Bud Selig prides himself as being a man of tradtion.
Time for him to become a man of the present on
MLB's umpiring woes.
You have to give it to Major League Baseball. When “tradition” bumps into “reality”, you can always count on spin to make you feel better.
There were no bad calls by the umpires on Saturday, a rare feat this postseason. Of course, Game 6 of the ALCS was postponed yesterday due to rain.
We’re made to believe that the World Series will be better, as the league will be going with “experienced” umpires. As The AP reported, “Major League Baseball is breaking tradition and sticking with only experienced umpires for the World Series.” For baseball’s premier event, is breaking its longstanding tradition, and will not have one umpire working the event for the first time.
One umpire. Well, we can all breath much easier now, can’t we?
Here’s the real deal: there is no change. It’s a PR ploy. Window dressing.
With each postseason, MLB sends out press releases before each series announcing the umpire crews, and at the center of the releases is this: the umpires making the calls have (you guessed it), a vast well of experience. Take this from the release for the LCS umpires (emphisis, by author):
Tim McClelland, who is in his 28th year as a Major League Umpire, will be the crew chief in the 2009 ALCS, which will be the 18th postseason series of his career, including his ninth LCS.
Randy Marsh will serve as the crew chief during the 2009 NLCS. The 28-year veteran umpire will work his 19th postseason assignment, including his ninth LCS.
Lest we all remind you of how well McClelland did in Game 4 of the ALCS; a call that at least one is calling “the worst call of all time.”
And, so, you – the dedicated baseball fan – are led to believe that somehow Joe West, Dana DeMuth and Gerry Davis, along with Brian Gorman, Jeff Nelson and Mike Everitt will change matters.
What Bud Selig and others in baseball need is a dose of smelling salts to break them out of their coma. At the very least, put umpires on a strict rating system, and tenure be damned, don’t let “experience” be the barometer, but instead, quality.
All that aside, expanded replay is needed, which seems to run counter to Commissioner Selig’s traditionalist blood. In 2005, Selig said, "Yes, we had some incidents that certainly need to be looked at. So I'm not minimizing them. But do I believe in instant replay? No, I do not." He then added, "Human error is part of our sport."
Well, sure “human error” has been part of the game, but leaning on the tradition is kind of like saying (as this MLB steering committee doc and Ford Frick did in 1946), keeping men of color out of MLB was holding up the game’s “tradition.” Somehow, the Lords of Baseball learned then to mature then over a far more serious matter, and so should it be now.
Until there are clear changes in how umpiring is conducted and getting calls right, don’t let any minor tweaks fool you, it’s just window dressing.
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
Don't forget to register and log in on The Biz of Baseball site to get updates via your in-box, and see information only logged in members can see.
Follow Maury Brown on Twitter
Follow The Biz of Baseball on Twitter
Follow the Business of Sports Network on Facebook