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Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Jaffe: Five suggestions for improving the state of umpiring

The other suggestions are nothing new, this could make them play nice:

One solution would be to allow players, managers and coaches — those who have the most at stake in the postseason — some voice in how umpires are chosen for the season’s most important games. While it’s true that such processes can have its pitfalls — look no further than the Gold Glove voting — it would almost certainly eliminate the presence of those umps who consistently rate among the worst in the game.

DA Baracus, Braves Intern Posted: June 06, 2012 at 08:31 PM | 24 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: umpires

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   1. Dale H. Posted: June 06, 2012 at 11:32 PM (#4150460)
1. Questex/PitchFX buzzers in the ear of the home plate ump.
2. Instant replay where the guy in the booth has to see the blown call by the 2nd replay in the booth, or play on.
3. Allow them to carry their dogs onto the field.
   2. Jim Wisinski Posted: June 07, 2012 at 12:13 AM (#4150487)
One solution would be to allow players, managers and coaches — those who have the most at stake in the postseason — some voice in how umpires are chosen for the season’s most important games. While it’s true that such processes can have its pitfalls — look no further than the Gold Glove voting — it would almost certainly eliminate the presence of those umps who consistently rate among the worst in the game.


Interesting idea but there's no way it would happen. The umpires union would raise a huge stink about a system that would result in at least a handful of umps never, ever appearing in the postseason. MLB wouldn't like it much either since it would highlight the fact that there are a bunch of umpires universally considered awful that they continue to allow to work games.
   3. ntr RdP Posted: June 07, 2012 at 12:19 AM (#4150492)
MLB wouldn't like it much either since it would highlight the fact that there are a bunch of umpires universally considered awful that they continue to allow to work games.

Or maybe they would be quietly ushered out to pasture.
   4. Kiko Sakata Posted: June 07, 2012 at 12:23 AM (#4150495)
MLB wouldn't like it much either since it would highlight the fact that there are a bunch of umpires universally considered awful that they continue to allow to work games.


If it's made clear that only the very best umps get the privilege of working the postseason, there's a lot of room between "All-Star umpires" and "universally considered awful". Tim Salmon and Kirk Gibson were a long way from "universally considered awful" baseball players, who deservedly held starting jobs in MLB for a decade apiece, they were just never quite good enough to be All-Stars (or at least were never selected to an All-Star game).
   5. Bote Man Posted: June 07, 2012 at 12:59 AM (#4150502)
I think Shakespeare had it right: first we kill all the umpires.
   6. Sleepy's still holding up that little wild bouquet Posted: June 07, 2012 at 01:20 AM (#4150506)
Or we could treat umpires like every other skilled trade, and fire the ones who are really bad at it.
   7. baudib Posted: June 07, 2012 at 01:22 AM (#4150509)
Use instant replay.
   8. The Yankee Clapper Posted: June 07, 2012 at 01:44 AM (#4150516)
Or we could treat umpires like every other skilled trade, and fire the ones who are really bad at it.

How many people in other "skilled trades" get fired after they have reached the top rung of a profession that requires a series of competitive promotions to get to the top? Not that many, in my experience.
   9. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: June 07, 2012 at 02:46 AM (#4150518)
My three suggestions in order of importance:

1. Automated Balls and Strikes.
2. Automated Balls and Strikes.
3. Automated Balls and Strikes.
   10. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: June 07, 2012 at 03:00 AM (#4150519)
Tim Salmon and Kirk Gibson were a long way from "universally considered awful" baseball players, who deservedly held starting jobs in MLB for a decade apiece, they were just never quite good enough to be All-Stars (or at least were never selected to an All-Star game).


Gibson was actually selected as a reserve twice and turned down the invite both times ('85 from Sparky Anderson and '88 from Whitey Herzog).
   11. Bote Man Posted: June 07, 2012 at 03:42 AM (#4150522)
How exactly would an automated ball/strike machine work as a practical matter?

Would it be a series of lamps embedded in the pitcher's mound?

A hand-held device used by the home plate umpire with a display of the strike zone?

A portion of the electronic scoreboard dedicated to ball/strike measurements?

Maybe a Roomba could wheel itself out there when the ump makes a bad call and tickle his feet until he changes it?
   12. Greg K Posted: June 07, 2012 at 04:17 AM (#4150524)
I'd say "robot umpire", but they already tried that. It didn't go well.
   13. Fancy Pants with a clinging marmoset on his Handle Posted: June 07, 2012 at 04:23 AM (#4150526)
3. Allow them to carry their dogs onto the field.

