MLB's Black Eye: Not P-E-Ds, but U-M-Ps

It seems that every year, as the playoffs in baseball get closer and we gear up for pennant races and battles of October, one storyline handcuffs the league more than any other. And no, I'm not talking about P.E.D.s. I'm talking about the U.M.P.s. ↵

↵The umpiring in Major League Baseball is atrocious. At best, the home plate umpires are consistently inconsistent. At worst, they're no better than Babe Ruth league umps. Or perhaps they're part of a local police sting operation like, Frank Drebin as Enrico Palazzo calling the game behind the dish. One can only hope. ↵

↵

↵ ↵

↵

↵Somewhere along the way in, umpires forgot the game isn't about them. They stand on the field to call balls and strikes, out and safe, and that's it. There is no other reason for an umpire to get involved in the game. ↵

↵

↵The out-of-control umpiring reached a new level on Sunday. In a 3-1 game (of an eventual 12-3 loss) Phillies All-Star Shane Victorino questioned a pitch called a ball by home plate umpire Ed Rapuano. Rapuano called time, asked Victorino to retract his complaint and when the hot-tempered Hawaiian repeated his ‘what gives' hand gesture, he was promptly ejected from the game. ↵

↵

↵Victorino was in center field at the time. ↵

↵

↵The umpire called time after seeing something the centerfielder did and ejected him for complaining about balls and strikes. From center field. Victorino sprinted in from center and went after Rapuano before teammates restrained him. The Philadelphia crowd went insane, vacillating between chanting for Victorino and booing the umpire after every call. Some in my section questioned the ability for Rapuano to get out of the stadium safely after the game. How, exactly, is that controlling the situation and protecting the integrity of the game? ↵

↵

↵This was on the heels of Ramon Ramirez being prematurely tossed in the Yankees-Sox series, umpire Bill Hohn's fist bump with the Marlins' catcher and the Prince Fielder-Guillermo Mota blowup. ↵

↵

↵Of course, Victorino, hoping not to get fined or suspended, apologized after the game, ↵telling reporters: ↵

↵
↵⇥"I love the guy, that's why, I think I was even more upset it's that, he's just one of those guys you can play grab-ass with and have fun with out there on the field. You know, I mean, sincerely." ↵
↵

↵Phillies broadcaster Larry Anderson, calling the game on radio, had a different opinion. He recalled a conversation he had with crew chief Joe West the night before where he questioned West on some of the calls and inconsistencies he's seen around the league this year. Anderson said that West responded by explaining they are the best in the business. ↵

↵

↵Anderson admitted having to bite his lip to West in reply, but offered what he wanted to say to the listening audience: ↵

↵
↵⇥"If you guys are the best in the business, you've got a really bad business." ↵
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↵Really bad. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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