Something must be done with the umpires.

Enough is enough.

Major League Baseball has long had an umpire problem. There’s never going to be perfection, and missed calls are part of the game and always will be, but it seems they are happening with more regularity.

WEST: He needs to be ejected.

Bad calls are one thing, but couple that with arrogance and it is an untenable situation, such as the one last night at Fenway Park, which figured a meltdown by Red Sox manager Terry Francona clearly initiated by two of the worst umpires in the game, Angel Hernandez and Joe West.

When Francona went out to discuss a balk call against Tim Wakefield, Hernandez ran him within seconds. The rules, ridiculous as they are, dictated an automatic ejection. Francona wanted an explanation of what Wakefield did wrong, but Hernandez never let him get a word in.

That’s a quick trigger. Umpires are supposed to be composed and show some patience, but that obviously goes against the grain with Hernandez. You must give the player or manager the opportunity to make his point.

Had Hernandez shown discretion there might not have been the subsequent meltdown.

That’s when Francona lost it and went after Hernandez, only to be intercepted by West, who has the reputation of being a hothead and wanting to interject himself into the game.

West clearly butted into a situation that didn’t involve him as Francona would say later. All he did was escalate the confrontation. There was contact made – six times according to the replay – but it was instigated by West.

Francona will obviously be fined, perhaps suspended by Commissioner Bud Selig, but West will get a pass because MLB doesn’t want to antagonize the umpires union, which, if angry enough, will take it out on the game and be confrontational all summer.

However, something needs to be done about West, who has consistently been ranked one of the worst umpires in player polls. He has the reputation of being a loose cannon and putting himself in the middle of things.

West, you might recall threw ejected two cameramen from Shea Stadium when they allowed the Mets to view a replay of a play at the plate. He’s also the one who criticized the Yankees and Red Sox for their slow play.

MLB must do something to improve the quality of umpiring. It could begin with expanded instant replay, because the objective is to get it right.

But, what I want is for each umpire to be wired so we can hear what goes on in the argument. We will be able to tell who did the instigating. Many of these arguments occur when the umps have rabbit ears and seek out the confrontation.

Having the umpires wired, and held accountable with fines and suspensions similar to the ones given the players, will help calm the waters.

The umpires are supposedly graded every year, but what is done with those who are at the bottom? Evidently not much as they return to show us their incompetence the next summer.

In the case of Joe West, he’s been a example of what is wrong with umpires. It is time the sport ejects him.


6 thoughts on “Something must be done with the umpires.

  1. Didn’t they actually have both these guys out of the game several years ago when a number of umpires resigned in a labor dispute? West definitely did and I think Hernandez also. But eventually baseball relented and let them back in. A scorpion doesn’t change it’s nature.

  2. Until MLB has a mechanism in place to remove bad umpires, nothing will improve the situation. Publicize the annual ranking data. Fire the guys that fail to meet minimum standards. Send the ones on the bubble for more training.

    Once MLB starts doing that, then we can talk about whether expanded instant replay makes sense. It alone is definitely not the answer.

  3. First, use a machine to call balls and strikes. It appears to be good enough to evaluate the umps so it is good enough for the game, don’t know. Let Umps do the calls at the plate. Second, as mentioned above baseball can only afford the cream of the crop there must be a mechanism to remove bad umps. HR replay has shown just how fallible the umps are. We should be able to sit them like we sit ballplayers. Third, I like when the manager gets pissed and defends his players. There has to be more leeway in arguments.

  4. I agree. Get rid of the bad umps and train everyone. The umpiring has been bad. I wonder if the union rules keep the bad seeds in the game. If so, then your proposal works. Wire them and then release it, so they are exposed. Then we can boo the umps. Perhaps take away their discretion. There are calls you cannot challenge, but if they suck why can’t they be challenged?

  5. Whenever the topic of umpires is brought up, I always think back to a particular game where Carlos Beltran looked halfway back to the ump after a bad ball/strike call, and after the pitch, the umpire (I believe it might have been West, actually) stepped in front of home plate to dust it off, and started jawing at Beltran while he was doing it. Beltran responded, and the ump through him out.

    There NEEDS to be some sort of change, because right now there is nothing to stop umpires from directly affecting the game, which is there first priority to AVOID doing…