Umpires make mistakes just as players on the diamond make mistakes themselves. Players boot ground balls and miss signals on a daily basis and umpires miss balls and strikes as well. In all sports however, instant replay was supposed to eliminate those mistakes by officials but I have argued that instant replay has actually created far more problems for players, officials and fans.
Two nights ago in Cleveland, the men in blue took a simple call and turned it into an absolute fiasco when Adam Rosales of the Oakland A’s hit a deep ball to left-center field. The ball smashed high above the wall and returned to the field of play where it was ruled a double. A’s manager Bob Melvin sought an instant replay as television replays clearly showed the ball carry over the wall and bounce off the stair railing well behind.
Amazingly, umpire Angel Hernandez and his crew ruled the play would stand as a double. Melvin was beside himself as well he should have been. Major League Baseball may be a long season but every game counts. Should the Athletics miss the playoffs by a game, they’d have every reason to be disgusted with Commissioner Bud Selig and MLB in general. The potential home run would have tied the game, but instead Melvin was tossed and the A’s went down to defeat.
Poor umpiring isn’t just happening on calls either. Last week, the Washington Nationals were in Pittsburgh and in the top of the first, Nats’ star Bryce Harper was ejected by umpire John Hirschbeck for what amounted to “shrugging his shoulders.” Hirschbeck, the third base ump, said Harper went around on a third strike check swing. I thought Harper went around too, but it was Hirschbeck’s over-reaction to Harper’s look down the line was typical of the poor umpiring Major League Baseball has been suffering from.
I can’t help but think the umpires are forgetting their place on the diamond. People pay good, hard-earned money to see baseball players, not baseball umpires. Imagine being a fan who attended that game in Pittsburgh only to see one of the stars thrown out by an overly sensitive umpire. Worse yet, how about you the bettor?
You lay your hard-earned money down on games like these but never in your wildest dreams do you imagine one the top young players in the league being tossed out on his ear. Obviously, when we wager on any sport, we understand there is always a risk of injury, odd weather and certainly ejections but these situations are becoming more and more rampant and they are unnecessary.
ESPN’s Jayson Stark said today that instant replay will never be perfect in baseball but it needs to be fixed. To me, there is the entire problem in a nutshell. If it isn’t going to correct errors 100% of the time then instant replay should not be an option. If players make mistakes then so to can umpires.
I am to the point where I really believe umpires in baseball are desperate to make themselves more a part of the ‘show’ and that isn’t good. Missed calls happen and that will never change but blatantly blown calls are just unacceptable. Veteran umpires like Hernandez and Hirschbeck need to be held accountable and need to be reminded they are not the reason people are there to watch the game.
Cleveland at Detroit – These two Central Division rivals are within a game of each other and open a big spring series in Motown tonight. The Tigers have lost two in a row, but are 7-3 over their last ten while the Indians enter with a 9-1 stretch. Take the Tigers at home tonight with Max Scherzer on the hill.