ loss last night & Major League Baseball umpiring”