Major league umpires.
This rant has been coming for a while. It has been waiting for a tie in with the Cardinals that was worth writing about. Recent events have brought it to me. If you think I am talking about Yadier Molina’s 5 game suspension for the altercation with umpire Rob Drake, you are only partially right and probably not for the reason you suspect. This post is not a defense of Molina’s actions. He was wrong to do what he did, Rob Drake’s audition for a role in the next major baseball movie notwithstanding. No, the suspension of Molina is merely a catalyst for what I am about to say regarding the actions of umpires in general. The suspension has sparked discussions about player/umpire relations and umpire behavior in general, some thought provoking and some not. Even more recently it has resulted in an interview given by Joe Torre, Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations for MLB, to the New York Times. In that interview, Joe Torre discusses the Molina incident and in addition gives his impression of the job umpires have been doing. You can read it and decide for yourself what it means but here is the impression that I came away with:
Players are way too disrespectful of umpires who are doing a wonderful job and I have no problems whatsoever with them so I don’t want to hear anymore complaining about them.
The aforementioned is not a quote just my paraphrasing of what I essentially got out of the interview. Now you know what has provoked this rant. Now for the rant itself.
Really Joe? Seriously? Umpires are doing a wonderful job? Have you talked to the Pittsburgh Pirates lately? How about the Florida Marlins? (okay Cardinals fans, we benefited from that call but you know it was just wrong). How about the roving strike zone that fluctuates more than the weather in Missouri? Don’t the umpires have a responsibility to be respectful too? Is showboating by umpires respectful Joe? Watch some tape sometime of games in which Joe West or Bob Davidson are officiating. Umpires should be heard and not seen. When an umpire makes himself a spectacle in the game, that is disrespectful to the players, the fans, and the game of baseball. Give me a break Joe.
If Joe Torre wants more respect toward umpires, then he needs to do something to make umpires accountable when they cross the line. Genuflecting to the umpires union is not going to force respect. Many are calling for instant replay. I am not a big fan of the concept myself. And it wouldn’t address the umpire behavior problem. Surely a rating system that incorporates some form of punishment for showboating behavior could be implemented. Something needs to be done or the problems will continue and probably only get worse. But it appears at least that Joe Torre remains unconcerned about it.
My advice? Get your head out of the sand Joe, you’ll suffocate.