Umpire C.B. Bucknor's conflicts with Oliver Marmol should disqualify him from working at St. Louis Cardinals games.
Tensions came to a head in Saturday's St. Louis Cardinals Spring Training game when umpire C.B. Bucknor declined a handshake with Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol. After the game, Marmol gave his candid thoughts about Bucknor, saying "I don't think he's good at his job, and it just shows his lack of class as a man" when referring to the denied handshake.
This isn't the first dust-up between Marmol and Bucknor; in August 2022, Bucknor ejected Marmol after the manager argued balls and strikes. Marmol noted afterward that he disapproved of Bucknor's smirk before Bucknor returned the retorts toward Marmol.
Marmol said he talked with MLB yesterday and will not be suspended. The real issue is how Bucknor will approach umpiring Cardinals games in the regular season. He and Marmol have an uneasy history, and it received another layer upon Marmol's comments about Bucknor's officiating.
I don't see how Bucknor can be objective in future Cardinals games given these tensions between him and Marmol, and although it could be a logistical issue, MLB should do its best to make it so Bucknor's crew does not work at Cardinals games.
Bucknor has been an umpire for a long time; he debuted in 1996, and criticism has swirled around him for years. Sports Illustrated conducted surveys of major leaguers of active umpires, and Bucknor was voted the worst in 2003 and 2006. In 2022, The Big Lead voted him the second worst active umpire because of his strike zone inconsistency and overly dramatic strikeout gesture.
Umpires need a thick skin to perform in their roles, and Bucknor appears to lack this necessary component of the job. He obviously holds ill will toward Marmol, and grudges from people who play a large part in determining how your team fares are dangerous.
Although arguments between managers and umpires can be entertaining for fans, if they affect the game based on the umpire's inability to let a conflict slide, the risk is too great for bias among officials. For the sake of the Cardinals and the fairness of the game, MLB should step in and ensure Bucknor and the Cardinals no longer cross paths.