Umpires Are Winning and Losing too Many Games


If you haven’t heard the renewed calls for instant replay to play a major role in MLB lately you’ve been away for a while. As bad as I felt for Kevin Gregg and the strike zone shift he had to deal with 2 nights ago – most likely due to a blow up by Joe Maddon that made the ump feel like he needed to give them one back – it pales in comparison to the 2 massive missed calls that occured last night. The Twins, who are in a dog fight to win their division, lost the game on a blown call in the 10th and some would successfully argue that this is worse than the other huge missed call because it cost the team the game. Umpires are not on the field to win or lose the game, but more and more (beginning in late 2009) umpires seem to be going on the field with a chip on their shoulders and are implicating themselves at times and places in the game where they have no business being implicated.

Jim Joyce is a great umpire. He’s a man of integrity and his remorse over blowing the call to provide Armando Galarragga a perfect game speaks volumes about his character – as does Armando’s measured disappointment. However, he was wrong to get involved in that portion of the game. I’m sorry, but someone as experienced as Joyce should know the moment in the game – a perfect game is on the line, the play is bang bang and you have a doubt – the call should go to the pitcher’s side of things. Be aware of the situation, that’s all I’m saying – both Micro and Macro. Joyce also knew how badly umpires have fared in the news in recent months and that making this call could result in even more measures taken against umpires that make wrong calls. Therefore, the best thing he could have done to save himself and fellow umps from more scrutiny was to call the batter out. What’s the worse that would have happened then? There could have been some argument about the call, but the perfect game would have overshadowed everything, the news for the night would have been positive for everyone – including umpires, and MLB life would go on.

The human factor and the push for umpires to be perfect is exactly what makes the current system falty. Nobody’s perfect, nobody will ever be perfect, and neither will the introduction of instant replays. However, I do believe that we can edge towards perfection slightly without ruining the game. I know that if it was my son, brother, nephew, team mate, friend, or acquaintance that was on the mound 1 out away from a perfect game – I would want instant replay on that call ASAP. Even though it’s a personal accomplishment that doesn’t lead to the loss of the game, it’s an accomplishment that has major implications in the record books and in personal career stats. To leave it to the umpires to make such calls without the help of instant replay makes no sense at all. The uproar this call and others in the last week have caused will not go away any time soon and will be amplified when the playoff races heat up.

MLB needs to add the instant replay on all calls that have 2 umpires feel like a call could have been missed. To ask them to confer or get together to go over the play only allows for a reversal to be made despite the fact that 3 of the 4 are probably too far to see anything of value, so it makes little sense to me. There should be a 5th umpire in a video booth – also available to take a spot on the field for injury purposes – that can be called on to review the play with the umpire making the call from the field. It would make the review process much quicker because the 5th umpire can look at the play before the umpire makes the call and give his professional perspective on the play.

Whatever MLB decides, it has to do something. Games are being won and lost because of umpires at an alarming rate and I can’t even go into the horrors of the umpiring in the Jays-Rays series because it burns me too badly. I become incoherent and can’t believe how personal umpires make the game, and that includes the bad call on allowing the pitch to be made that went the Jays way.  Bud Selig needs to get something in place because it’s going to continue to snowball until he does something big to fix the system, because evidently it is broken.

Moving on.

Here are my observations of various Jays issues:

  • Do the Jays have a 4 man pen? Why carry relievers if they’re going to sit there and rot? I’m really sick of watching the Downs/Frasor/Janssen/Gregg show while everyone else gets paid for nothing. Trust your pen Cito. David Purcey would have done a much better job fresh than Jason Frasor did last night. I don’t understand the reason behind wearing down the same arms over and over again.
  • Fred Lewis is smoking red hot and continues to make the move by the Giants seem…….odd.
  • Brett Wallace is really making it hard for the jays to substantiate calling him up. He was 0 for 5 last night and is now hitting .227 with only 2 extra base hits over his last 10 games.
  • Zach Stewart had one of his best starts of the season in AA, going 6 innings of 1 hit ball, walking 2 and getting 6 Ks.
  • Newly acquired RP Ronald Uviedo gave up 3 hits in his 2 innings of work in AA and got 1 K as he worked 2 shutout innings.
  • LF Eric Thames hit his 11th HR of the season in the same game, while RF Dan Perales had 2 of his own.
  • RF Welinton Ramirez hit his 7th HR of the year for HiA Dunedin.
  • SS Ryan Goins was 3 for 4 last night for LoA Lansing and is now hitting .364 over his last 10 games for the squad. He has been especially effective versus RHP, achieving a .333 average over 144 ABs versus righties while only hitting .182 versus lefties.
  • C AJ Jimenez is conintuing his strong start to 2010 with another 3 for 4 game and  a .333 average/.415 OBP over his lats 10 games. Unlike Goins, Jimenez is hammering both lefties and righties, holding a .345 and .311 average against them respectively.