Umpiring is not an easy job. Fly all over the country. Live out of hotels. Work in all kinds of weather and at all hours. Never home on weekends. Subject to vocal abuse…from fans, players and managers. So it is with some sympathy that these comments are tempered.
I can excuse close calls that are missed or an umpires personal strike zone so long as the calls are fair to both teams.
What I abhor are umpires whose lousy calls and arrogant attitudes cost a team a game.
I witnessed this yesterday as the outcome of the Milwaukee Brewers game against Atlanta was ultimately decided by blatant missed calls. All series long close plays, especially at first were called wrong.
These calls obviously led to the blowup yesterday that got Manager Ned Yost tossed and most likely fined. With good reason. There were two ugly calls in the seventh inning. First, Mark Teixiera was ruled safe on a play at first and Jeff Franceour was ruled safe at second when diving back to the bag to beat a relay throw. Replays clearly showed that both players were out.
As you know, reversing an umpires decision is like the Cubs winning the World Series, it ain’t gonna happen. So getting thrown out is like a badge of honor. You know you were right, the home crowd knows you were right, and the people watching on TV know you were right.
Umps are known for having short or long fuses; the time it takes to get ejected. Some umps who knew they missed calls will let a tirade go on as if to signal that yes they blew it so get it off of your chest. That is admirable. But other umps will take no complaining. Those are the ones that go into their posturing: They’ll go face to face, curse back, and eject someone faster than an Orioles losing streak. Then they’ll cop an attitude as if to suggest that they are the unquestioned authority and do not have to hear any objections.
Then there were the actions of second base umpire Chris Guccione and first base umpire Jerry Layne yesterday. After Yost’s ejection, cameras caught both smiling like they enjoyed blowing calls and ejecting managers. This was a blatant expression of indifference and unprofessional.
So why do umps get away with it? Because baseball refuses to discipline bad umpires.
No umpire has ever been terminated because of poor performance. All post game exchanges about incidents are one-sided. I don’t ever recall an umpire admitting a call was wrong. While players and managers face fines and suspensions over incidents and comments umpires are exempt.
That’s why they strut around out there like Julius Caesar. They know they’re not the ones going to the lions den.
Until baseball becomes more serious about the performance and attitude of some umpires, outcomes of games that are determined by pathetic calls and bad attitudes will continue. This should never happen, but sadly does much too often.
The Brewers probably did themselves in down the stretch all by themselves. They hardly needed any assistance from the umps.
Why can’t anyone in baseball take umps like Guccione and Layne aside and tell them that their actions will not be tolerated? The games should be determined by the players and managers, not by “smiling” Jerry Layne.