Please do not kill the umpire …

Umpire.jpg   You don’t need to look any further than inside the Beltway in Washington, D.C., to know that when the powers-that-be huddle up, it usually means headaches for the rest of us. I mention this because Major League Baseball officials continue to mumble about adding instant replay in some fashion in order to avoid a replay of what happened in the postseason last year.
   MLB even sacked three umpire supervisors recently, almost certainly connected to some degree to the blown calls last fall.
   You know, these hyper-inflated, self-important bozos who have done so much over the last two decades to safeguard the integrity of baseball, and now they are caterwauling about the possibility of a blown call actually affecting the outcome of a game.

   I’ve got news for them: umpires’ mistakes have been a part of baseball history since the beginning, and you can make a pretty good case that the integrity of the game fared a lot better – generally speaking – between 1950-80 than it has for the last 30 years.

   Actually, I’ve probably misstated the time frame, since you could make a pretty good argument that the arrival of the Designated Hitter Rule in 1973 heralded one of the first great postwar goofs by MLB. Like it or not, having two different set of rules for the American and National Leagues was a first sign that MLB was content to pay major-league lip service to the game’s storied integrity.

  I would contend that the intrusion of technology into the game’s on-field governance would be a major first step that would only lead to more steps later on. In short, the upside of being able to occasionally overturn a disputed home run or fair or foul ball would be far outweighed by the addition of a ponderous review process that only makes the games run longer. And make no mistake about it, once we put our big toe into the idea of video-aided umpiring, things only go in one direction after that.

   And the real chuckleheads then opine that maybe just having video review in the postseason would take care of their problem, again tossing out the hoary notions about integrity by having the regular-season odyssey adjudged to be significantly less important than the Playoffs and World Series contests. Phooey.

   In theory it might be a noble goal to try to eliminate all possibility of error when it comes to umpiring, but in practice the human element routinely prevails … and for good reason. Anybody out there pushing for absolute certainty when it comes to foul calls by NBA officials?

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One thought on “Please do not kill the umpire …

  1. JasonP on said:

    The ONLY way instant reply could be implemented where it wouldn’t be a drag on the game would be if the officials had access to ALL of the camera angles that covered a given play. What always seemed to make replay so bad in the NFL was the apparent restriction to certain "official" cameras, resulting in the refs only have BAD camera angles on the plays they were expected to rule on. The network cameras always had the best views, and within about 10 seconds, the commentators and the entire viewing audience could see whether or not a player was in-bounds or if the ball was down. But the refs would spend 5 minutes on "interpreting" what was obvious to the rest of the world, and on occasion, they’d STILL get it wrong!

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