“UMPIRES-YOU KIDDING ME”
So I sat infront of the TV watching the Padres-Blue Jays game on Tuesday, and in span of 10-batters, we had complaints and an ejection because of the home plate umpire.
It was balls and strikes in this game. 6-of-10 batters beefed about calls.
On the weekend in Philadelphia it was how to interpret the pitch clock in the Padres-Phillies game. Who has the responsibility at the clock hits (:08), pitcher on the mound or batter in the box?
End result Bob Melvin got ejected on Sunday in Philly; Jays pitching coach Pete Walker got tossed Tuesday.
Years ago MLB merged the umpires in the two leagues. Crews can work now in either leagues. The leagues demanded the strike zone be standardized, highs, lows, inside and out. It worked for a couple of seasons.
The Umpires Association was formed to represent the men in blue, and a stronger grading system, demanding consistency night to night, was formed.
And now it’s all gone away. How? Why?
No one will talk about the hot-and-cold performances of home plate umpires. There has been quite a turnover as veteran umpires retire, replaced by young career balls and strike callers.
There are no Joe West’s, he of enormous longevity, left in the game.
What we have seen over the last two years, are quick trigger young umps, missing calls, lots of calls, and then ejecting players and managers.
I grant you, these are wicked things guys on the mound throw. Fastballs that jump. 4-seem pitches with bite. 2-seem pitches that drop. Curves, sliders, sinkers, changeups.sweepers.
You add in catchers who move around behind the plate and receivers who have polished the art of framing pitches, it is a tough job.
But these umps struggle with the ball movement, the velocity, the guys who paint the black. What they calls on the corners changes from one inning to the next. What was a high strike one at bat is a ball next. Ditto for stuff down low. What a fiasco.
And of course there is the ‘check swing’ argument, fooled hitters trying to stop going around.
And now you throw in the pitch clock, and who should be ready on the mound and in the batters box, and it is complex and now really controversial.
Baseball is experimenting with the robo ump in the lower minors, the computerized strike zone. It has come with mixed results and the general feeling it is not a perfect system.
This has to change because the mistakes, the controversies are happening every night. At stake is the integrity of the game’s results now.
The purists argue we must retain the ‘human element’ in the game, and the umpire is part of that. Technology has made the game better for sure. Where do you find that balance now?
But how long can you go with human mistakes that impact the outcome of games.
Fire umps? Admit you have made too many changes in the game? Understand these guys throwing 100 are much more explosive than the legends that were Bob Gibson and Randy Johnshon?
Rob Manfred has opinions on lots of things as baseball’s boss. He better come up with a solution soon on this mess.
As Bob Melvin or Pete Walker or the teams that are raging about mistakes on balls and strikes and rules nightly, impacting their teams in the pennant races, somebody needs to do something rather than ignore it like it is not a problem..