Williamsport, PA– If you watch a fair amount of Major League Baseball, then you’ve likely got an opinion on this season’s expanded replay review system. I know I’ve got mine. It sucks. What should be used as a last resort tool to correct egregiously bad on-field calls and rulings by umpires has instead become a safety net for truly bad umpiring. The “institution” of Baseball Umpires used to be sacrosanct. They made calls and much more often than not-those calls were right, and you moved along. Their rule was law, and there was at least the appearance of respect for “Blue.” The human element of the game was one of the few “pure” elements left in Baseball. Every once in a while, a mistake was made (other than by God himself, Doug Harvey) but you accepted it and moved on. Hell, a nobody named Armando Gallaraga once came within an out of a Perfect Game-only to be denied by a badly missed call by umpire Jim Joyce. But you know what happened from that? We came to learn that Joyce was actually one of the very best umps in the business. Today, Replay would have righted that mistake and Gallaraga would have had his perfecto. But Joyce immediately saw his mistake on tape and the next day in tears, stood before a phalanx of microphones and admitted his mistake and apologized to Gallaraga and baseball fans everywhere. Joyce-unfortunate surname notwithstanding, “manned up.”
In 2014, the vast majority of umpires rely on Replay to bail them out. They make significantly more blatant on-field mistakes than even 2-3 years ago. So here’s a revolutionary suggestion for outgoing legacy-obsessed commissioner Bud Selig. Get Better Umpires! What in the name of Angel Hernandez is going on? Added to Selig’s criminally and comically bad reign as commish, should be the fall of a once revered institution. Umps are now making 3-4 outrageously bad calls on a daily basis. The onus is no longer on them to get it right, as replay will ultimately be there to clean up their messes. A ridiculous rule that should go away. Get better umpires Bud.
And while I’m ranting, if the powers that be really wanted to speed up the pace of the game, certain rules would be enforced more strictly. Robby Cano has done this for years, but the other day I watched Anthony Recker do it too. Recker has a big league job because the Mets won’t pay a back up catcher more than a buck or two, so he’s not exactly Johnny Bench. But he sure knows how to “big league” it. Recker strode to the plate and swung and missed the first pitch. He then walked across the plate, circled back around the ump and then took a few more practice swings before returning his minor league entitled ass to the box. 49 seconds! WTF! Get back in the box Meat! Who are you?
And it’s always fun to confirm that there’s no honor among thieves, or among disgraced juicers either. This past week the Oakland A’s celebrated their last chamionship-25 years ago. Mark McGwire still has refused to accept Jose Canseco’s attempts at reconciliation after Canseco infamously outed McGwire as a cheater. Yeah, Canseco’s a snitch. But McGwire’s outrage about being exposed should be ridiculed. Ask the family of the late great Roger Maris about McGwire’s outrage after being disgraced by his phony exploits during the summer of 1998. He doesn’t want to talk about the past. But trying to position yourself somehow as a higher form of cheater than Canseco? That ship-weighed down with crates of Creatine-has sailed.
Get well wishes to Mama Matt and the Ax Man!