Good one,, but I'm sure PETA would raise a stink. On second thought, I see no downside to that...
   14. Flynn Posted: June 07, 2012 at 04:23 AM (#4150527)
Why don't umpires confer on questionable calls anymore? They did that two very notable times in the 2004 ALCS, and I've never seen them do it since. It's such an easy way of making the right call, and for the umpires it doesn't involve any loss to their power like instant replay would.
   15. Bote Man Posted: June 07, 2012 at 05:57 AM (#4150533)
Why don't umpires confer on questionable calls anymore?

Ego. Conferring with the other umpires means the first umpire is not perfect. Can't have that.
   16. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: June 07, 2012 at 07:41 AM (#4150538)
I think 2 and 3 (making umps more accountable and making umpire discipline more transparent) are the best suggestions. I think there has to be an acknowledgement that calls get missed. Every time a call gets blown people are screaming for the ump to be fired or how this individual call represents a decline in umpiring etc...etc...Good umps make bad calls just as good players make errors, it happens. I think more transparency would help with that in a big way.
   17. Lassus Posted: June 07, 2012 at 08:09 AM (#4150547)
Ego. Conferring with the other umpires means the first umpire is not perfect. Can't have that.

Well, as long as we have reasonable critique, we're in good shape.
   18. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: June 07, 2012 at 08:17 AM (#4150551)
umpires are like anyone else. hold them accountable and guys stay in relatively decent shape, hustle and work at the craft.

if nobody is looking over their shoulder they sloppy.

not to give sandy a big sloppy kiss but he did all that and you saw things trending positively

now you have lax oversight and relying on personal pride. that only goes so far and doesn't apply to all.

not that the umpire overseer has to be peter the great loopping off a few heads but cracking a few guys hard sends a message

on a separate note there are some crews who confer. depends on their crew cheif. that guy always sets the tone
   19. Greg Schuler Posted: June 07, 2012 at 08:42 AM (#4150556)
When Sandy Alderson was in charge of the umpires, performance seemed to improve because of Alderson's joy in critiquing the umpires. Once he was removed, umpires seem to have gone back to being, well, umpires. It's not an easy job, but every profession has some ability to weed out the incompetent.

Maybe MLB should hire Gunnery Sergeant Hartman to motivate, motivate, motivate the umps...
   20. OMJ, urban D machine Posted: June 07, 2012 at 08:53 AM (#4150561)
Why not use pitch/fx to help umps work on their strike zone? For example (totally made up numbers):

Ump strike zone is made by outlining an area that includes 90% of his called strikes. Ump strike zone must include 80% of the actual strike zone. No more than 20% of the ump strike zone is allowed to be outside of hte actual strike zone. Umps that dont meet these criteria must attend workshops, and could eventually be demoted. This way you keep the human element but get some quality control.
   21. John Northey Posted: June 07, 2012 at 09:44 AM (#4150580)
We have stats for players, why not public ones for umpires? A section on Baseball-Reference listing % of called strikes that actually were, % of called balls that actually were, stuff like that. Imagine what an effect stuff like that could have on umpires - suddenly it is extremely public (and easy to access). Publicize a listing of umpire rankings and what they are ranked on - so you know you have the best umpire in the majors. Yeah, we'd have headaches when the worst ones are out there but players already know which are the worst and it might help them improve to have the added pressure of 'you suck' being well known. List it for the minor leaguers as well (pitch f/x is in AAA I think and maybe lower too) so we can see which umps are almost ready for the bigs. Then start sending down the bottom feeders and promoting the best of the AAA crew. Much like players.
   22. Famous Original Joe C Posted: June 07, 2012 at 10:05 AM (#4150596)
Maybe it's time to try D'ump
   23. Rafael Bellylard: The Grinch of Orlando. Posted: June 07, 2012 at 10:51 AM (#4150650)
How about simply doing the same thing that happens to players who don't measure up at the Major League level. If an umpire isn't cutting it, send them back to AAA to work out their issues. To keep the union happy, I'd allow the umpires to keep their salary at Major League level once they made the majors and stayed there for a certain amount of time, even if demoted.
   24. zack Posted: June 07, 2012 at 11:11 AM (#4150665)
#21: , or at least they used to. It looks like currently all the umpires are getting the same data. Here's the <a href="http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/dispatch_article/umpire-statistics/">Hardball times article about it.

I think the degree of umpiring competency is vastly underrated by fans. If it were as simple as implementing a few techniques, then why is there no sport in the world where the umpires are not considered hacks? Even the progressive ones?

I'm not saying that these aren't good ideas or that we should try, but even if we did we'd still find things to complain about.

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