Jim Leyland – a respected man in baseball and a great manager, smokes like a factory, old school baseball guy. He’s a guy who went to the Marlin’s years ago and won a World Series with them, he was back in Pittsburgh and he was winning – back when Pittsburgh filled the stadium and now he’s in Detroit – great manager. So he comes out last week and was brutally honest – and he may get fined and he said “we have got to work harder in baseball, to eliminate the tension between the players, the manager’s and the umpires…you can feel it! It’s not good because it’s causing the blow up’s”
By the way, Jack Mckeane, Ron Washington, Chipper Jones, Blue Jays manager came out two Fridays ago – Jim Farrel…all criticizing umpires for being stubborn and for creating arguments. Now my feeling is, there is a lot of older veteran umpires and older people in general get stuck in habits and they live for their routine and they get cranky when they’re moved off their routine.
And when you listen to the ages of Major League umpires – I looked it up this morning and you know, I looked up 15 of them: 59, 52, 61, 48, 52, 56, 43, 59, 42, 53…you can see the pattern here? Older guys – who you can’t demote and they know it! They are Supreme Court Justices, they are college professors…they’re un-fireable. And that creates an arrogance that gets worse over time because people tend to have more humility when they have to be held accountable. Joe Torre is a legend! Yet he can be fired tomorrow, he could be demoted. A 48 year old umpire can’t be even if he had 7 blown calls over a weekend, could not be demoted, and couldn’t be fired. Joe Torre – for all his success and riches, could be fired.
But there are 70 baseball umpires and you can’t demote any of them. I mean they are basically like oil sheak’s in Saudi Arabia – globally untouchable. Mike Socia – who is not anti-umpire, one of the smartest guys in baseball was on the Scott Van Pelt Show sometime last week and he basically said the dude’s just need some help! “ Some of the play’s that have been missed probably make a stronger point for expanded replay, not on tag plays at bases, but I’m talking about – you know, fair and foul balls down the line. Like we had a ball the other night that we felt was fair and on replay it backed up that it was fair, yet it was called foul. These kind of things where umpires, you know, where it was a long distance play…they should be reviewable. I think it would help Major League Baseball work towards that and the union as well”
That is a very reasonable opinion! That older, slower umpires…need help! Folks, my dad’s in his late 40’s and we once walked into a steakhouse and he picked up the menu…and he couldn’t read a thing! You don’t think that the 58 or 68 year old umpire – running down the line, for a wickedly hit line drive, is going to see it perfectly? The dude need’s a little help!! I was watching the body language when Jim Leyland got tossed…the body language of the umpire was terrible. It was cocky, it was argumentative. Curt Schilling was on The Herd sometime last week and he talked about that very same arrogance.
“Greg Gibson is probably at the very bottom of everybody’s list, just because he came up with an attitude – and I’ll give you a quick story. He was arguing with Terry Francona at 1st base one night and we were at the dugout – and this is an honest to god quote from Greg Gibson to Terry Francona he said “do you realize your arguing with the best young umpire in baseball?” and it was exactly the opposite for the most part – but we all heard that and we’re like oh no this is not good”
When your un-fireable, you have less humility and it simply gets worse over time. It’s amazing that the old school guys are upset with it – the Jim Leyland’s Jack McKeane two weeks ago…he went after an umpire “to run the guy, if they made a mistake…fine the guy! Fine them $100 dollars or something. The fans don’t come out to see those guys…why do they have to be so “Macho” for? Have a little common sense”
Now, the only way to save umpiring in baseball – I have found the single person. He’s not old enough to be arrogant or corrupted yet. He’s got a Law Degree, he was just promoted to a Major League umpiring staff this year – Dan Bullino, born in October of 78’, an Illinois guy, has kids and a lovely wife…he’s 32 years young! The last uncorrupted umpire! The last hope that Major League Baseball can find guys who don’t bring a huge chip on their shoulders – and I think we’ve seen it over the past couple of weeks. It’s a convergence of age, arrogance; you can read it in their body language and I think it’s really becoming a problem.
I think as sports – and this is also the convergence, as sports technology has improved …you can see the bad calls more easily. So this combination in baseball of lack of replay, older umpires who won’t ask for help, improved technology, big businesses, and games mean more money…it’s all converging on baseball and I do think they need to create a system where you can demote an umpire!