Saturday, July 30, 2011

What is it with MLB and umpires?

If you’re a ball fan (and I assume you are if you’re reading this), I’m sure you’re well aware of the horrendous 19th inning end to a game between the Pirates and the Braves this past week. In case you aren’t up to speed, here it is:

So what do you think? Worst call of the season so far? Worst call ever? How do you think it compares to Jim Joyce’s call that ruined the Armando Galarraga’s perfect game last year in Detroit?

Okay, everyone is human. We all make mistakes, but we expect our umpires to be impossibly perfect. If you take into account the number of calls made by a crew of umpires during a ball game, the vast majority are called correctly.

But what happens when they’re not? What happens when they’re blatantly wrong? In Joyce’s defense with last year’s debacle, at least that play was pretty darn close. Also, the next day he publicly acknowledged that he’d blown the call.

What really bugs me, though, is that while the game of baseball assumes that umpires are perfect, most of us know they’re not. Most of us. The ones who turn a blind eye to this little fact are Bug Selig and his Merry Band of Idiots at MLB Central. This week, though, even they admitted that Jerry Meals (the home plate umpire for the Braves/Pirates game) made a bum call. Then they followed this admission by more or less saying, “But we’re not going to do anything about it.” Huh? It’s okay to have a game with a team trying to make the playoffs go down because an umpire couldn’t see what was right in front of him? Check out the video again. Meals was in perfect position on top of the play. How could he have missed it?

Here’s what he said by way of explanation, “I saw the tag, but he looked like he oléd him and I called him safe for that. I looked at the replays and it appeared he might have got him on the shin area. I’m guessing he might have got him, but when I was out there when it happened I didn’t see a tag. ...I just saw the glove sweep up. I didn’t see the glove hit his leg.”

Even from a TV screen it looks to me as if the catcher’s glove hit the baserunner about three times going along his body. Meals said that he looked at replays and changed his mind. Why couldn't he have been allowed to review the call before the game was ended and the Pirates lost?

Okay. So the call was blown. Joyce’s call last year was blown. Everyone admits it, even Bug.

Here’s where the situation really gets up my nose (and a lot of other people’s judging by what I’ve heard): MLB has the technology to correct this, but they refuse to use it. I’ve heard these bozos say by way of reasoning that it would hurt “the integrity of the game”. What? It’s okay to have a game completely turned around because an umpire screws up?

Let’s look at it another way. When these things happen the fans have to sit there and watch what is generally a long field-level debacle as everyone starts arguing. This can last for several minutes, people generally get tossed and nothing good happens. How long would it take for the umpiring crew to duck in and watch a replay to possibly get the ruling right? Two minutes? Think anyone would argue with their call after this? I doubt it. Also, if it’s allowable to review home runs in this manner, why not a play like the one we’re discussing?

Of course they can’t allow every call to be argued. That would be nuts. Why not leave it up to the umpiring crew to make the decision to review a play? I am assuming that umpires are the first people who want every call to be correct. They already on occasion confer as a crew on calls during games. Why not give them the option of a video review?

This is nuts and it’s hurting the game. Why are Bug and the Boys sticking their heads in the sand yet again? The players deserve better, the umpires deserve better and the fans deserve better.


Larry Toman said...

Well Rick, I really don't know what to say that you haven't already said.It is most definitely the worst call I've ever seen. To add insult to injury,both teams are fighting for the playoffs, and have just played more than a doubleheader. If this incident doesn't get things moving for positive change, I fear all hope is lost. We'll remain cautiously optimistic that things will change. Getting rid of the Bug would certainly be a move in the right direction. Cheers

Rick Blechta said...

I despair sometimes. This is so obvious a case for Bug stepping up to the plate (to coin a phrase) and say, "We have the technology to do this better and it's time to take advantage of it to the betterment of the game."

Unlike you, I'm not holding my breath.

Great Jays game yesterday. You shoulda been there -- all of you!

Rick Blechta said...

I'll say it again because it bears repeating: giving umpires the power to review all their decisions if they wish to would go a long way towards addressing this issue.